The Art of Diversity

To the Editor:

David Hall's art column "Signifying Nothing" (June 21st issue) was excellent. When I received an invitation to attend the diversity forum of the UrbanArt Commission, my response to them was couched in most of the same assumptions as those of Hall.

It is not surprising that art should be swept up and carried along in what is a tide in contemporary mentality. PC mantras such as "diversity" have led many to a point where they don't see "All have won and all shall have prizes" as the laughable absurdity it is.

Hall speculates briefly that something may come along to point the way for art. I suggest that that something may be an attitude analogous to what is so often said about pornography: We may eventually quit trying to define it and just let those who are so inclined recognize it when they see it.

Ben Brewer, Memphis

To the Editor:

The UrbanArt Commission is committed to diversity in all of our projects -- this means reaching out to all artists in the region regardless of the medium and style of their work as well as increasing the number of African-American and minority participants. It is unfortunate that David Hall chose to misconstrue the purpose and outcome of an event he did not attend. Had he attended the forum he would have known that much of the discussion was centered on networking and better communication between artists and arts organizations. Had he followed up with any of the panelists he would have learned that as a result of the forum artists have contacted the UAC, the Memphis Arts Festival, and the Center for Arts Education to get involved in their programs, and individual artists have begun to take steps of their own to begin to improve communication in the arts community.

It is irresponsible of the Flyer to publish an article based on hearsay and misguided assumptions. This is exactly the type of ill-informed negativity that the participating organizations are attempting to eliminate.

Carissa Hussong, Executive Director, UrbanArt Commission, Memphis

David Hall responds: God save us all, not from irrelevance or inadequacy but negativity. It is unfortunate that Hussong equates a dissenting opinion with negativity when it could just as well be signified as diversity.

Prefers Children's Homes

To the Editor:

Rebekah Gleaves' disturbing account of child care in Tennessee ("Taking Responsibility," June 14th issue) reminded me of a woman I met while living in France. Madame Roc considered herself fortunate to have been placed in a children's home when her parents divorced. They both were able to see her and both contributed to her support, and they were advised not to criticize each other in front of their daughter.

In contrast to the chaotic lives of American children described in Gleaves' article, the French woman grew up in a stable environment with other young people she considered her brothers and sisters. She described her childhood as happy. How much better this seems than the horrors depicted in the Flyer's story.

I don't know what the solution is, but had I been abandoned as a child I would have much preferred permanent residence in a children's home to placement in a foster home, where my situation would have been, at best, tenuous.

Anita Martin, Memphis

Grand Slam

To the Editor:

The Tennessee Department of Education has identified a number of Memphis city schools as in need of reform. As a consultant employed by the state and Memphis City Schools, I visit four of these schools. The four share the same detriments, but this letter is about a gigantic benefit they enjoy.

The Memphis Redbirds RBI (Return Baseball to the Inner City) program is doing a world of good in my client schools. As I walk their halls I encounter scores of young people wearing uniforms provided by the Redbirds. I attend games played with equipment provided by the Redbirds. Without the philanthropic efforts of our home team, hundreds of young people would be denied the opportunity to represent their school on the diamond. We need not speculate about what would fill the vacuum in their day if baseball and softball were not available. The enhanced self-esteem experienced by these youngsters will certainly be reflected in their classwork.

Special commendation should be given to Reggie Williams, now a front-office executive and a voice of the Redbirds. He was once an administrator with MCS and is a product of our school system. Under his leadership RBI has altered the lives of hundreds of young Memphians. The challenge goes forth to other business leaders to soar as high.

Joseph Terre Jr., Tennessee Exemplary Educators, Memphis

The Memphis Flyer encourages reader response. Send mail to: Letters to the Editor, POB 1738, Memphis, TN 38101. Or call Back Talk at 575-9405. Or send us e-mail at All responses must include name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters should be no longer than 250 words.



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