A few thoughts for a holiday weekend

By Rich HeilandColumnist, The Times

While a majority of African Americans feel things are somewhat better for black folks today than in year’s past a majority also feels that could change. According to A Washington Post-Ipsos poll released this past week feel racism is having a rebirth and things could get worse. This comes as a majority feel things are better than when what’s his name was in office and their financial prospects have improved.

According to the poll a majority still feel they, or someone close to them, could be attacked simply because they are black. One fear a large majority have is that schools are going to quit teaching the real history of black people in the United States and the persistence of Jim Crow in various disguises.

All this brings home the threat posted to the future of our nation by the far-right Christian Nationalists seeking to take over local school districts and erase real history from the classrooms. Here in West Chester where I live a group called “Back to Basics,” with ties to the now-named-hate group Moms for Liberty, is fielding candidates who support placing the far-right radical “Hillsdale College” curriculum in the schools.

Slavery and its legacy remain with us. Period. It needs to be taught. If it is, and new generations learn it, then maybe someday a poll of African Americans will be more optimistic….


Speaking of education….A study released by The Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization founded in 1998. Focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth, shows suicide – carried through or attempted, among LGBTQ+ youth is increasing. At the same time a Centers for Disease Control report, just issued, shows both homicide and suicide rates among young people climbing. The suicide rate is the highest since tracking began in 1968.

Why? The CDC reports COVID isolation was a contributing factor, without considering sexual identification. The Trevor Report says 41 percent of LBGTQ+ youth considered suicide in the past year and that was higher among LGBTQ+ persons of color. TR found 56 percent of LGBTQ young people who wanted mental health assistance were not able to get it.

A majority, according to TR research, reported being harassed and bullied at school. Fewer than 40 percent said their home environment was LGBTQ+ affirming. On the flip side more than half of those who said their pronoun identification and gender identity was affirmed had fewer suicidal thoughts.

All of this should come as no surprise. The far-right in all its iterations has hatred of anything gay at its core. It’s campaign to bar LGBTQ+ people from health care, jobs, insurance coverage, marriage and to isolate them as something less than human never has been more full throttle.

And it’s tops on the agenda of the groups mentioned above who want to take over school boards and ban not just anything referring to LGBTQ+ folks and history from curriculum but even the most basic sex education for all children. It’s hateful, it’s shameful and it’s real. Vote, people, vote.


It was just announced that all Pennsylvania counties are under a drought alert. Statewide average rainfall is more than five inches behind. We just experienced a few days of heavy smog and shortness of breath from the wildfire smoke from Canada. Globally, temperatures are set to resume their rise after a temporary slowing. It was also just announced that the fossil fuel industry has mostly been deceiving us about its efforts to reduce carbon emissions. No big surprise there for anyone who’s been taking climate change seriously.

Despite all the valid science put forward showing climate change is real and man is the primary culprit, denial continues. It’s worse than denial. Those trying to prevent any kind of response to climate change know it’s real, they just don’t care. They are looking entirely at their own instant gratification and bank accounts.

Locally there is no better example of this than the pieces published in The Delaware Valley Journal. The DVJ is a far-right on-line “newspaper” that consists of the most radical right-wing writings you can imagine. Hardly a story it publishes can stand up to even the most elementary of fact-checking. In the past few weeks, it has put on display a series of writers, all of whom are tied in one way or another, to the fossil fuel industry, all claiming climate change is a farce.

But there remain legitimate groups working to get the real science in front of the public but time is running out, which makes the antics of publications like the DVJ all the more sorry.


And, speaking of the DVJ, it wasted no time jumping on the collapse of the I-95 bridge in Philly as an example of Democratic incompetence, even projecting that incompetence. This week the DVJ mocked Gov. Josh Shapiro’s claim that repairs will be fast-tracked by comparing it to the 90 days it took to repair an earthquake-related collapse in California. Forget any differences in type of bridge, construction standards, etc. Shapiro will fail, Democrats will fail.

The DVJ even slammed U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for coming to the Philly collapse site in days while it took him three weeks to arrive at the train derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio. The DVJ says Pete came to Philly because it is a Democratic Party stronghold and East Palestine is not.

Forget for a moment, or in the case of the DVJ “ignore” for a moment, the fact these are two radically different situations. The East Palestine derailment was serious, but it impacted a limited area. The I-95 collapse impacts the entire East Coast corridor to a degree. But, of course, that matters little to the far-right publications posing as “news” outlets.

Rich Heiland is a retired reporter, editor and publisher. He has been a part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting team, National Columnist of the Year and a journalism instructor. He lives in West Chester.

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