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Those who live here know
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Forsyth County News
As parents are often quick to remind teenagers who may not be overly selective in choosing their friends — it’s hard to live down a reputation.

The labels we choose to attach to people sometimes refuse to go away, especially if they carry with them a negative connotation.

Apparently, the same is true of communities of people, which explains why so many were willing to assume the worse when it was reported that the burning of a home in Forsyth County had racial overtones.

There were many who simply nodded their heads on hearing that graffiti painted along a fence suggested that the arson as a hate crime motivated by both racism and politics.

For some, Forsyth County will also be considered a bastion of racism, and facts to the contrary will not change that perception, no matter how plentiful they may be.

We do not yet know the facts behind the burning of Pamela Graf’s home. We do know that she and her boyfriend have been charged with the arson, and investigators feel the effort to portray racism as a motivation in the fire was an intentional misdirection.

It will be up to the courts to determine if the accused are guilty of the crimes with which they have been charged. If they are, they will be punished.

Even so, the slur upon the county’s reputation will not quickly be forgotten. In the court of public perception, Forsyth County seems forever doomed to be perceived as a racially divided county with an underlying foundation of racism, and that simply is not true.

Those willing to take an honest look at Forsyth County today see a tolerant, progressive community in which peoples of all colors, nationalities, creeds and religions interact on a daily basis. The majority of those living here are far too busy living the lives of modern suburbanites to worry themselves with imagined social shortcomings.

In every community in America there are racists, those who truly believe one group of humans is inherently superior to another due to the color of their skin or the nature of their religion. The percentage of those in Forsyth County who hold such beliefs is no greater than in many other communities throughout the nation. To say that they are a minuscule minority is to overstate their numbers.

But a reputation is a hard thing to shake, and those who don’t know the modern Forsyth County don’t begin to understand the social dynamics at work here. With time, perhaps they will. If not, the loss is theirs.