Letters from the Issue of May 14, 2009
Barry, Barry Racist
More than meets the eye: As a former student at Barry University, I was disturbed by Natalie O'Neill's May 7 story, "A Noose and a White Sheet." My professors sometimes made odd comments that I wasn't sure were racist or simply sarcastic. I had good experiences and relationships with classmates and most of my professors, and I did not sense any racial tension among us. I was often curious, though, about the diversity of the student body as opposed to the uniformity of the faculty. I did not know all of this was going on, but after a student's protests led to death threats, I realized there's more to this university than meets the eye.
San Jose, California
It's rampant: I was a student at Barry from 2000 to 2004. During that time, I saw three acts of students racially discriminating against other students, as well as staff members treating other staff members unfairly. I took part in silent protests, whose organizers were threatened for their roles in those events. I witnessed racial slurs, and a friend was kicked off campus because of racially motivated criminal charges, which were later dismissed in court. Another friend was forced to step down from a position working for the school because she supported the rights of a fellow student who had been racially discriminated against. I transferred to a satellite campus in Central Florida to escape the issues at the Miami Shores campus. I'm glad people are finally stepping up.
Work left to do: I am not surprised whatsoever. In my years at Barry — 2001 to 2005 — I saw a lot of discrimination and racial bias from students, faculty, and staff. I was part of the 2003 protest, where we banded as a group to stand up for fellow minorities. It definitely is something Barry needs to work on. The university does a pretty good job of placing photos of minorities in booklets and ads to tout itself as a diverse campus, which it is, but that is as far as the diversity spreads. Many qualified minorities rarely rise within the school administration. This is a pretty evident issue. Take a look for yourself — it is plain as day.
Take action!: What is described in this story involves too many people to doubt. This situation warrants a major EEOC investigation. The survivors of this inexcusable racial hatred ought to bring a class-action lawsuit. The school's failure to act and retaliatory firing of employees are reason enough, but there are also the other complaints.
I surely hope our entire community will show Barry this is intolerable behavior.
Holes in the Walls
Don't blame the victim: Eric Barton's May 7 article, "China in the Walls," looks for someone to blame for the defective Chinese drywall. At one point, the story implies the home buyers should just suck it up and write it off to "stuff happens." But this problem didn't just happen. Someone manufactured a damaging product; suppliers bought it by the boatload and sold it to builders, who then used it in their customers' houses. It will take years to sort out who was negligent, who knew it was damaging, etc. But one thing is certain: With rare exception, the homeowners did not choose, purchase, or use this drywall. It would be more balanced to say the homeowners are trying to find out who is at fault or who is responsible for damages. Blame implies something totally different in this society — a society that often has a blame-the-victim mentality.
Via web commentary
You Call This an Exposé?
C'mon, New Times: Natalie O'Neill's April 30 story, "Pint-Size Preacher," was half-baked. The elements in the article seem to be ripe for scandal: A preteen preacher equals possible exploitation. A congregation desperate for help equals possible exploitation. A family with a checkered past equals possible criminal activity. Um, OK. You didn't prove the family is involved in any illegal activity, which is how the article is presented — as some sort of exposé. It wasn't thought-provoking. It's common to hear about evangelicals and their gullible flocks. So, in the end, I wasn't left disappointed in this age-old story; I was disappointed in the writer and New Times, for failing to actually investigate and instead relying on these tired shadowy archetypes to write the story for them. This is not how you open people's eyes.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.