Editor: I didn't know Tiffany Smith or her family -- or the warring drug dealers that killed her. The whole story made me sick with grief and feelings of helplessness.
But when I saw a picture on the front page of The Sun of Tiffany's cousin unveiling the ''Tiffany Square'' street sign, I realized there is still hope.
It is a great picture for the messages it conveys.
Not only does it affirm for us not present the new spirit of independence and accomplishment of this neighborhood, it captures the joy of the moment on the teen's face, hopefully marking a turning point in his grieving for his cousin. But the picture also shows us the course we must take.
The picture shows no fewer than six adult hands, arms and heads under the teen supporting, lifting and raising him while he whisks away the paper cover.
The teen is being held as if he were a prince being shown to the adoring crowd. He is lifted high in honor. And rightly so. He deserves this place of honor. He is alive and he is our future.
Drastic times demand drastic measures and this neighborhood is at war with these drug dealers.
If this community is going to win, it is going to require all the adult hands and minds to keep this teen -- and all the other children -- alive and growing.
We all must protect and nurture these kids. It is of life-and-death importance; there is no alternative.
If ever this community gets discouraged, we need only look at this picture and remember Tiffany, whose memory will provide the encouragement to lend these kids whatever it takes for life.
& Clarke T. Latimer. Baltimore. Editor: I am surprised at The Sun's editors' reaction to Boris Yeltsin's closing of Pravda, a newspaper that has always been a tool of the Communist Party. What should be strongly condemned are journalists who take the truth and alter it for their own political gain.
! Buz Gardner. Baltimore.
Editor: I share your "sense of trepidation" (Aug. 24) concerning the powers that Boris N. Yeltsin is acquiring in the Soviet Union. I do not agree, however, with some of your reasoning. While the Russian president's power appears formidable, it would be a mistake to assume that he represents the Soviet Union. The man whom you label a "genuine democratic reformer" is in reality a Russian demagogue.
While he is to be praised for his bravado during the coup attempt, one should not overlook the symbolic nature of his stand in Moscow. Mr. Yeltsin's defense is reminiscent of an historic Moscow-centered nativism which championed Russian ethnic superiority, a symbol that Russians would not fail to recognize.
Reinforcing that message, Mr. Yeltsin repeatedly had high praise for the Russian people, especially those Muscovites who defied the Soviet army, while at the same time avoiding favorable remarks concerning other Soviet peoples. Although some may excuse Mr. Yeltsin's statements as examples of nationalistic pride or, at worst, parochial bombast, they reflect the darker side of a politician whose rhetoric over the past two years has demonstrated an increasing intolerance of non-Russians.
Unfortunately, instead of applying his newly acquired strength for the benefit of the Soviet Union, I fear that this 20th-century Slavophile seeks only to lead the independence of his Russian homeland. If Mr. Yeltsin successfully rallies his constituents by blaming Mikhail Gorbachev, the Communists or the other Soviets for Russia's economic and social problems, any advances will come at the expense of the Soviet Union and the Soviet peoples as a whole.
The United States, therefore, should not abandon its support of President Gorbachev. While recent events have weakened his political position, Mr. Gorbachev remains the only genuine representative of the Soviet Union and its people.
Dean K. Yates. Elkridge.
Editor: Polls showing blacks approving of the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court can be misleading. Clarence Thomas, after all, had not been a household name. Not to the general population, not even to blacks. It is not inconceivable that many blacks, having little or no knowledge of Judge Thomas' ideology, approved of him solely because of racial pride.
Conservatives have been critical of black leaders' and organizations' disapproval of Judge Thomas, alleging they are out of step with mainline black American thinking. But those leaders and organizations should be, and are, much more
knowledgable of Judge Thomas than the average person. It's their job, purpose and responsibility to know. And once that biographical and ideological information is fully disseminated, blacks may very well take a different stance toward Clarence Thomas.