Letters to the Editor, May 16

May. 15, 2014 @ 06:00 PM

‘Stay-in-your-place-ism?’

In the past, downtown Durham was heralded as the Mecca of black America. Now, if you go downtown, black people are conspicuously missing.

The Bull City has undergone some extreme makeovers in its history. In the early part of the 20th century, part of downtown was called Black Wall Street. However, by the end of that century, the City of Medicine came down with a severe case of urban neglect and downtown began to look more like a ghost town. By the new millennium the media portrayed the Bull City as an area overrun by vicious street gangs.

While many African Americans bought into the media hype, apparently investors did not. Where we saw obscurity, they saw opportunity. So, our trash became another man’s treasure. Apparently those problems that ran us away from downtown, turned out to be nothing that a little paint, brick and mortar couldn’t fix.

So now the proverbial Boyz in the ’hood have been replaced by hipsters in the ’hood.

Am I playing the proverbial race card? Of course not. There are no Jim-Crow-era "whites only signs" downtown, but the de facto cultural segregation still exists.

Perhaps Durham's black citizens are victims of what Carter G. Woodson, author of "Mis-education of the Negro" might have called "the back door syndrome" where the psychological programming of historically oppressed people is so intense that they create barriers that don't exist.

Like the hip hop artist Immortal Technique said "it's more than racism, it's stay-in-your
place-ism.”

Paul Scott

Durham

Solar farms win for all

I was thrilled to learn we have several companies erecting solar farms in Durham County.  Photovoltaic energy has come a long way in just the past few years. 

It is something that makes power and profit without damaging the earth and air.  What a far better way for farmers to lease out unused fields rather than to future fracking.  No drilling rigs, high water usage, tanker trucks or well contamination.  I

It's a win-win for all involved -- the landowners, the solar companies, Duke Energy which buys the power and lastly you, me and our grandchildren.
Paul Andrews
Durham

Googling to stupidity?

I heard a disturbing statistic recently regarding what has to be a trend indicating the dumbing down of society.  Seems 25 percent of high school graduates cannot read at the appropriate level, and around 38 percent of those same graduates cannot do basic math.

Keep in mind -- these are “graduates.”  Our phones are getting “smarter,” but our brains appear to be going in the opposite direction.  We can access the answer to almost any question via Google, but can’t process basic skills required for productive living.

Although the Bible doesn’t actually state, “man will get wiser and weaker,” the context of that statement is regrettably becoming a fact.  Sure, there are likely contributing factors aside from smart technology that add to this dismaying formula, however, when someone has to be told they can’t drive safely while looking down texting, something has gone very much astray.

The United States is no longer the leading hub for intelligence, and no matter how “smart” our devices become, they can’t and shouldn’t ever be relied upon or substituted for old-fashioned reasoning, computation and communications skills.  (I wouldn’t be surprised if the next stat informs us “we are able to compose and send text messages at amazing speed, but are not able to spell adequately.”)

Life and true progress require thinking -- individual thinking, not “social thinking.”  Spending a lot of time on Facebook won’t fill your brains with facts.  Googling the answer doesn’t mean you know the answer.

John I. Mayo

Creedmoor