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.


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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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The “noble” predecessors of this child exploited native people and the environments of Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas for generations. The current queen (“the Crown”) still owns more acreage than does any other entity on earth (see “Who Owns the World,” by Kevin Cahill and Rob McMahon).

This newborn prince, someday king, will deserve positive attention only if he returns ownership of such land to those who should have inherited it — the common people.

EDWARD SHAFER, Rochester, Minn.

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Vital to baseball teams and their communities

The writer of the July 23 Letter of the Day, critical of Target and the Chicago Cubs for desecrating the hallowed ivy walls of Wrigley Field with advertising, would benefit from some basic examples of economics and history. The economics of professional sports necessitate the utilization of every possible revenue stream to remain competitive, while the history of baseball reveals that advertising has always been a major source of every team’s income. In fact, advertising covered Wrigley’s outfield walls from baseline to baseline for more than 20 years before the ivy was planted, and Fenway Park’s famous “Green Monster” was obscured by ads for more than 30 years before being painted green in 1947. Both modifications were likely in response to player complaints about the difficulty of seeing the baseball in a collage of billboards, rather than fan disgust with corporate greed.

DAN EITTREIM, Minneapolis

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Those who complain about logo placement or naming rights by corporations must try to understand the importance of corporate support for arts and culture projects, entertainment venues and sports facilities. Ironically, the very stadium the letter writer reveres was named for its owner, the chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley.

Without the support of corporations like Target (and Wrigley), millions of people would be denied access to programs and facilities. As the president of an organization that began with generous funding from the Dayton Hudson Foundation, we continue to receive support from Target for one of our 33 projects — the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts.

The Twin Cities area has a rich legacy of philanthropic support that has made this one of the best places in the country to live and work. But over the years, as the family-owned companies headquartered here have transitioned out of these families, corporations like Target have stepped in to fill the funding gap. We’ve benefited tremendously as a city and region from their largesse. In fact, the Chronicle of Philanthropy just named Target one of the top 10 most generous companies in the nation, donating approximately $224 million in cash and products in the last year.



The writer is president of Artspace Projects Inc.