There’s a long history to break away from
Peter Bell’s July 23 commentary (“Blacks must also look inward, at our culture”), about Trayvon Martin’s death and the black community, was very interesting. As only an African-American can describe, Bell told about his culture’s low self-respect and dysfunctional behavior, which led to the “epidemic of black-on-black murders.” Few can disagree on this point. It is sad that the “majority of African-Americans … reject this new culture in silence,” and I commend Bell for speaking out.
What Bell left out though, is why he still sides with a conservative party that enables this behavior by promoting policies and laws that continue to oppress African-Americans. The list is long and hurts all minorities and economic groups through the middle class. It includes proliferating handguns, “stand your ground” laws, bad self-defense laws (like Florida’s), banking policies, real-estate redlining of neighborhoods, union busting, shipping jobs from America, poor minimum-wage laws, drug laws and other aspects of the justice system that racially profile, and much more.
Oh, one more thing. It would have been good if Bell had delivered his story in the context of our country’s historical treatment of African-Americans, from slavery through reconstruction, industrialization, and the present low-paying service industries.
GARY THOMPSON, St. Paul
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Bell’s commentary was a welcome opening in our stale old dialogue about race. Whites, not just blacks, must look inward. The problem lies in our dominant narratives about race, which hold that blacks are in one way or another victims, usually of racism.
The white narrative essentially says that blacks are mere victims of racism, or public institutions. White liberals and often blacks blame “other” people’s racism. White conservatives blame liberal establishments such as the public schools and the government for black poverty and problems. Almost everybody denies personal responsibility for it all. Liberal or conservative or black, the predominant narrative is that blacks are powerless victims.
Racism certainly exists and can make things more difficult, just as my epilepsy exists and can make my life more difficult. But if, when I developed this condition, I had believed I was a victim, I wouldn’t have been able to carry on with life, develop a career, eventually get married, raise children, be active in my community and more. The more we believe in victimhood, the less we can go anywhere.
We must transform this narrative of victimhood about race. Everybody has amazing power if they only know it, and we must pay attention to what is possible, look for the best in people, and not give up on each other and what we can all accomplish together.
PAUL ROZYCKI, Minneapolis
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All this attention is wrong in so many ways
On Tuesday, above the fold on the front page — below the masthead and just below the entirely justifiable mention of the two 2013 Pulitzers — the Star Tribune had to run a story about the royal baby. On Wednesday, it was a midpage photo of the happy, dimwitted Windsors. Really? Please get back to giving your readers more of that Pulitzer-winning content.
MARTIN DEMGEN, Minneapolis
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