A realistic view of the real American tragedy  

I was shocked and pleased to see the Peter Bell commentary on black culture and the need to hold people to a higher standard (“Blacks must also look inward, at our culture,” June 25). This follows on Bill O’Reilly’s commentary regarding the abhorrent situation with black-on-black crime. While we are all spinning on the George Zimmerman acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the real tragedy is occurring in the black community, where families are disintegrating. Let’s stop with the race-baiting and focus on what needs to be done.

DAVE ROY, Plymouth

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What a great article. It is about time a black leader stood up and told black youth about the facts of life.


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Bell blames black criminal behavior on deeply dysfunctional homes and communities. Did these spring up out of a place where everyone had equal access, rights and privileges? Many of the children are full of stifled potential. Look a little deeper into hip-hop art and culture, Mr. Bell, and you will find many artists whose expressions do not denigrate women or themselves. Hip-hop art is largely an expression of the needs, desires and observations of a young, devalued, disenfranchised segment of our society. This segment has found validity for its creativity, energy and brilliance through its art. Open your heart, eyes and ears, and observe who these young people are that you so thoughtlessly denigrate.

MARY GNATZ, Minneapolis

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Take more care when labeling racial motives

The editorial citing outbreaks of violence in 1967 labeled Detroit’s a “race riot” (“Why Minneapolis didn’t follow Detroit,” July 25). It wasn’t a race riot. A race riot is an event in which members of different races attack each other. In Detroit, after police made arrests at an after-hours inner-city bar, some citizens rose up against what they saw as a pattern of police brutality toward black people, and widespread violence ensued. Police and National Guard troops responded en masse, and many black protesters acted self-destructively, setting fire to businesses and homes in their own neighborhoods. I spent five months in Detroit, in 1968 and ’69, making a documentary film for national public television on the causes and effects of the outbreak. Most black people I interviewed called it a rebellion, and they adamantly rejected the idea that it was a race riot. They said the protesters were acting not against white people, but against the police. Using the term “race riot” gives a mistaken impression of what happened; it also contributes to white people’s fear and can harden their resistance to working toward racial harmony.

GARY GILSON, Minneapolis

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The editorial on Detroit hit much closer to the mark than the politically driven discussions occurring around the country. I’m a native of the greater Detroit area and can say that the 1967 riots did begin the process by which Detroit became a bankrupt wasteland. But there’s something in the editorial that’s relevant to the Twin Cities. People didn’t just move outside of Detroit; they stopped going downtown altogether. While the greater Detroit area is still economically active and vital, little of that money finds its way into Detroit proper. No large city survives without such commerce. The Twin Cities, on the other hand, has active downtowns that people use to attend sports events and concerts.


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Congress is going in the wrong direction

GOP members of Congress are not just playing hardball with President Obama — they’re showing a reckless disregard for the well-being of the American public. When they slash the Environmental Protection Agency budget, it’s the water we drink and the air we breathe that goes unprotected. When greenhouse gases go uncontrolled, it’s our children who will pay the price. Cut the Securities and Exchange Commission budget, and people in finance can once again do whatever they can to rake in the profits so that the rest of us see the value of our pensions and homes plummet. Let’s not ever lose sight of the fact that the only real losers in this game of hardball are us.


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To our elected employees of the federal government: It’s time for midyear employee evaluations. We the people would like concise, clear answers to the following questions: 1) In working together, have you made progress toward establishing a balanced budget? 2) Regarding the establishment of a balanced budget, are you kicking the can down the road?

GREGORY MINOR, Farmington, Minn.

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It’s a boy — and, boy, we’re tired of it all

Enough of the royal baby, already. And please, no diaper-cam.


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Commentary was short on substance

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s puff piece on education in Minnesota could have been an education to us all had he cited some facts and figures (“Education in Minnesota: What I saw,” July 23). How many years have we been funding early learning? What is the trend on benchmark tests during this period? What is the trend of graduation rates as a result of early learning? How much have we “invested” in this program? If the results are not positive, then we are not “investing” — we are squandering our tax money.

DOUG CLEMONS, Bloomington