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Russ: "A Good Man Even Though He is White"

Posted 6/6/2007

Since moving to senior housing at Holy Korean Martyrs in Woodlawn, it is difficult for me to get City Paper without transportation. On May 24, my son Horatio Kitwala took me to a place that had a few City Papers in the yellow box that I call "yellow lightning" because of the vibes I get from reading the many interesting articles in the paper.

On May 24 I read Robert Edward Leward's letter in the Mail and was shocked to learn that Russ Smith's Right Field column will no longer be a regular sight in City Paper. What a wasteful shame!!!

An as Afrocentric feminist who was born with a gift of "seeing-sight and touch," I know it takes me a long time to trust white people. Still, with time, I grew to accept the wisdom I found in Russ Smith's conservative columns.

As I see it, Russ Smith is a decent person who believed in a conservative agenda. My hope is that Russ Smith did not let friends and family keep his wisdom from the alternative weekly of City Paper.

I am getting ready to read the book The Faith Club: A Muslim, a Christian, a Jew--Three Women Search for Understanding by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner. Inside the book is a proverb, from Martin Buber, I have taken to try to live its wisdom: "When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them."

I never met Russ Smith in person. His writings were classic. I disagreed with his political views that sometimes showed the arrogance of bigotry. Wherever Russ Smith is, I hope he never changes to please me or anyone else. He is the measure of a good man even though he is white and living well in his white skin. Do not go into exile in your mind. Stay connected with people.

A couple of my letters did complain about Russ Smith's political views. But Russ Smith kept me intelligent and unafraid to express the fact that some white bigots get on my last nerves, and I do not like them at all. I do not believe that white is heavenly right.

Farewell, Russ Smith, I shall miss you dearly. Please keep your pen moving across the page, as there are some of us ready to read your thoughts.

I love you as a friend and a Christian, though you might not be. I want you in heaven with me always. We can read to the angels' words that will jolt them into songs.

Larnell Custis Butler
Woodlawn

Mount Auburn: Actually in Westport

I would like to thank Jason Torres for his enlightening article on the conditions of Mount Auburn Cemetery ("The Plot Sickens," Mobtown Beat, May 30). It's true that the historic burial site has been an eyesore for many years now. Once every five years or so someone writes about the cemetery's dreadful conditions, but nothing seems to happen. One thing that baffles me is, how could you do a story on Mount Auburn Cemetery and not know where it is located? Mount Auburn is located in Westport.

I'm from Cherry Hill, and one thing I do know is that there is no cemetery in Cherry Hill. We might have a lot of things in Cherry Hill, but a cemetery is not one of them. Please get it right the next time; we don't want this, too.

Wayne Johnson
Baltimore

I am writing in response to your article on the plight of Mount Auburn Cemetery. Each week I am saddened as I read "Murder Ink," where predominately young African-American men are killed in the streets of Baltimore.

Shame on all of us as human beings when we forget that youth and history affect our future. Maybe I'm an idealist, but wouldn't it be amazing and a positive gesture if our African-American mayor sent out a public plea to all Baltimore residents to come together and do something for the cemetery's upkeep? Let's stop complaining/blaming and be part of the solution. I'm a city dweller, without a lawn mower, but I could sure borrow one and offer some free time, as I'm sure others would if this situation was brought to their attention.

Becky Kelley
Baltimore

Wobblies: Not Deserving of a Face-Belt

It's sad to read hatred toward labor unions, like the opinions expressed in Neal Bashor's letter (The Mail, May 23). Unions, after all, created the American middle class. To state there is no "crueler betrayal than bringing a union" to a workplace is melodramatic and it perverts the concept of shared responsibility (called "ownership" by the bosses at nonunion jobs I have held) along with shared reward. Maybe Joe's Bike Shop doesn't require a union to defend the rights of its employees like big corporate shops invariably do (goodbye, Wal-Mart apologist Russ "Rush" Smith, and take your boatload of Wal-Mart stock with you). But workers who want to organize do not "deserve some leather goods . . . a belt to the face," as Mr. Bashor writes. I'd hate to be Junior Bashor, missing the toidy, facing my punishment from someone who sounds like he is a creepy sadist.

Greg Poehlman
Baltimore

Criminals: Actually Deserving of Martial Law

I'm extremely bothered by Baltimore City Councilman James Kraft's comments in City Paper's May 30 Councilmania. Councilman Kraft is reported to have commented on the defeated bill, "It appeals to people's fears and it also appeals to their hatreds . . . it leads to fascism."

In the May 22 edition of The Sun, Kraft said, "I'm very concerned about the establishment of martial law in Baltimore." The bill was "a bad idea."

If Councilman Kraft hasn't noticed, Baltimore City is in a state of criminal insurgence. Drug dealers control the inner-city streets, teens are packing guns rather than Game Boys, prostitution is growing in even the most affluent of city neighborhoods, normal street noise is deafened by the sound of gunfire, and nuisance loitering and public drunkenness are throughout the streets of Baltimore, preventing citizens from taking back their neighborhoods. The Baltimore City police force is dwindling in numbers. Has Councilman Kraft noticed?

Why doesn't Councilman Kraft want to adopt new measures to take back the city and let the law-abiding citizens of Baltimore take control once again?

Councilman Kraft is a resident of the Patterson Park neighborhood of Baltimore City, where crime is rampant. In the Southeast District, which includes Patterson Park, there are no more than 16 police officers patrolling the entire district and responding to 911 calls between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m. during the week. This is obscene. Police calls are taken in the order of the seriousness of the crime. Too bad should you happen to call 911 to report a drug transaction in front of your home and a police officer shows up two hours later.

As a four-time victim of crime in the same neighborhood, I feel that Councilman Kraft needs to remove his blinders and realize that there is a serious problem in Baltimore. Times have changed and so has society. If Baltimore needs to take severe measures to ensure the safety of its citizens, so be it.

Marc Warren
Baltimore

Clarification: Attorney Mark Wittstadt assures us that he would never call Peter Muntjan and other tenants his client Frank Scarfield is suing for defamation "tenants from hell," words City Paper used to boil down his numerous court filings on the matter ("Who's Afraid of Frank Scarfield?", Mobtown Beat, May 16). "I would just characterize them as very difficult tenants to deal with," Wittstadt says. "I would never classify anyone as tenants from hell."

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