Mexican stereotypes promoted at parade
I was very saddened to see the photo of the "runner-up" float in the Niska-Day Parade in the May 22 Daily Gazette.
The float was decorated with a raging bull and "sombreros" -- unfortunate stereotypes that do not reflect Mexico at all. As the float was sponsored by the Girl Scouts, I would have expected some research into the authentic culture of Mexico. These young women would have learned that visual arts, music, literature, architecture and dance are all thriving in Mexico, as they have for centuries.
Right outside of Mexico City is Teotihuacan, an ancient city where 600 pyramids have already been found. The Pyramid of the Sun, located there, is one of the highest in the world. Another of the largest pyramids in the world can be climbed in Cholula. The Aztec, Olmec, Toltec, and Maya people left towering cities where medicine, astronomy and language flourished.
In many parts of Quintana Roo, the state where Cancun is located, the first language of many people continues to be Mayan. In addition to Mayan, more than 80 indigenous languages are still spoken in Mexico.
Yes, there are sadly still bullfights in Mexico. But this so-called "sport" is not native to the country; it was introduced by the Spanish conquerors. And yes, Mexican workers wear hats for protection from the sun, but not the type seen on the Girl Scout float. Do Mexican men wear mustaches? Some do, just as in the United States.
Depicting Mexico with a snorting bull, ridiculous hats and big mustaches only leads to continued erroneous stereotypes and prejudice. I am sure that was not what was intended, but these are the images the community saw.
Just this month, one of Frida Kahlo's paintings was sold for $8 million. Kahlo famously overcame physical disabilities and prejudice against women artists to succeed against all odds. How wonderful it would have been had the Girl Scouts used an image of Kahlo instead of a bull on their float.
Jo Anne Assini
Students need more mental health support
I am in support of your May 4 article (by Zachary Matson) on the demonstration by Skidmore students for more mental health services.
I was a sophomore at Yale in 1957 when a classmate of mine from Oneonta committed suicide sometime over a weekend. He had gone to the college Health Service with a mental health problem (depression). It was later determined that he was not seen because no one was available that late Friday afternoon. He was advised to "return next week." His body was found Monday morning on a first-floor roof of the Yale library. He had jumped from the 12th floor stack of the building.
I am a retired physician in my 70s and was successfully treated for a mid-life depression in my 50s; a biochemical problem running in my family related to a deficiency in serotonin. It was simple to treat for the past 30 years. In summary, mental illness is common and, in particular, depression, which can take the lives of younger victims.
If mental health care is deficiently available to students of private colleges, imagine what is not available to less fortunate individuals. Your article is excellent in educating the public about this problem.
Clinton should give way to best candidate
It seems the Democratic Party has openly abandoned democracy for the general public in pursuit of its establishment agenda.
Bernie Sanders is the candidate with the most favorable popular ratings, the one whose message draws the largest crowds, the candidate with the most peaceful and uniting message, the candidate who is not beholden to special interests and big money donors, the candidate who does not automatically think of war as a solution to a problem, the candidate who understands that human workers are a resource to be valued with fair pay, the candidate who values life and the right to the medical care that preserves it without the worry of bankruptcy or home foreclosure or the predatory insurance rates extant, and the only candidate who understands that we may not get another chance at a habitable planet if we don't stop the use of fossil fuels as energy source.
So how is it that Sanders is the one who is told he ought to get out of the race so as to make a smooth, unified, "Democratic" Party nomination?
Why must he step aside for the mediocrity and half-measures of Hillary Clinton, whose favorability ratings make her least likely to prevail against the opposition and whose election mathematics require the fortification of preselected delegates, closed primaries, shape-shifting state convention rules, voter suppression tactics, closed-door speeches, big-money donors and fossil fuel benefactors?
You might think a party that was actually concerned for its future would ask Mrs. Clinton to make way for an obviously stronger choice. You might think so if the people's interests were truly on the party's mind. A party that only represents the wishes of an entitled few against the legitimate wishes of many is a party that is relying on less and less energy.
Given two distasteful party choices, and machinations notwithstanding, I'll bet Bernie Sanders could be the first U.S. president electable by write-in ballots. Imagine that.
Do more to protect children at crossings
On May 20 around 8:30 a.m., I was at the back of a line of three cars heading south on Van Antwerp Road toward Union Street in Niskayuna.
At the intersection of Story Street, I witnessed a less-than-fairy-tale moment. A young girl was attempting to cross at the crosswalk directly across from her middle school. The two cars in front of me ignored her obvious intention and turned right at the intersection.
I stopped at the intersection to let her cross, and as I waited for another smaller boy to cross as well, I had time to look to my right. To my great disappointment, the two cars that had blown through the intersection in front of me had been parents of other children, rushing to drop them off at school.
In my mind, I was transported back to 2007 to a community near Richmond, Va., where a young girl was hit by a parent rushing to deliver their child on the road directly across from their elementary school. The child suffered irreparable head injury and the community was devastated.
Did you know that in two other communities they've got safety figured out? In Montpelier, Vt., and Olympia, Wash., they use a combination of community volunteers and school staff to man their busy crosswalks with bright yellow pylons, reflective vests and stop-sign placards. They are committed to pedestrian- and cyclist safety and creating safe routes to schools. These are communities bombarded by significant snow and rain, but year-round they put safety first. They invest in proper connecting sidewalks and bike lanes.
This area might be cutting edge in polymer research and nanotech, but we're way behind the rest of the world in roadway safety and human decency. Wake up, Capital Region.
St. Andrew’s happy for Preserve money
I noted with pleasure today The Gazette story about $650,000 in New York state grant money being made available for safety improvements at the Plotter Kill Preserve.
At the May 2015 meeting of the St. Andrew's Society of Schenectady, our long-time member, Hal Grant, expressed his sadness at the tragic accident that resulted in the death of Carly Sinnott. Hal made the suggestion at our meeting that we should become involved in raising funds for the purpose of paying for safety improvements at the preserve.
Our membership agreed that this was a most worthwhile project. Hal made contact with Schenectady County Manager Kathleen Rooney to determine how much it would cost to make safety improvements at the preserve, so that another tragedy might be prevented. County Manager Rooney found that very basic improvements would cost $3,980.
We began raising funds, and to date the St. Andrew's Society has raised over $1,000. These monies were sent to the Schenectady County Soil & Conservation District, manager of the Plotter Kill Preserve. A grant application was made to a local foundation for additional funds.
Hal Grant and the rest of us at the Schenectady St. Andrew's Society are overjoyed that money has been found to secure the beautiful Plotter Kill Preserve for future generations. We hope that our small effort might have helped get this project recognized and funded.
The writer is the secretary for St. Andrew's Society of Schenectady.