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Graduation Recognizes Achievement, Not Race

June 06, 2002

The purpose of a college graduation ceremony is to celebrate the culmination of four years of perseverance, study and sacrifice for each and every student and his or her family. To hold a separate public ceremony recognizing a certain racial group is racist and divisive (Sandy Banks' column "Black Grad Night Is About Pride, Not Separatism," June 2). I am sure there are plenty of white disadvantaged students who will be the first in their family to graduate from college this year. Shall they have a separate ceremony? Who will define disadvantaged?

A graduation ceremony should highlight the achievement of every student without dwelling on disadvantages--real or perceived.

DEBORAH LARCOM

Los Angeles

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Suppressing Infants' Crying Is Not the Answer

Dr. Karp is doing great harm to infants by teaching their parents how to stop their babies from crying ("He Shushes New Parents' Cry for Help," May 28). Aletha Solter has studied crying in infants and children for the last two decades. She has concluded that babies need to cry to release their prenatal and birth trauma stress. By distracting infants with swaddling, shhh-ing, sucking, swinging and side positions, we are only increasing their stress and diminishing their ability to release it.

Babies who are allowed to cry in a loving, supportive way, in their mother's arms, are able to deal with their emotions for a lifetime. The neuroscientist William H. Frey has analyzed the composition of tears and discovered that they contain stress hormones. Crying is one of the ways our bodies naturally release these hormones.

Our culture insists that crying is taboo, a sign of weakness, and we will do anything to distract babies, children and adults from doing it because we are so uncomfortable with it. Instead we should support others when they cry and see how it would benefit all of society.

MARIA BLUM

Altadena

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The Downside of Over-the-Top Proms

As the parent of a high-school senior, I agree that the modern prom is overblown (Sandy Banks' column "A Night to Remember, if Only for the Bills," May 26). True, there is a positive side to kids working and saving for a special event. But it's more than just the cost of prom that should concern parents. If seniors haven't become sexually active by then, they may feel enormous pressure to do so that night. Too, we are encouraging our kids to assume that a party can't be special if it isn't a gigantic blowout. Proms have become the teen equivalent of the Super Bowl, and parents and schools could do a much better job of educating kids about how expecting perfection on a grand scale can lead to a huge letdown the morning after.

BONNIE SLOANE

Los Angeles

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Truth Is Truth, Even for Icons

I've read with interest books by Wanda Coleman and by Maya Angelou. I also read Coleman's review of the most recent installment of Angelou's autobiography (" 'Flung' Into Controversy by Negative Book Review," May 24). Coleman (who has favorably reviewed earlier work by Angelou) showed that even an icon like Angelou may wander away from fact. Coleman backed up her points vividly. What's happening to Coleman now reminds me of the reception of another truth-teller: Socrates.

ROBYN BELL

Santa Barbara

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