Letters to the Editor

Racial issues cannot be helped through ignorance

For the last 10 days, some people have been writing letters about racial issues. Someone mentioned white-American pride, while others have been pointing out the different atrocities committed in the past by this racial group toward black and Native American people.

However, the letter that has really caught my attention is the one written by April Walthour, published on April 15. I, as a Latin American student, have the moral responsibility of clarifying some point Ms. Walthour pointed out. First of all, I agree with her in terms of what European immigrants did all over the three Americas (North, Central and South). They stole American lands from the natives, apart from exterminating them. Not only that, but they bought, enslaved and killed millions of Africans for more than 200 years. That’s the dark side of the formation of the Americas. It is in the mind of everyone that was born on this side of the world and, hopefully, will never be forgotten.

On the other hand, I personally think a statement like, “You (whites) have borrowed your entire culture, except for nonflavorful hamburgers and hot dogs,” shows that Ms. Walthour is nothing else than an ignorant and racist African-American female. Two questions for you, Ms. Walthour: Are you saying that the European immigrants who came to this country did not make any contributions to the American culture? Are you saying that European countries, most of them white countries, have no culture? Ms. Walthour, USF offers some courses in American and European history, why don’t you try them?

This lady also states that “whites in government make it harder for blacks from other countries to come here than those who ‘look’ white with a tan.” Ms. Walthour, it is my appreciation that you are referring to Latin Americans as people who look white with a tan. If that is the case, my friend, you are wrong again. Latin Americans are the product of a vast racial mixing, meaning that you can find mestizos (white with Native American), mulattos (blacks with whites) like myself, pure blacks, pure Native Americans and, yes, pure whites. So please, do not generalize.

Ms. Walthour not only makes wrong generalizations about Latin Americans but also attacks us in her letter. She says that whites “feel they can take a sigh of relief because they have welcomed so many Hispanics here with incentives and ready passage to our country to try to undermine these events.” Let me clarify that. The Hispanic community has been active in the United States since Juan Ponce de Leon discovered Florida in 1513. However, the great influx of Hispanics to the United States in the 20th century was not because white-Americans specifically wanted to. Millions of Puerto Ricans moved to New York between the 1930s and 1960s because of the difficult economic situation on the island. Mexicans have been crossing the border since the 1910s in order to escape poverty. Cubans came with the help of the United States in the 1960s, escaping from a repressive dictatorship. Recently millions of Hispanics from Dominican Republic, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Argentina, Chile and many other Latin American countries have been arriving to this country looking for a new chance of improving their lives. Saying that whites have “welcomed” us is another ignorant comment because most Hispanics have gone through the same type of discrimination that African-Americans have.

Ms. Walthour, many of us have been called “Spics.” Many Hispanics have been victims of hate crimes. Many people mock our accent or our culture. In other words, we are a minority, as African-Americans are.

I want to finish my argument pointing out another statement Ms. Walthour made. She states, “Half of the people in Miami don’t even speak English but still prosper while blacks are still ridiculed for speaking broken English.” That is completely right, and I think that you, and those African-Americans who think like you, should look at us with admiration. Most of us come here without speaking any English but willing to work hard for this country. I can say with pride that my people work in the fields, building houses, as janitors and doing all kinds of low-scale jobs. I can say with pride that there is a rising Hispanic youth that is studying very hard in university campuses all over the nation for the advancement of our community and ourselves. I can also proudly say that Hispanics such as Mexican Rosario Marín (U.S. Treasurer) and Puerto Rican Dr. Richard Carmona (U.S. Surgeon General) are serving this great nation with pride and efficiency.

Ah, one more thing, Ms. Walthour. The always-remembered Bob Marley once said: “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.” Great words … why don’t you try to apply them?

Roberto Jiménez is a freshman and a pre-med major.

Democracy Rising deserved better media coverage

Political, civic, historic, empowering and well attended. The Florida Democratic meeting in Orlando? No. The Democracy Rising rally in Tampa.

This event drew well over twice as many participants as the Democrats’ event. The numbers were historic; the last time a civil/political gathering of this size occurred in the area was more than a decade ago (Ronald Reagan in 1989).

Yet the local media chose to report on the ho-hum Democratic meeting on the front page while the Democracy Rising event was scarcely discussed and in the local sections of the papers. Beyond this shortcoming, the stories themselves were full of biased descriptions. For example, of the 120 nonprofit organizations at the rally, St. Petersburg Times staff writer John Balz chose to list three: Sierra Club, VOCAL and the Tampa Bay Naturists. Balz is sure to point out that the Naturists are on a “quest to promote ‘clothing-optional beaches.'” This reporting is sensationalized and presents a specific view of the goals expressed at the rally. Balz could have discussed the aims of ACLU, ACORN, The Center for Voting and Democracy, The Civic Media Center, Greenpeace, Collier County Anti-War Coalition, Community Coalition Against War and Terrorism, the Moratorium Campaign and the 100 other organizations. But the Naturists were more intriguing to describe.

In addition, Balz described the “body piercings and hemp clothing” of the rally participants. Nowhere in the front-page story on the Democratic meeting was there a description of Gore, Reno, or McBride’s wardrobe. Nor was Gore called a “cult hero,” a title that belittles the immense amount of work Nader has done over the more than 40 years he has devoted to consumer, environmental, social, civic and political change.

Six thousand and two hundred people attended the Democracy Rising rally on April 13. Those citizen activists drove from as far as Sarasota and Gainesville. We paid to attend, waited in line and paid for food. Many contributed to the cause of the progressive agenda once inside. In contrast, a mere 2,500 persons attended the Democratic meeting, even though some were paid to attend – excuse me, were reimbursed (state teacher’s union reps.) – and corporate accommodations were provided.

The lack of coverage was expected however. Nader suggested that little media coverage would be provided. Unfortunately, he was right.

Cary Hopkins Eyles is a graduate student majoring in criminology.