As a student at ECU and a fellow with NextGen North Carolina — a youth vote mobilization nonprofit — I talk to my classmates and other young voters every day about what’s at stake in the 2020 elections. My peers and I have known for a long time that we’re approaching the most important election of our lifetime, with critical issues like climate action, affordable healthcare, and systemic racism on the ballot this fall.

Truthfully, we didn’t need another reminder of the importance of this election. But we certainly got one with Friday’s devastating passing of the honorable Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a true hero for gender equality, reproductive freedoms, and LGBTQ+ rights. In the weeks and months ahead, I’ll be doubling my efforts to register and mobilize young voters to honor Justice Ginsburg’s legacy and last wish — that her replacement is not selected until a new president is installed.

Unfortunately, senators like Mitch McConnell and Thom Tillis have already promised to move swiftly to select a new justice. North Carolinians must not let this happen. Instead, we should relentlessly pressure Sen. Tillis to wait until the next presidential term to vote on a Supreme Court pick, as he did in 2016 when there was a vacancy on the court in the last year of President Obama’s term.

It’s my generation that will suffer the consequences of an ultra-conservative court for decades to come, rolling back the rights that have been hard-fought by generations before us. I urge my peers to join me in calling Sen. Tillis’ office every day through the election and demand he withhold a vote on President Trump’s Supreme Court pick.

Alexis Crouse


Racism can’t be denied

A recent letter suggests that many don’t understand systemic racism. Here’s the definition from the NAACP: “It refers to the rules, practices and customs once rooted in law with residual effects that reverberate throughout society.” Systemic racism doesn’t mean that everyone is a racist. It means that we have systems in place that produce different outcomes, whether it be in health, law, education or wealth. But let’s look at some other examples discussed.

A black man was elected president. He was subjected to absurd questions about his birth, and we’ve seen an erosion of voting rights, from gerrymandering districts to trying to eliminate early voting and attempts to claim voter fraud with no evidence. Is this the United States we think it is?

It was stated that our police forces are now 15 percent African American. All well and good, until you read about their testimonies regarding racism on the job, refusal of white officers to speak with them, or nooses hanging in their vehicles. Every policeman? Of course not, there are good-hearted humans out there. But the fear and tension are persistent. That was reported in the very conservative Washington Times, not the Washington Post.

Oh, and what about black mayors? That’s a sign we are no longer a racist society? White flight, Realtors directing folks to the “right neighborhood” and the re-segregation and persistent segregation of regions largely explains that phenomena.

These social cosmetic changes say nothing about true African American daily experiences that persist. When the president emboldens white supremacists (“some of them are good people”), it’s clear there is indeed a hidden agenda. It’s to maintain the status quo of those who gain most from power and wealth. Yes, we have work to do, but it won’t get done while systemic racism is denied.

John Diamond


Racism real, systemic

In response to Mr. Tacozza’s difficulty in finding the “systemic” nature of racism (“Racism overstated,” Public Forum, Sept. 20), I offer data by Michael Harriott of There’s an eight-to-one racial disparity in the criminal incarceration rate between blacks/Latinx and whites in the Massachusetts justice system. Nationwide, African Americans are imprisoned at almost six times the rate of white people.

After gathering numbers from government agencies and researching the disparate outcomes, Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Policy Program found that black incarcerees received more severe charges, harsher sentences and less favorable outcomes than their white counterparts. They discovered disparities that could not be explained by logic or reason. It wasn’t black-on-black crime. Violent video games and rap songs had nothing to do with it; nor did poverty, education, two-parent homes or the international “bootstraps” shortage. The four-year study had one conclusion: racism

Black people were arrested more often, had higher bail and received harsher sentences. But when they examined convictions, they discovered that black people were surprisingly less likely to be convicted than white people. Essentially, a white person has to commit an egregious offense to wind up behind bars while all a black person has to do is be a black person.

They found much “bias” in racially disparate initial charging practices leading to weaker initial positions in the plea bargaining process for black defendants, which then translate into longer incarceration sentences for similar offenses.”

The word “systemic” means “relating to a system, especially as opposed to a particular part.”

And the word “racism,” (as defined by Google), is: “prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group ...”

Mr. Harriott and I believe it doesn’t take four years to figure out that racism is systemic!

Don Cavellini


Height of hypocrisy

It looks as though we’re about to witness what may be the height of senatorial hypocrisy. At this point, politically and socially, we know that we can totally dismiss Donald Trump. We know there is no way we can expect him to do what’s right. He has no conscience, no empathy, no ability to approach a problem with what would be best for the majority of the American people in mind. He’s a hopelessly lost cause.

Having just lost an icon of the Supreme Court in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the president and his lackeys were circling like vultures before her corpse was even cold, to cynically vow to rush through a replacement nominee of their own perverse, persuasion. Many of these men (and of course it’s mostly men), are the same ones who self righteously proclaimed that it was so wrong for President Obama to have a selection choice for the court more than eight months prior to a presidential election. Now with a mere 40 some days before the 2020 presidential election, they have completely changed their tune.

If you read the quotes of Sena. Graham, Cruz, Gardner, Rubio, Portman, Grassley and other Republicans regarding their decision to block Obama’s choice of the highly qualified Judge Garland in 2016, you would logically conclude, there is no way they could possibly permit a Supreme Court Justice selection this close to a presidential election. Now we will witness them all going back on their firm commitments and strong proclamations: no apologies; no regrets; just pure and simple hypocrisy. Obviously no one with this little integrity should be sitting in the senate.

Bill Redding


Letters earn praise

Your Sunday-Monday, Sept. 20-21, opinion letters were all from four common sense, concerned citizens.

First, I have known Dr. Paul Cook to be concerned about the health of all citizens. He is a professional doctor, not one of the whacko doctors who are partisan, Republican hacks who fill papers with garbage.

The letter from Gregg Tacozza about racism was spot-on. When I hear racism promoters say there needs to be racism talks between whites and blacks, well, when someone like me points out things that blacks do/say, we are called racists.

Seems every time there is an issue between black and white persons, and before any investigations are done, the call of racism is loud. Some come with threats, looting and destruction.

People, every video does not tell the whole story as the mob claims. Actuations and intimidation lead to unfair settlements. Also, I don’t visualize the BLM movement helping to remove Trump and his evil cult.

If black people would stop calling themselves African-Americans and shouting unfounded claims of racism, no one would pay attention about color except the likes of Al Sharpton, who wouldn’t want that to happen.

Also, the media loves to point out when a black is the first to accomplish something. Why? It has been established hundreds of years ago that black people had equaled and/or surpassed whites in any and every endeavor, so why keep saying there is a difference. Who has key jobs in Pitt County and America? Who are featured by the media daily? Blanket racism? I say only if you are gullible.

Calvin Mercer’s logic has been steady about what is best for Pitt county. He should be heard.

Vicki Kennedy is polite in her good letter describing Trump’s selfish deeds dealing with the virus. I couldn’t be polite describing Trump’s evil stuff.

Dewey Funkhouser


Contact Bobby Burns at and 329.9572.