The Sun Journal article, “Neighborhood challenge: Get clean” (Sept. 17), caught my attention. Many people — including some dictionary publishers — mistakenly use “ghetto” and “slum” as synonyms. In sociological terminology, a ghetto has historically meant an area of a city predominantly comprised of people with some common heritage, usually ethnic background. A slum is a rundown, decayed section of a city.

Therefore, a ghetto isn’t necessarily a slum. A case in point would be the Italian ghetto of New York City for the majority of the 20th Century. Although the immigrants living there were not wealthy, the store fronts and facades of apartment buildings were always neat and in good repair. It was said of that section that the sidewalks were so clean one could virtually eat off them.

Therefore, a ghetto shouldn’t be an economic term or a pejorative word; it simply defines a portion of a city in which the population shares an overriding common thread or theme.

A slum is the result of a mindset that has culminated in pernicious neglect.

It is more than commendable that the Rev. Doug Taylor has added trash removal to his already very busy schedule. However, other folks in that area need to step up to help the Taylors return that section of Lewiston (which once was comprised of hard-working, proud people) to a community that is a beacon of the way urban life should (and can) be.

Robert B. Hansen, Auburn

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