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Guest Blog By Retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Baldwin

Starving the Wolf of White Supremacy

Like most Americans, I am heartened to see the peaceful protestors in our streets demanding a long overdue recognition of the humanity and citizenship of Black Americans. This struggle to affirm our common humanity began more than 150 years ago during the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Since then, in my view, the war waged for the soul of America has largely been between white supremacy and equal justice for all citizens.

As I consider the amount of hard work ahead of us to build a better America, I am reminded of the wisdom of “Two Wolves,” an old Cherokee legend: When teaching his grandson about life, an elder warned his grandson, “A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil – he is anger, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, false pride and superiority.” He continued, “The other wolf is good – his is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, compassion and truth. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person too.”

Concerned, the boy then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The elder simply replied, “The one you feed.”

As lawyers, let us resolve to starve the wolf of white supremacy. For too long, it has threatened our homes and our communities. But, even more importantly – particularly in light of our troubled past – we must feed the wolf of peace, compassion and truth. We will live up to the best of our history when – in our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, board rooms, houses of worship and in government – we make a sustained and determined commitment to address our pressing issues of racial injustice.

In doing so, we honor the sacrifices of our ancestors of all colors who have labored and bled to secure our freedom and prosperity.

Richard C. Baldwin
Associate Justice
Oregon Supreme Court (Retired)

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