You are on page 1of 6

MIAMI MIRROR TRUE REFLECTIONS

EVILASPECTSOFTHEMODERNDAILYPRESS

BLACK HISTORY MONTH CORRESPONDENCE ON NO JUSTICE NO PEACE BETWEEN AN AUTHOR AND A REPORTER

BlackHistoryMonthSeries,No.09

Page1of6

MIAMI MIRROR TRUE REFLECTIONS

Friday, February 25, 2005 Brandon Dane Reporter The SunPost Miami, Florida Re: "No Justice no Peace, Miami Beach Parks and Recreation Workers Allege Harassment" Dear Brandon, I am investigating ethnic and racial sensitivity in the local media. I noticed that you have identified two out of three of the workers who complained about employer harassment as "African-American." This seems to imply that, unless they or their parents recently emigrated from Africa or from other parts of the American continent and its islands besides the United States of America, they believe they were discriminated against because of their race if not their country of origin. None of the others were identified as hyphenated Americans: for instance, the department supervisor, Ken Wierleski, for example, was not identified as a Polish-American (?) man. You reported that one of the "African-Americans," Barry Carroll, filed a suit with the EEOC, which was dismissed, yet you did not state the grounds he asserted in his suit. The obvious question is: What were the grounds asserted? The front-page photograph of African-American Barry Carroll and British-American (?) union steward Jimmie Newton shaking hands seems to indicate brotherhood between black and white at the union level: did you and/or the editor have that in mind at any time when the photo was selected for publication? Finally, does the SunPost headline in large font, "No Justice, No Peace", mean that the SunPost believes the charges made and is therefore recommending disorderly conduct and further allegations against those involved? Thank you, David Arthur Walters

February 25, 2005 David, Barry Carroll filed that EEOC suit because he believed that he was being discriminated against. There was racial tension under that particular supervisor. I talked to about five employees who
Page2of6

MIAMI MIRROR TRUE REFLECTIONS

said the same thing (they were African-American, or if you prefer, Black). We used the term "African-American" because it is more PC than "Black." I consulted with an African-American co-worker and he said that was how he preferred to describe himself. "Harassment" in the form of favoritism seemed a more prevalent factor than racism or discrimination, but that is a slippery slope. "I am investigating ethnic and racial sensitivity in the local media." Is that your way of saying that you are actually investigating "insensitivity?" You're barking up the wrong tree there, Sport. I am Mexican-American, despite my name, and I sometimes refer to myself that way and sometimes I don't. You are splitting hairs with this. "No Justice, No Peace" simply refers to the administrative war that Newton has waged against the city administration (many times on behlaf of others, as written). I only presented the facts. What you gleaned from them is your interpretation. Brandon Dane, Staff Writer Miami SunPost

February 28, 2005 Dear Brandon, Thanks, Sport, for the scoop on your scoop, which I will include in No. 9 of my Black History Month series. No, when I said I was investigating media sensitivity to racial and ethnic issues, I did not say nor did I mean to imply that you or any other member of the media is particularly insensitive to race, ethnicity, and the like. If anything, many journalists are oversensitive to the political and economic ramifications their reports might have. They are more interested in being politically correct, and serving the "ethnic and racial market needs", as Tom Fieldler of the Miami Herald put it to me, than in being true to their subject. While reading your article February 24 front-page spread, I felt that you were, perhaps, being oversensitive. In the third paragraph, you identified two of the three aggrieved workers as "African-American." "Barry Carroll and a fellow African-American employee who asked to remain anonymous claim that their former supervisor, Kevin Wierleski, and his staff harassed them...." Why "African-American"? The reader is left wondering about your motive for the reference, and finds no clue until thirty four paragraphs later:

