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Letters from the week of July 17, 2003

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Copy writer: I just read C.J. Janovy’s story about Glenn Rice (“Copy Cat,” July 3), and it’s disturbing, to say the least. If it’s true -- and the reporting here looks convincing -- then it could be just the black eye on diversity that all too many people have been looking for since Jayson Blair and long before.

That point, however, is where my head-shaking about the facts presented here ended and my anger grew. It finally seemed like one story was going to be written that didn’t suggest that when a black reporter screws up, it’s because he’s black. Then I got to this: “If it had fired Rice, the Star stood to lose at least one thing of significant value. Rice is treasurer for the National Association of Black Journalists, and that looks mighty good on the Star’s diversity résumé.”

What? Yeah, I’m convinced that the Star, or any other newspaper, is more worried about its “diversity résumé” than its own reputation. That’s crap, and the Pitch should be ashamed for suggesting it. Instead, Janovy attempts, pathetically, to put the blame on her own anonymous source. Shame.

Janovy has done a good job of unveiling more journalistic fraud. If only she had applied the same standards of proof before printing something as racially offensive as that one sentence, this might have been a great story.
Keith Reed, reporter, Boston Globe, and NABJ member
Boston

Black eye: Again, it seems that when an African-American is accused of plagiarism, it’s a question of affirmative action and qualifications. However, if the reporter is white, he just made a mistake; his race doesn’t come into question, and Janovy unfortunately didn’t bother to point this out. I’m tired of this!

If the man is guilty, then let’s deal with that. However, if you’re going to bring race into the picture, then let’s level the playing field. Show how it’s a product of white privilege when they commit the same offense. Implying that one race of people are the sole blame for what happens in the world is wrong.

You never seem to find African-Americans who’ve done the right thing in the field of journalism. You can’t wash your hands of it, most likely because you believe in bashing blacks. It’s a classic American pastime.
Bruce E. Williams
New York


Repo Depot

Brake away: Was Jimmie Brockman the best example that Allie Johnson could produce to show how evil the business practices of Neil’s Finance Plaza are (“Repo Men,” July 3)? I was unsure if this story was supposed to create sympathy for him or disgust that someone allowed themselves to be swindled so easily.

His excuses for how he ended up in such a bad deal are all things he could have easily prevented. Did he not break out a calculator and notice that $120 x 26 = $3,120 a year? It sounds like this was a four-year term. It is painfully obvious that those numbers just do not add up to what he says they thought the purchase price was for. Oh, but of course ... they told him to sign now, read later! It's not his fault; he was just doing what they told him to do.

I am not defending Neil's at all. I think that place is probably run by some of the biggest scumbags in town. It just pains me to see a place like that thrive because they specialize in one thing: dumb consumers. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to look over a loan agreement before you sign your name.

I also liked that Dale Irwin quote about how no mass transit means that you either have a car or your family will go hungry. I am sure this sixteen-year-old for whom the car was purchased was getting that car to be the provider for his family. Asshat.
Chad Tiemeyer
Shawnee


Strip Down
Black humor: Regarding Scott Wilson's Kansas City Strip (July 10): If the news about Cinemark forcing black patrons to be accompanied by white patrons were real, all I could imagine was everything I have heard about segregation and racism from the past coming back.

I often hear people my age saying, "They (whites) better be glad that I was not living back in those days cause I'd ... (a lot of uncivilized things)." To be totally honest, I was afraid for this city, my loved ones and my children. I thought about the differences between now and then and the resources (money, weapons, etc.) that are now available to my people. I hate to think what problems could occur had that been true.

I would like to say to Mr. Wilson (not knowing his ethnic background): Are you aware of the controversy and potential violence that could have spun from your sarcasm? I read the article online, and I believed this was true. Not to stereotype, but we as a people usually don't read, and when you are fortunate enough to be a writer who gets the attention of African-Americans, then you should use that power (blessing) to educate, inspire and encourage, not play word games that, if acted upon, would only hurt MY PEOPLE.

Do you even realize the possible repercussions of that article? I don't read the Pitch as a habit, but I hope that this is not an example of what is being written in your paper. I do admit, however, I will from now own make it my business to read your paper. I hope that this letter inspires you in a positive way.
Regina D. Lanes-Little
Kansas City, Kansas


Dot Matrix

The nanny diary: A number of people have commented to me about Steve Walker's remark in his review of The Hundred and One Dalmatians ("The Bitch Is Back," July 3), which, in effect, implied I was upholding a stereotype by casting Lacretta Ross in a role he calls "domestic." Folks seem to be angry about the remark, essentially saying that Lacretta comes off as anything BUT a domestic, and that his use of the term "color-blind casting" is so ten years ago. ("Multiethnic" may offend less.)

In fairness to Walker, the role is not actually written as a nanny dog, which explains why Lacretta is so successful in it. The role is written as a foster-mother dog in both the book and the play from England. What we discovered in a week of previews was that the scene was not getting off to a good start because American kids either don't know what foster mothers are or, if they do, have a wicked-witch image of foster care.

Confusingly for kids, the character of the foster mother was written out of the storyline in all Disney incarnations, and the name Perdita was assigned to the biological dog mother!

Because of this, the cast unanimously chose our Perdita to also be referred to as "nanny dog" instead of "foster mother" in order to clarify the back story -- Perdita is able to help out Missis Pongo because someone(!) has stolen her puppies from the farm. Kids understand who Perdita is now and see the world with "color-blind" glasses on.
Jeff Church
Producing Artistic Director, the Coterie

Kansas City, Missouri


Ill Will
Brawl in the family: I wanted to thank Steve Walker for attributing the characteristics of Munchausen syndrome by proxy to me ("Mama's Families," June 12). This gives the perception that my accusers acted in good faith because I gave them reason to be concerned by use of terminology.

I also take offense at being described as "cagey." Not only was I subjected to almost nonstop medical terminology thrown at me for almost a year that my son was living, but I was forced to find the cause of my son's symptoms that eluded them. If I didn't get smart fast and prove my innocence, I could say good-bye to my husband of eighteen years (doesn't quite fit the distant-husband theory) and three healthy surviving children (whoops -- doesn't fit the unexplained-sibling-illness criteria either).

For the use of Walker's article, he should know that I never graduated high school or had any kind of medical training. My terminology comes directly from the school of hard knocks. Just know this: Nothing is more important to the innocent than their innocence.
Julie Patrick
Byhalia, Mississippi


Buzz Killers
The young and the restless: Regarding Andrew Miller's "Buzz Off?" (July 3): God, Kansas City is such an evil, greedy, old person-type city. What a fight it is to be young and be allowed to enjoy youth here. It should be a crime to think anything beyond this truth.
Name Withheld Upon Request
Note This!
Enter the dragonfly: I can't believe Geoff Harkness fails to mention Ziggy Marley's latest and critically acclaimed album, Dragonfly (Critics' Choices, July 10). I've only been in town for business about three weeks now and have come to rely on the Pitch for in-town entertainment ideas. This is the first time I've been let down.

Come on, Geoff, step it up!
Jesse Flowers
Arlington, Virginia

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