Forum, Nov. 20: Systemic Racism

Sunday, November 19, 2017
Systemic Racism Is Real

I read Olivia LaPierre’s words about systemic racism, and have learned to understand them to be thoughtful and true. I have come to that conclusion through the consciousness-raising work that many of us in the Upper Valley have sought out, looking deep inside of ourselves and at the centuries of oppression.

Rather than learn something from Ms. LaPierre, who was chair of the Hartford Racial Injustice Commission, committee member Dan Hillard became defensive and demanded an answer to his question, “Are you saying that all white people are racist? Yes or no”? In my opinion he was using his power, his white supremacy, over her.

Oppression exists in us and around us. White people must acknowledge it. Only white people can eradicate it. The solutions will come from knowledge of our history to gain an understanding about why we continue to be part of the problem. We must have respect for the opinions expressed by Ms. LaPierre and others.

I would like Forum readers to imagine how this is different from the Jim Crow era, when any white person could demand that a black person answer them or suffer the consequences. Has anything changed given all of the senseless deaths of black men and women pulled over for a signal light malfunction?

There is systemic, structural and institutionalized racism. Not only in policing but in every facet of society in the United States. The time is now to recognize it for what it is and end it.

Sharon Racusin


The ACA, Reconsidered

I am writing in response to William Simpson’s letter in the Nov. 15 Forum entitled, “The ACA Hasn’t Worked.”

I strenuously disagree with the premise that the ACA is a disaster. Since the first open enrollment in 2013, the program has helped 20 million uninsured Americans to buy health insurance and the uninsured rate has decreased from over 20 percent to 11.5 percent for adults under 65 (statistics through February 2016). From personal experience, the program allowed my wife and I to secure better coverage than we’d purchased in the open market — lower premiums, lower deductibles without regard to pre-existing conditions.

On the writer’s specific points:

Tort reform — ACA was not implemented to deal with tort reform, thus it is unfair to blame the ACA for any problems.

Dental coverage — Since dental insurance is exceedingly expensive relative to the benefits provided, including dental coverage in an ACA health insurance package would be too expensive for limited coverage.

Competition — Two issues here: dealing with competition, as it relates to hospitals and doctors, is again beyond the reach of the ACA mandate, unless one is advocating a shift to a single-payer Medicare solution for all.

The competition issue as it relates to insurers: Health insurers have profitably written coverage for companies that provide health benefits to their employees. Corporate health packages present insurers with an opportunity to insure a broad and mixed group of mostly healthy employees, allowing them to use group rating and, from the insurer’s perspective, large premiums. No wonder they have profited in this sector and industry literature suggests that competition has restrained premium increases when renewing group medical programs.

For the individual insured people in the ACA, there is unfortunately no such “healthy group” rating possible. The reported profits of health insurers are based largely on corporate insurance, not individual insurance.

It may be that “costs to some insureds have risen over 65%” as cited by Simpson, but that single statistic is misleading and ignores the fact that most ACA increases are actually far less and individuals in most states still have options of lower-cost alternatives.

John Chaplin


Say No to Foie Gras

Several restaurants in New Hampshire and Vermont celebrate the holidays by serving foie gras.

Foie gras is manufactured by force-feeding ducks and geese, one of the most barbaric forms of animal torture.

The birds are kept in conditions in which they cannot turn around. Two to three times a day, pipes are forced down the birds’ throats and up to four pounds of grain and fat are pumped into their stomachs — the equivalent of force-feeding an adult human 45 pounds of food daily. The birds’ livers become diseased, swelling up to 10 times normal size. The birds are then killed.

Despite this brutal and unethical practice, some restaurants continue to serve foie gras.

Restaurant patrons can check restaurant menus online to determine whether this item is served.

Please do not patronize restaurants that profit from animal torture and death. Animals want to live long lives free from suffering, too.

Jack Hurley