Letters to the Editor

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Breathing Space

The breath that lifts me up must come again.
I seek it everywhere I go,
and then
I turn and ask the folks who think I know
What stirs their souls and makes their passions flow:

Where did you last breathe freshly, deep and long,
And then exhale, while
humming that old song
That all of us remember from the time
When everything around seemed so sublime?

How could I lose that gift that let me breathe
When troubles all around
just wouldn’t leave?
It helped me cherish family and friends,
Uniting us with all our
common ends.

I think I’ve found just where I must begin:
The breath that lifts me up lies deep within!

Arthur Lenhardt

The satirical column (“Renaming Landmarks is not Complete Yet,” Nov. 26) presents the idea that in the push to rename buildings, we risk over-correcting and erasing important figures from history for the sake of political correctness. While I have reserved my argument against the straw man portrayal of renaming, the particular concern for “sanitizing” history caught my attention.

Inclusion and exclusion are built into every part of the urban landscape. From mortgage loan policies to school funding, proximity to supermarkets, and building names; the legacy of urban planning is respectively present in generational wealth, employment, community nutrition, and societal values. School names symbolize pride and acknowledgment — chanted at football games and integrated into daily vocabulary. When we continue to laud historical figures exposed for slavery, colonization, or exploitation, we make planning decisions that center cultural exclusion.

History is a collection of narratives. Because a majority of academia has been limited to white men, our perception of American history has been told in that predominant narrative. There are narratives that are continuously left out. This conversation of “where’s the line for renaming” would be different if there wasn’t deep-seated wealth and racial inequality. This is why we defer leadership to disenfranchised communities and give Black, Indigenous and other people of color the mic. In tandem, we revamp the education system to make discussion accessible and normalize ethnic studies as American history.

Changing names is not about sanitizing or erasing history, but reclaiming narratives that have previously been omitted.

Amy Chu

I have been an Alameda resident for the past 18 years and have grown up in the local schools and parks. Alameda is a community that serves approximately 78,000, according to public record. Of these people, it is a pedestrian-friendly community and therein lies the problem... the sidewalks are perpetually in poor condition due to use, tree roots and weather.

As a result, the surfaces are dangerous, and I regularly hear about people getting hurt from these uneven surfaces. Last May, my mom broke her foot due to a pothole in a walking path near our house.

My solution is to replace damaged sidewalks with a soft skate material similar to what is used on playgrounds or track material. Although it is typically polyurethane, a foam derived from oil, there are other recycled materials such as tennis shoes or tires that could produce this surface.

It is my hope that using a soft surface would not only cushion a fall but lessen joint pain that asphalt can cause; in addition to saving more money due to less medical claims against the city.

J. Rausser