Fueling the ignorance fire
I am a young black man in my late 20s (Boomer With Attitude: "Crackers of the World, Unite!" by John Grooms, May 16). I was not alive during the Civil Rights Movement, during the time when segregation and racially motivated violence were permitted by the laws of this country. Yet, I know enough of that history to understand why the word "nigger" holds the power that it does. So it really surprises me that someone like yourself, who was alive during that time, cannot understand that we did not chose to give that word its power. That power comes from centuries of racial hatred and inequality. It stems from slavery. It stems from having to fight and die for freedom, equality, and basic human rights. The word "nigger" signifies all of the ignorance and bigotry that black people have had to endure and overcome since the Civil Rights Movement and all of the racially motivated violence and oppression that preceded it.
So, for you to intimate that it's OK for whites to use the word in private, as long as they're "just trying to seem hip," is, at the very least, irresponsible. Since I don't know you, I hesitate to call you ignorant; your words lead me to feel that you may be. The problem with your viewpoint is that the "n" word is more than just a word. Those who use it, even privately, either still view blacks as being beneath them (even if only on a subconscious level), or they refuse to acknowledge the word's history and blindly believe that racial inequality no longer exists. Either state of mind is dangerous because those attitudes only add fuel to fires that are already close to burning out of control.
The way to douse these fires goes far beyond just refraining from using the word in public. Deep-seated attitudes and mind-sets need to be addressed and changed in order to effect any real solutions. The word won't lose its power until its power and history are acknowledged and understood and respected by everyone, including black musicians and entertainers.
-- Arthur Smith, Rock Hill
Your weapon of choice
I am writing in response to "The Guns of May: Second Amendment Gone Wild" (by John Grooms, May 7). I have read a number of articles and actually traveled into the past a bit regarding situations like "Ohio." I have listened to people talk about the arming of students, and I strongly agree with both sides. Everyone has a valid point. I understand your use of "fantasyland" and "real life" in your article, and I believe advocates for both sides seem to forget that there are "not so discretionary" people in the world. Some gun advocates go to the gun range and take classes, while other people just buy guns from the store or the street and hope they can manage their situations.
Everyone should have a way to defend themselves, but they should know the ramifications using it. For the record, I don't own a gun; I choose to become a martial artist. I defend myself on an up close and personal way only if I have no other choice.
Everyone having a gun to balance the playing field would tend to make people think twice (maybe). Then again, like you said, it could become a free-for-all.
It's most important for people to be willing to learn and get along rather than concerning themselves with how to do each other in because of differing opinions. -- Vincent M. DePaulo, Kannapolis