Letters to the Editor 

Our readers sound off on issues that matter to them

Divided we fall

In "What the Numbers Mean" (March 30), the usually decent Jack Lessenberry unfortunately stumbles into clearly racist and separatist advocacy. How can Mr. Lessenberry directly imply that "killing Chinese in Korea, not buying cars from Koreans and borrowing money from the Chinese," even partially characterizes Detroit's "modern-day zenith?" Perhaps Mr. Lessenberry forgets Vincent Chin. I do not. Further, when he claims that nobody in 1951 "could have imagined the ... urban devastation that is today's Detroit," he demonstrates how that lack of imagination is possible when he waxes, "We need to face and forget all that ... white racism ... and black corruption and stubborn pig-headedness ... and acknowledge that integration, the great dream of the 1960s, has failed, at least in terms of where people choose to live."

Along the long arc of history, people have repeatedly discovered that segregation is an untenable burden on the society that practices it, incurring both economic and blood costs across all the constructed barriers. Separate is not equal, and a direct corollary is that separate is very expensive. Long before 1951 and through to today, many have observed that unresolved racial conflict and inequality invariably inflicts severe damage on a society and its landscape until it is resolved, and that resolution does not come from perpetuating selective amnesia, but through the mutually peaceful confrontation of that conflict and tension until some critical measure of truth, reconciliation and social justice gains enough momentum to allow healing to truly begin. Until then, it is like any other low-intensity conflict as recognized by the military, including the restricted access to fresh food. Like Milwaukee in the 2000 census, racial distribution maps of highly segregated areas such as metro Detroit look even to an untrained observer like a siege, because that is exactly what they are; brushing this aside is ignorant and perpetuates this "problem by design." Freeways like I-696 serve as urban moats. The resistance to public transit and failure to launch even basic light rail, which other major cities boast, reinforces that moat and entrenches the costs, starting with daily 100-mile commutes of tens of thousands of people driving alone in their cars. As elsewhere, schools are more segregated now than when Brown vs. Board was decided. People are scared to go into the city because they don't feel safe or welcome, and people in the city are scared because they can't seem to get any help. The recent black flight out of Detroit therefore reinforces two proven truths: families of any color will leave if there aren't good public schools with safe streets. Mr. Lessenberry, however, ends his paean about a superficially imagined past with a trite appeal to get started on fixing Detroit. He fails to grasp and outright rejects where we must actually begin: the partnership of integration. If that dream has failed, it is because we have failed it, and the shared price of failure is metro Detroit will inexorably continue to decline in spite of any other efforts. —Robert H. Young, Ypsilanti


Because I got high

Re: "Hash Bash No. 40" (April 6), it's nice to know these potheads have their priorities straight.

If I read that right, 6,000 people attended the Hash Bash. On the anniversary of the murder of Martin Luther King Jr., I was at a rally at Hart Plaza at 5 p.m. for job protection and protesting the destruction of labor rights for all workers. We were praying for all American workers and to preserve the gains our grandfathers won — and some of whom had actually had given their lives for. All 300 of us — or should I say just 300 of us.

To the burned-out crowd: The day MLK was assassinated, he was going to help sanitary workers try to unionize. But I bet every one of the 6,000 could tell me who won Dancing with the Stars.

The struggles of union workers have given this great country the middle class and our high standard of living. There is a direct correlation between the decimation of unions and a lower standard of living for all people.

I know your anti-union crowd will spew their lies about the unions destroying the country, but the average Chinese factory worker makes $50 a month. You cannot compete with slave labor. That is the main reason we fought the Civil War.

It's like the line from the Furry Freak Bros.: "Weed will get you through times of no money, but money won't get you through times of no weed."

When you're out of a job, spark one up for me. —Jan Kruszewski, Lake Orion

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