Respect and racism
Jack Lessenberry should brush up on the first law of holes: When you’re in one, stop digging.
First the good part: Mr. Lessenberry has the right to say bad things about Detroit, some of which are painfully true. And there can be benefit in provoking discussion of important issues like how we feel about race, even in ways that may make some people feel uncomfortable. Although we generally find ourselves in agreement with Mr. Lessenberry’s perspective on political issues of the day, we think he crossed at least a few serious lines in this column, and apologies are due from both Mr. Lessenberry and the Metro Times for his unfortunate labeling and discussion of Detroit as “a rotting black ghetto,” which needs “a whole lot of white people moving in.” Three primary concerns:
1. Most glaringly, Rhonda Anderson’s letter, which was referred to throughout Mr. Lessenberry’s column, should have been printed in full. The opportunity for Ms. Anderson to be heard about why this column angered her, and about the counterproductive and disrespectful way Mr. Lessenberry made his points, is required as an absolute minimum, in order to have any hope of achieving the goal of racial reconciliation he claims in his defense. A copy of Ms. Anderson’s letter is attached, and we request that you print it with an apology.
2. Mr. Lessenberry comes very close to gloating that his original column provoked “exactly the reactions I had hoped for,” and even suggests that we have to “call each other a few names.” Space is limited here, so suffice it to say that a member of one race intentionally making members of another race angry and advocating racial name-calling is not a sound approach to “the tyrannosaurus in all of our front rooms” that is institutionalized racism in America.
3. Finally it is painful to read Mr. Lessenberry’s invocation of the wedding of “one of my favorite students,” and the patriotism of African-American soldiers there. This version of “some of my best friends are black” is not an adequate response to allegations of his racial insensitivity. There are many intimate connections between: 1) racist policies that send young, poor black men to die in wars for old, rich white men, and 2) racist policies that maintain a virtual wall of disinvestment, segregation, educational inadequacy, and environmental racism around Detroit. Such liberal sophistry is little better than frank, Trent Lott-style racism as a way for more progressive whites like Mr. Lessenberry to contribute to a better Detroit. —Julie Hurwitz, Mark Fancher, Tom Stephens, The National Lawyers Guild, Maurice and Jane Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, Detroit
Rotting black ghetto
I read with some interest your article titled “Detroit’s year of reckoning.” I thought it interesting not so much for how you described Detroit as a “rotting black ghetto.” I find it somewhat interesting when whites describe Detroit. Most often it’s not flattering, I believe the director of 8 Mile described Detroit as as close to hell as he has gotten. So your “rotting black ghetto” wasn’t too much of a surprise. Neither was it a surprise when you stated the cure for the city would be for “a whole lot of white people with kids and dogs moving in and a strategy to get them here.” I find it interesting because it’s the same belief that most blacks had back in the day. They believed that if they could only go to the white schools, shop at the white stores, live where the whites lived we would be saved. That didn’t work. We shop where the whites shop, we can live where the whites live (some of us do), we can go to school with them, but what difference does it make? I’ll let you answer that because only you can for yourself. Me, I remember the segregated North. Believe it or not, it’s not much different than today, but it is different. Back then we had our own stores, theaters, what have you. I remember blacks owned stores, which today is a rarity. Then we did the white thing big time. The question for me is how much good has it done? Today it’s not likely that you’ll hear a white person call a black person the N word, but it doesn’t stop them from thinking it. For some reason I miss the days when people put it on the line how they felt about you. Nowadays there are code words like “rotting black ghetto,” “hell” and Detroit used to describe us.
A recent article in the Detroit News titled “Study finds whites still fear integration,” reported that 40 percent of the whites interviewed would leave if more blacks moved into their neighborhoods. What was the reason given? Does it make a difference? Another study reported in the Detroit News titled, “Blacks live far from jobs,” stated that blacks living in Detroit lived farther from jobs than blacks in any other major city. So much for a whole lot of whites and their kids and dogs moving into the city.
I believe the answer is not in having a whole lot of whites and their kids and dogs move into the city. I believe if Detroiters simply had access to better-paying jobs, like some of the construction jobs I see, from building the new Cass Tech High School, to replacing the corner sidewalks, we would have more money to invest in our homes and neighborhoods. But what do I know; I’m a resident of a “rotting black ghetto” and can’t have much going on. Not like, let’s say, a journalist writing for the Metro Times.
The biggest drawing card for the city of Detroit is its people. It’s just hard to see that when they’re living in a “rotting black ghetto.” My 19-year-old daughter loves this rotting black ghetto, and so do a lot of other people I know. Some because they have no other choice, but some simply because they do. They’ve proved it by continuing to live in this “rotting black ghetto.” —Rhonda Anderson, Detroit
On the money
I am black and a lifelong Detroiter who believes Jack Lessenberry hit the nail squarely on its head. Detroit is screwed and will remain so until the city gets an infusion of new, young, middle-class blood of whatever color. Detroit’s young mayor has fallen far short of expectations. The schools have been an embarassment for the last 30 years. City Council is a joke. And Detroit’s politicians play the race card, instead of trying to work with our suburban neighbors, and Detroit’s so-called civil rights leaders continue to pimp the movement for their own good. Yes, Detroit needs white folks, and the city also needs Hispanics, Asians and anyone else it can get to help return Detroit into a decent place. —Mark R. Colden, firstname.lastname@example.org, Detroit
From the heart
Editor’s note: We are running this letter verbatim, with all spelling and grammatical errors intact.
Your recent article on Al Gore (Politics & Prejudices, Metro Times, Dec. 25-31) was the joke of the century!!!
Gore was part of the Unholy Trinity (Clinton, Gore and The Whore) who gave us the most corrupt, immoral, degenerate and totally disfunctional administration in the history of our country!!!
Gore did not choose to run for president on his own. The Democratic Party told him not to do so as he makes them look bad for fear that the Republicans would kick his big, fat, stinking ASS again!!!
Gore is nothing more than s stupid Moron and a tax and spend liberal who voted to increase the tax on Social Security when many senior citizens depend on this money as their only means of sustenance.
So much for the liberal rhetoric to help the poor, the disadvanteged or the immigrant trash!!!
Everything Gore and ole suck jaws Clinton touched turned to shit as these hillbilly dirt balls are responsible for 911, treason on America, total unprofessional conduct and blow jobs in the Oral Office!!!
Gore is a loser and he always be and he is coward like Clinton as he spent about a month in Nam then went home to Daddy!!!
There will always be Rooters like you who favor these losers as ALL liberals are cowards, liers, hypocrites and commies!!!
The Democratic Party has finally been exposed which is why they had their asses kicked this past November. The voters can NOW see these phoney pricks for what they really are!!!
By the way, us Republicans can hardly wait for that fat, ugly inbred, slobbering slut Hillary to run for president!!! It will be fun the see lying faggot bitch try to avoid certain questions like the murder of Vince Foster, Chinagate, Travelgate. etc. of which she was the main architect!!!
Keep up the good work Jacko ole buddy as you provide humor for the ONLY true Americans, us Republicans!!! —Robert G. Machala, LennonSend comments to email@example.com