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Letters: Conversations In York, Pa.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Time now for your comments, and we received many regarding our latest report on Friday from York, Pennsylvania.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Steve Inskeep and I have been sitting down with a diverse group of voters to talk candidly about race in this campaign. On Friday, the conversation turned to what might happen after the election.

SIEGEL: And one comment in particular from Leah Moreland had triggered a lot of response. She worried about chaos and payback by blacks if Obama wins.

NORRIS: Cathy Angel(ph) recalls making a similar statement during Jesse Jackson's campaign.

SIEGEL: She writes, "I too was afraid that the election of a black president might result in that same unconscionable behavior being turned on me and other white Americans. It wasn't until later that I discovered the true source of this fear. It came from my own unfounded fears and my unquestioning acceptance of the fears of other white people. So, Leah, I ask you to carefully evaluate whether your disinclination to vote for Obama is based on realities that you've witnessed or experienced yourself, or whether instead it's due to negative stereotypes, guilt, and unfounded fears that perhaps have affected you as well."

NORRIS: We also got a few letters like this one from Benjamin Cologne(ph) who lives in York and is raising two multi-racial children. He says, "Our voters did not represent the city. It makes me cringe when I hear comments as the one I heard in your story," Mr. Cologne writes. "My children are being raised colorblind. Many of my friends are very open-minded and would also object to the notion that this is a racist town. To paint the town as a racist town is not only wrong, but counterproductive."

SIEGEL: Erica Krause(ph) of Oklahoma City was one of many listeners who thanked us for airing an open dialogue on this sensitive topic. She writes, "For all the reporting on the role of race in this campaign, this was the first time that I've heard an honest, open discussion about race in America. I congratulate all of the panel members for courage and honesty. It's only through open, honest communication that this country can begin to end racism."

NORRIS: Rich Myers(ph) of Coarsegold(ph), Indiana, faulted us for dwelling too much on race. "To my knowledge, Barack Obama has never asked anyone to support him merely because he's black, and John McCain has not asked anyone to support him merely because he is white," Mr. Myers says. He continues, "NPR's continuing series on race in the election, however well meant, has simply been a showcase for the least intelligent reason why anyone would support a particular candidate, the color of his or her skin."

SIEGEL: Well, we thank you for your comments. You can send them to us at our Web site, npr.org. Click on "Contact Us" at the top of the page. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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