Valuable lesson about race found at cab stand

Elizabeth Armstrong's Feb. 9 Opinion piece "Best race relations lessons come when you least expect them," reminded me of a poignant lesson I learned about racism as an African-American man.

I was living in New York City and the train I was on had stopped running due to track problems. It was 3 a.m. on a weeknight and I was let out at 96th street and Broadway. I lived on 172nd street. For the next 45 minutes I watched a dozen or so cabs pass by. Then a blond woman in a business suit made her way across the street toward me. She hadn't reached the curb when four cabs stopped for her.

She opened the door of the first cab and beckoned me to get in. I refused. "Come on," she said, "you're never going to get a cab at this hour." I replied, "You're right, but I'll wait." She got into her cab and made the driver sit, until another cab finally stopped for me. We were both angry, humiliated, yet gracious, too. That grace is man's inherent love for his fellow man and racism doesn't dwell there.

Johnetta Cole, former president of Spelman College, put it this way in her opening remarks at a recent race and reconciliation panel that I attended. She said: "I've got good news and I've got bad news: The good news is racism doesn't exist; the bad news is racism does exist if you believe it to be so."
Kwadjo Boaitey

Focusing on history, not simply race

Regarding Joyce King's Feb. 9 Opinion piece "Richness of black history shouldn't be segregated into one month": As an educator, I would like Ms. King to know we do include lessons of famous black Americans all year round. We focus on such prominent Americans as Condoleezza Rice, Mae Jenson, and Langston Hughes. I do not, however, make the point to my students that these people should be known because they are black. I point out their accomplishments and successes, but I also teach history the way it was recorded. We should celebrate all Americans at all times, and quit separating Americans into categories.
Dana L. Botner
Tampa, Fla.

Missed interpretations

Your Feb. 5 article "A parking lot effect?" that refers to our research paper published in Nature magazine last spring is generally excellent. We are concerned, however, that the paragraph that refers to the Center for Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, which uses our research to argue "the impact of CO2 was overstated."

We strongly disagree with this group's interpretation of our work, and agree with the statements of several scientists that "modifying land surface is important locally; if you're talking globally, though, CO2 is the dominant way humans cause climate change."
Eugenia Kalnay and Ming Cai
College Park, Md.

Morality and the law

Regarding your Feb. 9 article "Gay rights no easy sell in courts": Our entire system of justice is based in morality, like it or not.

Do laws against murder stem solely from "majority rule" or is murder illegal because it's an immoral act? Or laws against stealing? I would suggest that without morality every law throughout this country is useless and unenforceable.
Robert Clark
West Middlesex, Pa.

Gambling only a 'quick fix'

Regarding your Feb. 9 article "Gambling a solution for California?": Gambling has always been credited with increasing crime, social problems, and taking money from those who can least afford it. California and other states shouldn't allow gambling. It's only a quick fix. We should instead concentrate on educating and employing people.
David Johnson
Chico, Calif.

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