As the child of a bipolar parent, I’ve spent 47 years learning about and dealing with the disease. To blame Roy Brooks’ outcome on the mental health system is just plain wrong ("Music, madness & Marquette Prison — Roy Brooks sad opus: from hard bop to hard time," Metro Times, Dec. 12-18). There are no known cures for bipolar disorders. The New Center Community Mental Health System gave Brooks care and treatment for 20 years. The maximum continuous hospitalization provided by the best insurance for this disease is 14 days, to develop a medication regime and then follow up on an outpatient basis — all of which took place. Meanwhile, Brooks successfully traveled the globe, partied with the stars and lived in prestigious neighborhoods such as Central Park West. Money was not an issue, so there should not have been a great dependence on public care, yet it was still provided. And Brooks chose not to follow his prescribed medication regimen.
What failed Brooks was not the mental health system. He simply made bad decisions and had no one who cared enough to make sure he took his medication. Rightfully, both these issues fall outside the role of government health system responsibilities. That doesn’t make the story any less sad. —Douglas R. Fehan, Birmingham
Keith A. Owens, I enjoyed your article ("Niggers old & new," Metro Times, Dec. 12-18). Of course, this is the same predicament poor whites find themselves in. At one time even though they were poor, they still were above all the dark-skinned people. Now with affirmative action and liberal crap, they lost some status. So, sure, they are going to call for the good old days when you could get paid for killing dark-skinned people (blacks, American Indians, Mexicans). The richer whites are OK with liberal policies, because it is not set up for any real power, just the competition of worker-level jobs. However, the rich Republicans will support anti-liberal agendas, not because they care really who works for them, but they know where the votes are. I am Native American and I know people are so hurt, and you can see this in gangs, cliques, churches, and mobs. Feeling left out, they may hurt someone else to be in the in-group. —David M. Scholes, firstname.lastname@example.org, Fort Cobb, Okla
I have read the article written from Keith A. Owens about the new "niggers," the Arab-Americans. And I would like to say that I agree 100 percent with his article. This country needs to be together in a time of struggle as this is now. We do not need to single any race out. —Keith Gaffney, email@example.com, Oak Park
Learning from history
Mr. Owens, how many time have you seen in print, heard on the news or in an entertainment use, Jewish people refer to themselves as "kike" or as anything derogatory? You do not because they don't make light of their history. I grew up in a small segregated Texas town. I could not drink from the same water fountain as whites. When we went to the only movie house in town, we had to sit in the balcony. It is amazing how some African-Americans don't seem to really understand that the use of the word "nigger" makes it continuing baggage for you, me, and my children because it shows a disrespect we have for ourselves. It doesn't matter how you define it, giving a brief history of the word to explain how it came into being. It shows that we are what the word means, because as a race of people we will not stop our own people from disrespecting themselves. Or show how we really don't understand our history.
To refer to me, you, your mother, my father, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Alex Haley, Donald Peterson, Fannie Lou Hammer, as niggers — man, aren't you miseducated. —Morris Richardson II, firstname.lastname@example.org, Southfield
I thought Mr. Owens’ column was excellent. I have to admit that I was one of the black folks saying, "It sure is nice to see white folks nice to us." After reading the column I realized that they are not being nice if they feel the need to call someone else a nigger or treat someone else badly; and I was also not a nigger before Sept. 11 I also don't think that America is a better place since Sept. 11; it has gotten worse. In order for this country to change, people's attitudes and beliefs need to change. —Sherri Holmes, Chicago, Ill.