Letters to the editor – March 30th, 2016

Published 7:08 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Blackface at IWA

    Editor, Smithfield Times

    Last week, students at Isle of Wight Academy chose to examine the Supreme Court Case Mapp vs Ohio as their student project. Mapp vs Ohio was a landmark case concerning the Fourth Amendment, which protects again unreasonable searches and seizures. Although the petitioner in the case, Dollree Mapp, was African-American, the case had nothing to do with her race. However, Isle of Wight Academy students chose to make it about race by having one of their classmates portray Ms. Mapp in blackface.

    Based on the racially charged climate we are experiencing around the country, the blackface incident that occurred at Isle of Wight Academy was reprehensible. It was offensive and racially insensitive. In addition to blackface, Mapp was portrayed in other demeaning ways. What about the dialect spoken in the video and the manner of dress?

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    The enrollment at the academy is 678, but the school’s website does not list the racial make-up. How many minority students attend Isle of Wight Academy? The academy reports that it has opened its doors and welcomes all students regardless of ethnic background, but does it offer a diversity-training program that incorporates inclusiveness and sensitivity? If the academy has not incorporated inclusion training, NOW is the time to do it!

    It is my hope going forward that this incident has been a learning experience for the academy, the administrators, teachers, the students and their parents. It has been a teaching moment for all. And if the school continues to assign this project, more explicit directions should be given with checkpoints to prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future.

    Valerie Cofer Butler
    Isle of Wight NAACP


Del. Morris on THC bill

    Editor, Smithfield Times

    I would like to respond to the editorial by Mr. Edwards concerning the THC oil and Sen. Lucas’s bill SB 343. I can’t speak for other Legislators but of only myself, and I take very seriously the responsibility that the citizens of the 64th have given me. One of the committees that I sit on is “Courts” and of that I sit on the Criminal Law subcommittee.

    Any bill affecting the criminal code or its administration must go through this committee and hands down it is the hardest committee to get a bill through. Sen. Lucas’ bill SB 343 was to create a carve-out for THC oil, which is made from the marijuana plant. Current law is that possessing any form of marijuana is not only a state crime but also a federal crime. There are a few exceptions to this prohibition but not many. 

    Sen. Marsden submitted SB 701, a bill to create an exception to possess THC oil for the treatment of epilepsy. Sen. Marsden had several parents of children who were benefited by the THC oil and they testified to the various medical treatments they had gone through and the effects of the THC oil that only the THC oil had brought relief. Only through this and other testimony did I and others on the committee vote “yes” for the bill. On Sen. Lucas’ SB 343, there was no testimony provided or medical evidence submitted to substantiate its benefit.

    It is the patron’s responsibility to bring forward evidence and facts to support the bill — any bill, regardless of what the Senate voted. And if the evidence does support a need to create another exception to the THC oil prohibition, then I hope Sen. Lucas will bring it forward next session.

    Del. Rick Morris
    64th District


Successful blood drive

    Editor, Smithfield Times

    A successful Smithfield Community Blood Drive at Smithfield Baptist Church was held Thursday, March 21. The Blood Drive had 96 donors sign in. The goal set by the American Red Cross was 87 units. The end results were 73 whole blood donors and 14 double red cell donors for a total of 87 units of blood to the local Mid-Atlantic Region.

    A Special “thank you” to the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary Unit 49 of Smithfield for being the sponsor and providing the Canteen, Masonic Lodge #18 for set up and take down and to Smithfield Baptist Church for the use of their facilities. A sincere thank you to each “hero” from across the area who unselfishly gave a short period of their time and rolled up their sleeve to donate the Gift of Life and thanks also to all the patrons, businesses and organizations that supported the Smithfield Community Blood Drive.

    The next Community Blood Drive at Trinity United Methodist Church is on Thursday, May 19 from noon to 6 p.m. The Sponsor and supporting canteen will be the Church of the Good Shepherd of Smithfield. We always have fun, seeing old friends and meeting new friends and the great food is always a reward in itself; so, set the date, join us and donate.

    Blood to save lives is needed every two seconds in the United States and our own Mid-Atlantic Region uses 600 units a day. Again, thank tou, Smithfield community donors for your support.

    Willie Rountree


Ruritan scholarship

    Editor, Smithfield Times

    Smithfield Ruritan Club announces the availability of scholarship funds to 2016 graduating high school students of Smithfield High School and Isle of Wight Academy who are planning to attend college in the fall of 2016 and who reside in the 23430 postal zip code. Applications can be obtained from the Guidance Office of each of the two high schools mentioned.

    The application and supporting information must be received by the Smithfield Ruritan Club, P.O. Box 114, Smithfield VA 23431 no later than May 1, 2016 to be considered.

    Jack York
    Smithfield Ruritans