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Anger and Dismay Over Articles on Race

March 20, 2005

Re "Talking Race," Opinion, March 13: The bias in your Opinion section is stunning. The lead sentence of the lead article: "Police shoot dead an unarmed 13-year old .... " To a reader unfamiliar with the incident, that could be taken to mean the poor kid was walking to school when the cops shot and killed him for no apparent reason. What the writer fails to say is that this 13-year-old was armed with a 2,000-pound stolen car.

Of course, why talk about facts and concepts like personal responsibility for your actions when you can simply blame the police, the establishment and racial bias?

Richard Rosenthal

Long Beach

*

How magnanimous of The Times to devote three whole pages to a fatuous discussion on race in L.A. The white liberal mandarins of the Opinion section outdid themselves trawling for angry native informants to confirm the stereotypical view of seething unrest in the powder-keg ghetto. How cool to pose the titillating question of whether the natives are ready to riot, then frame the response in woman/man on the street sound bites, complete with cartoonish head shots.

Nowhere was there acknowledgment of the many social justice, education and mental health organizations that are doing real grass-roots organizing work to change conditions in South L.A. Nowhere was there a smidgen of editorial self-awareness that the deep apartheid-like divisions between black and brown neighborhoods and heavily white enclaves like the Westside are sustained by reductive depictions of racial otherness such as this section.

The easy voyeurism of The Times' approach reinforces Barack Obama's contention that white people actively disengage from the question of race because they aren't forced to confront the real-life, day-to-day implications of their own privileges.

Sikivu Hutchinson

Los Angeles

*

Sunday Opinion contained about the worst example of yellow journalism that I have ever seen. Despite the fact that most people in L.A. cared so little about their own lives that they did not bother to turn out for the recent election, The Times sees fit to stir up emotions and attempt to get another L.A. riot underway.

The so-called Rodney King riots were driven by the media. Now, The Times tries the same tactics to promote a new riot. Headlines such as "Talking Race," "The Tension This Time" and "Fear Is the Fuel That Drives People to the Streets" are intended to inflame emotions.

People are afraid because of the criminal gangs that rule Los Angeles. Unless a person breaks the law and disobeys the order of a policeman, most citizens would never have any contact with the police. Gangs are the problem in L.A., not the police. However, The Times is bent on a course that will ensure another wave of looting, murder and arson. The journalism business must be slow.

Charles Jenner

Los Alamitos

*

After reading "We're Not a Race, but We Count" (Opinion, March 13), I am reminded of a time several years ago when, in a discussion with fellow employees, I asked one of the men something to the effect of "How do you, as a Latino, feel about ... ?" His response was "I am not a Latino. I am a Cuban." I have since learned that many people of Hispanic heritage wish to be known as Guatemalan, Cuban, Chilean, Puerto Rican, etc. Jose Serrano's statement that "what it really means to be Hispanic or Latino is hotly debated" seems to be true by the response I received.

Donald Shulman

Glendale

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