Racial suspicion, and what fuels it

One day 30 years ago, driving home from work through a working-class African-American neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio, my car died and wouldn’t restart. Three young black men with Afros, wearing T-shirts and jeans, jumped out of their old car, ran over … and asked if they could help. They pushed my car off the street and waited while I went and called AAA from a nearby store. They declined my offer of payment for their help. I sent a letter of thanks to the local African-American newspaper.

If this happened today in Florida — or maybe even here in Minnesota — they wouldn’t dare offer to help any stranded motorist, let alone a 106-pound white woman. Concealed-carry and “stand your ground” laws make it even more tragic that we cannot see and interact with each other as legitimate individuals and live peaceably with each other. Racism makes us all losers.

AMY HUMMEL, Robbinsdale

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I have to wonder when someone will speak to the real issues that created and perpetuated this sad event: namely, the glorification of the “gangsta” lifestyle that continues to reinforce behavior that leads to the stereotyping of young black men and women. Are not the perpetrators of the crimes (reported burglaries, robberies and assaults) that created the need for neighborhood watches and legally armed citizens to monitor their neighborhoods, also responsible for the death of this young man and the ruination of another? When are they going to be called to task? When will the African-American community start demanding that those among it that are killing dozens of other young men and women every day in their own neighborhoods must be stopped?

No one wants to say it but, the disproportionate numbers of young African-Americans in the prison system are there for the most part for crimes again other African-Americans. Is a crime any less egregious or less deserving of punishment because it is not against a member of another ethnicity?

T.P. DUNNE, St. Paul

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Some game the system. Some let them do it.

Recently, a patient scoffed at my efforts to provide cost-effective health care. He is on Medical Assistance and has a number of chronic health problems, all of which have been readily managed by me, his primary care physician, for several years.

He told me he had self-referred to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, not for any specific complaint but for a “checkup.” He’s already had many unnecessary tests at local ERs, in my opinion. He laughed at the fact that Mayo “spared no expense and checked him out from head to toe,” repeating brain scans, other tests and labs over several days — he laughed because he knew I would never have ordered them.

“And Medical Assistance pays for the whole thing — and the transportation to get there!” No doctor’s referral needed. His wife is now planning to go herself.

I write because this is the third time in recent months I’ve met patients who have inappropriately self-referred to Mayo. I view Mayo and the University of Minnesota as necessary, tertiary centers where I refer patients with rare diseases who are not getting better. I can’t self-refer myself even if I needed to.

Shame on Mayo. Shame on Medical Assistance. At a time when we desperately need to provide cost-effective health care in this country, neither are acting as responsible stewards.


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Maybe not locally, but, yes, for Congress

Regarding “Say no to term limits in Duluth” (editorial, July 10): While I agree that there should not be term limits for local and statewide elections, I believe term limits and campaign finance reform are essential for congressional elections as they are for presidential elections. Congress is considered by many to be the most divided since the American Civil War. The rigid adherence to political agendas will not change as long as the focus of both major parties nationally continues to be ongoing fundraising, rewarding major campaign contributors and getting re-elected with gerrymandered districts to avoid a competition of ideas.

Although a term-limit amendment is very difficult to attain for many reasons, voters at least must strongly demand other major systemic changes. Otherwise, we will continue to witness a dysfunctional Congress rated unfavorably by about 90 percent of the voters — and the stagnation of a great nation.

SHELDON OLKON, Golden Valley