Civil rights issues are still with us
Wichita’s history of the civil rights movement is wondrously rich, from lunch-counter sit-ins to school integration. Former Sedgwick County Commissioner Billy Q. McCray, who died this month, was one of the many great advocates in that struggle. Professor Gretchen Eick mentions McCray throughout her book, “Dissent in Wichita,” beginning with his participation in sit-ins and picketing establishments discriminating against African-Americans.
Do the youths of today know of this history? We fear not. Do they and Wichitans in general know that civil rights issues are still with us and the fight for justice goes on? Community leaders are engaged in educating and legislating against racial profiling, mass incarceration, poverty and “stop-and-search” procedures targeting, in the main, African-Americans and Hispanics.
On Father’s Day this Sunday, Wichitans are meeting at 4 p.m. at 21st and Hillside in a silent march calling for justice. On this date, the national NAACP will march in silence to protest the “stop-and-frisk” practice in New York City. We aim to share concern and educate about civil rights being denied. We honor fathers on this day by insisting, “We want fathers employed and living in dignity.”
Regarding “Keep religion out of government” (June 11 Letters to the Editor): The letter writer yearns for a return to “American values” instead of Christian ones. That distinction would make no sense to our Founding Fathers, as they would think them inseparable.
Since the first meetings of Congress, they have begun with public prayer by a chaplain whose salary was paid with public funds. Unfortunately, people who are uncomfortable with public expressions of faith either are unaware of or want to ignore American history that shows a much different story from what they want America to be today.
Many of the people I hear talking about returning to Christian values are not wanting to insert something into the fabric of American life that has never been there. They want to return to the historic American practice of thanking God and realizing that America has been blessed by the Lord as a great country – not in spite of our religious heritage but because of it.
Corporations were chartered with specific purposes in mind: to manufacture products, to sell goods and services, and to create new technologies. Today, megacorporations are overstepping those original charters and exercising undue influence over our lives by funneling money into electioneering and lobbying.
They bankrolled puppet groups with patriotic-sounding names and backed pseudo-religious groups to give the appearance of legitimacy. Their slick spin on trumped-up issues created the illusion that they were promoting the American way of life, when in actuality they were undermining basic rights and freedoms.
They have taken the fervent belief systems of religious fundamentalists and small-government libertarians and used them to attack the very country and freedoms that these two groups hold dear. They have corrupted the truth to mislead them and get them to vote and actually protest their own self-interests. What a coup.
Today it is more important than ever that citizens inform themselves and begin denouncing the excessive influence that corporations are having in our politics. We need to take back our democracy and restore the damage that has cracked its foundation. Governments were created for the people, not to promote corporate interests over citizen interests.
I am a 69-year-old grandmother. I was born and lived my early years in Wichita. During all of my childhood and most of my adult years, I lived in communities without optimal levels of fluoride in the water. Some of my worst memories are of toothache and dental pain.
For the past 36 years, I have worked in a program serving low-income Wichita children. In every one of these years, about a third of the 3- and 4-year-old children had dental cavities; in some years, nearly half of those children had tooth decay.
Researchers have found that Wichita can expect a 25 percent reduction in tooth decay if the water is fluoridated at optimal levels. I am thankful my grandchildren live in a community with fluoridated water. I wish the children in Wichita had the opportunity to drink fluoridated water.
Water fluoridation is cost-effective. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every dollar spent for water fluoridation saves $38 in dental care. Water fluoridation is safe, and it is endorsed by major medical, dental and other health organizations.
Keep out of water
Read the back of a toothpaste tube that has fluoride. “Warnings: Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison-control center immediately.”
Fluoride is poison, and the pro-fluoride people know it. Since the 1800s, fluoride has been a key component in rat poison and insecticides, so why would you put it in our drinking water?
Fluoridation wastes tax dollars at a time when people are really struggling to make ends meet. Keep it simple; keep the fluoride out of our drinking water.