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'Growing Up Black': Enjoyable

I really enjoyed Tom Danehy's cover story and interviews with the Gibson twins and others ("Growing Up Black in Tucson," Oct. 19). I also learned a little history about Rillito--thanks!

I can definitely relate to their experiences of growing up in one of the most "non-blackest" cities in the country. I grew up in a small Texas town just east of El Paso called Fabens, population 2,500. For most of my high school years, I was the only black student in a school of around 450 students (class of 1979). I remember watching American Bandstand and Soul Train to hear some hip music, and I also remember the vato loco from the nearest radio station playing Marvin Gaye and the Temptations.

I believe that if you grow up in a diverse community and are well-grounded at home, you have an advantage on those who aren't. It helps you to understand that people may look different in what shade of color their skin is, but deep down inside, we all want and need the same thing.

Thanks for the article.

Timothy Jackson


'Growing Up Black': Embarrassing

When the Tucson Weekly, arguably a liberal city weekly, decides to tackle an important community issue such as Tucson's minority black population, it is not wise to have a narrow-minded, pseudo-sports columnist to investigate the issue. Tom Danehy and his always-basketball-specific frame of reference is not the person you want to flesh out why Tucson has an embarrassingly low population of blacks.

While he makes a bite-sized attempt at explaining Tucson's black roots, he falls short of a compelling socioeconomic explanation. Instead, he reverts to his usual sports safety blanket by referring to the all-too-stereotypical black basketball narrative. His article does not address any substantive issues such as black incarceration rates and poverty in Pima County.

I am embarrassed that the Weekly would agree to publish such trite drivel, especially because in the same issue, Danehy was thrice awarded for his "sports" reporting. There is a larger cross-section of blacks in this city who no doubt could have been pursued had Danehy's name not been in the byline. I have been a committed reader since I moved here five years ago, and I have never been so let down by a feature since my arrival.

Leslie Matthaei


'Growing Up Black': Nauseating

I am confused. I thought that the civil rights movement aimed at releasing black people from stereotypes. Yet as I read Tom Danehy's article, I felt that he was eliciting sympathy for the two Tucson black teenagers who aren't saturated with rap and who choose not to dumb down to fit in with so-called black culture. He even posits, "So how do they find their music?" as if all blacks have to listen to rap in order to pass the DNA test.

I kept visualizing the young black man I saw grow up in Tucson, who distinguished himself first as a violist and then as an opera singer. And the black kids at the middle school where I work, who get honor-roll awards.

Later, there is the quote by the young man who states, "(When you date) Hispanics, it's all-out hostility, with Daddy holding a shotgun and yelling, 'Stay away from my daughter!'" Hello! Is there no other side?

I just can't put my finger on it, but the whole article leaves me with a vague, offensive, queasy feeling.

Phyllis Nasta


'Growing Up Black': Stalled Out

Danehy writes some interesting stuff, but his most recent piece needed a little more thought--he almost got there. Instead, he stalled out.

His article suggests that there is such a thing as being black culturally. Sorry, not any more, and not for a long time. It's like being white. What does that mean? Nothing. Do George Bush and I share a lot of cultural values because we are both white? How about Barack Obama and 50 Cent?

Time to say goodbye to race-based stereotyping: We are too diverse for that to work anymore.

Mark Bahti


'Growing Up Black': Provocative

Tom Danehy proves that one can be provocative without being offensive. He provokes--I believe without realizing it--us to think of the power of culture, the glue that bonds a people, gives them their unique identity. Its most prominent feature is always its language. Conquering nations knew and know the power of language.

That's why we blacks all over this hemisphere look like Africans but call languages of Europe or Arabia "our" languages; the basketballs and footballs were put into our hands later. Foods are another outstanding feature of one's culture. Anyone for Italian or Chinese or Japanese or French or Greek or German or Mexican or Jewish food? Notice I didn't say "African-American" food.

The one-dimensional "cultural" crap prepares us for "cultural shock" when we dare expose ourselves to people whose culture is more varied and interesting.

The truth is, people are getting lighter, not darker, and that's why we blacks are fewer in some cities and--like Indians--are disappearing.

M.C. Furiko


More on Border Volunteer Medical Training

I am glad that someone ("Volunteers Seem to Need Better Medical Training," Mailbag, Oct. 12) pointed out what is very obvious to all medical professionals who saw the cover of the "Back to Mexico" story (Sept. 7) in which it appears I am taking the radial pulse of someone with my thumb. I would like to personally testify that a pulse was not being taken at the precise moment the snapshot was taken. In fact, the caption under the full picture states that blood pressure was being taken, which is also not completely true for the moment of the photo, but in all, I was in the act of taking vitals.

Let me put all fear aside that perhaps there has been a systemic problem with pulse inaccuracy on our borderlands, for the "vital signs" of our repatriated neighbors actually reveal something a badly posed and captioned picture cannot: systemic abuse and neglect by our authorities that allows diabetics and toddlers to be dumped on the streets of Nogales, Sonora, hungry, sick and empty-handed. Thanks for understanding.

Maryada Vallet


Correction: Tucson Residential Water Figures Were Off

I appreciated Tim Vanderpool's article ("Home Sustainable Home," Currents, Oct. 26), though I'd like to correct a figure. The article said the average Tucson family uses about 20,000 gallons of water a year. Actually, that is how much municipal water my household of three adults uses, which is less than 20 gallons of water per person, per day. The average Tucsonan uses about 165 gallons of water per person, per day. So an average household of three people would consume about 180,675 gallons of water per year.

The idea that my site and household gives back more water to the watershed than it takes out is realized by infiltrating more rainwater into the soil with water-harvesting earthworks (more than 100,000 gallons in an average year) than we take out through the consumption of groundwater (about 20,000 gallons of municipal water in an average year).

Brad Lancaster

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