Thursday, May 12, 2005

Fight night

My Isthmus article about bar time on State Street has struck a chord, so much so that people are writing letters about it to other local publications. Check this out from the May 10 edition of The Capital Times:
Dear Editor: I attended the recent Race and Media Forum, which had representation from your newspaper. I have received notice that another forum is coming soon.

However, your recent coverage of the Mifflin Street block party that focuses on the arrest of one football player tells me that you neither listened nor heeded the concerns of many of us who spoke.

According to news reports, there were more than 300 citations issued during that weekend, with more being planned. Also, anyone observing video coverage could see that whites greatly outnumbered blacks and other people of color during the party. Then why is it that the face of "misbehavior" at the block party is black and that of a UW athlete [running back Booker Stanley]? Is there some other agenda at work here? I ask the question for rhetorical purposes only, because I strongly believe the answer is yes.

It harks back to the "Willie Horton" days of old: If you really want to scare the populace and create animosity, make the bogeyman black.

If you read the recent Isthmus article about night life in Madison, you can see that it is not blacks who are carrying on the tradition of Saturday night as fight night. The Isthmus writer notes that when police arrive at the scene of a public street brawl, they merely observe before leaving. There is no arrest and no photo of a bloodied participant the next day, to be run over and over again on TV news and in the print media.

Your decision to run the story on the young man is rooted in a history of covert racism that some of us see being played out in this community on a daily basis.

At the next Race and Media Forum, I hope you send a representative who takes copious notes and then shares them with the rest of you.

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