Your letters, June 4

June 6, 2014 

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Harris essay exquisite

I hope everyone read the column headed “American Apartheid” by Lynden Harris (CHN, May 25, bit.ly/1nP5NqU). She is writing about visiting a prison, and her stories of what the men said are exquisitely touching.

As she says, the skeletons in our closets are real men and women shredded by mental illness, violence, abuse, and poverty. She goes on to say that the population locked behind American bars is known around the world as "American apartheid." She concludes with a story about a young woman locked naked in a cell who clothed herself in a blue supermarket bag. If you are moved by her column, tell her so, at lharris@hiddenvoices.org.

Thanks to the Chapel Hill News for running the column.

Karyn Joyner

Burlintgon

Compelled to write

I read the piece on “American apartheid” (CHN, May 25, bit.ly/1nP5NqU) and felt compelled to respond to it immediately. Though I have never responded to anything written in the newspaper before, the article exposed conditions that must be shared if things are to ever change. I greatly appreciate Ms. Lynden Harris doing the work with the the prisoners and getting their stories out.

I recently read “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander. It examines in detail many of the ways the system is purposely designed to place minorities in prison and the criminal justice system.

As a black male growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, in a socio-economic environment that bred the conditions that made it easy to maintain the apartheid system she has written about, I am acutely aware of how destructive this pervasive this system has become in the U.S. Statistics indicate that our prison population will continue to grow at this alarming rate, but thanks to efforts of such as this perhaps they may one day slow down.

Martin Terrell

Chapel Hill

Housing for working folks

In “Another path to affordable housing,” Mark Zimmerman rightly points out that private developers have a lot to offer when it comes to meeting local housing needs (CHN, May 11, bit.ly/1pFIKOO). Econ 101 teaches us that prices will decrease when supply increases (assuming stable demand). It also teaches us that the market has imperfections. In fact, a reasonable definition of “affordable housing” is that which the market does not adequately provide.

Our coalition agrees that private developers can help balance the market and serve a wider cross-section of residents, while local policies/politics have sometimes worked counter to this balance. However, we also see the need to provide housing affordable to income levels that the private sector will never sufficiently reach. Local dollars are needed to leverage other funds to create housing affordable to working people like teaching assistants, nurse’s aides, and service-sector employees. Without policies like the Penny for Housing, these types of households will continue to be excluded from Chapel Hill even with increased private development. Just as our community invests in its library, streets, parks, and other public goods, we believe affordable housing is an investment in the community's physical and social infrastructure.

We don’t think the solution to the community's affordable housing crisis is a matter of choosing between “private” and “public” paths. Rather, we think collaboration is the right path forward, relying on market forces and public investment in tandem. The Town's new Housing Advisory Board holds great promise as a forum for finding collaborative solutions, and the Penny for Housing will help give the Town more of the tools needed to move forward on the path to a more inclusive community. Learn more at housingorange.org/penny/.

Dan Levine

Orange County Affordable Housing Coalition

Editor’s note: The Chapel Hill Town Council is scheduled to vote on the 2014-15 town budget Monday. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.

The problem with history

UNC students and alumni recently petitioned UNC trustees to change the name of Saunders Hall calling attention to the fact that a former trustee, William Saunders, had been the head of the KKK in the mid-19th century.

This might be a good idea, but we do not want to lose this part or any part of UNC’s important history involving slavery, slave labor, the Civil War, Jim Crow segregation, the KKK, and the civil rights movement.

Thousands of visitors as well as students walk through the campus each year seeing things like the “Silent Sam” monument to secession and reading the really obscure “history” on its plaque. There is a new technology available now that could make UNC’s history, including its racist history, available to everybody with a smart phone. QR codes posted at places like Saunders Hall could be scanned with these phones. This type of technology is already operating at N.C. State and in Fuquay-Varina.

The problem, of course, is that “history” is typically biased towards the view of the elite; Silent Sam is the perfect example. Those who know the hidden history of UNC would have to have an equal seat at the table if this is to take place.

Jerry Carr

UNC, Ph.D. 1973

College athletics 101

Want to clean up college athletics? Here’s how:

1. No special admissions for athletes – they must be admitted or not based on their academic promise only, just like other students.

2. No athletic scholarships, period. Need-based or academics-based, sure, but that’s all. Do you see kids getting free passes to baseball camp because they are good at math?

3. No scouting or recruiting of high school kids. If you have a good program, they will come.

4. Coaches salaries in line with the pay for professors, with no bonuses, incentives or perks.

5. No corporate involvement at all – no Nike or Gatorade logos, no ads at the stadium or court, no free gear.

6. No special classes or tutoring for athletes. No special facilities, dining rooms, or parking spots, and no special dispensation from class requirements that would not be granted to any other student.

7. No special booster groups like Iron Dukes or Rams Club. Season tickets at reasonable prices by lottery.

8. Income from TV and other media goes to the university, not the athletic department,

I won’t hold my breath, there are too many vested interests and too many dollars involved. Things will go on as always, with application of an occasional band aid that does nothing to fix the underlying problems. It’s a real shame.

Peter Aitken

Chapel Hill

Two heads not better than one

Wake up, North Carolina. Do we not have enough cancer in this country already? It disgusts me to know that this state would even consider allowing “confidential ingredients used in fracking chemicals.” It ain’t white sugar we’re talking about. How pathetic and embarrassing!

I opened the paper Memorial Day weekend to see a huge section on outdoor recreation available in North Carolina: paddle boarding, kayaking, biking, hiking, swimming. You all better get out there quick and enjoy all these activities while we still have solid ground and clean water.

I’m not even going to mention “wildlife.” Why bother? It's obvious the state doesn’t care about the well being of humans, let alone wildlife. A real shame!

It won’t be long before we’ll be seeing some big time side effects from these chemicals. There’s a good chance our grandchildren will be born with two heads! Remember that old saying “Two heads are better than one?” Two heads, two sets of teeth. I’m sure you frackers would have made enough dough by then where you could afford the dental bill, maybe even throw in a few sets of braces for the kiddos. It’s the least you can do!

Karen Dalton

Chatham County

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