1. Opinion

What ‘reparations’ could mean | Saturday’s letters

Here’s what readers had to say in Saturday’s paper.
A replica poster for Juneteenth, signifying the end of slavery on June 19, 1865, is lyrical and poetic in its proclamation "slavery drizzled out of time, blue skies of truth and thrive!" [FRED BELLET | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Sep. 13

What ‘reparations’ could mean

A.T. McWilliams is a writer and poet based in Oakland, Calif. [A.T. McWilliams]

My ancestors’ case for reparations | Column, Sept. 1

A.T. McWilliams makes an interesting and thoughtful statement about the “case for reparations.” The post-bellum theft of land from non-whites — including indigenous peoples — was an important factor in producing the country as we know it today, but certainly not the only reason to warrant reparations. It is clear that both private and governmental actions (and inaction) have created a gross inequality, based on the false idea of racial differences. And that’s not even considering the theft of people and their labor that occurred before slavery was ended.

The questions about reparations for slavery include: Was there wrong and injury and reason for amends? If yes, who makes them, how and to whom? McWilliams does not answer the later questions, only presents one of the “cases” of injury. He suggests no solution or proposed payment, but does ask the presidential candidates to offer a “strategy to repay black slave descendants.”

Most of us agree that injury was perpetrated on a group of people based on their continent of origin. Perhaps the word “reparations” is too loaded with unrealistic expectations and resentments. I don’t believe I should get payment even though I can show that some of my ancestors were slaves. We should be able to agree that amends are warranted. I don’t think there is an equitable way to compensate individual descendants of slaves, but I believe our country is capable of creating programs and taking actions aimed at eliminating the inequities of education, health care, financial status and life’s expectations that have come from 400 years of denial of humanity, and over 150 years of denial of equality.

A commission to examine the problems and possible remedies is long overdue. Let’s not avoid the discussion because the situation is too complex and/or expensive. And maybe we should move away from the idea that reparations has to mean money paid to individuals.

Mitchell B. Turner, Tampa

The real risk is unknown

A retention pond spills over into Loon Lane last month in a mobile home park south of Brooksville a few days after heavy rains hit the area.

Know the true flood risk | Column, Aug. 28

I don’t feel it’s fair to expose Florida home owners to excessive rate hikes to their insurance based on events that haven’t happened yet. This is uncharted territory at best because the effect of carbon emissions is uncertain. Flood insurance is a huge expense. What if nothing happens? Do we get our money back? Of course not.

Hal Batey, St. Petersburg

Rudderless foreign policy

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before departing on Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House. [PATRICK SEMANSKY | AP]

Trump calls off secret meeting with Taliban, Afghan leaders | Sept. 8

In most cases clarity and certainty in foreign policy are desirable characteristics, though often to get to the policy requires a process of flexibility and adaptation. President Donald Trump’s process of forming foreign policy is mysterious and often unpredictable. He seems to operate based on intuition and the moment with little regard for the views of those he appoints to assist him. Our allies, enemies and all nations in between must be rather confused and frustrated as our foreign policy may go right, left and straight all in the same day. Mr. Trump famously states often “we will see what happens” and the guessing begins. I would think after 18 years in Afghanistan, U.S. troops and commanders are wondering when will this end and why should more of us be killed?

James Gillespie, St. Petersburg

Home-grown spirits

Promoting local business

The support NJoy Spirits Distillery has received from our local tourism promotion agency, Florida’s Adventure Coast, Brooksville-Weeki Wachee, along with a small grant from Visit Florida, has helped us grow. Located deep within the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area, our 80-acre farm had no signs to direct visitors. With the Visit Florida grant that Florida’s Adventure Coast, Brooksville-Weeki Wachee helped us secure, we bought signs, produced a short video, printed brochures and advertised on social media.

As one of Florida’s first craft distilleries, we have always had a passion for making small batch rye whiskey and rum the old-fashioned way — by hand and by the purest standards. We grow a 401 black rye grain for our gold award-winning Wild Buck Whiskey and sugar cane for our Mermaid Rum while using double-filtered rainwater. We take pride in making the finest of spirits but being small has had its challenges. We have a modest budget to properly market ourselves as an agri-tourism business. That is why we rely so heavily on support from local and state tourism promotion efforts.

Since we received help from our destination-marketing organization, visitation has quadrupled and 95 percent of visitors tell us they plan to return. Our success has a ripple effect on other local businesses. When people stop by our distillery, we encourage them to eat at local restaurants, stop by area breweries and wineries, and see the nature our region has to offer. We have created an attraction that pulls in visitors who spend their resources in our community, putting more people to work and increasing the tax benefit visitors provide Hernando County. We couldn’t have done any of this our own. It is only through tourism promotion dollars that little places like ours have been put on the map.

Kevin and Natalie Goff, Weeki Wachee

The writers own NJoy Spirits Distillery Owners.

One shot is plenty

A Virgin Mary painting, flags and flowers adorn a makeshift memorial for the victims of the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. [ANDRES LEIGHTON | AP]

Why won’t Congress act on guns to save lives? | Editorial, Sept. 8

I agree with the five changes this editorial says Congress should approve. The ones that make the most sense are to ban high-capacity magazines and to ban military-style weapons. When the right to bear arms was amended into the Constitution, only single-shot guns existed. That is all you need to protect life and property now, just as 200 years ago. Why would we need to have high-capacity guns in our homes when we have the technology and materials to make our homes a lot more secure than was possible back then? Dad, mom, grandpa or Uncle Billy Bob should be able to take their kids out to learn how to hunt. But those firearms should be obtained by their relatives 21 or older.

Jeff Harris, Tarpon Springs


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