SHADES OF EXPERIENCE

AS A BRAZILIAN OF MIXED RACIAL BACKground, I have struggled with the same questions as Eugene Robinson ["True Colors," August 1], particularly after being transplanted to the United States and living here for the last 22 years.

Although I have black and white friends, I don't really feel that I fit in either of "their" communities. Instead, I have created my own community of multicultural friends and focus on our common elements and struggles, such as child rearing, work opportunities, hobbies, etc. I won't say that I do not have a sense of yearning for a more traditional heritage with its well-defined rules of conduct, customs and beliefs. Nevertheless, I am working to develop my own heritage for my children by picking out the most worthwhile elements of each of my and my white American husband's cultures to pass on -- to a hopefully more enlightened generation. Still, I struggle with census form definitions of who I am, having to enlighten strangers about what it truly means to be a Brazilian.

MARJORIE MOSCOSO MACIEIRA

Arlington

I WAS DISAPPOINTED WITH THE ARTIcle on Brazil. Mr. Robinson chose to see Brazil's problem as an issue of race, perhaps because he lives in a country where race is an issue. Brazil's poor and oppressed are so not because of the color of their skin but because of the corruptness and apathy of their government. In a country where so many are poor, why would the government want the masses educated and their lives improved? The situation in Brazil would be no different if the poor were any other color.

I lived in Brazil for nine years and my father chose to retire there. There is no hatred, there is no violence. It is the nature of Brazilians to look you in the eye when they talk to you. They truly are colorblind. It is not the darkness of their skin but the darkness of their government that hurts Brazil's masses.

DONNA MONACCI

Fairfax

I AM AN AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN AND

I can relate to the feelings expressed by the author in regards to his Brazilian experience. In college I had a Panamanian roommate. As freshmen, we hung out together to the point that many other students at the predominantly white institution made the assumption that my light skin deemed me Latin American.

I grew up in the Washington area, where the consensus is "black is black." I didn't know how to react when others questioned my race. I was told that I "wasn't really black" by some classmates, a comment they justified simply from my skin tone. Talking to my roommate, I learned that outside this country, status had the ability to overrule the race of an individual.

CHRYSTAL SMITH

Alexandria

I ENJOYED EUGENE ROBINSON'S ARTIcle about Brazil and race enormously. I am a Nicaraguan black (we too define our blackness by language and culture rather than color of the skin) who lived 10 years in Brazil. I wanted to share a little anecdote that shows how on the spot Robinson's story is:

The Brazilian census interviewer comes and although I tell him I'm not Brazilian he wants me to answer his questions, one of which is "What is your color?" And me surprised: "Can't you see?" He stretches his arm next to mine -- we are almost the same shade -- and writes: "pardo," roughly meaning "light-brown-skinned." Looking forward to Mr. Robinson's book.

DEBORAH ROBB

Falls Church

FAIR PLAY FOR CONSERVATIVES

IN YOUR GRATUITOUS LAST SENTENCE of the caption to the photo on the 1928 WRC radio studio [Backlight, August 1], ". . . before the medium gave rise to the likes of Stern and Limbaugh," you reflect an unthinking bias against conservatives. You equate a filth purveyor with someone who is anathema to liberal thinking. (A Rush Limbaugh truth: "Evidence refutes liberalism.") Is it not obvious why so many people refuse to read your newspaper?

DAVID HATCHER

Falls Church

NO LITTLE SLIGHT

DOES MARC FISHER REALLY BELIEVE that discrimination against agnostics and atheists is a "minuscule slight" [Potomac Confidential, August 1]? Congress didn't think so when it passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That landmark legislation prohibited private businesses that serve the public -- including sports stadiums -- from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin. Nor did the Supreme Court think that discrimination against agnostics and atheists was trivial when it invalidated a provision of the Maryland Constitution that required officeholders to swear to a belief in God.

Yet Mr. Fisher implies that the American Civil Liberties Union is making much ado about nothing in litigating on behalf of an agnostic man who was denied a minor league baseball team's Sunday family discount when he showed up at the ballpark with his children but without a church bulletin.

Perhaps the Hagerstown Suns case has become so controversial because the victim of their discrimination is an agnostic. If a minor league team offered discount admission for white families, would that be a "minuscule slight"? How about if a ball club offered a discount to those with bulletins from churches, while denying discounts to those with bulletins from synagogues or mosques?

Mr. Fisher received his discounted admission with a Wiccan bulletin only because, in the words of the team's management, this case has sensitized the Suns to minority religions. Thus, the ACLU's litigation has already produced one positive benefit. But our work won't be complete until the Suns treat agnostics and atheists equally.

SUSAN GOERING

Executive Director, ACLU of Maryland

Baltimore

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