Letters to the Editor: White America is deaf to the Black experience. It’s time to listen

A coffin is carried in honor of George Floyd at a Black Lives Matter-L.A. memorial service and funeral procession Monday.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Forty years ago when my partners — two other white guys — and I were writing the movie “Airplane!” we were partially inspired by the film “Shaft.” We had enjoyed it but could not understand some of the dialogue, so we thought it would be fun to cast two Black actors in our movie and subtitle them with stupid white-guy translations. (“After George Floyd’s death, a time to listen and learn,” column, June 6)

When “Airplane!” opened, I saw the movie with both Black and white audiences (they were rarely mixed). Interestingly, the Black audiences laughed at least as hard at the subtitle joke as the white audiences. They really enjoyed the clueless attempt of the white-guy subtitles to explain what the Black men were saying.

It was only then that I realized we had inadvertently identified in a comedic way a truth about American history: the deafness of white America to the Black experience.


The people speaking out have provided a valuable lesson about the repercussions of hundreds of years of institutional racism in America. Columns by LZ Granderson and Erika D. Smith, in particular, have been especially powerful and eye opening.

We must listen. Obviously this is just one step in a long journey, but I’m genuinely hopeful that dialogue will not fade again, white America will hear it, and progress will be made.

Jim Abrahams, Santa Monica


To the editor: There were white people in the United States who joined the civil rights protests in the 1960s. There were so many, including people just like myself, who fought then and continued for all these years fighting inequality.

I was a freshman at USC in 1964 when I took two life-changing classes on race and society. I volunteered in Watts, and I was active in Operation Bootstrap. I continued speaking out later in life and never let prejudice go ignored.

Now in my 70s, I take a knee at football games and have been called unpatriotic. I know what I am doing is true patriotism.


I am so excited to see more young people involved; hopefully, they will be voting. I am sad only that we’re still fighting for something as obvious as equality for all.

Patricia Kourt, Los Angeles