OUR READERS: DISTURBED . . .
I found myself very disturbed by an LAUSD teacher’s letter to the editor [February 4–10], by the tone articulated in statements such as “[Black] culture as a whole is not fully embracing education as a solution to their problems.”
Why is this so? And why is it so easy for Americans — black, white or whoever, nowadays more than ever — to excoriate African-American culture for its problems without acknowledging the core issues that impact and are at the root of those problems? Why must we persist in the puritanical finger-pointing and blaming of causes other than what learned psychologists have known for years about the consequences and ramifications of poverty and lack of education upon a people? Why is there so little acknowledgment of the “psychic damage” which so many African-Americans endure on a day-to-day basis due to the racism, discrimination and bigotry that persist in our society? Why is it so difficult to grasp the relationship of historic poverty and racism to the development of African-Americans? What are we so afraid of?
The problems endured by African-Americans are the very same problems endured by all races in our society, only more so, and more pronounced for African-Americans because, as Americans, we have yet to fully engage the roots of these problems. As a result, African-Americans are the ones to suffer the most.
When I think of the number of African-American teachers and administrators, the number of African-American college professors and administrators, and the number of African-American college presidents, even, I am heartened by the fact that although education is not fully embraced by the African-American community, progress nevertheless continues to be made. I am disheartened by the veiled anger and resentment — and distorted attribution of American problems onto African-American people — resulting in rollbacks on affirmative action in the guise of opportunities for all people, and by the ability of closet racists, whether black or white, to find more and more of a public forum.
Director, Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement
School of Engineering
California State University,
SUPPORTIVE . . .
In his “Growth Is Great” article [January 14–20], Marc B. Haefele stated that in our newsletter we had written there are “1,100 acres of wetlands at Ballona.” We never said that. We referred to the 1,100 acres as coastal wetland “habitat,” which includes the critical dry uplands that support such rare species, in L.A., as the burrowing owl, which feeds on small mammals that also need the dry land. The Ballona drylands are just as important as the wetlands.
In regard to the other issues raised in the story, we stand behind our position that Playa Vista’s projected 200,000 car trips per day and 10 tons of daily air pollution (statistics from Playa Vista’s environmental-impact report), along with increased traffic from the extensive redevelopment of Marina del Rey, will have a negative impact on Sunset Park. Also, the type of clientele at Playa Vista’s proposed Entertainment Media Technology Center at the south end of Centinela Avenue would likely use corporate jets, adding to the jet-traffic noise at Santa Monica Airport. Jet noise is one of the major complaints of our members.
For these reasons we support public acquisition, rather than development, of the Ballona ecosystem.
President, Friends of Sunset Park
INSPIRED . . .
Sam Quiñones and Alan Mittelstaedt’s “A League of Their Own” [February 4–10] is a great story. It’s difficult to know what goes on in the everyday lives of other Americans, especially those who live on the other side of the country. What great spirit these people have. It certainly inspired me.
Asheville, North Carolina
On your feature “A League of Their Own,” all I can say is “Thanks for the story.” I am a cultural anthropologist who happens to work with folks in Santa Ana — and, incidentally, who was often played right off the courts during basketball matches. Quiñones and Mittelstaedt, in this short piece, have captured so much of what it means to be a Zapotec migrant in the U.S. They also show just how important basketball is for the migrants as a release, a way of organizing, and now, with Raza Unida, to build toward new kinds of social networks based upon ethnicity rather than village. Pass on a “well done” to the authors. They can also find a bit about basketball in my new book, published by the University of Texas Press, Cooperation and Community: Economy and Society in Oaxaca.
—Jeffrey H. Cohen
State College, Pennsylvania
FREAKED OUT . . .
The meth story [“Speed Sells” by Mitchell Koss, February 11–17] paints as clear a picture as can be regarding that dastardly drug. It sounds devastating. My own nieces are hooked on it, but I didn’t realize just how bad it is. What a freaky, freaky drug.
PATRIOTIC . . .
Re: Paul Malcolm’s “The Dreamlife of Foreign-Film Distributors” [February 11–17]. Why the surprise at the audience in Minneapolis for foreign film? With the Walker Art Center’s Film/Video department, the University Film Society’s diverse and exciting programming, several smaller venues, and, yes, commercial theaters such as Landmark chains, Minneapolis has long been among the best places in the country to see new film from around the world. “Not associated with cineaste culture” indeed!
So why, in such a climate, is Landmark Theaters, the country’s largest art-house chain, expanding the number of screens devoted to foreign-language films — and in cities such as St. Louis, Denver, Minneapolis and Dallas, not usually associated with cineaste culture? According to Cary Jones, Landmark’s vice president of marketing, the answer is simple: “We think there’s an audience out there.”
“We’ve had films perform better in Minneapolis than in Los Angeles,” says Jones, “and we’ve seen foreign-language films perform exceptionally well in markets like St. Louis or Dallas.”
—Scott D. Paulin
EXASPERATED . . .
Why do some of the movie reviews have to be filled with so much superfluous comment? John Patterson’s review of The Beach [“Beached,” February 11–17] is a good example. My God, all I wanted was to know whether he thought the movie was worth seeing. I did not need a history lesson in everyone’s career who is involved with the film. We did not need to know about all the film genres that may or may not be at play. I just want a movie review . . . not a doctoral thesis!
DISCRIMINATING . . .
Regarding Linda Burum’s “From Spaetzle to Saimintosoda” [Restaurant Guide, February 11–17], I have a suggestion. Kinchan’s on Sawtelle has better ramen than Asahi on Sawtelle. Kinchan’s is also cheaper, and serves bigger portions.
As a Canadian-American, I strongly object to the inclusion of “Blame Canada,” from the South Park movie, as an Oscar nominee for Best Song. We Canadians are not all “beady little eyes and floppy heads,” and to joke that “Canada’s not even really a country anyway” is an insult of the highest order. If I were a Baldwin or an Arquette right now, I’d be very careful where I shot my next Movie of the Week.
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