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Our readers also have options about protesters tearing down statues, wearing masks to fight COVID-19, unpaid unemployment benefits, and more,

Thank you for publishing Sen. Lew Frederick's powerful opinion about his experiences with Portland Police officers, as a Black man, in My View June 17. I met Sen. Frederick when he was first running for office many years ago. I learned that he has the surname Johnson in his ancestry.

All my life I have been ashamed of my ancestry — the Johnsons and other white family ancestors on both sides of my family who were chattel slave holders. There were family stories about the slaves my family held in my grandmother's generation. But we in the family did not discuss the injustices of chattel slavery, and the line we were fed when I'd bring up the subject was "our ancestors were kind to their slaves." I never accepted this, because maybe they were kind and maybe not, but the fact is that they held people in involuntary servitude — people who could be sold and their families broken up.

I grew up in segregated Dallas, Texas, and was well aware of racial disparities from the time I was 4 or 5 years old. At that age I had two questions for my mother: "Why don't Negroes live in our neighborhood except in servants' quarters?" (Servants' quarters were little houses in the back yards of the white people. We didn't have a servants' quarter at our home.) My second question was, "Why are there no Negroes in my Sunday School? We sing a song that goes 'Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.'"

My mother's answer to my question was, "There are some things we cannot understand." We were also told, "That's the way things were at the time," ignoring the fact that there were always some white people who were anti-slavery and worked to overthrow that terrible institution in our country.

Now I am trying to find a group of people who want to discuss a program I am putting myself through, in the book by Layla F. Saad titled "Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor." It's been hard for me all my life to discuss racism with other white people. Saad calls this "white silence." I think white Americans need to own our country's crimes and learn to accept the real truths about the United States of America.

Marian Drake

Northeast Portland

Stop tearing down statues of founding fathers

I really can't believe what is going on. Most of our leaders are cowering in the corner afraid to do what is right. Ted Wheeler, the mayor and police commissioner of the city of Portland hides under his desk and does nothing when they tear down the statue of Thomas Jefferson and they write "slave owner" on the base of the statue. But, they don't say that he penned the Declaration of Independence or the preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America.

George Washington on the other hand started out as a land surveyor served in the militia during the French and Indian wars, retired to Mount Vernon where later he was approached and he was over 60 when he became commander of the U.S. forces during the revolutionary war. Yet we still have people who can't accept history the way it happened so they are violently going to change it.

Good luck, you will need it!

Frank E. Bonneau Jr.

Southeast Portland

Wearing masks helps keep infection rates down

Imagine that you need surgery — maybe an appendectomy or a cataract removal. You show up at the hospital, change into a drafty patient gown and wait nervously for your surgeon to appear. He reassures you that it's all routine and you have nothing to worry about. But as they wheel you into the surgical suite, you overhear an argument in the hall.

"Doctor," says the scrub nurse, "you have to wear a mask before you go into the operating room!"

"I'd rather not," he says.

"But it's a hospital regulation," she replies.

"They can't tell me what to do," he shouts.

The reason doctors and nurses wear masks, sterile gloves and gowns is to reduce the risk of contamination and infection. Even with these measures, hospital associated infections are a major cause of complications and deaths.

So with the United States. COVID-19 infection count now over 2 million and likely much higher, the refusal of some Americans to wear a face mask borders on insanity. I wonder how many of those same individuals would welcome a surgeon in street clothes with no mask.

Eugene Uphoff

Northeast Portland

Elected leaders: Do right by workers

I urge Gov. Kate Brown, Rep. Rob Nosse and Sen. Kathleen Taylor to do something to protect high contact workers' lives and livelihoods. Pay them the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance they have been waiting for.

Requiring small-business owners to foot the bill and buy personal protective equipment to reopen to limited clients is setting them up for failure. Clear as day. And to acquire PPE at this time is not only expensive, it puts small businesses and service providers in competition for limited supplies. This will take them out of the supply chain so they are no longer available for medical needs and essential workers.

