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Letters February 26, 2009

Posted on 27 February 2009

Problems of Racism

 Dear Editor,

We were tremendously moved to watch with our colleagues and students at Southampton Elementary School—African-American, Asian, Shinnecock Indian, Latino, Caucasian—the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as President. Witnessing this, following the observance of the courageous, kind life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in behalf of justice to all people, is cause for true pride and celebration!

Meanwhile, there is much work to be done across Long Island so that racism can end.  People are shocked and terrified by acts of hate committed by young people, including the fatal stabbing of Lucero Pavero in Patchogue. Why are children and teenagers driven to bully and hurt people whose skin color, religion, or language is different from theirs?

We want readers to know that the education of Aesthetic Realism, founded by the great American philosopher Eli Siegel in 1941, definitively understands the root cause of cruelty in all people: contempt, “the addition to self through the lessening of something else.” We are grateful, as husband and wife, parents, and teachers for this education and for learning how to criticize this hurtful way of seeing wherever it may be, including in ourselves. Contempt is as ordinary as a wife assuming she knows everything about her husband and finishes his sentences; or a husband arrogantly feeling he knows what’s best, without any questioning. Contempt is also the cause of a child yawning loudly during a lesson and declaring “this is boring.” And it is why a teacher responds sarcastically or dismisses a child as hopeless.

With more than 30 years of combined teaching experience, we have seen that contempt for people can change to respect when people learn from Aesthetic Realism, how the world–with all its confusion and turbulence–has a structure we can honestly like and see as related to our own selves!

We want to encourage schools, libraries, museums and community centers to invite journalist and Aesthetic Realism Associate Alice Bernstein to discuss the new book she edited: The People of Clarendon County –A Play by Ossie Davis, with Photographs and Historical Documents, and Essays on the Education That Can End Racism. This event was hosted at Southampton Elementary School and at Riverhead Middle School; it was riveting as we saw young people, with great feeling, enact scenes from Ossie Davis’ play which honors the courage of  African-American parents in Clarendon County, South Carolina who challenged the racist laws which deprived their children of a decent education. Their lawsuit led to the famous Supreme Court 1954 ruling, Brown v. Board of Education, outlawing segregation in public schools. The performance was followed by a thrilling example of the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method. Monique Michael, an elementary school teacher since 1992, presented an interactive science lesson she’s taught first graders. Her lesson showed why this method succeeds not only in teaching the subject, but ends racism and makes for true kindness.

Lucius Ware, President of the Eastern Long Island branch of the NAACP said,” Ms. Bernstein is breaking ground with young people and teachers, towards ending racism and furthering the quality of education. The importance of her work was evident in her presentation at the Southampton Elementary School at the invitation of Bertha “Cookie” Richard, the first Native American principal in New York State….I don’t remember feeling so happy at an educational event since the day the Brown decision first came down on May 17, 1954!” And, Academy Award nominee Ruby Dee, wife of Ossie Davis, said ‘This book will also inform people about the success of the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method in enabling children to learn every subject, and ending prejudice in the classroom.” We are proud to agree.

To learn about events on the answer to racism and professional development classes for teachers, we encourage you to call the not-for-profit Aesthetic Realism Foundation, 141 Greene St. NY, NY 10012, phone 212-777-4490.


Lori and Robert Colavito



Quick Response

Dear Editor:

I wish to thank the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department for their unbelievably quick response to my call on February 2nd.

They are the best.

Also, thank you to police office Mike.

Yolanda Field

Sag Harbor


Possible Park

 Dear Bryan:

Again there is another proposal for the property down by the bridge that leaves us cold. It is better, like you said in your editorial, but it is uninspired and uses too much of the land there.

Here is a chance for the village to buy it and make an excellent park, where residents can have access to the waterfront. And I’ll bet they can get it for cheap, considering the economy.


Bruce Gross



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