Page3of6

MIAMI MIRROR TRUE REFLECTIONS

"Carroll has since filed a suit with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC concluded that it was unable to determine that there had been a violation." Violation of what? The reader might readily assume the complaint was brought for racial discrimination. But then again, maybe not. Perhaps Mr. Carroll complained he was discriminated against because of disability, or age, or country of origin. Well, the mention of Mr. Carroll's anonymous "fellow African-American", who apparently did not file a racial discrimination suit against the city, might mean you had further information, pertaining to racial discrimination. If there is an alleged pattern of racial discrimination in Miami Beach Parks and Recreation, why not just say so in a straightforward manner? Or, if the racial discrimination issue is to be saved for broader investigation, into, say, racial discrimination in the Miami Beach Police Department, you could have saved yourself from hearing from me by simply stating: Mr. Carroll, who is black, filed a racial discrimination suit with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission. The EEOC dismissed the suit for lack of evidence. But now you have given me the straight poop on the racial discrimination angle, hence I have scooped your scoop, Homey. In response to my independent investigation, you now disclose to me that Mr. Carroll filed the suit because he believed that he was being discriminated against; that there was racial tension under that particular supervisor; that you talked to "about five employees who said the same thing." I hope that serves to set the record straight, Pal, in regards to your question: "Is that your way of saying that you are actually investigating 'insensitivity? You're barking up the wrong tree there, Sport. I am Mexican-American, despite my name, and I sometimes refer to myself that way and sometimes I don't. You are splitting hairs with this." In my query to you, I related surname types to countries of origin simply to point out, by way of stereotypical example, which your article singled out only Negroes for that honor, which led me to question your reason for doing so. Every fool knows that every Dane is not Danish, nor is every Walters as white as Barbara Walters. Although you, as author of your work, are "in" your article and it is to a certain extent a self-portrait, you were not a personal subject of your report. That you are Mexican-American is beside the point I was making. And, I would not refer to you as "Brandon Dane, a Mexican-American reporter for the SunPost," unless the reference was pertinent. Indeed, the impertinence of those who must say, "Barry, my Jewish friend," or "James, my black friend," or Brandon, my Mexican-American friend, is amusing to me. Since we are being impertinent, I must caution you, My Friend, that I prefer my Mexican friends to my MexicanAmerican friends - of course I might make an exception in your case. When I was a young man, naturalized U.S. citizens wanted very much to belong to their adopted country. They resented being referred to as Hyphenated-Americans, and for very good reason given the discrimination against immigrating groups. But now it seems that the United States of
Page4of6

MIAMI MIRROR TRUE REFLECTIONS

America, standing alone against the world for the love of money and other forms of power, has lost its significance except when attacked by foreigners, hence alienated people in the U.S.A. tend to give priority to their ethnicity. When I was a young man, radical Negroes referred to themselves as "black." They spoke of Black Power and Black Pride. Some members of the 'Back to Africa' movement wore robes and carried staffs on the streets. That was fine by me. To each their own. Besides being my favorite color, black is still the order of the day. The difference you now dismiss as "splitting hairs" is as sensitive an emotional issue as the difference between American Indians and Native Americans. Besides, the difference between black and African-American, when rightly understood, is much broader than a hair. For one thing, Africa is home to many nations, and a goodly number of white people are citizens of various African states. America is also home to many nations and political states, although the Yankees arrogantly claim the distinction "American" for themselves. For all I know, Mr. Caroll, whom you designate as an African-American, might be a CubanAmerican, or more generally, a Hispanic. You may recall the case of a black man being abducted and set on fire by two white men near Tampa a few years ago. Andy Triay of Miami CBS News was ordered by his producer to change his script describing the man as "black" to "AfricanAmerican" because the hyphenated term is considered to be more "progressive" in "some circles." Mr. Triay objected, pointing out that the victim was not American but was from Jamaica in the Caribbean. But the producer insisted, saying the story would not be aired unless the victim was called "African-American." During last year's Black History Month, a Kansas City television station reported that a naked "African American" man, without any identifying marks, had been found frozen stiff in a back yard. In the very next report, the reporter said a "black" man had been arrested for rape and robbery. I wondered why his color was referred to since he was no longer at large. As for the dead man, maybe he was a visitor from some African or South American nation, or from Canada or Mexico and so on. It is no wonder why some American Negroes might prefer to be called "African-Americans" instead of "black. " Dude, I am not a fan of politically correct language. Sometimes the occasion calls for objective distinctions to be made, especially where subjective confusion rules. Those distinctions of course should be based on clarity of thought, and that requires not only perspicacity in perception but a discerning mind as well. As for the bold front-page headline (No Justice, No Peace) over your story, I am glad you have allowed me freedom to interpret it as I wish. Headlines are widely employed as propaganda - I've studied the course. When I first saw the headline peering from SunPost dispensers, it seemed inflammatory, a call to torch City Hall. No Justice No Peace, as you very well know, is a slogan often used by radicals of all persuasions, including anarchists who would get rid of the government altogether and let people cooperate themselves into utopia somehow or shoot it out at will. If the dissident union shop steward, Mr. Newton, had said "No justice, no peace," in

Page5of6

MIAMI MIRROR TRUE REFLECTIONS

reference to his personal campaign against Parks department supervisor Ken Wierleski, I myself would have been eager to use it, in quotes, as a headline. You claim that Mr. Newton's conduct said "No justice, no peace," hence an editorial conclusion was drawn in that form. Fine. I've extinguished my torch. Your presentation causes me to suspect that Mr. Newton may be putting himself ahead of his comrades. Finally, I believe your report on the whole was a fair and balanced report. Assuming that some of the allegations on both sides are true, including charges of abusive management practices and laborious death threats, I believe there is a lack of tenderness between management and employees at Miami Beach Parks and Recreation. It would seem that management needs more professional finesse, and that some employees might need immediate therapy. I think appropriate steps should be taken at once to ameliorate the mutually hostile conditions and to avoid violence in the workplace. I hope to see you later, Alligator. Sincerely, David Arthur Walters

Page6of6