Letters from the Issue of December 27, 2001

Embrace the Nightmare: And while we're at it, let's pray for really,really bad weather

Unfortunately, while scanning the letters section for your e-mail address or URL, I came across the inset titled "Meanwhile, at miaminewtimes.com" that contained the following text: "Want to write for New Times? Now's your chance! New Times offers qualified African-American, Latino, Asian, and Native American college students an adventure in definitive journalism."

That made me immediately wonder: Why are only members of these groups "qualified"? As a recently emigrated Californian, and as a former teacher in that state's university system, I noted immediately that you forgot to include Pacific Islanders along with Asians, but perhaps that was implied or is too small a category to worry about on this coast. You also left out "mixed race" (soon to be the largest census category, I suspect), which left me wondering what combinations, if any, might qualify, and in what proportions. But perhaps mixtures were impliedly welcome as well. I'm fairly sure it wasn't implied that "whites" of any origin were welcome. You didn't just forget to put that on your list. So too bad for anyone of that race or ethnic origin, regardless of their life circumstances or history. Or for anyone else who might fall through the cracks of your categorizations.

As a four-square liberal, I support affirmative action for those who have been disadvantaged. I am no disciple of Ward Connerly. But gosh, how about just aiming to recruit college students who are "qualified" as writers? (Based on my experience at Berkeley and other universities, this will rule out quite a few candidates.) And if you're looking to level the social playing field -- a praiseworthy goal -- why not aim for those who have overcome obstacles in their individual lives, regardless of racial or ethnic categorization, gender, sexual orientation, or religious persuasion? That would be a truly progressive stance -- in my humble opinion, anyway.

Reid Cushman

The Case for a New Kind of Segregation
The group that spends together prospers together: Kudos to Tyrone D. Kenon for his letter pointing out that opportunists are taking advantage of poor black people and keeping them from achieving success. I felt compelled to write, however, because even he evidently misses a very important point.

The total wealth of African Americans is roughly the same as that of California. The difference is that what gets earned in California gets spent there, while African Americans, in what can only be described as a colonial mentality, turn around and spend their money outside their ethnic group. What is needed is a mindset of voluntary economic segregation within the group. Let me explain what I mean.

Note I used the word voluntary, not forced. Everyone is happy that African Americans are no longer compelled to live only in certain neighborhoods, that they are no longer barred from most schools, that opportunities are roughly equal in the armed services, and that in general they can marry into other races. Individual African Americans should take full advantage of all those hard-won rights, including accepting payroll checks from white employers.

But then comes time to spend the money. Now, race is not a matter of concern if you're looking for the best brain surgeon available. But no more of that "Korean stores came into the neighborhood and took it over." Who, pray tell, are the customers? Go back to the black barber, the black plumber, the black grocer, or at least the Winn-Dixie with the black management. Hanging together, which currently ain't happening, would strengthen African-American businesses. More important, however, it would lead the greater society to expect a ripple effect as individual members get help in education and so forth.

George Childs

The Disgusting Demetrios
What a difference some bad publicity and a federal indictment can make: Kudos to D. Porpoise Evans for his letter regarding Demetrio J. Perez's disgusting attempt to join the Miami-Dade County School Board. We must save some of our anger for his father, Demetrio Perez, Jr., recognizing him as the unindicted co-conspirator in this shameful episode. Without his encouragement and support, young Demetrio would never have concocted this scheme and nearly pulled it off.

Throughout the whole debacle no one ever asked what young Perez listed as his residence on his records at the University of Miami's law school. I'm fairly sure it wasn't an orchard in the Redland.

Let's save a little venom for the other school board members who seemed to go along with the whole affair. Why don't they have some rules about nepotism and brazen collusion among their members? Perhaps it's because they would be forced to sacrifice their own scams on the altar of good government, fire some of the incompetent administrators who earn three times as much as teachers, and start putting some real control on construction costs of new schools.

If Demetrio J. Perez really didn't know what he was trying to do was illegal, then he's certainly not mentally or morally fit to be a lawyer, and his father is not fit to sit on the school board.

John E. Brown

Let Me Praise Your Courage
I'm sure it's scary to swim against the tide: That gang of letter-writers who blasted Susan Eastman for her critique of the flag-waving media missed something: It took guts to write that piece. Between September 12 and October 4, I surveyed 30 U.S. newspapers on a regular basis. Eastman is absolutely alone in pointing out the gelatinous mob-think in the press.

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