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2.02


Letters


Meanderings has received a lot of mail in the past month. A select few are published below. In addition, it should be noted that since the Meanderings Web Edition has gone interactive, additional commentary on Meanderings can be found in the Guestbook and in the posts about specific articles. A couple of these are also included below. The feedback we've received has been very positive and supportive. Just what we need to keep this going and growing! Thanks to all.
I've just been perusing my first issue of "Meanderings". Great stuff, Meanderings - very articulate and thought-provoking.

I just came across an article in the Paris daily Le Monde on a subject I hadn't heard about. The article is entitled (translation) "The purchase of Viacom's cable networks provokes a controversy". It goes on to say:

"Viacom wants to sell its cable networks for 2.2 billion dollars. But if Mr. Washington [Frank Washington, head and large shareholder of the RCS Pacific cable group] has been chosen as a potential buyer, it is notably because of the color of his skin. By selling to a Black businessman, Viacom should benefit over two years from a tax break amounting to 400 million dollars."
Follows a description of the FCC's minority business program. Then this:
"The FCC's program is all the more controversial since the author of this ingenious fiscal mechanism is none other than Mr. Washington himself. In 1977 [...] he was recruited as a consultant by the White House and designed this program in favor of minorities. Then he entered the FCC and put his project to work. [...] In the Viacom case, Mr. Washington is associated with Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI, leading cable group in the US) and Intermedia Partners. He is ready to put up personally 1 million dollars in this operation, which is the biggest ever to fall under this particular fiscal disposition.

[...] Hostile to a system of "racial preference", Republican leaders emphasize that the mechanism designed by Frank Washington has above all benefited - in addition to himself - the big players in the business: Times Mirror, Viacom, TCI, Capital Cities and Time Warner, while making a handful of wealthy minority businessmen richer. [...] However, the law specifies that the "ethnic" investor must retain at least titular ownership of the object of the transaction for at least a year, after which sale to (White) buyers is authorized. But some imagine that "straw men" - of color - might be entering the scene!"

I have always tended to defend affirmative action and other such programs against detractors who say that worthy White folks are kept from getting a fair shake. Life ain't fair, it seems to me, and society does have an obligation to try to tip the scales back after centuries of rather more extreme "unfairness" in the opposite direction. But this particular situation seems to be quite a can of worms, doesn't it? Of course any program is going to be the vehicle for some corruption, human nature being what it it is, but the possibility of huge corporations using "straw man" minority businessmen to enjoy equally huge tax breaks through the FCC's minority business program is one I had not envisioned! Not to say that's what Mr. Washington is up to, just that corporations aren't dumb and the idea must have occurred to someone, or will.

Just thought you might like to reflect on this situation.

Regards,

Tom Storer <100345.777@compuserve.com>

[Note: Tom's note managed to provoke a little reflection indeed. See "The Death of Affirmative Action" in this issue of Meanderings. --Ed.]


I just stumbled across this fascinating publication of yours. It's something I haven't seen in awhile: a black publication full of utterly unpredictable work. I couldn't tell where the articles were going without actually reading them. How startling! How refreshing!

I hope to see more of this remarkable stuff. Keep up the good work!

Hiawatha Bray <watha@det-freepress.com>


I'm at work for chrissake, and I've read up through #5 when I was supposed to be writing documentation. I had to stop reading and send this because of your Sister Act II piece: I had exactly the same reaction in the _first_ Sister Act: I though it was total crap, but the tears flowed when she got that chorus going! And then talking about your solo got to me, because that's very much like the experience I had playing rhythm guitar <mumble, mumble> years ago with Chicago Slim's blues band (that's a whole nother story) in Big Bill Hill's Copacabana club on West Madison (yeah, I'm a Chicagoan). I think it was the audience, and maybe the herb <uh-oh>, but that's when I found out what the Spirit was for sure.

I see all my jazz gurus mentioned at one point or another in Meanderings except my absolute favorite: Charlie Mingus - surely an oversight?

Let me just share this fragment with you. It's from some net correspondence with a friend I met via blues-l (on the net). I discovered that he had been an anthro grad at the U. of C. with Charlie Keil and had expanded the latter's musical horizons from jazz to include blues, whence came the book "Urban Blues", which in turn brought me back to Chicago and the same anthro department. Anyway:

"Here's the pitch: start from the proposition that significant African cultural elements (values) are an integral part of U.S. American culture. Therefore, they are a part of the psychological makeup of all Americans. But they are in conflict with certain European elements (the Euro-dualism I was yakking about). I.e., everybody has internalized these elements, and it becomes a psychological interaction. "White flight" is the term I used to indicate an attempt to repress the African inside to satisfy the European."
Tom Rossen <rossentj@interaccess.com>
Excellent site, Cuda. I come by often. I've also added a link from my page called The Blue Highway--it's just days old, and I'm getting great response. Thought you might wanna stop by. It's at:
http://www.magicnet.net/~curtis/
Curtis Hewston <curtis@magicnet.net>

[Note: I stopped by "The Blue Highway" recently and recommend it highly! Please visit!! --Ed.]


I was very impressed -- it's not often I run into a web publication where I actually end up reading an article (the Gingrich piece in the current issue). The basic problem with web publishing is that in a world where "anyone" can be a publisher, there aren't enough editors. Nice to see someone doing some good work.

Ken Ficara <ficara@acm.org>


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Meanderings 2.02 -- February 1995