Letters to the Editor

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Editor:
Not only am I an Alameda resident, but I am of one of the last generation born at Alameda Hospital. I saw South Shore go from its original name to Alameda Towne Center to again being renamed South Shore. 

I know the town well, I attended school here, and I can assure you that two nooses found — one at Chabot Elementary School in Oakland and a second at the city-owned baseball field behind the school — should equally terrify parents in Alameda. Often times, we allow “Island pride” to translate to seclusion and negligence in what happens in neighborhoods across our bridges. 

Chabot Elementary School is one of the best schools in Oakland. A noose threatening the safety of Black children and parents, as well as the safety of all minority families, should raise the question: “What is Alameda Unified School District doing to protect our kids of color and religious minorities?” 

When we ignore the creation of an environment of inclusion based on authentic engagement in ensuring our children are culturally competent, accepting and compassionate, we are setting up children to repeat the horrors of American history. The backlash of renaming Haight Elementary School to Love Elementary School should show that Alameda is not above what happened at Chabot. 

On the contrary, it should be a warning that we should not wait for something unequivocally hateful to happen to be proactive in ensuring that our schools foster an environment that is culturally responsive and accountable. 

Parents, educators and readers of the Alameda Sun concerned about the idea of talking to their kids about racial equity should remember: if we are not proactively teaching kids about human rights and equality, others will teach our kids the opposite. 

The conversation is uncomfortable and nobody enjoys talking about race, but there are local organizations, like World Trust Educational Services, with decades of experience and research in addressing implicit bias, creating inclusive business and communities, and changing school culture.

Let’s be a lot more like Love Elementary and grow from our state’s “Haightful” history. 

 

Meriam Salem

Editor: 
On July 20 I visited the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) on Claremont Avenue in Oakland to renew my driver’s license. I heard that it would take 5 or 6 hours. However, it turned out to be a completely pleasant experience. The employees were outstanding and it only took an hour and 20 minutes. 

The employee who started the process took me to where I filled out my application on the computer. A man wearing a solid gold cross got me a chair. I asked him if he was a man of the cloth. He said “yes.” I asked him to say a prayer that I pass the test for my license. He said he would and it worked. 

I can’t thank the DMV enough for making what I dreaded into a pleasant and painless experience. I was told the reason for the politeness was Gov. Gavin Newsom had fired the head of the DMV. 

Now I can drive my 1967 Volkswagen “Bug” to my writing classes and to my Yorkie’s “beauty parlor” and vet. Yay! 

 

Elizabeth Prosser

Editor:
As the Alameda Sun accurately reported, (“Transcontinental Train Arrived 150 Years Ago,” Sept. 5) Friday, Sept. 6, marked the 150th anniversary of “a train with Leland Stanford aboard” rolling into what became the City of Alameda.

Five months prior to his arrival in Alameda, Stanford drove the “Last Spike” or the “Golden Spike” of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory Summit on May 10, 1869. The photo of this historic event is famous for several reasons, the principal one being it recorded one giant step in U.S. expansionism as justified by Manifest Destiny.

It is equally infamous because no Chinese laborers are depicted in the photo, despite the fact that the Chinese worked the hardest, were assigned the most dangerous job of blasting and were paid the least.
As if to say that Chinese labor was no longer appreciated nor required, lackluster President Chester A. Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act on May 6, 1882, with the concurrence of both chambers of Congress. The act was not totally eradicated until the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

The spirit of the Exclusion Act presently reverberates in the admissions policies of East Coast Ivy League schools, most notably, Harvard, and also on the West Coast, ironically at Stanford University — the school indirectly built on Chinese labor.

An attempt to reactivate Affirmative Action within the U.C. System was marginally thwarted in 2016. Affirmative Action at any school only negatively or adversely impacts Asian students, who for cultural reasons that must remain unmentioned, exceed all other ethnicities in academic performance and are, in my opinion, demographically over-represented at every U.C.

 

Jeffrey R Smith

Editor’s note: To learn about the transcontiental railroad from the Chinese perspective, we recommend reading The Ghosts of Gold Mountain by Gordon Chang.

 

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