A few bad cops, many good cops: I had to write after hearing that officers at the Miami Police Department's north district substation felt demoralized because of Tristram Korten's article "Under Suspicion" (March 1). I also write as a former Miami Police Department lieutenant and as a sergeant once assigned to that district. I read Mr. Korten's article with sadness and interest -- sadness because it unfairly cast blanket suspicion on the many good officers assigned to the north district, and interest because hard as it is to admit, Mr. Korten was on target when he talked about the problems surrounding discipline and certain officers.
We need to look at this from a broader perspective. We live in a heterogeneous society, so like it or not, when it comes to dealing with various cultures, every form of "ism" is bound to come into play. Loyalty to one's own race or cultural background is almost expected, regardless of circumstances. The Miami Police Department does not have the exclusive on this phenomenon, and it is in no way restricted to the north district. It's something you see in any major organization. The key, though, is for those in charge to take responsibility and see beyond these "isms" in order to run an effective operation. In the case of a police department, this is the only way to root out bad cops, support the good ones, and do justice by the community it serves.
Unfortunately part of the problem when I worked in the north district stemmed from the command. Sergeants left the district because of lack of support from their commanders when it came to disciplining certain officers. Some of us wrote reprimands that never quite made it up the chain. It was under this very regime that I, for one, was accused of being "mean" and having an "ego problem."
By now some of your readers may have envisioned me as an embittered white male. Wrong. I am a black female, quite focused, and as I said, a former police sergeant and lieutenant; former because I found simpler ways to make a living. I write because of the many good officers in the north district. The majority of these officers are hard-working and honest. All they need is strong, ethical, and impartial leadership. Commanders looking past a problem officer simply because of that officer's race, culture, or social affiliations inevitably create some of the problems Mr. Korten pointed out. It also causes dissension among the good ones.
Likewise good supervisors, whether black, white, or Hispanic, deserve full support from their command staff. How the hell else can they make a difference if brass constantly undermines them by coddling bad apples? Last but not least, the citizens of Model City, just like any others, deserve the best and nothing less.
Johanna Kemba Davidson
If it's so repressive, why is Neil Rogers rich? I address this letter to Brett Sokol: You, sir, are a liar and should be ashamed of it. In "Austin Chronicles" ("Kulchur," March 29), you wrote, "Obviously Jorge Mas Santos's powerful magic hadn't yet kicked in, despite his recent song-and-dance trip to schmooze Grammy officials in Los Angeles, not to mention his ludicrous assertion to the Miami Herald that if [the Latin Grammys] are held in Los Angeles or New York, this community cannot show itself as the bastion of freedom of expression that it is.' It also appears Mas Santos conveniently has forgotten the 1992 Americas Watch report that not only cited Miami as having a repressive climate for freedom of expression' but also singled out CANF as being substantially responsible for that lack of tolerance.' Almost a decade later, the human-rights observers at Americas Watch still conclude that in Miami, the atmosphere for unpopular political speech remains marked by fear and danger, while government officials maintain a conspicuous silence.'"
Yup, it is so repressive here that we have Neil Rogers blasting the Cubans just about every day on his radio show. Then we have Castro-lover Francisco Aruca talking crap about how bad pro-democracy Cubans here are and how great Castro is in Cuba every day on his two radio shows. Then again, it may not be so repressive because those guys are alive and well and do their nonsense every day.
Please, sir, stop spewing your crap and propaganda lies. But since I believe in freedom of speech, I suppose you can continue to lie about us pro-democracy Cubans. I have the right, however, to protest against you and call a spade a spade, just as Cubans or anyone else here has the right to protest against something they don't like.
May Cuba be free soon!
North Miami Beach
Fair enough -- you can call us Homestead inbreeds, and we'll call you dumb Marielitos: In reference to Cristina Moreno's letter titled "Our Town in a Nutshell: Pugnacious Cubans and Redneck Mouth- Breathers" (March 22), Ms. Moreno shows the same ignorant bias she attributes to other people. She blames Anglos for the opinions they hold of the Cuban community as a whole, which she says is framed by those two politicians fighting in the parking lot of Radio Mambí.
Ms. Moreno, smell the café con leche, por favor. Many Cuban politicians, as well as many more close-minded exiles, do paint a horrible picture of our town. (Yes, our town, not just the Cubans'.) Witness the maniacs in the street insulting our president because he decided to follow the law as well as his paternal heart in order to send Elian home with his father. What do you expect when many of your fellow Cubans carry on the way they do?
Many of your fellow Cubans never venture outside your own community and attempt to gauge the feelings of the larger community and nation around you. How many times has a Cuban politician offended the black community (snubbing Nelson Mandela, snubbing Andrew Young)? How about telling prestigious events such as the Latin Grammys they can go elsewhere because of some ridiculous local rule about doing business with Cuba? We do business with China and did so with the Soviet Union. How about blocking the highways when the Cuban community has the gall to protest how we dare send some of their recent arrivals back?
Another thing: Don't characterize people who were waving flags and expressing their support of our president and our country as "Homestead inbreeds." True, flying a Confederate flag was not in good taste, nor were the signs personally insulting to Cubans and other Hispanics. But most of us waving our American flags did not indulge in these acts. So don't complain, Ms. Moreno, if someone calls you an ignorant Cuban or dumb Marielito, seeing as how you engage in name-calling yourself.
