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A defensive and yet open mind: 
 

Mr. Jacob Holdt 

I felt a variety of emotions when I watched your American Pictures program at my school, Westminster College. I, like many of my peers, had never seen anything like your program, and I was infuriated by some of the things that I saw. I didn't even realize that so many of these conditions even existed anymore. 

I think it is ridiculous that a country, such as ours, that tries to be a world leader and example-setter lets such this go on uninhibited. 

I think that the delivery and format of your show was impeccable. By using reverse oppression you invoked feelings in your audience that would have been otherwise impossible. For once, we couldn't stand up and rebut. Instead, we had to sit quietly and see the truth as it unfolded. 

It is unfortunate that different groups in society almost always have someone else to blame for their conditions. In most cases, impoverished minorities blame "the white man." Often this makes for a poor argument. While some unfortunate people fall into situations from which there is absolutely no way to escape, most do not. Many could escape the circle of poverty in which they have been placed if they tried. I have faith in our government. I believe that if someone came to them in need of social and economic aid, they would get it. 

You had your views shaped by the European concept of a welfare state, and you suggest that as a possible solution to our situation. I think for some people this would be a logical answer. I believe that people who are willing to work would make this system successful. There are a lot of people, however, who would see this as "money for nothing." 

I know from past experience that many people just don't want to work, and I don't think that society should contribute money to their aid. I have an true example in mind. My family owns and runs several apartment buildings. One day when I was talking to a colored man on the phone he asked how much the rent was for an apartment. I told him that we had several different types of apartments and asked what price range he was interested in. He replied that he had $600.00 to spend, per month, under his welfare policy for housing alone. 

This was for a young, healthy, single, unemployed, black man with no children. I don't know how you feel about this, but I was infuriated. I have friends who work hard for less money than this man gets for doing nothing. 

This is a perfect example of someone who doesn't want to work and cheats the society which supports him. If I were him, I wouldn't want to work either. Don't get me wrong. I am not limiting this problem to minorities. I don't see "whites" as being superior. There are just as many "whites" in that category as their are minorities. I am just pointing out that a welfare state alone might not be the best solution. 

I would like to thank you for opening my eyes to an aspect of society that I hadn't seen before. You have given me insight to a group of people who have been completely overlooked. I think before we can end their plight we have to answer a few questions. Why do we say the white person or the black person? Why can't it all be equal? Equality is the universal right of all people. It is time that we undo the damage done by our forefathers and stop treating people according to the color of their skin. When we do this we can begin, for the first time, to break their chains of poverty. 

Sincerely, 
Ryan 

 
 

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American Pictures - reviews