By Keegan Hamilton
By Albert Samaha
By Village Voice staff
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
Interesting lead article by "M.T." in last week's issue ["AA Unmasked"]. However, the experience of not being able to share about drugs in AA has not been the case for me for the past 23 years, of which I've been clean and sober 17. I've had two major relapsesboth after I quit attending meetings and keeping in touch. Thank God I was welcomed back with open arms after the two years I spent shooting coke and drinking.
"M.T.," the author of "AA Unmasked," clearly hasn't spent much time at AA meetings in New York City. Having attended hundreds of meetings at perhaps 40 locations over a 10-year period in Manhattan and Brooklyn, I encountered antagonism to sharing about drug problems at exactly two of them.
Virtually all AA members younger than 50 whom I have met have had both alcohol and drug problems, and they spoke about these problems openly at meetings. AA may not be for everybody, but it is certainly a more inclusive program than M.T. made it sound.
It was so good to see the article "AA Unmasked" by M.T. I became addicted to heroin when I was 15 years old. I was never able to stay clean for more than 30 days at a time, and, yes, I have been told to "stop sharing" about drugs at AA meetings. Fortunately, I finally found Narcotics Anonymousalthough not until after I had been arrested, lost all of my friends, pawned all of my possessions, and almost died from endocarditis as a result of injecting with unsterile needles. I have been clean ever since I started going to NA.
It's tragic to see newcomer addicts ostracized in AA. We need to remember that this is a matter of life and death, and get over our pretensions about what chemicals we used.
Editor's Note: Because "AA Unmasked" prompted an unusual amount of reader mail, more letters will be printed in next week's issue. In deference to the practice of AA and other 12-step fellowships, the names of letter writers who are involved in such programs are withheld to protect their identities.
THE GREAT WALL
Thank you for Erik Baard and Rebecca Cooney's article, " China's Kidney Transplant Trade" [May 8]. I was appalled, but not surprised. My husband's family is involved with charity work for an orphanage in Nepal. Our last major donation was not used to bring better food, clothing, or education to the youngsters. Rather, it was used to build a security wall around the orphanage so that "organ thieves" couldn't kidnap the children to harvest their organs. I hope this article reaches people who will be able to help put a stop to this abhorrent practice.
Re Erik Baard and Rebecca Cooney's article: "Harvesting" organs from death-row convicts is extremely disturbing, but what is more gruesome is that children are kidnapped for their organs in China. I am an ethnic Uyghur from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. I have heard many stories of young Uyghur children being kidnapped for their organs. Uyghur children are easy prey because they do not speak Chinese, making it easy to move them around China without being discovered.
Uyghur American Association
Princeton, New Jersey
CROSSING THE LINE
I have just finished Michael Kamber's series on Poblano migrants and the journey from the village to the city ["Crossing to the Other Side," April 17-May 3]. This steady drain, which is brought on as much by U.S. foreign economic policy as by the corruption of the Mexican government, is hardly new. I have witnessed the depopulation of Chignahuapan and Zacatlan de las Manzanas, small towns in the northern sierra of the state of Puebla where my family has lived for centuries. I wonder if the image conveyed of rural southern Mexico does not color the reader's view of a now visible minority of Mexicans in New York City.
I found Kamber's view of the migrants, who are largely indigenous, infantilizing. They are stereotyped as simpleminded and childlike, happy to watch color television and talk of answering machines as strange and magical devices.
Mexican history and culturewhose complexity defies the North American tendency to pigeonhole movements, ethnic groups, and political alliancesis dynamic. I fear that the tone of articles such as Kamber's introduces a new ethnic stereotype to readers of The Village Voice. ¡Que viva Puebla!
Paul Eduard Sweeney Perez
Los Angeles, California
Michael Kamber replies: Over three and a half months, I extensively documented the bravery of Poblanos in the face of physical danger, the loneliness and emotional pain they suffer as a result of this exodus, their perseverance in the face of brutal 70-hour work weeks. Culture shock is indeed a theme in my seriesto not explore this would be dishonestbut nowhere are Poblanos disparaged. I have only respect for those who risk their lives to come north.
Re Peter Noel's article "The 'Wrongs' of 'Mr. Civil Rights'" [May 8]: Of course Reverend Jesse Jackson was immoral for fathering a child outside of his marriage. From what I read in Noel's article, Jackson owes Canaan Baptist Church an apology. However, this is a clear attempt to divide African Americans and create a feeling that Reverend Jackson is no longer worthy of praise for the strides he has made. If black folks let this perception of division go on, making it larger than it really is, they do their race and Reverend Jackson a great injustice. Reverend Wyatt Tee Walker should have kept his disappointment between God, Reverend Jackson, and himself.