Letter of The Week
All that was so real

I read with amusement Nona Willis-Aronowitz's review of the movie Secuestro Express [Tracking Shots, August 3–9]. As I sit in my office in La Previsora, which sits behind the building where one of the most violent scenes in the movie takes place, and look out the window and see the poverty and the lawlessness surrounding me and hear about yet another person who got mugged, attacked, robbed, or suffered the horrible experience of a secuestro express, I would like to tell Willis-Aronowitz and your readers that yes, it's really as bad as you think down here. No, it's not a stereotype of a sensationally dangerous Latin America; it's the daily reality of millions of people. This movie is a wake-up call that if we do not change our attitudes, start electing responsible and accountable governments, and start enforcing the rule of law and respecting our neighbors, things will only continue to get worse.

Veronica Maldonado
Caracas, Venezuela

White perspective wrong

The attack on black studies described by Chanel Lee in "Black to the Future" [Education Supplement, August 3–9] is racist. Many whites, even so-called intellectuals, think black studies and the experiences that shaped the discipline are irrelevant. Anything that is not mainstream and Eurocentric is irrelevant to them. The same white people have been conditioned to believe in their own superiority with or without expressing it directly. Anything that challenges their beliefs somehow is not scholarly. They actually believe that tragedies such as transatlantic slavery, colonialism, and the genocide of indigenous peoples in America were all for "our" own good. The long-term consequences do not matter to them, because their way of life was supposedly better than that of people of color, and it needed to be imposed on them.

Even though not all whites are racists, I know the beliefs I just mentioned are widespread. I had some white students who felt that way in the black-literature class I taught last spring at the University of Iowa. Despite their prejudices, some took the class thinking electives are supposed to be an easy grade. They refused to take me or my course seriously. That some of them were not used to having black authority figures is no excuse. Despite my credentials and academic achievement, I was nobody to them. Despite their merit, the texts I taught from were irrelevant to these students. Many whites have the luxury of being able to get away with being oblivious to the realities blacks and other nonwhites have faced. Black studies should be growing, not struggling for survival.

Tyari Witherspoon
Iowa City, Iowa

Idiot wind

Werner Trieschmann made me wince with his snide, age-obsessed "From Hair to Eternity" [August 10–16]. His cheap potshots directed at three alternative-music legends (Billy Corgan, Frank Black, and Bob Mould) show again that the Voice is about youth and style, not substance.

Artists who get props everywhere else for bringing genuinely dark, personal, and challenging music to the modern-rock mainstream get creamed in the Voice for doing so. And yet again, Voice music reviewers sound like shallow, aging frat boys who refuse to ever acknowledge that good art is ageless and usually dark and personal. It's not some young corporate mannequins from England in white suits jumping around for MTV. It's a 38-year-old bald man spilling blood on the tracks.

So yeah, Billy Corgan sucks. What do you like? Franz Ferdinand? The Killers? Such original, non-disposable bands will be around for a long time, I'm sure.

Steve Barwick

Let them eat Crake

In "Brave New Hamburger" [Education Supplement, August 3–9], Geeta Dayal mentions that the idea of cultured meat doesn't come up "even in science fiction." Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake addresses the scenario of cultured-chicken nuggets throughout and might be a good read for anyone interested in the potential social ramifications.

Rebecca Machalow

Gur's boutique

In an effort to discount "boutique" political candidates, Jarrett Murphy's article on petition challenges in the District 2 City Council race treaded dangerously close to calling democracy a "boutique" issue ["The Name Game," August 3–9]. Vanities aside, a citizen's right to run for office is certainly paramount to "housing, bars, schools, and other gritty issues."

Gur Tsabar
Democratic candidate for City Council, District 2

The other West Village

Wow, I'd hope The Village Voice would know the Village, but Christine Lagorio's geography is a bit off in her "Close-Up on the West Village" [August 10, villagevoice .com]. Aside from telling people to take the now defunct No. 9 train and naming the sedate Greenwich Street a main drag—I assume she meant Greenwich Avenue, which is indeed a major strip—she tells readers to stroll south from Gay Street to Christopher Street, pausing at Stonewall Place in the middle. In the actual West Village, Gay Street lies south of Christopher, and Stonewall Place is Christopher Street.

Wayne Hoffman
West Village

Legal Siegel

Jarrett Murphy's article on the three Public Advocate candidates ["Finding Your Voice," August 10–16] sure got one thing right: Betsy Gotbaum is no Mark Green, and she's no Norman Siegel, either. Gotbaum states, "I'm not a 'loud, aggressive person,' " implying that Norman Siegel is. In the last election debate, Gotbaum said that because she meets and dines socially with Mayor Bloomberg, she was more likely to get things done than the "confrontational" Siegel.

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