I knew Jim Crow
The June letter of the month responded to the editorial “The shared promise of Juneteenth”
I grew up in Jim Crow America. It was a way of life that was “normal,” with all its untruths and distortions. In order to justify slavery, Americans were taught that Black people were inferior, more like animals. Those beliefs became part of our American story. And those beliefs are floating around in our collective conscience today. Actions of the past create the present. Germans were complicit in the Holocaust. If we can look at George Floyd dying under a cop’s knee and justify it, then we are complicit. We have to have the courage to see the truth of slavery, of our government’s support of slavery, and the hateful aftermath in order to confront our own distorted thinking. The truth must be taught.
Fern Williams, Zephyrhills
The ‘M’ word
Pressure for water | July 6
In the Times article regarding low water pressure in some Hillsborough County communities, I could not help thinking of the simple and immediate solution to this ongoing problem: a building moratorium. Commissioner Mariella Smith was quoted as saying she didn’t want to use that word yet — “moratorium.” But considering that Commission Chairwoman Pat Kemp said, “What we’re doing now isn’t responsible,” perhaps the word that does need to be used. Countless other communities throughout the country have used a moratorium to keep the water supply, and hence the pressure, within reasonable and controllable bounds. This problem is too important to be put on hold until it becomes a crisis. Sometimes the best interests of the community overshadow the interests of builders.
George Petrick, Riverview
Combatting global poverty
Though many of us here in Tampa are beginning to go back to our pre-pandemic activities and living a more “normal” life, this is a luxury that so many will not experience. The pandemic has affected all of our lives, but there is a large number of people who will continue to suffer for years to come: the more than 70,000 Tampa residents who live in poverty and the millions of impoverished people around the world. It’s a common misconception that the U.S. is already doing so much to address global poverty, but in reality less than 1 percent of our federal budget is directed to programs that provide aid and reduce poverty. It is absolutely essential that more is done to help those in need around the world. Our members of Congress need to be promoting the importance of protecting and increasing the International Affairs budget.
Reducing poverty at a global level also benefits U.S. citizens. For example, when people live in stable conditions, they are less likely to turn to terrorist groups that could become a threat to our safety. Additionally, business leaders around the world consider the poor to be the largest untapped market. Improving the lives of those who live in poverty will benefit our economy and create new jobs. In the last 20 years, the amount of people living in poverty has decreased by 50%, deadly diseases have been eradicated, and millions of children have gained access to education. Though this is certainly something to celebrate, we must also realize that much more should be done. Though many of us are extremely lucky in Tampa and do not ever have to think about things like access to clean water and sanitation, it is critical that the conversation surrounding the importance of reducing global poverty continues.
Leah Daniels, Tampa
Where to find health care
The mission of the League of Women Voters of Hillsborough County is to inform and educate our community, and we want to make sure residents are aware of health care services and resources available during the pandemic. The Affordable Care Act has opened enrollment until Aug. 15. The number is 1-800-318-2596. Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, those receiving COBRA insurance will be contacted on how to apply for up to one year of payments. Additional information is available from the Family Health Care Foundation, which recommend contacting the human resources department where previously employed if you have not been contacted already. The Hillsborough Health Care Plan is prepared to provide direction to community members without health care, based on income and residency. The Family Health Care Foundation has navigators to assist with eligibility and applications and can be reached at 813-995-7705. The website for the ACA is www.healthcare.gov and www.coveringflorida.org. This information can help make our community healthier for all.
Deborah Kauffman, Angela Birdsong and Laurie Winkles
The writers are, respectively, president of the League of Women Voters of Hillsborough County and the League Health Care co-chairs.
Just a federal worker
Ala. lawmaker says he can’t be sued over Capitol riot | July 7
So Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., claims that he was doing his job as a federal employee when he was speaking to the mob at the Capitol. He was getting paid so he was representing the federal government according to his interpretation (or his lawyer’s). Getting paid to spread false information that incited a crowd to break the law by breaking into the Capitol, injuring many people, destroying government property, with many threatening more violence. Is that part of his job description?
Dave Hinz, Clearwater