Despite racial tension, East Baltimore areas can blossom...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 14, 2000

Despite racial tension, East Baltimore areas can blossom together

Jeff Powley's assessment of how I view Washington Hill residents was wrong on the facts ("Hopkins wants to rid area of its poor neighbors," letters, Feb. 26).

I have never said that Washington Hill residents do not want my constituents because they are poor and black. In fact, I know of at least 70 Washington Hill residents who want us there; they told me in a petition they've signed.

To imply that I accused all Washington Hill residents of discrimination is wrong. I believe that most of Washington Hill residents are good folks who care about their community.

It's some of its leaders who are using terms like "them" and "they" and are posing questions to the city housing authority that suggest it was OK for us to build on their back door, but now that we will build on their front door (40 yards across Fayette Street) they have a problem.

If these statements are not at least colored with racial overtones, I do not know what statements are.

As far as Johns Hopkins is concerned, I cannot speak for how other poor people have been treated. What I do know is that Hopkins offered to be our partner on the original Broadway site long before anyone knew that the Church Home site would become available.

Washington Hill is a beautiful community and Broadway residents are beautiful people. It will be great if we can work together to make Washington Hill better yet, with gorgeous homes and people's lives blossoming in harmony.

It can happen. I am optimistic.

Harry N. Karas, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Broadway Homes Resident Cooperative.

Racist assumptions can take many forms

In her recent column, Odeana Neal makes several points a reasonable person would have trouble objecting to: That racial assumptions can be harmful and that every reasonable effort must be made to assure justice is done, regardless of race. ("When assumptions color thinking on young offenders" Opinion Commentary, March 6).

However, I was most troubled by one assumption of hers. She related a story of a student who thought a young boy who had mimicked a crack dealer should be disciplined by the juvenile courts.

Ms. Neal stated "although I may be mistaken, I believe that my student thought Timothy [the boy] was African-American" and suggested this accounted for her student's views .

While Ms. Neal may have concrete reasons to believe this, those reasons were certainly not recounted in the column.

It appeared to this reader that Ms. Neal was guilty of making an unfair assumption based on a preconceived notion. Isn't that just what she claims the student did?

Before we assume a person is basing his or her decisions on race, we should have concrete evidence.

Otherwise, the civil rights movement becomes nothing more than a weapon to wield when an agenda is threatened.

Race relations in this country have been stunted by unfair treatment of others based on race.

This applies to all forms of unfair treatment, regardless of race.

Donald S. Smith, Baltimore

I found the column "When assumptions color thinking on young offenders" (March 6) very interesting.

Several years ago, I was mugged outside a public library. When telling my story to various people, many people asked me, "Was he [the mugger] black?"

They assumed that to be a mugger, the offender had to be black. What also really bothered me was that this was the first question they asked me, before they asked if I was alright.

I had the pleasure of telling them that he wasn't black, he was a blue-eyed, blonde-haired middle-class boy who wasn't from a broken home.

Elizabeth Fletcher, Glen Burnie

Column was a reminder to thank those who protect us I'm very glad I read Ann Landers' column "Explaining emotional toll of 911 operators" (March 6). The letter from Charles Cuddy, an emergency communication technician at a Baltimore County 911 center, was a wake-up call.

We need to say thank you every day to 911 workers, police and fire departments. We take too much for granted from these life-saving forces.

Joan Weiskittel Denny, Lutherville

Cable-based Internet access: A question of consumer rights

The Sun's article on open access to the Internet missed the point -- and the lines ("The lines are drawn in battle over cable," March 6).

The article portrayed the issue as one between cable companies, phone companies and Internet Service Providers. But it's really about consumers, and their right to choose their Internet service.

Consumers have for years been victims of cable companies expensive and poor quality service. The lack of competition for cable service has fostered a system where consumers have no choice in content, poor service and increasing prices.

We should not expand this corporate monopoly to the Internet.

Randolph N. Blair, Baltimore

I was disappointed to see The Sun's characterization of cable access to Internet service as a battle between big companies vying for control of dollars and customers.

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