Speak Up

Barbara Bush’s kindness

In 1989, when I was 10 years old, I won a national essay contest which included a trip to Washington, D.C. and an invitation to a private reception at the White House hosted by First Lady Barbara Bush.

To this day, I still remember what a kind, sweet, welcoming and lovely woman Barbara Bush was in her trademark pearls and navy and gray suit, as she greeted and spoke with us in the White House. She was so down-to-earth and made me feel so comfortable when I arrived at the White House reception surrounded by adults except for me and my sister. I was so honored when she recognized me, a child, in her speech at the event.

The memory I have meeting her 29 years ago has stayed with me and will always stay with me. Barbara Bush made a positive impact on our society and on me, and she will be missed. May her legacy continue. I know she will forever live on in my memories.

Tracy Towle Humphrey, Miami

Forgetting history

Numerous articles are popping up telling us that Americans are forgetting the history of Nazism and the Holocaust. This is a perilous situation to find ourselves in as a nation while fascism continues to flourish.

We should all be engaged in fighting for a bright future. Understanding our history will be crucial to that effort. We must prioritize political education and struggle to get the truth out during this political climate.

Eliana R. Dominguez, Miami

Coffee klatch

I would disagree with Leonard Pitts on the appropriate take-away involving the recent episode of two African-American men in a Philadelphia Starbucks. In his April 18 column, “Starbucks isn’t the problem, America is,” Pitts seems to blame all of America, which he casts as incurably racist. Yes, he is correct that there is much to be disgusted about the invidious racism in American society at all levels.

But one good thing about America is its inherent desire to seek to correct its many faults, and that is something we all need to continue to believe in, and contribute to. Pitts can rest assured that were I sitting in that Starbucks — and I am sure many other white folks would feel similarly — there would have been significant outrage at the behavior of the police officers who seemed driven to escalate the event, even after the men (according to news reports) agreed to leave.

There is hope. We are a better country, with better people, than Pitts gives us credit for, but we can, as suggested, do much better.

Civic-minded Starbucks provides a real opportunity. Closing 8,000 stores for training only its employees is a gesture that sets the bar way too low. What kind of training is contemplated? Leave black folks alone if they are simply sitting, and please, let black men use the bathroom, even if they don’t buy something? This sounds like an opportunity lost.

If Starbucks wants to do something really meaningful, it might consider inviting representatives of the police to talk about their perspective, and above all, representatives of the local black community to do so as well. After all, thousands of day-long forums across the country, where issues of race and police and corporate behavior can be discussed, is quite an opportunity that should not be shortchanged.

There was room for improvement in the behavior of all involved in this episode. How can we train people to better understand one another if we don’t include representatives of all those who are presently so badly misunderstood?

Michael Peskoe, Miami Beach

New name, same mess

The April 15 letter, “Where’s the party?” by Bob Troy mentions the now defunct Tea Party. It isn’t dead nor did it go away. It became the Freedom Caucus, and it is causing the same havoc as before but with a new name.

Strange the Tea Party and its followers went away and never mentioned that they benefited from Obamacare more than any other group in the country!

These people got themselves or their cronies elected to Congress and became the people they claim were the problem.

I am glad to see that people are beginning to understand or realize, as Troy queried, “Is it possible that it really was white backlash to the nation's first black president after all?" Yes, it is!

Gertha P. Whitehead, Opa-locka

FAA falters

On April 15, we watched with dismay the 60 Minutes exposure of Allegiant Air’s profit-over-safety corporate culture, noting the FAA’s cavalier attitude about enforcing safety precautions.

Then a Southwest Airline Boeing 737 suffered a mid-air engine failure thought due to metal fatigue.

As reported by the AP, in June 2017, engine manufacturer CFM, recommended that the type of engine that failed be subjected to ultrasonic inspections. In August 2017, the FAA proposed a directive that would have given airlines six months to examine all engines in question, but the FAA did not issue the directive (nor will it for two more weeks).

By my math, had the FAA issued the directive last August, this tragic event, which cost a life and almost many more, probably could have been avoided. Is the FAA unreasonably deliberate, or deliberately unreasonable?

Richard S. Masington, Coral Gables

Fitting day

It is such a fitting date — May 29 — for Starbucks to close its doors for racial bias training.

John F. Kennedy, a champion of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, was born on May 29, 1917. That day will be his 101st birthday!

Karin Stahl, North Miami

Deeper issues

In his April 18 letter, “Jobs president,” Jaime Basagoitia states there are fewer demonstrations by the Black Lives Matter Movement group due to Trump’s job creation.

Allow me to clarify. BLM was not protesting the lack of jobs for black and brown people, but the police violence and racism against people of color. The incarceration rates and sentencing guidelines in this country for the same offenses committed by whites or blacks are vastly different as are the guilty verdicts for unjustified police brutality.

Jobs would certainly help, but the issues are way deeper, and sadder, than that.

Perhaps one day the ugly racism we are experiencing in this country will disappear; until then, we keep resisting and protesting for equality justice for all!

Monica Harvey, Miami Shores

Some ask questions

Someone needs to ask Trump attorney Michael Cohen a simple question: Why did he pay Stormy Daniels $130,000? Obviously, the president thinks that every citizen of this country is stupid!

Tim Whitaker, Miramar