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Stop caricaturing the homeless

When are you going to do a real story on homelessness and poverty rather than half-baked articles about the city criminalizing the actions of desperate people ("Fewer homeless in the city," News & Views, Aug. 6)?

My friends and I serve free food in Woodruff Park. Yet, are you aware that the city has brutally cracked down on groups like ours, which are merely exercising the ACLU-supported right to share a basic need with friends? And by the way, the homeless people we encounter are usually lovely, humble people.

Homelessness and persistent poverty is largely due to a death of affordable housing and jobs, cyclical poverty, institutionalized racism and mental health issues. Indeed, mental health funding is severely slashed, dumping the mentally ill on the streets.

As we watch Atlanta become ever more gentrified and as more jobs are shipped overseas or just disappear altogether, you will see the swelling of the homeless and poor ranks – it's already happening.

The Gateway Center is hardly the panacea. Our oppressive economic system is the core of the problem.

Please stop crassly caricaturing the homeless and poor. Any of us could be in that boat, and really, you should know better. I continue to be outraged at your "coverage" of these issues.

– Alison Ross, Atlanta

Looking past the rebel flag

Finally a refreshing alternative viewpoint from a bright, young Southerner by the name of Scott Freeman ("I love New York," cover story, Aug. 6). Hurray for his insightful yet humorous take on Atlanta/New York-Southern/Northern relations. I tend to think that these prejudices by Northerners toward Southerners are becoming a thing of the past (if not gone already). Seeing how many successful Southern cities and eccentric little towns have spawned talented artists, authors, businesspeople, humanitarians and musicians alike. I figured the proof was evident beyond the Rebel flag bumper stickers going down I-75.

But I have found throughout my life as a Southerner living in the South that it continues still to this day. It is interesting in this age of political correctness and cultural sensitivity that Southerners are still an open target to jabs of inferiority. It's strange simply for the fact that it's Southern culture that is the center of the original, true American culture.

The home of Mark Twain, country/soul food (one of the only truly American cuisines), the origin of countless musical genres from jazz, rock 'n' roll, soul and country, and the birthplace of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Al Gore and Jimmy Carter. I also find it strange and amusing that people from the South, in general, do not care much either – something Mr. Freeman forgot to mention here. But I guess it's the same easygoing nature and deep-rooted Southern soul that also keeps us laughing on the inside when we hear the other guy move to Atlanta, complain about our driving, and we think to ourselves, "But listen to the way this guy talks!" ... Bless their hearts!

– Ethan Morris, Grant Park

I love Atlanta

Like all New Yorkers living in Atlanta, I am constantly bombarded with looks of disdain and hostile attitudes bynatives of "the city too busy to hate" ("I love New York," cover story, Aug 6). Mr. Freemancalls it Southern hospitality, we call it bad manners (see No. 3 of the 10 reasons Atlantans hate New York). Soffer mentioned New Yorkers aren't gentlemen. Completely false. Two black men were ejected from Phipps Tavern because they "refused to be gentlemen" and give their seats to two white women. The white men weren't expected to. You call it Southern hospitality, we call it racism. New Yorkers are brave, friendly and compassionate, as evidenced Sept. 11. When insulted by rednecks or bohemian rednecks about where we come from, we are quick to defend ourselves and our city, unafraid and in your face. You call it bad manners, we call it pride.

Tate says her shoes get dirty in NYC – dirt gets on everyone's shoes. Where it isn't supposed to be is in Atlanta's water supply. Check the federal government's findings: Our water is cleaner than yours.

As for our pizza, it's made by the people who invented pizza. Not New Yorkers but Italians. If you had an international attitude you would know that.

– Mike Carreras, Atlanta

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