By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
You have a problem with that, Ms. Liu?
Sean Sweeney, Director
I was alarmed by the way charges of racism were leveled in Chisun Lee's article "Broome Street Stakes Rise." Lee did not provide enough evidence to support the claim that Puffin Room Gallery owner Carl Rosenstein's campaign against World Farm is racially motivated.
As an Asian American performance artist, I've performed at Puffin Room a number of times. I participated in a poetry event in conjunction with the exhibit "The Art of Resistance: Social Realists of the Philippines," commemorating the centennial of the Philippine-American War. I've performed as part of Panata, a coalition of Filipino artists and cultural workers. I've performed as a member of the pan-Asian American performance collective Peeling. Rosenstein's support of these organizations and others like them runs counter to the allegations of anti-Asian racism. Lee chose to ignore this.
In fact, Lee seems to go out of her way to identify race in some parts of her piece but not in others. For example, she does not identify the "upstanding citizens" who vouched for Rosenstein's character. By leaving them unidentified, the assumption is left that they are white and of a similar economic class as Rosenstein. But at least one of those people who tried to contact Lee was Jin Auh, a female Korean American member of Peeling. Lee did not return her calls.
The article does not cite any evidence that Asian-owned businesses are the only ones targeted by the SoHo Alliance. The article seems to provide more rumors than facts. Unfortunately, in the case of allegations of racism, rumors are every bit as damaging.
Chisun Lee replies: If, as Bacalzo suggests, there is not enough evidence in the article to support the claim that Rosenstein's actions are racially motivated, that is because making that claim is not the point of the piece. Contrary to Bacalzo's assertion that Rosenstein's nonracist stance was not given ample attention, I gave considerable space to Rosenstein's own words and views. And as Sweeney will recall, it was he who pursued the issue of racism with me; his preoccupation with the topicindicated it was worth exploring. Indeed, worries over being unfairly targeted on the basis of certain characteristicswhich these writers dismiss as "rumors" or reverse stereotypingare no less important to report than concerns that a business is endangering a community with reckless behavior. Surely these respondents, with their sympathy for and identification with Asian communities, understand that.
Re Peter Noel's "Puffy Betrayed Me" [March 27]: Let me make sure I have this straight. Jamaal "Shyne" Barrow, age 21, entered a crowded nightclub with a loaded handgun, which he subsequently discharged under ambiguous circumstances (depending upon whose story is to be believed).
Now comes Conrad Muhammad, former Nation of Islam leader known as the "hip hop minister," who points out that Barrow "was just a kid" and, by implication, asks us to sympathize with Barrow's "tremendous stress" regarding the verdict. Forgetting for the moment the stress (and injuries) Barrow's actions caused other patrons of the club, I am astonished that Noel did not use this opportunity to comment on how Sean "Puffy" Combs's privileged posse was able to get any guns past security and into the club in the first place.
I guess the Voice joins the mainstream media in deferring to celebrity. Back in the day, hip-hop didn't need "ministers" defending its artists against charges such as these. Let's hope this incident is not indicative of what Muhammad's group, Conscious Hip Hop Activism Necessary for Global Empowerment (CHHANGE), might continue to rationalize.
Bay Shore, New York
Sean "Puffy" Combs used to be my idol. After reading Peter Noel's "Puffy Betrayed Me" [March 27], I see he's just a back-stabbing fake. I wanted to cry after reading the story. Puffy betrayed Jamaal "Shyne" Barrow after having been his mentor by denying that they had had a special friendship. Then Combs had the nerve not to want anything to do with him. That's just straight up wrong. I've loved Combs's Bad Boy Entertainment, bought every album by every artist, and when Shyne came out I instantly fell in love with him and his style.
Now that Puffy has turned his back on Shyne, I won't be buying many more Bad Boy records! Puffy, you've really disappointed me and shattered my whole image of you, and it hurts. Can't believe it went down like that.
St. Louis, Missouri
Re Robert Christgau's unbelievably sloppy item on the Jayhawks' album Smile [Consumer Guide, April 3]: How many mistakes can a professional make in a 13-line review? First, Christgau mentions Greg Olson, the supposed ex-Jayhawk. Does he mean the former Atlanta Brave or the Jayhawks' founder, Mark Olson? Embarrassingly, Christgau also misidentifies the band's new leader, Gary Louris, calling him Greg Lourie. And "Dud of the Month"? Why does Christgau bother trashing an album that was released in May of 2000 in March of 2001? A personal vendetta? This is a wonderfully effervescent pop album, which Christgau seems to dis on the basis that the Jayhawks have moved away from alt-country. (Gee, maybe they're tired of their brilliance being ignored in that confining category for the last 17 years.) This "review" is an insult to the Jayhawks and their fans.