Forum, Nov. 15: Discussing Racism

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Worthwhile Discussion on Racism

I want to congratulate Hartford for facing the topic of racism head on. Plus, since the discussion is already at the personal level, I would like to suggest a change of vocabulary. The word “racist” is a very good word to wake up everyone and shake things up, but it is also about walls and negativity.

In order to actually make progress on the exploration of race relations at the local level, maybe the phrases “your assumptions about me” and “my assumptions about you” sound like words that people can work with instead of “you are a racist” or “I am not a racist.” I’m not criticizing the initial use of the R-word. I’m just saying that now we need to use productive and clarifying words.

Hartford is taking an incredibly important step in the evolution of our species. That sounds corny, but it’s true. Humans have been afraid of each other for hundreds of thousands of years. Making our diverse populations truly harmonious is going to be difficult. We must choose vocabulary that supports understanding.

Nancy Brittain

White River Junction

A Personal Agenda?

After reading the Nov. 12 article about the Oct. 17 meeting of Hartford’s new “Committee on Racial Inequality,” I have to ask, what are the official purpose and goals of this committee, as differentiated from the personal agenda of chairperson Olivia LaPierre? Her comments about universal racism among whites may have driven a wedge between committee members and also in the community at large. I read that someone suggested she may have been “off her game” that evening, but what is her game?

I’ll go her one better and say that people of color are just as capable of racism and prejudice as “whites,” as she calls them. Actually, Caucasians are people of color, too — the Crayola box used to contain a color called “flesh,” which was kind of pink. Having grown up in Newark, N.J., during the racial unrest of the late 1960s, I saw the “black power” movement come into its own. There were riots that decimated the central ward of the city and took 22 lives.

Actually, racism has very little to do with skin color and everything to do with attitude. Recently we’ve seen the upsurge of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. I believe all lives matter, whether black, white, blue or preborn. If Ms. LaPierre hopes to gain traction and respect in a racially diversified community instead of merely agitating and alienating people, she needs to avoid name-calling and attaching labels such as “microaggression” to people who challenge her remarks.

She has been openly vocal about a recent incident in Claremont that she characterized as racist but may instead have been a type of bullying. It does not excuse that behavior in any event, but Ms. LaPierre needs to realize that the role of chair requires a measure of civility and neutrality in running a meeting. If she prefers to be a vocal figure and speak from the floor, perhaps she can allow her vice chair to preside.

She is apparently well-versed in material she wants to present, but her attitude in presenting it can make all the difference as to acceptance.

William A. Wittik


What Some Can’t Understand

The Nov. 12 story in the Sunday Valley News, “Comments Prompting Backlash,” illustrates how hard it is for white folks to understand and talk about systemic racism. The description of the concept of racialization (to be raised to differentiate or categorize according to race) is very helpful.

Hartford should be commended for forming a committee to address these important issues.

Marcia Herrin

Enfield Center

The ACA Hasn’t Worked

The “Affordable” Care Act has been a disaster. Costs to individuals have risen over 65 percent in some areas this year, and the plan itself faces collapse without more federal funds. Perhaps as important is that the ACA omits many critical components that Americans need to make health care truly affordable, comprehensive and available. These include:

Tort reform: Since 1977, when the Supreme Court ruled that law firms can advertise their services, most law commercials on TV have centered on health care, and the legal costs of “defensive medicine” have risen dramatically. The National Library of Medicine says that the costs were $22.5 billion in 2008.

Dental: The most commonly diagnosed disease is tooth decay, with 91 percent of the population affected. If left untreated, dental issues can severely affect overall health, yet dental care is not part of Obamacare.

A standard for providing care: The Oregon Health Evidence Review Commission ranks treatments in order of clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. This list is used when deciding if a condition should be treated. A national list would further consistency of care.

Competition: Competition is the single biggest driver of lower-cost health care. Pricing for Lasik, a procedure rarely covered by insurance, has become very competitive. Originally costing around $20,000, in 85 percent of cases the cost per eye now falls between $1,500 and $2,500, with some fees as low as $500 per eye. Clinics in competition with traditional hospitals have presented lower-cost options. Often, hospitals have opposed the construction of competitive clinics near them. This needs to stop. Similarly, alternatives to insurance companies and networks should be encouraged. A CNBC article this year noted, “Top health insurers’ profit surges 29 percent to $6 billion.” Health care co-ops cut out the profit-making middle man and have been highly effective in reducing costs.

Finally, you should know what you are paying. Any health care laws should promote competition by forcing health care providers to specifically list the procedure codes and cost of any procedures they recommend and a list of facilities in the area that provide these services.

William Simpson


The Contributions of ‘So Few’

“Never was so much owed by so many to so few” were the words spoken by Winston Churchill as Britain was winning the pivotal air battle of World War II that kept the Nazis from invading Britain and fully conquering all of Europe. Those words need to be remembered by all of us because we owe all of our freedoms — religious, economic and civil— to the half-percent of our population who have volunteered to defend our freedoms and to fight and die as they are ordered to by our politicians.

Let’s remember that it’s not the men and women who fight and die for us who decide where and when to fight. They either go to where they are ordered or they go to jail. Blame the politicians, not our valiant men and women who serve. There’s a strong case to be made that every American should serve this great country of ours in some capacity, if not in the military. Other countries like Switzerland and Israel do it, why can’t we?

It’s not only on Memorial Day and Veterans Day that we need to give our thanks and pay tribute to those who give us infinitely more than we can give them, it’s every day. Semper fi.

Stuart L. Richards