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Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009 03:18 pm

Letters to the Editor 9/17/09

High-speed rail, racism and ShoeTopia

Amtrack’s Acela, which runs from Washington, D.C., to Boston, is often looked to as the model for high-speed rail.

The past couple of months have been enlightening. First we have politically connected city workers putting up nooses around the work area of black men. There have been a number of noose incidents around the country this past year and they have been treated as hate crimes but in Springfield the city fathers just consider them harmless fun by the politically connected good ole white boys.

Next up was the news that high-speed rail was coming. Unfortunately when the proposal first came up several years back the railroad had chosen the Third Street corridor for the high-speed track, the same track passenger trains now use. When the city realized that the railroad was going to be using Third Street, everyone went bonkers. Putting the high-speed rail along Third Street would absolutely destroy the city, forcing ugly overpasses to be built and tying up traffic into the downtown area. The good people of Springfield demanded that the high-speed rail line be moved or else they didn’t want it in their city.

Where to move it? Why 10th Street would make an excellent corridor for the high-speed line. The railroad wouldn’t even have to worry about overpasses or blocking intersections because the city really didn’t want anyone who lived east of 10th to have access to the rest of the city anyway. Perhaps they could have the railroad construct the crossing guards along the route with nooses attached just so those east siders who were slow on the uptake truly got the message.

I know I should be ashamed of myself for suggesting there are ulterior motives for moving the high-speed rail corridor. We all know that the decision has nothing to do with race — just like those nooses.

Dennis M. Garland

I was one of the 45 folks who, along with Mr. King, had the opportunity recently to spend two and a half days talking, thinking and learning about racism [see Guestwork, “Band-aid won’t help cancer of racism,” by Douglas King, Sept. 10]. For me, it was a first. I simply want to echo a couple of Mr. King’s points.

First, it isn’t an easy topic. Each evening I departed the workshop exhausted yet energized. The fact that my sleep those nights was interrupted was confirmation that our conversations were percolating with me. They still are.

Second, and I believe most important, is the fact that we were willingly to have the conversation. The July issue of The Sun magazine contained an interview with Tim Wise under the heading, “By the Color of Their Skin: Tim Wise on the Myth of a Postracial America.” Mr. Wise is a white southerner who writes and speaks on racism in America. During the interview he observed that, in his experience, southerners come to a discussion of this topic more easily than people in any other region of the country. He also observed that he believes that midwesterners have the most difficulty talking about racism.

He may be correct. But I know 45 people from Springfield who were willing to talk. Can we continue?

John Record

Thanks to IT for helping us get the word out about our move into L. Chic at 3063 Hamlin Parkway. We do want to mention that the quotes from our blog should not be taken 100 percent seriously. Our regular customers understand the joke here, which is that co-owner Amy blames co-owner Shanta for everything. You can find the entire article in our newsletter, “The Scuttleboot,” on our Web site, www.shopshoetopia.com.

We hope you come visit us in our new digs!

The ShoeTopia Girls
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