March 2021 Monthly Letter

Dear Reconcilers,

In December 2020 The Kansas City Star’s top editor apologized on behalf of the newspaper for having “disenfranchised, ignored and scorned generations of black Kansas citizens.”

Mike Fannin, who has worked at the Star since 1997 and served as its top editor since 2008, wrote in a letter to readers titled “The Truth in Black and White” that the Star had “robbed an entire community of opportunity, dignity, justice and recognition.” He stated that after reviewing thousands of archived stories “reporters were frequently sickened by the stories that were written.”

In September 2020, The Los Angeles Times editorial board apologized for the paper’s “history of racism.” In a letter to readers, publisher Patrick Soon-Shiong said the Times “has ignored large swaths of the city and its diverse population, or covered them in one-dimensional, sometimes racist ways.”

Having worked in reconciliation for so many years, I was very impressed when I read about the apology from these newspapers to their local black communities. I also was impressed in order for the papers go forth and make changes, they knew an apology was needed to show their readers that change was coming.

Several years ago, my wife wrote an article about the power of an apology and I would like to share a part of it with you.

It was the month of June and we were flying back home from Dallas, Texas. Our flight left at 8:30 am for Phoenix, Arizona. We had to be at the airport early so we were hoping to get some sleep on the plane. Curtis asked me to put his iPhone in my purse. I did and placed my purse under the seat in front of me like I always do. The plane was packed for the 3-hour flight. We both went to sleep.

When I heard the captain on the intercom say we were just 25 minutes out of Phoenix I decide to put my ear plug in my purse. However, I noticed my purse was on the opposite side of where I had placed it. When I checked the contents, I noticed Curtis’ phone was gone. Only the case was there. I asked him if he took his phone out he said, “No, I gave it to you.” I opened my wallet and all of the cash was gone—$135 dollars and a two-dollar bill that I was going to give to my granddaughter.

When the plane pulled up to the gate I got up and found Curtis’ phone on the floor in front of the seat in the row ahead of us. The young lady was not able to figure out the code and just left it on the floor. We were both very relieved to find the phone. We reported the theft and the airline representatives were able to find the person who sat in front of us at another gate, but she denied having done anything wrong.

The next day I was depressed. At the time, I did not realize I was still having a hard time dealing with some stranger going through my purse. I shared the story with my daughter and son-in law. Later that day my son in-law called me back and said, “Mom, I am sorry you went through that.” By the tone of his voice, I could tell he was truly sorry. To my surprise, my depression lifted and the sadness was no longer there. My son-in-law didn’t do anything. He just wanted me to feel better and to know that he cared.

Offering an apology sends a powerful message—one that says we care. I hope we never miss the opportunity to make someone feel better by saying “I’m sorry.” Thank you for your prayers and support. I am praying that you and your families stay safe.