By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Peter Noel's article "Race and Class" should be read and addressed by public school officials nationwide.
Africans in America (in contrast to African Americans) are "Americans" geographically and legally but not "Americans" psycho-spiritually, the latter reflecting the highest connotation of nationhood. In essence, we Blacks, as a distinct ethnic group, have not been permitted to "belong" to America, denying us a "basic need" as identified by the late renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow. And the entire racist, oppressive history of America supports this fact. Accordingly, those "educators" who are persecuting our beautiful Black sister are grossly misguided in their efforts. For she is being blamed for teaching a fact that, at least in part, has been created and sustained through public and private policies in this sick, racist society.
Minister Dr. Gyasi A. Foluke
Charlotte, North Carolina
Re Chris Nutter's article "Home Boys" [November 21]: It's amazing (though not surprising) how the gay white community continues the long and undistinguished history of what we call "discovery and appropriation" so often exhibited by their heterosexual counterparts. In this instance, go to a place that's predominantly black, move in, act like it was nothing before you "discovered" it, and then claim that you are bringing some kind of culture to the area.
Most same-gender-loving men of color do not identify with a "gay" white culture, and the infestation of gay white men in Harlem is not increasing the number of "gay faces" visible on the streets, as some would like to believe. It is simply adding some "gay white faces" to an already thriving culture that Nutter will never see or understand. The brown, olive, black, and mahogany faces of Harlem's same-gender-loving community have been here all along. You just don't see us. You never have, and you never will.
'Boys' to Men
Living in the former P.S. 157 since it opened in 1993 and acting as secretary of its tenants' association for four years, I found the labeling of it as "the Gay Building" by a man quoted in Chris Nutter's article "Home Boys" not only offensive but untrue.
The original "faces" of the building changed quickly. When it opened, 90 percent of the residents were African American professionals. Some had the finances to live elsewhere, and chose to do so after numerous problems with the management of the building. Now, it seems, if you are a person of color, you need not apply. Some wonder what happened to waiting lists for people in the community to be awarded future vacancies. How are so many people being displaced in Harlem and in the black community at large when, as Nutter points out, the city has invested over $300 million to create housing?
In addition, I am certain that African Americans who happen to be gay, as well as those who are not, have more important concerns about the African American community of Harlem than whether one can hold his partner's hand or kiss in public, or put his hand on his hip or "sway and strut" down the street.
Dennis J. Kyle
Speaking of Graffiti
Great graffiti article by Richard Goldstein ["The Joy of Bombing," November 28]. It showed another side of the issue for me. I'm an announcer for a radio station in Montreal and have been researching the graffiti-tagging phenomenon, which hit here recently. Ten years ago, there was little. Today it has grown out of control. The city council has proposed ways to curb it, but these artists are still bombing and tagging anything in sight. This is a shocking new trend that most people here do not favor. Listening to talk shows, it is clear they want it contained.
Before I visited New York recently, I heard the Giuliani administration had done a fair job of containing graffiti. I found most of lower and midtown Manhattan cleaned up, but other areas are wall-to-wall. They seem to have concentrated on tourist sites and neglected other areas.
My compliments to Richard Goldstein for his well-conceived and accurate article "The Joy of Bombing." When I was a young kid in Brooklyn during the early 1980s, I remember quite clearly seeing a streak of bright pink spray on a train window made translucent by the light. When asked by my grandmother, who was riding with me, what my favorite color was, I inevitably replied "pink." I recall how visible graffiti was during that time on all the subway train cars and in P.S. 225, where I went to school. What a status symbol it was for the boys to go up to the el tracks and write graffiti!
John Stuart Mill wrote that the overall health of a society is dependent on how many eccentrics it has. In terms of graffiti, and contemporary society, I would add, how many "dissidents."
I would like to add something to Kyle Gann's review of my piece Rama Broom, which was premiered by pianist Kathleen Supové at NYU ["Resignating With the Audience," December 5]. Mr. Gann was unsure of the sentence that Ms. Supové was speaking and "permutating." I don't blame him, as nobody can be sure until the end of the piece, when the sentence is finally spoken in non-permutated order (although one knowing chuckle was heard about a minute before the end from a listener who presumably caught on earlier). The phrase, derived from a homicidal fantasy of Ms. Supové's, is, "Ram a broomstick 400 times up."