Paul E. Czekanski
Free weekly clearly doesn't get it: As the daughter of a Cuban woman and a Dominican man, born and raised in New York, I have come to a conclusion that will surely offend some but elate others: Although some (and I stress the some) Miami Cubans are overly ambitious, self-righteous, and sometimes downright annoying, they are still Latinos. As any semi-intelligent person knows, Latinos are a minority in the United States, and to put down Cubans repeatedly in New Times is simply racist and discriminatory. As a person obsessed with democracy, I also find you guys to be slightly stained with an image of commie pinkos.
I grew up among whites, blacks, Jews, and Puerto Ricans, and never realized Cubans were so proud until I moved here a year and a half ago. Although many Cubans annoy me with their Cubaniche talk and their overuse of fluorescent colors, there is one point that cannot be denied: Wherever Cubans go, it becomes a better place for everyone. With the exception of Jews, no other group has emigrated to the United States and made so much of themselves.
Now let's talk about Dominicans in New York. While many Cubans work long hours and slave away because they have too much pride to take government money, Dominicans have, in just a few short years, become the second-highest group receiving welfare in New York City, second only to Hassidic Jews (but we won't get into that now).
My own father, a man I hardly even know, was once the richest drug dealer in Queens. All my male Dominican cousins drive Toyota 4Runners and make decent money selling drugs. But every month they still manage to get a piece of that government cheese. I am the only one of my father's thirteen children who did not grow up in the projects, which I attribute to my Cuban mother.
Now do not mistake my putdown of Dominicans as self-loathing. I love every Dominican part of me. I just don't feel that Dominicans have made the strides that Cubans have. And you know what else? It's all right for me to talk about Dominicans because I am Dominican. It's not all right for whites, blacks, and non-Cuban Latinos to put down Cubans. Every time I read a New Times article or letter to the editor that negatively depicts Cubans, I realize that jealousy is a very, very ugly thing.
Name Withheld by Request
North Miami Beach
Head for Broward or die: Reading these letters to the editor shows who it is New Times caters to. Almost all who support this paper tend to be resentful, bigoted, Latino-hating whites. Just read the letters coming from people like Jonathan McDouglas of Fort Lauderdale or Linda Theis from Davie. They praise New Times for "exposing" the Cubans. For her part Theis is proud to fly her Confederate flag, and, by the way, she just loves this paper.
I enjoy some of New Times's stories, but it's disturbing to see a negative story about Cubans every week. The only Cubans New Times seems to support are those who say anything critical about the Cuban community. Like it or not, Miami is a Latin city. I myself am of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent. Projections put Miami at more than 80 percent Latino within twenty years.
Keep hating us if you must, but if you do, then New Times won't be in business much longer. Until then keep on being the voice of some angry racist crackers in Broward.
People here used to be so nice -- what happened? Before living here I used to come to the United States, mainly Miami, Hollywood, and Fort Lauderdale. This town used to be a paradise, in the whole sense of the word. I could not believe that people were always smiling, saying "Hi" to me with no reason. I always met friendly people everywhere.
In the early Nineties this continued unchanged. I thought this was a good place to spend part of my life and decided to pursue graduate studies here in Miami. I thought South Florida could be an example of what mankind must be. People from different cultures sharing all together, an Anglo with a Latin or an African American playing chess or holding hands because they were a couple. How can a person not realize that physical and cultural differences do not have anything to do with real human values and intelligence?
But now we have finally arrived at the new millennium, and I see things every day that are frustrating. What is going on, people? To me discrimination is solely ignorance. Unless you are close-minded, how can you not see that there are good and bad people, educated and ignorant, honest and dishonest people everywhere, not just from one culture or country? I know it's comfortable to judge people at first sight, but the truth is more profound. The truth requires thoughts and analyses. The truth requires loving.
It is a fact that our histories, from every country and every culture, have been different, but who said that differences were bad? The French people said it first: Vive la difference! I say all this just to remind you to be what you American people used to be: that friendly smile I miss so much. Nowadays I see most people walking faster, not making eye contact, avoiding other people as if they were afraid. Afraid of what?
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We, the new immigrants, are fighting as hard as you did decades ago. You don't know how hard we try to survive here. I know there are people who have made you believe that new immigrants steal or have bad manners, but many people are honest, came here to study, to work, to do the right things. And we wish to be welcome and to hear your worldwide-known "Hi."
I've read the debate in New Times about Cuban people and Anglo Americans. It has been very interesting, but I am not Cuban and I am not Anglo. So what? I am here anyway. I know it is hard to accept different people, most of all when they are not educated and look so different and show weird customs to you. But all you Americans who have already made it here, open your eyes and your hearts. Don't pretend we don't exist. We are as smart, as good, as educated, as honest, or as bad and as poor as your people can be.
Be what you used to be: the nice American people who always smiled and said "Hi" to everybody, no matter who. And by the way, forgive my mistakes. I am still making efforts to learn your language.
Karina Urdaneta M.