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In addition to what Michael Jackman reports in his piece about Borders in Ann Arbor (“Borders skirmish,” Metro Times, Nov. 19-25), readers should know that even if it’s not Borders’ policy to “debate negotiating points in the media,” management has no problem sending out a mass e-mail to its customers “explaining” how fair Borders is to employees and why the strikers are off-base to be pulling a job action.

I pointed out to them that they were both violating my trust by using their access to my e-mail address to push their side of a situation, while the other side had no such access to individual customers, and that their explanation itself was lame and self-serving.

They replied, in part, that they’d “grappled with the very difficult decision of whether or not to send this letter to our Ann Arbor customers who have trusted us with their e-mail addresses. Ultimately, we decided — based on the level of inquiries in our Ann Arbor stores — that our local customers wanted to hear the company’s perspective on a situation that has garnered significant local publicity.”

Barnes & Noble has suddenly become much more attractive. —Michael Paul Goldenberg, mgoldenberg290501mi@comcast.net, Ann Arbor

 

Art at the edge

Sarah Klein, I wanted to thank you for your article on Mark Wolak (“Captivating art,” Metro Times, Nov. 12-18). I’ve been following your stuff since you stepped out of the gossip column and into feature writing; I thought this was a wonderfully written piece. Through the lens of Mark’s experience, you captured a feeling that many artists have, even if we don’t go to prison: feeling less than real, marginalized, alienated because we refuse to contribute to society by making poison pills or widgets or SUVs.

Mark’s story reminded me again that we just need to persevere in creating beauty, because that’s what we were put here to do. And no prison walls, visible or invisible, can ever stamp out that inner fire. —D.K. Brainard, countsugarcane@yahoo.com, Highland Park

 

Color bind

Keith A. Owens misses the mark regarding passing and race, just as most Americans do (“Passing in the present tense,” Metro Times, Nov. 19-25). The self-hatred lies not in the denial of a black American’s African ancestry, but in the denial of most black Americans’ European ancestry. Most so-called blacks in the United States have mixed heritage. But we persist in thinking we have to be black or white — which means we fall into the trap made by the slaveowners. As a “black” in America, I can’t embrace my full legacy because I am in cultural denial.

African-American women straighten their hair, get long and silky weaves and prize “good hair” — and African-American men buy into the European standard of beauty, albeit slightly sepia-toned. We’re proud of blue-eyed Vanessa Williams and half-white Halle Berry, but kinky-haired, full-blooded model Alek Wek of the Sudan gets mostly thumbs down for looks in the “African” American community.

Before black Americans give anyone grief for choosing to “pass” for white, we should look at how we whitewash the blackness we do have. —Steven Tate, bxltate@aol.com, Detroit

 

Inspiring words

Bravo, bravo, bravo. Thank you, Jack Lessenberry, for your column (“And every man should try,” Metro Times, Nov. 19-25). At a time like this, when many of us are struggling to hold onto hope, wipe the egg off our nation’s face, and push on past the blunderings of our current president into a new day, it helps a lot to be reminded of JFK’s message.

Thanks for reminding me that, although we are all human and make mistakes, “the one [mistake] you can’t make is despair.” Thank you for the fresh inspiration on why I love my country: “not for what it was, not for what it is, but for what it someday can and, through the efforts of us all, someday will be.” —Scott Vacek, scott.vacek@mvpcollaborative.com, West Bloomfield

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