Letters

'60 Minutes' Man

On Sunday, February 11, Bryonn Bain's "Walking While Black: The Bill of Rights for Black Men," which appeared in the May 2, 2000,Village Voice—and which received more reader mail than any article in the history of the paper—was the subject of a segment on the CBS newsmagazine60 Minutes. The program prompted a flood of additional letters to the editor. Following are a few.

I appreciated seeing Bryonn Bain on 60 Minutes and reading his account of the night he and some friends were harassed, only to be arrested themselves, outside of a New York City nightclub. As an attorney and the mother of a black child, it is sobering to imagine that my daughter's treatment in America is, at all times, "colored" by her skin tone. I want Mr. Bain to know that some of those white faces he sees are "fighting the fight" every day on behalf of African Americans. And, like his mother, we won't ever rest. Thanks for the inspiration.

Carrie Boone
Houston, Texas

After seeing the 60 Minutesinterview with Bryonn Bain, I looked up the article right away on the Internet. What a powerful and sad story. I was glad to see that the name and badge number of the police officer who arrested Mr. Bain and his friends were included in the Voicearticle. All three young men garnered great respect for themselves, and for all African Americans, on the program. They have set a new and courageous level for all others of any race to rise up to.

Jessica White
Corvallis, Oregon

I am an old woman in the Central Valley of California. I have, of course, heard of The Village Voice, but I have never read it before today. Bryonn Bain's experience was particularly painful to me because my late father was a police officer in L.A. I remember hearing him say, "I broke a nigger's back last night." He was also brutal to some of his children. I used to think that by the time my generation died, racism would have ended. Now I don't think it will end until white people admit that they were raised racist. I have a biracial grandson and two biracial great-grandsons. I fear for them.

Esther Amaral
Porterville, California

As a black male who once attended Brooklyn College, I have many memories of encounters with the NYPD, including being pulled over for driving a car that fit the description of one that was stolen. It was interesting to see the officers struggle to find something to pin on us. They couldn't believe that my passenger, who wore dreadlocks, was a junior high school math teacher, and that I was a stockbroker.

I've started to listen to white talk radio in Atlanta, because I feel the best way to know bigots is to hear them. Every day, regardless of the topic, there is "nigger bashing."

Luckily, Mr. Bain was able to beat the rap. Many blacks end up in jail because they can't prove their innocence.

Rod Agard
Marietta, Georgia


Ralph's Economy Cleaners

Katha Pollitt [Letters, January 2] needs to write more accurately about our pioneering work regarding marketplace discrimination against women, which she seeks to deprecate by saying, "I mean, come on, dry-cleaning prices?"

I am sending her our second book on this subject, Why Women Pay More (And How to Put a Stop to It), by Frances Cerra Whittelsley and Ralph Nader. After reading through it, she will begin to educate herself about the serious damage to women's health and safety (e.g., unnecessary operations and prescriptions) and to their consumer dollars (exploitive car dealers, repair firms, credit) that flow from such gender discrimination.

After Ms. Pollitt wrote several articles in The Nation that contained critical remarks about the Nader-LaDuke candidacy without ever calling to get my views, I decided to call her. She claims I was returning her call, for which our office has no record. But if she finally did make such a call, fine—it's to her credit. By the way, thanks for your vote, KP.

Ralph Nader
Washington, D.C.


Free-Rants

I thank Cynthia Cotts for coining the term "freelance rage," which so perfectly describes a feeling that is becoming all too familiar to hard-working freelancers everywhere [Press Clips, February 13]. As a freelancer, I agree that more attention needs to be drawn to the egregious treatment we face with publishers and their contracts. Stacey Chase's lawsuit against a Peoplemagazine editor helps shine a light on what is going on.

There are a number of now common, yet totally unfair, practices by magazines. Many require so much unpaid research by freelancers up front that the writer has literally done half the job before the assignment is formalized, and sometimes, of course, it never is formalized. The growing expectation is for freelancers to slave away on spec.

We have to be savvy about protecting ourselves. Personally, unless I am dealing with a long-term editor whom I trust, I would never reveal the names of my potential subjects, or the names of any key players or experts, until the assignment is in place. I'd urge other freelancers to be equally cautious. Chase's experience is a glaring example of why we must watch our backs.

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