I moved to Oregon because this state cares about its people. I urge Gov. Brown, Rep. Nosse and Sen. Taylor to do the right thing. Protect people over profits, do not let corporate interests run small businesses and their owners into the ground. Either financial or quite literally, as they are forced to break social distancing and take on great risk to themselves and their families.

We must take care of Oregon's citizens.

Miranda Beck

Southeast Portland

Encourage all efforts toward a COVID-19 vaccine

In March, my wife and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl. As you can imagine, this large life event has been crazy during these times, but no less a blessing to have a healthy, beautiful daughter. I am extremely thankful for a healthy family.

During these difficult times throughout the country, it has made me ponder about the infrastructure of the United States, and how my daughter will grow up within this system.

America has a great health industry, and there should be no limit put by Congress or other government bureaucracies to defy the advancement of breakthrough medicines. I want everyone — especially my daughter — to be afforded all the opportunities she desires. We should encourage all efforts toward a vaccine and therapies to fight and prevent the spread of the virus throughout the United States, now, and to come.

Until we have a vaccine, I'll take extra caution. And I'll continue to advocate for the success of America's medical innovation industry as it tackles the lofty challenge of producing a vaccine for COVID-19, while hoping that our federal legislators commit themselves to doing the same.

Without advanced therapies, treatments and a vaccine, we cannot return to complete normalcy.

Jared Henderson

Clackamas

Make healthier choices beyond traditional meat

Folks who grill hamburgers and hot dogs face a nasty choice. The U.S. Meat and Poultry Hotline advises grilling at high temperature to avoid food poisoning by E. coli and salmonella bacteria. But the National Cancer Institute warns that high-temperature grilling of processed meats generates cancer-causing compounds.

Fortunately, we no longer need to choose between food poisoning and cancer!

A bunch of enterprising U.S. food processors have met this challenge head-on by developing a rich variety of convenient, healthful, delicious plant-based meats, burgers, hot dogs and kid-friendly nuggets. These products don't harbor nasty bugs or cancer-causing compounds. They are missing the cholesterol, saturated fats, drugs, hormones and pesticides of their animal-based alternatives. And, they are waiting for us in the frozen food section of our favorite supermarket, along with nut-based ice creams and other dairy-free desserts.

(Editor's note: This letter was written in advance of Memorial Day.)

Peter Orwell

Northeast Portland

Driver harassment cannot be tolerated

About 2 p.m. on Friday, May 15, my girlfriend and her 13-year-old son arrived with this disturbing report: A thin-faced, gray-haired and mustached, middle-aged Caucasian man, driving an immaculate, champagne-colored pickup with matching canopy top, tinted windows and OSU Beaver DAD decal, pulled up beside her on Highway 224 West in Milwaukie, "flipped her the bird" and drove off. Needless to say, she was upset and bewildered.

Asking herself why, she wondered if he was angered by her "Resist," "Bernie" and "Obama in 2012" bumper stickers. At the next stoplight, the man flashed hand gestures for masturbation and sexual intercourse, leaving her feeling harassed and threatened.

In response to these incidents, a report has been filed with the State Police, who are concerned about harassment on state roads. If given license plate information, they will follow up with the vehicle's owner. Hopefully local police would respond similarly. Consider contacting them with any incidents of concern.

Behaviors like these are cowardly and mean-spirited. Let us instead encourage and practice civic decency, honoring our nation's patriotic anthem and pledge, to be a land of the free, a home of the brave, with liberty and justice for all.

Michael Hall

Milwaukie

Reporter did well in naming names

Thanks to Shasta Kearns Moore for including the "Where Are They Now?" sidebar, and for the editors for including it ("The Long Fight," July 1). Real reporting names names. Without this, all the reader has are the words of Stephen Beaudoin, who is in denial. While a Teacher of the Year can't find a job, the four mainstream people who abused their power to discriminate have made out pretty well. As usual.

Bruce Silverman

Portland


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