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Inequality on campus

EDITOR: The Feb. 23 article "Outrage over slur at SSU" missed the point. Why are only 5 percent of California State University students African-American (3 percent at Sonoma State University), instead of 7 percent to represent the percentage of black people in California (13 percent in the U.S.)? What hiring practices result in only 4 percent black faculty (67 percent white) in the CSU system? Why do many black professors never reach tenure, being denied it or leaving due to a difficult campus climate? Why do many college texts leave out or diminish the contributions of black people?

This understanding — that somehow being white creates an advantage in life — makes it difficult for white students to engage in sustained work toward a racially equitable system, no matter how tolerant the individual student. Sporadic outrage at notes left on tables provides an easier target — intolerant students who need to learn how to behave. Students don't need training in "tolerance" as much as they need tools to address the white supremacy of our educational institutions.

If you read The Press Democrat article with outrage, wondering what's wrong with folks who behave so hatefully, ask yourself what you might do on an ongoing basis to change the underlying structures in our community that perpetuate racial inequality.

JUDY HELFAND

Kenwood

CAROL KRAEMER

Windsor

SmartMeter dangers

EDITOR: To honestly evaluate Sebastopol's action on SmartMeters, we must ask whether there really are scientific data showing that Wi-Fi can harm human health ("PG&E rejects Sebastopol ban on SmartMeter," Feb. 22).

Our search is aided by a letter dated Feb. 8, 2012, by Martha Herbert, a board certified specialist in pediatric neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and teaches at Harvard Medical School. Herbert reports on her study of health issues and pulsed EMF. Her letter is linked at greenswan.org.

Herbert states: "EMF/RFR from Wi-Fi and cell towers can exert a disorganizing effect on the ability to learn and remember and can also be destabilizing to immune and metabolic function."

Sebastopol isn't taking a fringe position. PG&E managed to steer an energy monopoly into bankruptcy and then, like an addicted gambler, doubled down on SmartMeters.

Sebastopol is right. There are substantial separation of powers issues here, including as to the California Public Utilities Commission. A firm stand is merited here; human health is under attack.

HARRY LEHMANN

Novato

Wal-Mart isn't evil

EDITOR: I am a cashier at the Rohnert Park Wal-Mart store. I am also a senior and retiree. I previously worked as an administrator in the legal profession for about 40 years. And I'm sick of hearing how evil Wal-Mart is. Our pay and benefits are about the same as any large retailer. We are not mistreated. We are free to join a union if we so desire, although it is not encouraged. My one big complaint? They make me wear ugly clothes. Silly, huh.

KATHY PATTERSON

Santa Rosa

'A house divided'

EDITOR: No one can forget Abraham Lincoln's famous quote: "A house divided against itself cannot stand." We may not be about to head into a devastating Civil War, but conditions of political tolerance are pretty bad at the moment. As a Republican in a Democratic culture, I can attest to this. In other states, Democrats are persecuted by Republicans.

There simply isn't any room for polite acknowledgment of one another's intellectual opinions anymore. We can't look at our fellow man and say, "All right, you vote that way, I vote this way, let's move on."

Influential members of our culture such as teachers find it to be their jobs to indoctrinate any and all who will listen to them to share their opinions. It is difficult and scary to disagree. We are a nation of freedom and liberty and democracy. Our friends and neighbors shouldn't feel alienated because they think a certain way.

A house divided against itself cannot stand. Something to think about.

JOY FERGUSON

Santa Rosa