Dear Sir/Madam:

Reading the article “Us and Them” (April 5) reminds us all of the divisions between working-class Americans and immigrants who seem to flourish in our society. The comments from the Rosebud Mobile Home Park residents attempt to explain the good fortune of the Arab merchants and professionals as being granted by immigrant subsidies from the American government.

Arabs began immigration in the early 1900s. They often went to work in industrial jobs (hence the largest concentration of Arab-Americans in Detroit), saved and began small businesses for their livelihoods. Recent immigrants may have brought monies from their native countries, or cooperated to finance businesses.

What Rosebud residents fail to do is look into the mirror and blame that person for their failings. They were born and educated here, yet have not grasped what it takes to be successful. Many people find the simple answer for their bad fortune: that uncontrollable factors have lifted everyone but me. Rather than whine about their plight, take initiative and control of your lives.

Perhaps their immediate environment is not conducive to success, as many are burdened with small children without support, alcoholism, and general malaise. As a person who was raised in public housing, I saw a lot of lashing out, yet no introspection as to why they were there. There was opportunity, if you were a good student and pursued higher education, where public colleges and state universities offer a tremendous education at little cost. There are grants, scholarships, and low-interest loans available to students whose parents cannot afford college.

What I found when attempting to recruit younger residents of my project to college was fear: of stepping out of the immediate environment, of meeting and interaction with others from vastly different upbringings, and of leaving behind the comfort of continuing this ghetto mentality.

To the Arabs and Muslims who have seized opportunity, I congratulate you. To the residents of Rosebud I say, emulate, rather than castigate, success.

James Ally