Definitions were biased in special section

Opinion: Columns

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By Ken Wahlstrom

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Forgive me for not writing sooner concerning the "glossary" [Success of All Youth special section] that appeared on page 20 of the April 3 edition of Wednesday Journal. I was confused as to why a generous, community-minded organization, Good Heart Smart Work Foundation, would sponsor the biased "glossary of terms" page with the accompanying illustration. 

With this title, one could easily/reasonably assume it had some credibility. Yet no references were provided. A title such as "My [or Our] glossary of terms" would have been more accurate. The definitions listed go beyond the definitions of reference sources. One example:

The definition: "Race" is an applied categorization based on a historic socially, economically and politically constructed set of beliefs, practices and behaviors that provide unfair advantages, power, social and political status to one group of people (whites) based on their assigned and constructed racial identity. In the U.S., race signifies and symbolizes social conflicts and interests by referring to different types of human bodies based on the lightness or darkness of an individual's skin pigment."

Other definition references:

Learners Dictionary

Race: 

1) One of the groups of people that can be divided into groups based on certain physical qualities (such as skin color). 

2) A group of people who share the same history, language, culture, etc.

Free Dictionary

1) A group of people identified as distinct from other groups because of supposed physical or genetic traits shared by the group.

2) A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution.

Oxford Dictionary

Each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics.

1) The fact or condition of belonging to a racial division or group; the qualities or characteristics associated with this.

2) A group of people sharing the same culture, history, language, etc.; an ethnic group.

3) A group or set of people or things with a common feature or features.

Cambridge Dictionary 

1) A group, especially of people, with particular similar physical characteristics, who are considered as belonging to the same type, or the fact of belonging to such a group. 

2) A group of people who share the same language, history, characteristics, etc. 

Clearly, there is no reference to politics or economics in any contra definition. 

The accompanying illustration implies that only Caucasian men are selected for who knows what, no context given. One only needs to look at any NBA game and the illustration would be different.

Besides my confusion, I am concerned for future generations. This kind of biased, unreferenced information will be read by our/my grandchildren as truth, when it is only opinion or preference. Secondly, there is a subtle undertone that white people are bad people. We all know this is not true. Sadly in my view, this article divides rather than unifies, misinforms rather than enlightens. 

Lastly, I wish that Wednesday Journal would have published this article in the Viewpoints section or with a Sponsored Content header.

Ken Wahlstrom is an Oak Park resident.

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