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Letters to the Editor

RACIAL PROFILING

Impulse probably lives in most of us

On reading the recent article about two young Hispanic men stopped for a suspected robbery in the Chautauqua area (Daily Camera, Feb. 27) my first reaction was one of anger. As a friend of Marco Zelaya, one of the men, I couldn't believe that the woman who had made the 911 call was so insensitive and prejudiced.

However, on further reflection, I had to admit that in a similar situation, I may have acted in a similar way. I consider myself a tolerant person, but this unfortunate incident has had the effect of causing me to look at myself and see a measure of prejudice that resides within me. It is hard to admit to, but I know it's there. I believe it is an unfortunate part of the human condition that can't be erased.

However, I also believe that its negative effects can be overcome in each of us by being sensitive to what is in our heart, and resisting the impulse to act with prejudice or intolerance.

TOM ZIMMERMAN

Boulder


RACISM

A reality whether its acknowledged or not

We applaud David Thielen for standing up for his daughter's courage to seek the truth (Daily Camera, Feb. 14). While she may have learned more than she ever anticipated, she realized the value of sharing the experience. We only wish that the responsible adults would follow suit and see the possibility of every experience as a teaching moment.

Teachers and administrators concerned about making "minority" children uncomfortable should instead ask those same children how uncomfortable is their reality of racist experiences in Boulder Valley School District. We suggest that the school turn this into a "teachable moment" and have discussions in the classroom about what the project means.

Some people live under the illusion that racism does not affect them, therefore should only be approached in an appropriate setting. Yet there are those who do not have the privilege to look the other way when the insults and attacks continue on a daily basis. Our children tell us of verbal and physical attacks upon them because of the color of their skin, the texture of their hair, the shape of their eyes, nose or lips. Even in our elementary school classrooms, children of color are called "nigger," laughed at because of their accents and accused of belonging to gangs because of the way they dress.

Yet when they report these incidents to trusted adults, they are ignored, told to "deal with it", or called liars. They learn that nothing will be done and they remain silent. This silence festers within, until they begin to believe that adults don't care and maybe, just maybe, there is some truth to these lies about their character. You see, silence is not always golden and, in fact, may be a sign that something is wrong.

Parents, teachers and administrators, you are mistaken to believe that not speaking about the ills of life will make them not so. How can you teach about the principle of equality that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us without first acknowledging that equality does not exist for everyone? How can you expect your children to overcome adversity without naming the adverse? How can you teach children to face their fears, when you are not willing to do so yourself?

Elementary level is not too early to each about racism and there are groups that have supported this work. MEAC and the Reading to End Racism are two such groups. Our children deserve so much more. They can teach you a lot about real life. Listen to them and then be willing to have those hard discussions. But most of all, do your own homework and face that which you have not been willing to face.

MALAIKA and ANDRE PETTIGREW, RICHARD GARCIA, KAREN ASHMORE

Louisville, Erie, Broomfield


TRAILS

Don't erode, just get selves muddy

Fellow travelers on the trail: GET MUDDY! It's easier and cheaper to clean boots than revegetate meadows, so squelch on through.

Twenty-five years ago, the path on the West side of Dakota Ridge on Mount Sanitas was no more than a faint game trail. Ten years ago, it was a single-track ribbon winding across the hillside. Now it widens by the week as people dodge mud. Some places, it's already six or seven feet wide. It'll take all of us to reverse this trend.

Happy mud-puddling!

ANN COOPER

Boulder


DRUGS

Illegal users must be fired, punished

The recent news is full of ironies. The illegal drug- and alcohol-induced death of a 16-year-old is described as the result of "bad choices," rather than what is really was — the direct result of illegal and irresponsible actions on the part of a remarkable number of people.

Turn around, and we see an admittedly drug-using employee of the state of Colorado blaming her arrest (and presumably her illegal activities as well) on racism. And what is the response of university administrators? They reinstate her! Overlooking her "bad choices" sends an inappropriate and destructive message to students and to the greater community, for whom she works. Is anyone responsible for their actions?

The choices of university administrators certainly do not support the image that we would want to project about our community and state. It is critical, particularly at an institution of higher education, that people speak clearly and call things by their true names. Unprofessional and illegal activities are cause for dismissal — any other action is appalling to me as a parent, a physician, a citizen and a taxpayer.

HILLARY L. BROWNE, M.D.

Niwot


SCOUTING

Girls' organization disloyal to its oaths

Recently, I have noticed several articles about the Girl Scouts and their upcoming annual cookie sale. The articles indicate that 200 million boxes of cookies are sold annually and are a main source of support.

The Girl Scouts say they provide the opportunity for girls to build strong values and strong spirits. But I have concerns whether this is really true. The leaders of the Girl Scouts, unlike those of the Boy Scouts, have decided that being politically correct is more important than staying loyal to the values on which they were established.

The Boy Scouts, on the other hand, have remained committed to the values that since February 8, 1910 have helped 100 million people do their best to do their duty to God and their country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep themselves physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

As a Christian, I can no longer support an organization that has decided that God is not important and is in fact supportive of behavior (homosexuality) that God calls an abomination and a sin.

So this year, I will politely decline the opportunity to buy Girl Scout cookies and instead send a check to the "Denver Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, 2901 West 19th Ave., Denver, CO 80204" or on the web at http://www.denverareacouncil.com.

HARREL LAMBERT SR.

Niwot


EDUCATION

Community spirit makes school thrive

As a fundraising assistant and teacher at Ute Creek Secondary Academy, I attended the Jan. 29 school board meeting to discuss our financial goals with parents and students. The topics raised during the discussion blissfully reminded me why I entered the field of education.

In a packed cafeteria overflowing into the hallway, I was proud to hear parents and students brainstorming ideas for fund-raisers, complimenting the many volunteers on their hundreds of hours of toil and encouraging our staff to "stay the course." It's reassuring to find the strongest examples of virtues right here in our community: responsibility, hard work and determination. This is a community committed to its children and dedicated to excellence in education.

As the educational journals flow through my mailbox, the repeated trend of "character education" seems to be addressed often, but difficult to implement in our schools. I think we've realized the best solution — passionate involvement in our school's fundraising, its staff, and its aspirations. Thank you to all the parents and community leaders who have set fine examples for our children. And thanks also to the students who have followed suit to develop school programs and fund-raisers on their own. Ute Creek Secondary Academy is a radiant instrument that truly teaches students what it means to take a leap of faith.

Well done.

MEAGAN DAWSON

Literature Teacher Ute Creek Secondary School Longmont

March 3, 2001

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