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People’s column

Racism remains ‘serious’ problem

Editor, OBSERVER:

“What, then, is racism? I don’t know and neither do you.”

So states a recent commentary to the OBSERVER (July 1). The author, a philosophy professor at SUNY Fredonia, laments anti-racism protests, denies the complexity of symbols such as statues, and questions a renewed interest in our country’s history of racism.

The author offers up his own theories about why racism does not and cannot exist. Then, based upon these theories, argues that it is a waste of time and resources to erase racism. He attacks efforts by some politicians and organizations to address what he considers a non-issue. Why waste time, energy, and resources on a non-existent problem?

While admitting his own ignorance about racism (and explaining why no one else can know, understand, or experience racism because of his ignorance), the author cannot help acknowledging the existence of “racial groups”. The author categorizes these groups: “blacks, Hispanics, whites, and Asians”. (Notably, American Indians do not make his list. Maybe their decimation is so complete that he finds their numbers insignificant and not worthy a mention?)

In so doing, the author gives the lie to his argument. His categories are a social construct. And that social construct has led to significant differences in the opportunities afforded different people.

Racism — the notion that one group of people is better than another — is a serious social problem. Racism is a problem that is fundamentally rooted in a social construct that especially favors white males in our society (yes — I’m imaging that the author also denies the existence of sexism).

Unlike the willingly ignorant, we must acknowledge racism’s existence — and the need to address it particularly — to be better Americans and to make America a better nation for all its citizens.

MICHAEL BOBSEINE,

Fredonia

Some thoughts

on individuality

Editor, OBSERVER:

Here are some musings upon individuality:

¯ The smallest minority on Earth is the individual. Those who deny individual’s rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. — Ayn Rand.

¯ It’s only to an individual that a soul is given. — Albert Einstein.

¯ The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual’s own reason and critical analysis. — Dalai Lama.

¯ The individual always had to struggle from being overwhelmed by the tribe. You will be lonely often, sometimes frightened. But no price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. — Frederick Nietzsche.

RALPH BURKE,

Dunkirk

Board resignation raises questions

Editor, OBSERVER:

I was quite surprised to read in the newspaper that applications are being taken for a seat on the Fredonia Board of Education. I was taken aback when I learned a Cristina Gegenschatz had resigned her position on the board.

While I don’t know the circumstances of her departure, it seems to me she could have resigned before the election to give the general population an opportunity to run for this seat. Now that decision will be made by only six board members rather then the community at large.

Considering the fact that 3 board members have resigned in the last 2 years and the superintendent has moved on after only three years, one has to wonder: Is this the same Fredonia School District where, at one time, board members served for 10, 15, 20 years and where administrators spent their entire careers. I think not.

ANDREW CHRISTINA,

former school board member

and president,

Fredonia

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