Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 10, 2004

Homophobia takes tragic toll in black lives

Marjorie Valbrun's thoughtful analysis of the risk facing many African-American women of contracting HIV/AIDS from men on the "down-low" brings up a very significant point ("Time to face up to 'down-low,'" Opinion*Commentary, Dec. 1).

One of the main factors she cited in the proliferation of "down-low" activity by seemingly heterosexual African-American men is the contempt for homosexuality by many members of the black clergy.

As Ms. Valbrun wrote, "The stigma of being gay is much more pronounced and more harshly denounced in the black community, especially in the black church." This is reinforced at home and drives gay men in the black community underground.

The Sun's report that 70 pastors (many of whom lead congregations) are organizing a rally against gay marriage in Annapolis, to which they hope to bring in 100,000 demonstrators, adds credence to Ms. Valbrun's assessment ("70 pastors ready fight against gay marriage," Nov. 17).

With their homophobic, hateful rantings in the church, black ministers are indirectly contributing to the "down-low" phenomenon and, as a result, putting more African-American women at risk by causing African-American men to feel so isolated in their own community that they have to travel this "down-low" road.

This pattern of secrecy and nondisclosure has a potentially fatal outcome. It has tragically been demonstrated that homophobia kills.

Patricia Morris English

Ellicott City

The writer is a member of the steering committee of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of Howard County.

Poverty is problem we all must address

Michael Olesker's good intentions are clear in pointing out all the ways poverty disproportionately impacts African-Americans, particularly in Maryland ("Writing off people as hopeless is unfair, as Mfume's life shows," Dec. 3).

I enjoy Mr. Olesker's columns, and I don't even hold his occasionally unfortunate use of metaphor against him.

However, in his column about the end of Kweisi Mfume's tenure at the NAACP, I found more than unfortunate the implication that addressing the continuing poverty of black America is somehow "on" the NAACP more than "on" all of us: white and black, rich and poor, church and business.

Abigail Breiseth

Baltimore

Mfume is a model of social mobility

For once I agree with Michael Olesker - sort of. I agree that anyone can succeed in life, even after having a rough start, as did Kweisi Mfume ("Writing off people as hopeless is unfair, as Mfume's life shows," Dec. 3).

What those who do succeed have in common is a desire to overcome their situation.

No one will succeed in life if he or she does not have that desire, or waits for some government program to do it for him or her.

However, citing statistics is not a way to help anyone; it only gives those not willing to make an effort an excuse.

Mr. Mfume's success in life should be a model for everyone, regardless of color.

If he could find the door in the "wall of economic class" referred to by Mr. Olesker, then others with the same desire will do so as well.

Michael Connell

Baltimore

Readers have right to truly fair reporting

When reporters feel they have a right not only to misrepresent the facts but to cry foul when penalized, their ability to conform to even the minimum standards of journalism is in question ("Legal experts divided on Ehrlich ban affecting 2 Sun writers," Dec. 7).

And how on earth does not being spoken to by the governor or his administration violate their freedom of speech?

The real "chilling effect" of this absurdity is on the honor of the profession, which seems to be interested only in attack and personal destruction.

Readers have rights, too. They deserve something better than this constant, base attempt by reporters to undermine legitimate government for their own ends.

Elizabeth Ward Nottrodt

Baltimore

Report positive acts closer to our lives

Although I did read the story about executions in China, I would be more interested in reading in-depth articles concerning positive local stories ("Editors, readers might differ on what matters," Dec. 5).

I encourage The Sun to devote more in-depth articles to positive stories about people who make a difference.

Michelle Brown

Upperco

Coverage of world much too negative

Public editor Paul Moore's column "Editors, readers might differ on what matters" (Dec. 5) is on point regarding foreign news reporting.

After all, we, the reading public, are interested in the news that affects us directly. And if China's penalty system had some direct or even indirect influence on our lives, the article should have reported that clearly.

But I saw no such linkage in the article "Doomed, then living to tell tale" (Nov. 28), and did not read the article beyond the first few paragraphs.

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