Letters

Census doesn't do justice to questions of ethnicity

I believe your article about demographics and the 2000 census ("Scholars unearth new field: white studies," Aug. 14) to be misleading on the question of Latinos' and Mexican-Americans' ethnicity and race. I worked as an enumerator for the 1990 and 2000 Censuses, and was disappointed with the inaccuracy of information-collection procedures for Hispanic ethnicity and racial identity. Latino racial identity is complicated, an issue not easily answered by checking off boxes - and a question with answers that change over time. I disagree with projections that equate census answers with an ultimate sense of who Latinos are as an ethnic-racial group, or that predict we will become part of a white majority. "Whiteness" is part and parcel of a European heritage, not a Latin-American one (except for the small minority of Latin Americans who are primarily European). No matter how we tweak census forms, statistical data will never provide a mirror image of ethnic-racial relations in our country.

Margaret A. Villanueva

Assistant Professor of Community Studies

St. Cloud State University

St. Cloud, Minn.

More tests pave road for safe driving

Regarding your article "States try to help elderly stay behind the wheel" (Aug. 28): There are many solutions, public and private, to being without wheels. Seniors have much to say about youths' irresponsibility. What about their own responsibility - to drivers, pedestrians, emergency personnel, and their own families? Drivers should be retested and held to strict renewal standards. I am a senior, and welcome retesting.

Phyllis Binkley Dorset, Vt.

Celebrating East Timor's freedom

Thank you for keeping us updated on East Timor, following its independence ("East Timor votes, looks to rebuild for nationhood," Aug. 31). What a celebratory story! I hope coverage of other international issues will incite action to support human rights in a more timely manner than happened in East Timor. The Monitor's purpose to "bless all mankind" invites readers to continue expecting peace in troubled areas.

Lari Snorek-Yates Brattleboro, Vt.

Marijuana laws are source of trouble

I disagree with the suggestion that marijuana is a gateway drug ("Laws against marijuana go up in smoke," Aug. 5, Readers Write). Most marijuana users are not interested in other recreational drugs. Our marijuana-prohibition policy - not marijuana itself - causes the gateway effect, forcing buyers to purchase marijuana from the same people who sell heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines, and who often offer free samples of addictive drugs. In the Netherlands, marijuana is available to adults in coffee shops, and the Dutch rate of drug use is substantially lower than US rates.

Kirk Muse Vancouver, Wash.

State fairs are the best shows in town

I believe your article on the California State Fair (CSF) is a bit off ("More popularity for llamas and loopy rides," Sept. 4). I won four awards in the graphic-design division of the CSF art show. Not only was the art show tremendous - the horse shows were beyond belief; the police day featured the latest helicopters, vehicles, and SWAT teams; the California cheese people gave out free samples; and the largest Ferris wheel in the world was one of many top-quality rides. The llamas were also great - as loyal as dogs, and they don't get fleas! I saw it all, and it was 100 times what you reported. Next time, ask me to write the article!

Marree Babich Sacramento, Calif.

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