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Letters: Sign Painters, Favoritism And Unemployment


It's Tuesday, and time to read from your comments. Yesterday we spoke with Rutgers professor Nancy DiTomaso about her argument that favoritism drives minority unemployment.

We asked listeners to tell us how they got their jobs, and Charles Spiegel - from San Francisco - responded. Charles has a daughter through an open adoption and he writes: I ended up hiring her brother into my small law office so that he, from a working-class Hispanic family where high school diplomas are rare, could benefit from the world I live in, which happens to be Jewish, white and at least college degrees expected, if not graduate degrees.

Giving a young Hispanic teen his first resume job taught me more about race and class division in our society. I'm sorry that more people are not exposed to bridging these profound cultural divides.

Lenny Anderson had a different story: I'm an African-American male with a graduate degree, he wrote: I've been working at one of the major universities in Ohio for about a year now, but I found my job by pounding the pavement. I'm a member of different professional associations in my career field, thinking that would help me get a job but it didn't. What I found - even with a graduate degree membership and professional associations honestly did not pay off. Being an African-American was a barrier for many of the positions I applied for. I feel I got my present job because of serendipity.

The exceptional response of medical professionals in emergency rooms around Boston prompted a discussion about the crisis ERs are prepared to handle. Cindy Lee wrote in: I work in a small emergency department in Galax, Va. I-77 is one of our big problem areas. We're relatively close to where a recent 95 car pile-up was. Just prior to that incident, our hospital had a mock mass casualty drill. And during the actual mass incident, our hospital performed very well. An ED is an ED no matter how big it is. We take care of what comes through the door. Our job as a smaller facility is to stabilize and transfer to a more appropriate facility.

During a conversation on the endangered art of sign painters, Ellen Murphy from Mission Hills, Kan., wrote in with an appreciation: My dad is 85 now, she wrote, but all his life he's been an illustrator. When we were kids, he made big sale signs for the windows of the local five and dime, painting in big red letters on butcher block paper on the dining room table, and then calling a couple of us in to carry carefully and lay it down to dry somewhere flat.

He has seven daughters. And no doubt he filled countless economic cracks with those jobs, which he did at night, after working as the only sign painter ever hired by American Airlines. He took many sign painting jobs, and they were almost all life savers. We still talk about going with him to pick up checks from various shops.

And finally, a correction. Last week, during our conversation about Jason Collins, we assigned sports writer Marcus Hayes to the wrong paper. His column actually appears in the Philadelphia Daily News.

If you have a correction, comment or a question for us, the best way to reach us is by email. The address, talk@npr.org. Please let us know where you're writing from, and give us some help on how to pronounce your name. If you're on Twitter, you can follow us there @totn. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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