2002-12-21 / Letters

Stop Playing Race Card

Stop Playing Race Card

Dear Editor;

After reading the G-Man's December 14 column, I feel that The Wave owes me the chance to respond publicly. After all, the Associate Editor addressed me by name, questioning my integrity in front of all your readers by saying, in effect, put up or "Shut up." I'm putting up.

Mr. Toms, you asked what I've "done lately to try and bring the east and west end communities together."

  1. I have NOT complained about community divisions that don't exist.

  2. I have NOT played the victim of so-called "scorn."

  3. I have NOT teamed up with a moron, racist, shakedown-artist like Shamaal McCutchin.

Rockaway has differences. True. But are they related to race? What about culture? What about people feeling more comfortable living with people just like them? What about wanting to be around certain music, at certain times of the day, to buy certain things at certain stores close-by? Are there "two different Rockaways?" I thought there was one, or three, or thousands, made up of individual homes, families, people. You talk about bringing the two Rockaways together. What should it look like? Is there "one" Manhattan? One New York? One world? Should there be?

I guess you assume I'm happier, wealthier, and more fulfilled than your good friend Shamaal McCutchin just because I live in Broad Channel. Guess again. I'm on disability, I'm lonely, I drink, and I can't sleep at night. There, I said it. I hurt, just like your people in the east end. My neighbors know. They suffer from the same stuff. Mr. McCutchin might be interested to know that he lives just as happy and miserable a life as a west ender...for a lot less money.

OK, so the per capita income of the west end might be a little higher. So what? They're still people, with feelings, who want to be loved, just like the east enders.

Maybe the west end is wishing you would say something nice about them for a change, about how their hard work and self respect built a community to be proud of. To praise them doesn't mean that you're putting the other side down. Maybe the west end could use a little positive reinforcement. They've tried to fill their lives with all these material things because they're looking for happiness. I'm sure if they felt appreciated by the east end, they would be more than willing to open their doors. Wouldn't you feel that way? Give them a chance. You don't think they're insecure? You don't think they have problems? You don't think they're tired of feeling guilty for things they didn't do? Please, let them off the hook. They're exhausted. They busted their behinds making all of this money just so they can hand it over to the doctors, lawyers and contractors who are ripping them off. They're probably jealous of the east enders for grabbing all of that beautiful real estate for a fraction of what the west paid for theirs. Maybe they can't believe that all their money didn't deliver the happiness and friends you see when you walk through Central and Mott any time of the day. I'm sure you know what I mean.

I realize, Mr. Toms, that a weekly column is a tough job. I used to write one in the service. But I'd go easy on the self -pity. It doesn't play well with your readers. They expect more from you. I'm attacking you, not because I'm a racist, but because you're not getting the job done. You're a community voice, the same community you're trying to unite. (I remember your article about the senior you spent time with before he died. Good job.) But it's not the community that's divided. It's each one of us. I should know. Two wars, three wives and a hip replacement later, my life is a shambles and pretty much over. Yours is just beginning. Go out there and get it. Yes, get a life; your own. Not the one that your racist cohort Shamaal McCutchin expects you to live. Why do you feel that you have to defend an idiot like that? He talks about "courage." You can show him real courage by daring not to mention race in any of your columns. Wouldn't that be a shock to your readers. They're watching, expecting you to play the race card, hoping you will so they can attack you for doing it.

Why don't you surprise them? Show the public that being a black man doesn't mean that he has to keep reminding them of it. Believe me, they can see. They've taunted you in some real nasty ways. But you can't expect your readers to ignore something that you keep bringing up. Keep your focus on the real issue; the content of one's character. Be a new kind of a journalist, white or black; the kind that sees beyond skin and into the pain that we all have in common. Then your readers will know that you're speaking for them.

ANTHONY SHANNON


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