I am not Trayvon Martin, and I will never know what it is like to be a teenaged male of color in the United States. I am almost 60 and of Western European ancestry. Even if I wear a hooded sweatshirt, there’s nothing about me that will cause you to clutch your purse closer, pull your kids across the street, install a motion detector light in your yard or assume that I am carrying a weapon.
Because of my appearance, you can bet that a traffic stop will most likely end with a verbal warning and no search of the vehicle. It is safe to assume that if I knock on your door in a panic, asking to use the phone, you’ll let me in.
Prejudice is not always fear of another. It can also be an unfounded affinity for a stranger based on outward characteristics. This blade has two honed edges, and each do harm. Prejudice did not simply melt away the day our current president was elected. And, it did not run and hide when Malcolm X or the Black Panthers made their voices heard. It did not die out when classrooms were integrated. Surely it did not evaporate when slaves were freed.
No, it is still here, still grinding us down and still preventing us from becoming a truly great nation. It whispers in ads for predatory payday loans, cheap auto insurance and unhealthy fast food. It is there settled comfortably just to the side, grinning from behind commercials, jokes, cartoons, lyrics and so many everyday assaults on us.
HOLLY HOLDEN-EKLUND, Moorhead, Minn.
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It is stunning that our national dialogue comes to a screeching halt over the case of a young black man killed in a highly questionable confrontation with a Hispanic on a rainy night in central Florida. Meanwhile, every year in our country, more than 8,000 blacks are killed as a consequence of violent crime. Ninety-three percent of those lost souls are murdered by someone of their own race. In the last decade, the number of young black Americans who have died violently exceeds our nation’s total battlefield losses in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is long since time that we as a nation look seriously at the destructive results of chronic black poverty, a disastrous public schools system that consigns far too many black children to a lifetime of underachievement, and the virtual disintegration of the black family unit.
The ultimate plight of George Zimmerman pales against our society’s urgent need to have an honest conversation about the fundamental reasons for far too many Americans’ estrangement from a remarkably inclusive country.
Mark H. Reed, Plymouth
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The comments about hair color and voice quality in C.J.’s column were unnecessary (“WCCO’s talent,” July 18). I know Jamie Yuccas personally, and she is a hardworking professional who has paid her dues and deserves her current position on the morning show, regardless of her hair color or perceived voice quality. Last Monday, I attended the rally and March for Trayvon Martin because I sincerely believed that a grave injustice occurred with the outcome of this verdict. In my opinion, Martin was profiled. Thank God my fellow marchers, the majority being black and much different-looking than me, didn’t criticize me for my blonde hair and screeching voice. My fellow protesters welcomed me with open arms. Let’s stop the racial profiling.
Susan Larson, Minneapolis
No harm in using your edge for leverage
It was frustrating to read Christine Brunkhorst’s July 18 commentary regarding unpaid internships (“The first step is to admit you have an edge”). My response is: “You bet!” What’s the crime in trying to gain an edge with your career aspirations?
Some years back while attending the University of Minnesota, I had two unpaid internships, one with a local broadcast company and the other with a local cable TV company. After interning at the broadcast company, I learned it was a rip-off, due to paltry wages (once on the job) and little opportunity for advancement. The cable company internship provided the opposite experience and was exactly what I was looking for.
College students, no matter their background, benefit greatly from internships, paid or unpaid. Quite frankly, if the workplace didn’t demand competence, motivation and experience, students would not go after it.
Sharon E. Carlson, Andover
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Brunkhorst’s commentary was exceptional. In a nutshell, she presents two approaches to resolving an issue. One is to paint all potential solutions black or white (win/lose). The second approach is to omit the paint and view all potential solutions as appropriate within reason (all/and). An excellent column that was easy to read and understand. Thanks.
Erwin Kainer, Northfield, Minn.