Letters to the Editor

What you’re saying: Joan F. Walsh, Pierce Freelon, Rashawn Lee, John Kramer, Scott Washington, Terri Buckner and Aaron Butner

If we closed all the bases

Thank heavens for the failure of Mitch McConnell’s “Health Care Only for the Rich” bill. If he and many other Republicans had their way, we’d be back to the times when poor folks lived short, nasty lives, scrambling for crumbs and dying young.

Access to good health care is a human right, and it’s just one of many we ought to guarantee, here in our wealthy country. Instead, we squander almost unimaginable sums of our tax money on a military riddled with waste, whose mandate far exceeds anything that could remotely be called “defense.”

How is it “defense” to have more than 800 sprawling bases scattered all over the globe? To carry on active war efforts in multiple far-flung countries at the same time? Are any of those small, relatively poor countries actually a threat to us?

How much could we spend on health care, education, infrastructure, renewable energy, if we closed all those bases and brought our troops home to get on with their lives? Who said we were entitled to police the world?

If, instead of sending truckloads of arms to distressed countries, we sent even a fraction of that money in aid for health and family planning, we’d have less poverty, fewer early deaths, fewer unplanned births and abortions worldwide. Women would be better educated, and those countries would be less threatening to their neighbors, never mind to us. We need to get money out of politics and elect officials with sane priorities.

Joan F. Walsh


They told me, ‘wait your turn’

Did you know that the median age in Durham is 32? The median age in our City Council is almost twice that: about 62.

There is a generational gap between the people of Durham and its leadership. I intend to be a bridge between millennials, the single largest voting bloc in American politics, and our elders, who have paved the way for us. In the spirit of Sankofa, a West African concept symbolized by a bird moving forward toward the future, while looking back toward the past, I will herald an intergenerational dialogue to move Durham towards an equitable future.

Some have told me to “wait my turn,” but when I look back to my ancestors I see Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. leading the March on Washington at age 34; I see Angela Davis organizing on campus and in the community in Los Angeles at age 25; I see Patrice Lumumba rising to lead as the first Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo at age 34.

King once said, “wait has almost always meant ‘never.’” We don’t have time to wait in Durham when 800 people are evicted from their homes every month, when there are gross racial disparities in our criminal justice system, and when 40 percent of black and brown children are living in poverty. We don’t have the luxury to wait for the GOP supermajority in the NC Legislature, or the Trump White House to join progressives on the right side of history.

I’m stepping up for my community now, and I’m not alone. There is a national movement of millennial mayoral candidates, including 34-year-old Chokwe Lumumba who became mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, in a landslide last month; 35-year-old Aja Brown, the youngest mayor in the history of Compton, who was just elected to her second term in June; and 36-year-old Randall Woodfin who is running for mayor of Birmingham, with the support of Bernie Sander’s Our Revolution.

Lumumba, Brown, Woodfin and I have all been endorsed by The Collective PAC. I have also been endorsed by Launch Progress PAC and will announce another exciting endorsement soon!

Pierce Freelon


Editor’s note: All the candidates in this fall’s elections are invited to submit up to one letter a month and a total of two guest columns between now and Oct. 15. Send submissions to letters@heraldsun.com

A personal issue

Denying someone the right to receive health care because they want to be classified as another gender is the same as denying someone a service because they are a certain race.

A transgender person can put their life on the line, but they are not good enough to receive care to ensure they are healthy enough to help fight? To me, this sounds like a personal issue from someone who doesn’t understand the lifestyle of a transgender person, and wants to punish those individuals for making a personal decision that only affects their life.

Although blocking transgender-related health care services may be only affecting that individual, it impacts their entire family when they have to pay out-of-pocket expenses on a service that should be covered by insurance. Not all transgender people plan on having reassignment surgery or take hormones, and from a 2016 analysis it was concluded that health care cost for transgender-related treatments would be relatively low.

Passing this proposal affects more than just the transgender community, it affects the entire U.S. military service. Personal lifestyle decisions should not be a determining factor for a decision that affects an entire group of people. There is nothing positive that comes out of allowing someone to put their life at risk, and then turning around and denying them health care for services they need.

Rashawn Lee

Atlanta, Georgia

Keep focus on education

Regarding the news story “Panel votes 5-1 against future litigation for UNC Center for Civil Rights” (Aug. 1)

I’m glad the Board of Governors education policy committee decided to keep UNC on its primary mission: the education of students.

As they said, practicing the law is for lawyers. There should not be competition from a nonprofit, state-owned school. If students want “real world” education they can take an apprenticeship at a real law practice.

John Kramer

via www.heraldsun.com

UNC center must continue its work

Regarding the news story “Panel votes 5-1 against future litigation for UNC Center for Civil Rights” (Aug. 1)

First, they took away their funding and the place didn’t close. Now, they want to take away their clients. Well, sounds like they just need a new place to continue the important work they’ve done and have the support to continue to do.

Scott Washington

via editor’s Facebook page

No room for ideological football

Regarding the news story “Panel votes 5-1 against future litigation for UNC Center for Civil Rights” (Aug. 1)

Civil rights and the judicious application of the law should not be treated like a political or ideological football.

This recommendation by the UNC Board of Governors education policy committee, even more than the one on the university’s poverty center, brings shame to everyone associated with UNC.

Terri Buckner

via editor’s Facebook page

Demonizing the other

Regarding the news story “Is Jesse Helms blocking honor for Black Wall Street leader” (Aug. 1):

So neither one will sign the other's request to name a building after a political celebrity they admire. Each of them will demonize the other one in an effort to establish the moral high ground. Here's a question:

Are there not better things to be upset about and working on in Washington rather than whose name is on a building?

Thank you all for fighting for the people of North Carolina by seeking a balanced budget, affordable health care, and better cyber security. We need real Americans in Washington who care more about the letters U-S-A than R or D.

Aaron Butner

via editor’s Facebook page

What you’re saying

Please send up to 250 words to letters@heraldsun.com. All submissions, online comments and posts to editor Mark Schultz’s Facebook page may be edited for space and clarity. Thank you.