Letter to the Editor: Is racial injustice really “Undeniable” in South Fork?

We, the undersigned, are responding to the Oct. 18 Denver Post article asserting freedom of speech violations and racial tensions in South Fork, CO (population below 400). Click to follow link: https://www.denverpost.com/2020/10/18/black-lives-matter-colorado-small-towns/). The issues arose from Sol Mountain Farms (SMF) soliciting Black Lives Matter (BLM) donations at their local farmers market booth on town property. The solicitation prompted a reaction from numerous visitors. The Denver Post article states one “enraged customer” was incensed that SMF would solicit donations for a political organization on town property. In fact, the person denies she was “enraged.” On the contrary, she participated in a cordial conversation with SMF vendors about her views on BLM for approximately 15 minutes before thanking them for listening, and SMF responded in kind.

Those who contacted the South Fork (SF) town manager objected to the solicitation of political donations on town property. Regardless of their claims to be peacefully protesting for social justice, BLM has proven to be a divisive and violent faction that causes chaos.

What is the ultimate goal of SMF? Just because political activism has not been a central focus in this town, does it now mean that it has to be? Clearly, political activism can incite division, violence and blind hatred as we have witnessed across the U.S. under the BLM movement. What is the benefit of “speaking out, organizing and fighting back” if all it does is provoke controversy where once none existed?

“The racial tension in South Fork, specifically, is undeniable,” states Angela Lee, operations manager and part owner of SMF. Lee failed to mention to the media that when she first came to SF, the town readily hired her to take on a leadership role for a program called Community Heart & Soul, a national community development model developed by the Orton Family Foundation. Lee spent several months in that position besides serving as an assistant to SF’s marketing operations. Her hiring hardly qualifies as “undeniable racial tension and targeting of her as the daughter of immigrants.”

Lee, a licensed Colorado attorney, surely knows that she is not the only person in SF who is the offspring of immigrants. There are other SF residents who are children of immigrants who came to the U.S. to pursue a more promising future. Their aim was not to sow divisiveness nor to imply that their needs, wants and point of view somehow matter more than any other citizen of this country.

Regarding Wes O’Rourke’s comment that SF is a “place made by old white Texans, for old white Texans,” he is merely demonstrating his racial bias against the people who laid the foundation for him and his family to create and maintain successful businesses in SF. Moreover, the irony of his statement is not lost on the fact that he is the son of a Texan.

“It wasn’t even about the money. The brothers who work at SMF said they mostly just wanted to spark conversation on racial injustice in the small, mostly conservative pass-through town on the cusp of the San Luis Valley.” How is this relevant to their business? Perhaps these brothers should go back and review marketing fundamentals: it’s not about what you, the business owner wants; it’s simply about what the customer wants. Successful business owners know not to lob inflammatory ideology at their customers.

SF strives to maintain a healthy equilibrium for those who live in and visit our town. That is the sole reason it acted to avoid controversy. Perhaps, with a bit of further reflection, SMF might come to see one day that, in fact, it is engaging in blatantly biased and racially charged assertions given such statements as “made by old white Texans for old, white Texans,” South Fork is “mostly a conservative pass-through town” and “the racial tension in South Fork, specifically, is undeniable.” For all who work hard to make South Fork their home and consistently contribute to improving the quality of life here, this profiling is not only highly offensive, it is egregiously presumptuous.

If the brothers who work at SMF really wanted to “spark a conversation on racial injustice” i.e., BLM, then what was the purpose of inserting the bully pulpit of the ACLU into this conversation? Does the ACLU’s involvement not serve as a threat to the SF residents that they must accept and conform to SMF’s views or pay the price?

So, Ms. Lee, if you and SMF insist on continuing with this fight because “no one else is doing it,” then SMF may indeed win the prize . . . but at what cost?

Glynn Polter, JD & Toya Dyess, Barb & Russell Cowman, Lee & Anita Albert, Larry & Meme Martin, Dwayne & Linda Weyers, Gary & Marilyn Ochsner, Lynn Gibbons, Wayne Wicks, Tim & Cathy Thompson, Tom & Karen Slade, Michael & Molly Leddy, Becki Helmstetler, Wayne & Suzan Ginani, John & Judy Thomas, Bill Stonaker, Roxy Seligman, Greg & Lisa Butcher, Kenya Skytte, Keri Tully, Bruce & Kris Steffens, Lori Carr Prinze, Tracy & Allie Calhoun, Randy & Sue Phillips, Dee Plucinski



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