The Concert for Racial Harmony in North Texas to Honor J.D. Tusan and Dennis Scales

Hatred simmers in American hearts, hatred for our neighbors, our colleagues, members of our congregations. It is something that many of us cannot understand, something we may not want to understand. For half a century Americans have asked, “How do we quell the bigotry in America?” That is what North Texas citizens are asking now as they organize their 2nd Concert for Racial Harmony in honor of J.D. Tusan and Dennis Scales.

“Tolerance, tolerance, tolerance,” we hear from our politicians and community leaders. “Tolerance,” they say, “it is the answer.” Are they telling us that the best we can do is tolerate, or ‘put up with’ one another? We must not accept this as fact!

Tolerance is a quality that is useful when you neighbor’s dog repeatedly leaves gifts in your driveway. Tolerance is necessary when you stand in line at the DMV for three hours. Tolerance is quite handy when your party host serves you tofu burgers. But tolerance will never bring harmony to Americans. Tolerance will never alleviate the hatred that is brewing in our neighborhoods.

Why not believe in something better than tolerance? Tolerance is not going to heal the festering sores that seethe in the hearts of racists like Ammon Reich. On September 19th, 2004 this man instigated a racially motivated altercation that ended Joseph Tusan’s life and paralyzed his friend Dennis Scales. Ammon Reich, whose name seems fitting, along with his teenage daughters and their stepmother, retrieved additional guns from their home with the intention of making trouble for the group of University students who were not welcome at the gathering because of their race.

The youngsters relocated once because of the racial slurs and shots fired by Ammon. The Reich family, armed with additional firepower went out seeking the group. When the teens hastily fled from the Reich family, a car chase ensued. The truck he chased down held seven young men in the bed, a young girl behind the wheel and several cab passengers. Reich rammed the truck, flipping it into a ravine, and fled the scene. All 7 boys were ejected from the bed. Joseph was later pronounced dead at the scene. Dennis is a now a quadriplegic and everyone’s lives are changed.

If only one of the Reich family members had ever been taught right from wrong. If ever one of those girls had heard one of their father’s peers call him to the carpet for his offensive attitude, where would we be today? Where would Joseph and Dennis be? Would those girls have made an effort to calm their dad rather than encourage his rage? Would the altercation ever have taken place? If those girls had grown up seeing others contradict their father’s irrational hatred of minorities, namely African-Americans, then they would not have instigated the fight with the boys in the first place and they certainly would have tried to talk down their father out of shame for his disgusting behavior.

It is tolerance that enables and justifies the hate that racists propagate. In my opinion tolerance is the enemy of racial harmony. It is when we stand up to our peers, when we stop tolerating the racial slurs, the stereotypes, and the hateful sentiments, it is then that we will see a greater harmony among races and cultures in America.

A more encouraging example is a story I heard from a woman in my neighborhood. She had a friend for over 25 years whom she saw every couple of months at shopping centers or sporting events. The woman visited her home one day in an agitated state. She was having trouble with a mechanic and needed some help. My neighbor was please to help, but instead of criticizing the mechanic’s work ethics and the poor quality of the work performed, her friend insisted on railing against his ethnicity and his nation of origin, as if it were the cause of his poor skills and bad manners.

My neighbor was embarrassed and offended by her friend’s behavior and asked the woman to stop saying these things in front of her children who were nearby with mouths agape. Her friend, who had done many nice things for her over the years, became incensed, acting as though my neighbor was the unreasonable and offense party.

My neighbor did what we should all do. She spoke up; she pointed out the blunder in this bigot’s attitude and let her know the use of offensive, hateful language around youngsters is unacceptable. When the friend used similar racial slurs on another visit, my neighbor asked her to leave her home. That took guts! And although the two are no longer friends, a great thing was accomplished – for not only did my neighbor’s children witness this encounter, so did the other woman’s three kids who were also red in the face with embarrassment. My neighbor’s lack of tolerance for that bigot will carry incredible weight with the six children who witnessed this incident.

Maybe we can’t educate the minds of racists and hate mongers, maybe their hearts are unreachable, but we can let them know that their hate is not welcomed in our company, in our homes, or around our children. We can show the children in our neighborhoods and our families that it is not acceptable to speak hate or show hate toward people who have never wronged them, people who have done nothing more than wake up Hispanic, Asian, African, Muslim, Hebrew, or Caucasian.

The hearts and minds of these children are our future and tolerance is just another term for cowardly. If we stand by and tolerate the hate spewed from the mouths of our neighbors and so-called friends, then the children will never know there is anything wrong with the way these folks speak and act.

The JDTF will be honoring J.D. Tusan and Dennis Scales at the Concert for Racial Harmony. The event will be held in their hometown of Arlington, Texas on March 18, 2006 at Bowie High School. The Concert is Free and contributions will go toward the medical expenses of Dennis Scales as well as two (2) Scholarships in memory of Joseph Tusan. The Scholarships will be awarded to tow (2) DFW seniors for academic accomplishment and contributing to racial harmony.

Gone To Texas and the JDTF believe that North Texas communities can effectively bring change to the impressionable hearts and minds of future generations. Visit Gone To Texas – JDTF Benefit for more on the Concert for Racial Harmony. To contribute to the Scholarship Funds in J.D Tusan’s honor, or to the medical fund for quadriplegic Dennis Scales, visit JDTF.org

This article is dedicated to the memory of Joseph D. Tusan of Arlington, Texas and his brave parents, Donna and Kevin Tusan.

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