I write to comment on the article by Caitlin Yoshiko Buysse discussing the Boston Public Health Commission and Strategic Alliance for Health’s Soda-Free Summer Challenge, which encourages people to swap soda for water, milk or fruit juice. Buysse notes that participants pledge to reduce soda intake or to ban it from their diet.
As a health care professional, I’d like to emphasize the importance of moderation and energy balance for our residents. No one food or beverage is responsible for obesity. While our youth may swap milk or juice for soda within this particular campaign, these beverages also contain calories.
Obesity comes down to calories in and calories expended. When substituting soda for another beverage equally potent in calories, no weight will be lost. A step in the right direction would be more education on which beverages to choose and in what portion. In addition, let’s encourage our residents to utilize exercise as a mainstay in their daily lives.
Robyn L. Kievit
The Banner’s coverage of the July 18 Elam family’s memorial tribute to its recently departed kinsman, Keith, known throughout the music world as Guru, was, in a word, superb. Howard Manly’s front page story and Ernesto Arroyo’s pictures were simply outstanding. Publisher Mel Miller outdid himself in bringing the essence of this event to the public at large. Many, many thanks.
Judge Harry Elam
I knew Keith (Guru) when he was a young boy. I attended Nobles with his brother Harry, so I watched him grow up. I was never a big rap fan, but Guru made me pay attention. I remember him as a creative and busy little kid and always liked him, and especially his spirit for living.
We have lost a great one way too soon, but I will remember Keith for what he was, an innovator and someone who stayed true to his art form. He comes from a great family, one of great achievement, but even greater humility. His parents (Barbara and Judge Elam) became surrogate parents to all of the black students at Nobles, and went out of their way to share their relative good fortune and made us all feel important and valued. Guru leaves a legacy that we all must fight to keep alive, not only for his and history’s sake, but for his son. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Judge Elam and Mrs. Elam for the gift they gave us all in Guru, and for the continued gift of love and compassion they gave to all of us. God Bless Guru and may he rest in peace, and in turn may his family (Harry, Patricia, Jossie) now have some peace, as well. I attended the memorial to support my friend Harry and the Elam family, and it was an extraordinary event, or what one would expect from the Elam family!
I just wanted to express my gratitude for Shirley Sherrod’s story about how she learned from her mistakes and overcame her own racial biases. It took a lot of courage to tell her story, as evidenced by the fact that she has lost her job for it. It is a courage that many of us, myself included, do not always manage to find when talking to relatives, friends or coworkers.
I think it is regrettable that U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack so readily condemned Sherrod and accepted her resignation, all based on a videotape that was edited in such a way to completely contradict Sherrod’s point. That this tape came from the far-right wing group Big Government and that it was aired on Fox both should have been clues that there was more than meets the eye to the original story. And it pains my heart to think of how quick Vilsack and certain leaders of the NAACP were to believe what they saw. Sherrod was not even given the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
Sherrod made a mistake over 20 years ago, and she tried to make up for that mistake and share her story so others would not make the same mistake. And for that, she is being punished. She recognized that the lines that truly divide us are not drawn between blacks and whites, but rather between “haves” and “have-nots.” When she tried to bring that story to others, she was punished.
When Secretary Vilsak and others kow-tow to the wishes of agribusiness giants like Monsanto and allow untested chemicals and genes into our food, they are rewarded. When they help these companies to sue poor farmers for “stealing” their seeds when in fact their seeds infected the poor farmers’ crops, they are rewarded. When they appoint former agribusiness leaders to government positions, they are rewarded.
And now the USDA’s leadership is trying to use Sherrod’s story and (forced?) resignation to show how far it goes to rid its organization of bigotry and discrimination, when in fact the opposite is true. Poor farmer “have-nots” of all colors are still discriminated against, while big agribusiness “haves” are still given a special seat at the government’s table.
While so many politicians try to blame our decline in religious values on non-traditional families and the like, it seems to me that we are instead losing our values because we no longer believe in compassion, forgiveness or taking responsibility. Clearly, Sherrod still does — and while she was punished for it here and now — it is my great hope that she will be rewarded for it in heaven.
I have read numerous articles on Guru both on the Internet, and from national to international newspapers. But none has touched the seminal umbilical chord that ties Keith Elam to his Boston Roxbury roots as this one. A very special thanks to Ernesto Arroyo for the lead photo of “Grandpa” Harry Elam and grandson Keith Casim Elam. The photo was much more than a hug, but a special warm embracing of three generations and a legacy that only the two of them can share and cherish.