If you think racism doesn't exist in central New York, you are very wrong.

We published this story on Sunday about Jakeila Phillips, an African american woman from Utica, posted a video on Facebook showing racism and prejudice:

Barry Wardell is heard yelling "black lives don't matter" out a car window, telling her "blacks should be slave." and to "give me back my grandparent property that might have been your ancestors."

You can watch the video here, and learn what happened after the video was released.

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What did I personally learn from this video?

As a father of 4, I always want the best for my children. I want my children to grow, and to learn all cultures, and to accept everyone for who they are. I wasn't that lucky growing up.

During this whole "Black Lives Matter" movement after the death of George Floyd, I can't tell you the amount of family and friends who have blocked, and unfriended, me on Facebook. Yes, family....have blocked me. I've had one Aunt who literally sent my sister an extremely inappropriate message, and made up blatant lies about my family. If you follow me on social media, this will explain why I have been posting so much about soup tureens.....I didn't even know what the hell that was a few weeks ago.

Certain family members and friends are upset I support Black Lives Matter.

Growing up, even though I can't speak highly enough of Westmoreland Central School, it was no stranger to racism. My first real taste of racism was in high school at a track meet. I had a bus driver congratulate me for beating an African american running in a race. The driver, who I believe retired by now, told me I should be "proud I can outrun a kid who gets chased by lions in Africa." That comment alone haunts me to this day.

A few years back volunteering for the Boilermaker, I had a race spectator come up to me during the road race booing Kenyan runners.

"These runners have an unfair advantage! They are black! Screw these N WORDS."

This person asked me if I agreed, and I explained absolutely not. I explained these athletes train their entire life, and will perform much better than I could ever dream in a race. I don't see color.....The spectator called me, and my station, and N WORD lovers.

Racism Exists Here In Central New York

If you think "I live in New Hartford, we aren't racist here" you are wrong. Racism exists in any town in our region. Are our towns and cities better than a lot of the world with accepting all race, genders, and color? Yes. Can we be better? Yes.

I make a pledge to continue to educate myself every single day. I will admit, I didn't know what Juneteenth was. I educated myself, and helped educate others from that point on. I will continue to support my African american colleagues, and friends. Black Lives Matter.

You may not agree with what I wrote, and that's entirely fine. Having conversations are what's important.


KEEP READING: See changes enacted since George Floyd’s death

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