There Is No Debate
I was surprised and saddened that several recent letters to The Nation [“The Imperfect vs. the Irredeemable,” July 29/Aug. 5; “Debating Biden,” Aug. 12/19] argued against criticizing Joe Biden’s record of opposition to desegregation busing, which one reader described as a “narrow issue.”
On the contrary, desegregation busing was perhaps the most important test of white America’s commitment to racial equality in the 1970s and of politicians’ willingness to uphold or betray the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
It was a test that found Biden wanting. Pleas that his opposition must be understood in light of the historical context ignore the examples set by more courageous elected officials, such as Michigan’s Senator Philip Hart, who rejected the cruel fiction of “separate but equal” despite violent resistance.
The fact that most white Americans were complicit in allowing Brown v. Board of Education to be eviscerated does not absolve those elected “leaders,” like Biden, who aided and abetted the resegregation of American schooling. Their fateful choice haunts our cities to this day.
I am writing this from a small nursing home in rural Pennsylvania, sitting in a chair by my 84-year-old husband’s bed while he is sleeping. He is in hospice care right now for several chronic ailments.
But Atossa Araxia Abrahamian’s superb article “No Man’s Land” [Aug. 12/19] allowed me to transport myself temporarily to a region I will never see. Her conclusion touched my heart deeply as a woman who has been fighting the environmental fight for more than 50 years and who is acutely aware of the climate crisis.
It was wonderful accompanying you, Atossa. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, curiosity, insights, and love for our home, the earth, which truly needs no borders.
shade gap, pa.
Facing Fear—and Difference
As an African American father, I disagree with the advice Liza Featherstone provided to the white mentor of a black child in her “Asking for a Friend” column [Aug. 12/19], “Adulting While White.” The issue is not racial identity but fear. The child is afraid of peer pressure and harassment for befriending a person who is other. Children must always acknowledge and communicate with all family and friends. We should try to raise our children to control their fear and practice courage. Featherstone’s advice may only encourage the child to believe that capitulation to her fear is acceptable. Also, the mentor may be left allowing herself to be disrespected, which can lead to more and more negative feelings.
My advice to the mentor would be to have a discussion with the child and her parents regarding this issue. The child should be informed that she and her mentor are in uncomfortable situations. But if both feel the relationship is worthwhile, then they will overcome that discomfort and acknowledge each other publicly in all situations. The child can also be advised to reply to her peers that the mentor is a family or personal friend or to respond more aggressively by asking the questioners to mind their own business. If she’s harassed by her peers after this, then anti-bullying protocols should be enforced.
Harry E. Kingslow II