Editor: I am writing to commend the Sun Magazine for its feature on the children of Carter G. Woodson Elementary School in Cherry Hill ["What Will the Future Hold?" June 13]. The article's presentation was reminiscent of a family album: "posed" pictures of a well-loved child and captions revealing the tender and vulnerable hopes of an adoring parent.
This stylistic and artistic approach underscored the deep affection that Michael Davis and the volunteer tutors came to feel for each one of the children during their months at Woodson, their sense of delight in each child's uniqueness and their prayers for the realization of the childrens' individual dreams. Amy Deupty's moving photo essay enabled readers of the Sun Magazine to share in both these feelings and these prayers. Thank you.
Judith Horowitz Richter
Editor: I was amenable to a seemingly innocuous cover story based on the children of Woodson Elementary School and I hoped for some bit of eye-opening photography or journalistic copy.
Please take another look at these kids' faces -- I find "ceaseless enthusiasm" absent; there is more a picture of sadness. You write: "...because children -- even under difficult circumstances -- are themselves wondrous." This commentary is so hackneyed, trite, that I began to doubt the depth of understanding invested in this article's writing.
I, for one, can't abide by the status quo and if the "lives of ... children, with their comforts and well-endowed schools, [compared] to the lives of a group of students who through no fault of their own, will have to triumph over steeper odds" then I ask, WHAT NOW?
Do we do a photo-op that skims the top or can we somehow make some of our community even more sensitive and responsive to this country's odious institutionalized racism and inherited injustices? Let's follow up these kids; let's watch how they are. . .
Editor: Wish to compliment Amy Deputy for the great photographs for the "What Will the Future Hold?" [June 13] article. Haven't seen that quality since David Harp was shooting for the magazine. Mr. Bodine would be proud!
Editor: Your wonderful June 13 cover story, "What Will the Future Hold?" appeared as I am finally reading William Ryan's "Blaming the Victim," (Vintage House, 1971). The Cherry Hill children pictured shout an affirmation to him.
In the '60s a "culture of poverty" theory said that blacks were continuing the breakdown of the family unit started during slavery. The resulting lack of good parenting meant an inability to succeed and a loss of hope in the future that grew with each generation and that no amount of outside intervention could mend.
Ryan called this theory excuse-making to avoid our responsibility as a nation. He claimed the families, the dreams and aspirations, the ability to attain them, have always been there. Blacks still in poverty are held back by -- or succeed in spite of -- the same old blocks to decent education, medical care, income, housing, job opportunities that racial prejudice, and foot-dragging over change, have produced.
I think we have a long way to go. Your essay helps. Good luck to the children. They will need it.
Kathryn J. Henderson