Letters to the Editor
Published 12:00 am, Sunday, February 5, 2017
Team Westport probably did not realize it would gain wide notoriety with this year’s essay contest. If its mission per the name TEAM, standing for “Together Effectively Achieving Multiculturalism,” then I feel they have failed it.
The definition of privilege is: A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.
By the use of the term “white privilege” they have undermined their mission and fertilized the seeds of dissent in our society.
I spent most of my 35-year career in multinational/multicultural businesses, working in WI, IN, OK, MN, CA, TX. I progressed and helped others do likewise, from entry level to executive — hiring, educating, training, and promoting to higher positions a diverse subset of humanity numbered in the thousands.
The common thread in our enterprises was to teach that we are all alike and can live and work in harmony when we are respectful, compassionate, helpful, responsible and accountable, first to ourselves, and then with all others we encounter in life.
Anyone of any background can reach their dreams and goals in life by using this simple sentence: If it is to be, it is up to me.
The difference between success and dependence is the will to educate oneself, obtain skills, be willing to start in the lowest paying job, projecting a culture of character, with a positive demeanor, eagerness, diligence, persistence, trust, responsibility, accountability, respect, humility, and willingness to accept fellow humans as equals.
Privilege is a word used by those who look down on success and who disrespect themselves. White privilege as a topic is divisive and not inclusive. It does not send a positive message to anyone.
If TEAM Westport wants to fulfill its mission, they can think and act more in keeping with it.
White privilege in CT
I read with interest the assignment offered by an organization called Team Westport from Westport, asking students in grades 9-12 to enter a contest and write a thousand-word essay on white privilege. I was not at all surprised passions were stirred in this upscale town, with opinions on both sides of the issue. This is a very wealthy town with 93 percent of the population white, along Connecticut’s beautiful gold coast. Why wouldn’t they react on either side of the issue, this is a highly educated cohort.
Let’s look at the purpose of the assignment. It was asking students to give their views on the concept of white privilege and what it means to each living in a very privileged town in America. It was asking them to think, that’s good, right? Is this not what an educated citizenry should do? As a professor in higher education for 42 years, I tried hard to enhance critical thinking. Seeking competing opinions on important issues is central to learning. So let’s not forget the primary purpose of the assignment, to enhance educational thought.
Let me open your eyes and put you in North Carolina, where white privilege is manifested daily. I live in a suburb in the Raleigh/Durham area. Unfortunately NC prides itself in suppressing voter registration. It fails to fund programs to help poor black Americans. Charter school programs with high percentage of white students create economic segregation environments. It is anti-female, defunding programs which help women obtain primary health care. This occurs because the state legislature is dominated by a white male general assembly. Westport, we witness white privilege in its most devastating way, because we live it each day.
David N. Camaione, PhD., FACSM
Professor Emeritus, UCONN
Human rights has an individual, as well as a collective face
The Interfaith Council of Southwestern Connecticut opposes the current Administration’s immigration policy, which seeks to ban more than 130 million people from the United States and to deny entry to all refugees, especially from war-torn Syria and seven Muslim-majority countries. We are deeply troubled by the injustice of the proposed “religion test” and decry the discrimination against individuals based on their religion.
Our organization represents interfaith understanding and safe spaces in a state that historically has welcomed immigrants and refugees. The first — mostly from Europe — came in the 1840s. Today, about half-a-million state residents —- nearly 14 percent — are foreign-born, the majority from Europe, Asia and Latin America but also from Africa and the Middle East. According to the US Census Bureau, that number rises to nearly 33 percent in southwestern Connecticut, where over 170 of the world’s 6,500 languages are spoken.
Human rights has an individual as well as a collective face — yours, theirs and now at this most critical time ours.
The Interfaith Council of Southwestern Connecticut represents many faiths — Baha’i, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sihk, among others. We raise our voices today as Americans of many faiths. We do so knowing that freedom of speech and of religion have been bedrocks since the founding of our great nation.
We ask that each of you, knowing the individual and collective power of hope and love that resides in us all, will take a stand today and reject the closing of America’s doors to those who seek refuge.
The Board of Directors of the Interfaith Council of Southwestern Connecticut:
Dr. Kareem Adeeb, Azra Asaduddin, Inni Kaur Dhingra, Sara Hakim, Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Rev. Michael Hyman, Rev. Mark Lingle, Jack Penfield, Marie Orsini Rosen, Rev. ReBecca Sala and Rev. Dr. Frances Sink