2/6 Letters: Where is the positive representation?

John Coltrane, jazz saxophonist shown in this undated photo.
John Coltrane, jazz saxophonist shown in this undated photo.

Wrong focus

Concerning the article “How many African-Americans were lynched in North Carolina?” (Feb. 4) Black History Month celebrations are supposed to make a difference in the perceptions and attitudes of blacks and whites — not continue to reinforce it. It is unfortunate that on the first full week of Black History Month, the front page article doesn’t offer a glimpse of the achievements of black culture in all its cultural forms — African, Caribbean, European, American. The New York Times added a remarkable piece called “Overlooked” that commemorated prominent black men and women who never received obituaries. NC’s African-American heritage is rich and diverse, from John Merrick and André Leon Talley to John Coltrane. There are contemporary African-Americans who are continuing the legacy of these historical figures by leading in the arts and education to politics and business. As the media continues to play a critical role in creating meaning about race and its role in shaping the way we understand it as part of our history and identity — positive black representation matters.

Ruhama Wolle

Holly Springs

State sanctioned lawlessness

With the continuing destruction of our Confederate Monuments, and the refusal of anyone in a position of authority to quell it, we now have state-sanctioned lawlessness. The N&O describes these mobs as “protestors,” and their actions as “civil disobedience,” which is outrageous. I wonder if the opinion of the N&O would change if it was targeted by such acts of “civil disobedience?” This is vandalism and those committing these acts are criminals.

Thomas Bizzette Mattocks


Language dilemma

In the letter to the editor on Feb. 4, “Tough Love,“ the writer commended a Duke professor for telling her Chinese students that they are not allowed to speak their language in her department. As a foreign-born American, I too had endured the same dilemma. We were ridiculed when we spoke Vietnamese on school grounds. I became ashamed of my mother tongue, and my siblings and I only spoke English to each other, even at home. I then married a US-born American and so only speak English with him.

Now I can barely speak Vietnamese and communicating with my elderly parents is difficult. I am left with the Vietnamese vocabulary of a 6-year-old child after 43 years in the USA.

There is nothing wrong with speaking more than one language at a time. People should not sacrifice their own language in an attempt to advance their career and should not be shamed into speaking another language when they are with their friends and family.

Thu Ostrander


Not against farmers

A recent op-ed (Van Der Vaart, Feb. 2) blasted lawsuits related to hog CAFOs in our state. The op-ed is wrong that farmers are being sued. The lawsuit, brought on behalf of people who live near these farming operations, is against the very large multinational company that arranges for NC farmers to raise hogs.

The op-ed also complains that the lawsuit is proceeding despite livestock operations complying with state regulations, but there is a good reason for tort law to intervene here. Tort law requires companies to engage the same protections commonly used in an industry to prevent harm to people and their property. Four juries have already found that the defendant failed to meet this standard of reasonable conduct. When regulators are unwilling or unable to protect NC residents, tort law can and should step in and plug the gap.

Sidney A. Shapiro,


The writer is an administrative law, professor at Wake Forest University and vice president of the Center for Progressive Reform.

Increasing suppression

North Carolina’s history of voter suppression is shameful, and it seems that Sen. Thom Tillis is determined to lead us backwards as he continues his support of Thomas Farr as a nominee for federal judge.

Numerous studies have shown that voter ID laws disproportionately affect minority voters. Not only do we have a new voter ID law, but we also now have Trump-appointed federal prosecutor Robert Higdon Jr, who ignored repeated warnings of widespread election fraud in Bladen and Robeson County. Instead, Higdon ordered the arrest of a small number of legal residents who had believed that they were able to vote, adding to an already fraught atmosphere of intimidation of immigrants.

Tillis’s continued support of Farr sends a message that election fraud, voter intimidation and racist voter suppression will continue to be tolerated and encouraged at the highest levels of government.

Karen Ziegler