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Keep Stroking, Indeed

Posted 12/3/2008

So, I entered City Paper's annual Fiction Contest, and I did not win (Fiction and Poetry Contest, Nov. 26). This came as quite a shock. I'm kind of a big deal, but evidently the editors failed to recognize the genius of my writing. No biggie. I've decided to reward the editors for not rewarding me. They will all have a ring of the doorbell and a flaming bag of dog shit to extinguish by foot coming to their homes in the near future.

But seriously, losing the contest really puts my budget for the holidays out of whack. I had counted on at least a third-place victory worth $150. That money was already being included into my holiday expenses. Now, my parents and family will go without presents this year. In lieu of gifts, they will be receiving a freshly printed copy of my contest entry. I will force them to read the entire 2,400-word piece and coerce them into passing harsh judgment on City Paper for not celebrating my creative stylings.

Oh, the pain. Oh, the misery. Oh, fuck--I'm late for work. If I get fired, I'm pinning that on City Paper, as well.

Congratulations to the winners. And to all my fellow writers who lost the contest, keep stroking those keys; we'll make it, some day.

Justin Cuffley
Baltimore

Stuck on Stupid

It was extremely difficult for me to read Murder Ink by Anna Ditkoff the week of Nov. 5 (Mobtown Beat), which revealed the following facts: murders this week: 4; murders this year: 185.

It pains me to see the growing number of young black men killing people because they are "stuck on stupid" since society has failed them.

Right now I am reading This Land is Their Land by Barbara Ehrenreich. The author has written these facts in her book, which I did not know: 1) over 2 million Americans are presently incarcerated, the great majority of them from the lowest income brackets; 2) while the United States offers 2 million prison beds, it provides public housing to only 1.3 million households, and the number is dropping rapidly--the largest public housing program in America will be the penitentiary system; 3) the cost of incarcerating an older inmate is about $60,000 a year; 4) a number of psychiatrists have pointed out that the real business of the mental health system is social control.

In my opinion, I would like to see President-elect Barack Obama put Colin Powell in charge of the Department of Education (and end "No Child Left Behind.") I believe discipline is needed in our schools to enforce strict school rules and community conduct laws. Teachers, school administrators, and school board members should be disciplined and fined with reduced wages for not performing.

The thing that disturbs me about Murder Ink is that I don't see too many white people, or other "light" racial groups having domestic problems, stabbing people, or doing the time for doing the crime. I do believe that middle-class jurors are sending young black men to jail because they are racist. I know some white folks act crazy, and I have seen them do violent deeds. Perhaps white people take care of each other and are seldom written up by white cops to keep the crime stats down in white communities. Should cops be given mental evaluations yearly?

As an Afrocentric feminist, I want my black people to understand this fact: If we keep killing each other as black folks, we will become extinct. This is no laughing matter, because we, as a black people, are about there. Let's stop being "stuck on stupid."

Larnell Custis Butler
Baltimore

Editor's note: Next week: Top 10.

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