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Essay shows how far there is to go

I am responding to the guest essay 'Price has been paid Ñ in full' (Insight, Feb. 28). As a 24-year-old African-American female who grew up here in Portland, I didn't have mixed emotions when it came to reparations for African-Americans. I didn't see why I should benefit from the institution of slavery just because I am a descendant of slaves.

I do feel that yes, something is owed to blacks in America for the moral crimes committed against us for hundreds of years and that continue today, and yes, we do need to come together and address the problems affecting African-Americans today, namely the high poverty rate and single-parent families that tend to leave us feeling that 'the man' owes us our due.

I was raised in poverty and in a single-parent household, and it is not a problem that persists only within the African-American community. Yet it is not a problem that has stopped other races from prospering. I feel that if author Richard F. LaMountain does not think that the 'real obstacles to black progress' are not a direct consequence of the institution of slavery that financially benefited the United States, we haven't made much progress at all.

Can he not see that the African-American family structure was attacked by selling away fathers, sons, daughters and mothers for hundreds of years? Did he not realize the emotional scars of telling black people they were less than human? Has he not considered that the 'self-defeating attitudes' among black youths about academic success somehow stem from the fact that education for blacks was outlawed for hundreds of years?

We could say that this is all in the past, and things are different now. I will agree that tremendous changes have been made, but from reading that commentary, I can see many attitudes have not.

I once thought that the United States had paid the price; now I realize that the African-American community has paid the ultimate price, and we will never be fully reimbursed.

Shontae Johnson

Northeast Portland

Forget about school; let's just play ball

So some folks over there want to attract major league baseball, even though they can't keep their schools open (Here's the catch, Feb. 25).

Imagine: The team could be named the Oregon Illiterates, and legislators could man the promotion tables at the new stadium, handing out bats and hats to the first 5,000 children who could spell either word.

Gerald L. Carlson

Vancouver, Wash.

Tobacco tax hike doesn't fund no-smoking lobbying

Shame on Bill Perry of the Oregon Restaurant Association for the falsehood in his recent opinion piece about the Oregon Tobacco Prevention and Education Program (Economy will suffer further under new ban, Feb. 21).

Perry knows perfectly well that Measure 44 tobacco-tax money can't be used to lobby for nonsmoking laws because he helped sponsor the legislative language that prevents us from doing so. While we support the Tobacco-Free Coalition of Oregon in its efforts to tighten the statewide law, no program funding has been spent to further that goal.

I know because I manage the Tobacco Prevention Program of Washington County. We are very busy with efforts to reduce tobacco use in our county, working with law enforcement, health care professionals, students and school staff, leaders of the Latino and Korean communities, organizers of community events and a host of others to help protect people from secondhand smoke, reduce youth access to tobacco products, reduce tobacco promotion in our community and link people with cessation resources.

The results of the statewide program since its inception in 1997 have been dramatic. There has been a 44 percent reduction in eighth-grade smoking, a 30 percent reduction in 11th-grade smoking and a 12 percent reduction in adult smoking, resulting in 75,000 fewer adult smokers.

That's what Bill Perry, known for his close ties with tobacco industry strategists, is really worried about.

Diane Laughter

Tobacco Prevention Program

of Washington County

Southwest Portland

Review doesn't describe the Cafe des Amis we know

The restaurant review 'Cafe des Amis feels weight of old-school traditions' (Feb. 21) compelled me to write this response.

The writer is totally off-base in her review of this outstanding restaurant. She stated, 'Restaurants that remain stubbornly unchanged for decades succeed only if they are particularly charming or if they serve outstanding food.' But that is exactly why Cafe des Amis is still thriving after 20 years. She has 'stilted ambience' confused with quiet elegance. She states there are no 'gorgeous flowers'; did she miss the beautiful flowers that are always in the entry?

She complains there is no music. Rather than enjoying the delightful privacy this restaurant offers, she seems to prefer competing with music in order to carry on a conversation, with tables in close proximity, making privacy impossible.

Cafe des Amis waiters have been there for years and are polished, mature, friendly and attentive. We have dined there for 20 years, celebrating many anniversaries and birthdays there. We have never had a meal or service that was anything less than outstanding.

Abby Crouch

Northwest Portland

Don't forget who's the real source of money

What kind of a headline is this? 'If Salem won't pay, taxpayers may' (Feb. 7). I am sure you all thought it was quite clever. However, regardless of whether the money for public services comes from Salem or from a local tax base, it's always the taxpayers who pay.

This is the crux of the problem. You and your ilk seem to think there is a magic money fairy out there. Unfortunately, there is not. Further, there is a limit to how much money we taxpayers can fork over to the government. You need to keep in mind that taxes are collected from the taxpayers under the threat of force.

Our state and local governments have shown no spending restraint whatsoever. We taxpayers, therefore, have said no more taxes will be forthcoming. How many times do we need to say it? And I do not care whether the tax dollars come from Salem, or from local sources, I, as a taxpayer, am saying it again.

Jeff Altig

Northeast Portland