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Celebrating Diversity

May 1, 1992



Regarding the Opinion page article "Diversity That Divides," April 14, I am an educator who shares the author's commitment to a curriculum that incorporates neglected chapters of American cultural and ethnic history. I do not share, however, his distresses at the Berkeley City Council Resolution replacing the celebration of Columbus Day with "Indigenous Peoples' Day."

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Such a resolution pointedly repudiates the imperialistic colonizing of this continent, while acknowledging the claims to appreciation - indeed, to justice - of indigenous people. Acknowledging "500 years of genocide" is not "pointed negativity," if it is accompanied by the moral repudiation of such oppression.

The Berkeley City Council's calling for critical displays of existing literature on Christopher Columbus does not, by itself, endorse a guilt-laden view of history. I believe librarians would interpret "critical display" as it is widely interpreted in academic settings. In this case, such displays would seek to examine from several perspectives Columbus's arrival in this hemisphere.

The Berkeley City Council's action helps us realize that an appreciation for cultural and ethnic diversity should be limited to school texts - it should stretch out into the community and transform our celebrations. Mary Eddy, Elsah, Ill.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.