Saturday, August 31, 2002

For blacks only

Readers respond diversely

        My friend Mark Rahe suggests a festival in which everyone brings a friend of a different race. Jim Dinkel of Union Township sees potential in chicken-type dances, a la Oktoberfest.

        “In recent years we've done such a wonderful job of Balkanizing ourselves into us and them,” Mr. Dinkel says of race relations. “Maybe every festival needs to get its own stupid dance. When you're all doing the same thing and having fun, it's hard to get angry at each other.”

        Those were among the milder responses to last Saturday's column about the implied racial exclusivity of events like the Black Family Reunion.

        I said African-Americans ought to be able to come together for fun and fellowship in the context of racial solidarity. White people who complain about it — “We can't have a White Family Reunion!” — forget that the majority race enjoys such networking every day, I said.

        Feedback came from all sides.

        People called the column refreshing, courageous, naive, racist, polarizing, myopic and honest.

        Some readers expressed skepticism that African-Americans would gather for positive reasons, citing the thuggery of boycott agitators and statistics on black crime.

        Others, white and black, agreed with me that it's absurd for white people to complain about some kinds of segregation while ignoring others.

Give it a rest?

        “It meant a lot to hear someone non-black say those courageous things. Maybe now some of the white people with those same, age-old ridiculous "concerns' about "segregation' will listen.” — Joy Rolland, Cincinnati.

        “What a stupid article. White men in this country are at the bottom of the totem pole. You don't see it as a white woman, but white men don't get "extra points' on civil service exams, like blacks and women.

        “There are plenty of blacks in the suburbs, and there is no starvation in the U.S. The poorest blacks here would be the wealthiest blacks in any African country.” — Christopher J. Heather, Colerain Township.

        “I'm so glad you brought up the nonsensical comments people make about black people and exposed them for the shallow thinking they reflect. Keep it up.” — Elizabeth Paquette, Cincinnati.

        “You might as well argue that Ebonics is a sophistication of the English language; that Kwanzaa is holier than Christmas; or that civil rights personalities are more important than the founding fathers. Multicultural diversity can be an asset to a civilization, and we should all be permitted a degree of separatism, but assimilation is essential to a community.” — Karl Hundley, Northside.

        Finally, Chris Lemmon of Milford relates two experiences: one in which a black man pushed her kids' stalled car into a gas station; another in which a black man conned the family out of $8 by feigning car trouble of his own.

        She was disappointed in the second event but won't use it to draw sweeping conclusions about an entire race.

        “So please,” Ms. Lemmon says, “I ask the writers for the Enquirer, give the race issue a rest.”

        E-mail or (859) 578-5584.



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