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April 4-10, 2007

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Letters to the Editor


Victimhood Sucks

Re "Pink Panthers" (News, March 28, online edition): This is the most wonderful news.

I am a 52-year-old grandfather and I live in Tulsa Oklahoma—and very rarely have feelings of spontaneous affection and admiration for the alternative sexual preference crowd.

Thank you, all of you, and thank the Academy—oh, wait, different speech. Honestly, I am a Nazarene, too conservative to vote Republican, home-schooled two children, and eat very little tofu.And I am grinning from ear to ear. Yes! You get it!

The .357 magnum sitting here in my top desk drawer is grinning too.

Victimhood sucks. I will quite happily tip my hat to those who are sensibly arming themselves and preventing crime.

And, if someone is unfortunately forced to defend themselves, be first—and you have my very best wishes for the outcome to be positive and final.

Dang, this is the best news about gay folks I've heard since I found out my son wasn't.

No offense intended.

Ya'll do good, and I'm 101 percent in favor of armed folks, pink or any other color. Now if we could just convince a few folk in government ...

Mitch Shrader, Tulsa, Okla.

Clips and Mags

Re Pink Pistols: Good article. BTW, clips and magazines are two distinctly different items. They are never interchangeable to describe one or the other.

I met Nickki in a recent shooting class down here in SoCal. Nice person. I am not in any way part of the LBGT crowd, but I fully understand and support Nickki in the logic and reasoning behind the movement.

Mike Brandt, Huntington Beach

Memoir of a Memoir

Let me start by saying I do not trust Caille Millner ("Growing Up Valley," Cover Story, Feb. 21). It is not fair to begin reading a book this way, I know; however, the initial expenditure of 25 dollars on a book will tell you I am open-minded.

I have lived in San Jose my entire life as a Mexican-American (Chicana is the word Millner uses, although I find that to not describe the kind of Mexican I am). I went to high school and community college here and both institutions share this city's name. My brief time away from the 95112 and 95116 zip codes was for college just 30 minutes away, so you see I have never been far. Perhaps this is a negative thing, this proximity forming my view too tight and focused. Perhaps being so Mexican makes me acknowledge it even less because it is simply a fact of genetics and birthright.

I did not ask for this. I do see stereotypes come alive. I wonder about public school education and urban blight because I have lived this life and to this day have ventured only intellectually as a means of escape from so-called destiny. My future is still yet to be set.

Millner focuses on the Mexican-American culture because growing up in San Jose it was all around her, so much that her brother identified himself practically as Mexican-American. There is one short story she tells us about a boy named Jaime (a Mexican immigrant). Jaime was invited to the Lake Tahoe for the weekend by the richest boy in middle school. Later on that boy reflected that his father had stated that Jaime was speaking so openly and excitedly with the waitstaff (apparently a taboo) because he would most definitely be working at a place like that himself. Poor little Jaime, what was he thinking hanging around with the richest boy, and going to Tahoe with him too boot? I find it hard to believe that in middle school Millner and the rich boy even had this discussion, where he divulged his familial feelings towards Mexicans in such a way. But again, that could just be my distrust.

It is rare to see a literary memoir come about from San Jose, and even rarer for that writer to be a peer, a young woman and lifelong writer. I initially heard of Millner from the article about her in Metro. I knew I would read this book because of its rarity and because of my interest in personal stories, specifically literary. Millner is a light-skinned black girl with early identity issues that she worked out through academic success and most notably, the written word.

I have often considered the idea of race, at first from a radical perspective and now with uncertainty. I do not trust people's intellectualization of race because of its multifaceted nature. I enjoy the concept and comfort that intellectual rationalization brings to those who choose to go that route. But, I know from lifelong experience that you cannot and will not reach out to those people you speak of through intellectual thought. It is condescending, and just like the investment banker Millner cries about during her first years at Harvard, it misses the entire point.

My proximity to San Jose, to being Mexican and my heightened sensitivity to subtle racist slights might be my downfall. I am going to visit my father who takes care of my grandmother who is 95 years old and spent her life out in the fields. We do not talk about race because we know. My father has told me anecdotal stories of times when the slights were not slights but rather, straight-up obvious hate. We don't trust the media or politicians, we do believe that we must take things into out own hands because no one is going to fix us, the poverty and self-doubt, we must make those strides on our own and on our own time.

Millner speaks from a sweet, almost fictional place that I hope can be a dream for all young women of color. It is from this ivory tower that Millner wrote this book, not to la lucha or east San Jose and not to those cholos driving down Santa Clara in lowriders but to gain the respect of her pretentious father as well as her partners in academia at Harvard.

Veronica Vallez, San Jose

How to Shrink a Scrap Heap

Re "Toxic Trash" (Cover Story, March 21): I like author Diane Solomon's point at the end of her article about being a "good consumer" based on what company they buy from. I wish she had also added the point that a good consumer is one who uses their products for their full, useful life.

Upgrading your cell phone or MP3 player every 12 months is being a good consumer in the eyes of the companies you buy from, but not in the eyes of the environment. Hold onto your product for at least 3-5 years and see the size of the scrap heaps shrink. This is the consumer's responsibility, not the manufacturer.

Tom Calderwood, Los Gatos


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