We must stop disrespecting African heritageJames D...


June 07, 1998

We must stop disrespecting African heritage

James D. Walsh's letter ("Head-wrap article was off the mark," May 24) stated that the Rev. Robert A. F. Turner's May 10 article that provided an 18th-century legal and cultural context for understanding the adverse reaction of some to Shermia Isaacs wearing an African head-wrap at her Howard County school was "interesting, but otherwise irrelevant to the recent controversy."

Mr. Walsh seems unable to comprehend that racial and cultural attitudes of 1998 continue to be influenced by the legal system established centuries ago in this nation for the purpose of advancing a claimed Eurocentric cultural supremacy and hegemony over African people.

Also, Mr. Walsh's myopia has prevented him from understanding what seemed clear to me in the portions of the Rev. Turner's article concerning Howard County Board of Education dress code policy and the practice at Harper's Choice Middle School.

There was no board policy that prohibited the head-wrap, and the school had a rule only on the wearing of hats.

We now know that exceptions had been made to even that rule for other students.

Contrary to Mr. Walsh's presumption that there is a race-neutral dress code, it appears that a prohibition was invented by school staff specifically to stop an African-American student from wearing a head-wrap closely associated with her cultural heritage.

That outrage was compounded when the board noted a nonexistent prohibition of head coverings and headgear in subsequent filings with the court.

A culture war on African people historically has been waged to prevent the re-emergence of ethnic consciousness that leads to unity and resistance to oppression.

That is why we will not tolerate another generation of children whose identity and rich African cultural heritage are disrespected in school or community.

Ken Jennings


Neighbors feuding over proposed roads

I am writing in regard to the access and egress for new home construction in Worthington.

In recent months, much has been said and written regarding the steadily increasing traffic problems caused by additional housing and around the Worthington development.

The net result of this construction so far has been to cause the fine folks on one end of Worthington to feud with the fine folks on the other end.

More recently, the traffic issue has spilled over to include our fine neighbors in adjacent communities such as Hale Haven and Bonnie Branch/Ilchester. None of these folks is responsible for the creation or resolution of the problem.

The real problem lies with the decision-makers who allowed this construction to take place without any consideration of the runaway growth in Howard County. I realize the dollar drives this process, but the values we all support and cherish are rapidly disappearing.

Earl B. Heim

Ellicott City

Get it straight on guns and butter

Tom Teepen is welcome to entertain any outlandish notion that pleases him, but he owes it to your readers to at least get the facts before exposing such breathtaking ignorance as his "Social programs lose out to highways" (Opinion Commentary, May 20).

According to Mr. Teepen, "Back in the Cold War, it was guns or butter. We got guns. Here in the culture war, it's highways or butter. We get highways."

According to the Congressional Budget Office, defense gets 18 percent of the federal budget and mandatory social welfare entitlement spending consumes 49 percent.

In other words, Mr. Teepen's "butter" gets more than twice as much federal spending as "guns."

This didn't just happen, either.

According to the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlements and Tax Reform, entitlement spending has consumed an increasing share of total federal spending, rising from 22.7 percent of all spending in fiscal year 1963 to the current 49 percent.

Defense spending has declined in a virtually inverse ratio since 1963.

In other words, the federal government has for several decades spent far more on "butter" than on "guns."

As for Mr. Teepen's "highways or butter" nonsense, 53 percent of all federal spending this year goes for 19 social welfare entitlement programs with annual outlays of $2 billion or more, with a combined total of nearly $800 billion, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The entire Transportation Department budget is less than $30 billion, and a fifth of that goes for mass transit, not highways.

Mr. Teepen doesn't have a clue about the facts.

Mark Tapscott


Parks chief's view on parks, sponsors

I don't usually write letters to the editor, but I feel one is warranted based on your article ("Howard may sell name rights for parks," May 3) and editorial ("This park brought to you by . . ." May 12) about comments I made concerning corporate sponsorships in the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks.

I was interviewed for more than 25 minutes and was quoted one time in each piece. The statements were used out of context.

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