On Love and Death
[Re: “Poli Psy,” September 15]: In a world that often lacks sense or logic and instead has unnecessary amounts of death, I believe people hold onto things they think will make the world a better place. I hail from Hardwick and went to high school with Tristan Southworth… Inside the gymnasium we used to frequent together, the thing that allowed the mourners to overlook the absurdity that comes with war and politics was not faith but love. It is an emotion that can allow people to overlook incongruities in belief and politics, and when I think of Tristan, I do not think of corruption or future sorrow that may come our way, but the love and respect that surround him and his memories.
I have been a bumper-sticker-displaying fan of the Album Station (formerly 102.9, currently 97.9) for several years, and a recent financial supporter. I, along with many others, have been basking in the return of the station to the air after a hiatus of almost a year [“Soundbites,” July 28]. I have long respected Russ [Kinsley], Diane [Desmond] and Chip [Hobart] for their knowledge and promotion of the “underground” music I grew up with. However, a recent station promo by Chip has me scratching my music-head. The promo stated, “Progressive music, without the livestock.”
I have not known the Album Station to be antifarm, nor vocally vegetarian, so have to assume that this statement was a swipe at Farm Fresh Radio, which now occupies the 102.9 frequency. Farm Fresh Radio also plays nonmainstream music, including rock, authentic blues, jazz and folk. The station is unique and plays well-thought-out music, old and new. In addition to the on-air poke at 102.9, the Album Station on its website states that we will hear “something” on the old frequency that is definitely not the Album Station, and urges listeners to “accept no substitutes.”
Farm Fresh Radio did more than a damn fine job helping to fill the void when the Album Station went off the air, but I’ve never that they have portrayed themselves as a “substitute” for the Album Station. There is definitely a lot of great music out there, and we in the Champlain Valley are fortunate to have two stations that can satisfy our desire for noncorporate, progressive music. A true music-head is open minded. The playground is big enough; respect and support others who are just trying to get the music, be it from the farmyard or elsewhere.
I’ve had to stop trying to read Seven Days because the print font keeps getting smaller and smaller. And I’m not even old.
John E. Pierce
Seven Days responds: Uh, you’re never too young to visit the eye doctor. We haven’t changed the point size since we redesigned the paper last November.
Ken Picard’s article [“The Diversity Test,” August 25] assigns Vermont schools a grade of “F” for diversity-based teacher hiring. In terms of raw numbers, the grade may be correct, but no one should equate that “F” grade with whether Vermont schools are meeting core education and social objectives. The most important criteria for evaluating teachers are what knowledge, skills and abilities they have, and how well do they facilitate student learning. Whether their skin is black, bronze, brown or white; whether their gender is female or male; and whether they have African, Asian or European ancestry is irrelevant. Why? Because what all human beings have in common dwarfs individual differences. At the genomic blueprint level, we are all 99.9 percent identical.
The more any individual or group focuses on our small differences at the exclusion of our much greater similarities, the more we promote division and polarization in society. A student in a Vermont classroom should see the teacher as a human being, not as a black person, nor as a female, nor as an Asian. For humanity to reach its full potential, all of us will need to understand and appreciate that the reason each human being has equal value and deserves equal respect is because of the enormous commonality we all share. True success will only be achieved when skin color, gender and ancestry do not take precedence over education ability when decisions are made involving the hiring of teachers in Vermont schools.
Speak Out Against Racism
Thank you for publishing “The Diversity Test” [August 25]. This article reminds us that there are human-rights abuses happening in Vermont, and people of color may be prevented from living here because of the localized hiring that happens within each school district, poor recruitment policies, and the fact that most school districts do not prioritize making the effort to attract and retain teachers from diverse backgrounds. Racism is still an enormous issue in the United States — we do not yet have racial equality in the business, education, legal or housing sectors, to name a few — and it will be a long time before we can afford to ignore race. Until then, students of color need teachers of color who can understand and directly relate to their experiences, serving as advocates, supporters and role models.
This article also highlights the shocking fact that Vermont teachers are not trained to deal with diversity or protect their students of color from racial harassment and slurs.
It is imperative that all teachers be trained to talk about race and ethnicity, and to recognize and stop racial harassment. This also reminds white people of the urgent need to not wait for people of color to defend themselves from racial slurs and stereotypes, but to be actively antiracist advocates for children of color in the Vermont school system. It is up to all Vermonters to speak out against racism. If we can’t do this, we might as well be living in the Jim Crow era.
UVM Can Fix Diversity
In his letter [“Feedback,” September 8], Tomás Sanchez appears to attribute the lack of racial and ethnic diversity at UVM to the lack of diversity among teachers in Vermont’s public schools. In 26 years as a Vermont high school teacher, I have heard this type of excuse for the failings of university education too many times.
If UVM lacks diversity among its students and faculty, this is a problem that belongs to UVM. Universities must take responsibility for the students they admit and the faculty they hire. Blaming the public school system may give temporary gratification, but a lack of racial and ethnic diversity in Vermont’s public schools does not dictate a lack of such diversity at UVM. Many teachers employed in Vermont public schools matriculate from UVM. Are those public schools therefore justified in blaming UVM for the lack of racial and ethnic diversity within their faculties? This circular reasoning could go on forever and we would still be a white-bread state. UVM might consider taking leadership in determining why Vermont’s public schools, universities and colleges have little success in attracting professionals with diverse racial and ethnic identities. I absolutely agree that such diversity would be an advantage to Vermont students at all levels of learning. But I do not find it reasonable to suggest that the Vermont public school system is responsible for the failings in education or diversity at UVM.
I couldn’t disagree more with Rick Kisonak’s review of The American [“Movie Review,” September 8]. I’ve never seen such a dull film that wasn’t even funny. It could be the only movie whose sequel is better than the original. His review didn’t mention the far-too-long sex scene (#2), which created a wonderful family bonding moment as I was wedged between my seventysomething parents. I should’ve gotten up for popcorn. Then there was Clooney’s hind end, also unnecessary.
George Clooney “outside his comfort zone” as a CIA-type guy, really? That’s all he ever is and, as far as acting goes, there was very little depth to act with. The coolest part was watching him screw together parts of steel to make a gun for a woman who seemed perfectly capable of making her own. I also didn’t get the wine line, maybe because I don’t drink it … and why would the police check the wine’s temperature, and so what if they did?
If you don’t care about the “who, what, when or why” in a movie, The American is your ticket! Refund, please!
Peter Du Brul [“Feedback,” September 1] has taken advantage of Judith Levine’s nuanced critique of localism to praise globalization as the answer to poverty in the developing world [“Poli Psy,” August 18].
Not so fast, Peter!
Certainly, as Judith pointed out, we can become self-satisfied about our own biosphere and lose track of its inherent problems. Certainly, it’s easy for “localvores,” happily munching their organic arugula, to forget about the millions of children who go to bed hungry every night.
However, the cry of “Buy global!” ignores the massive problems that unleashed capitalists have wrought around the world. Our planet is experiencing a climate meltdown accelerated by policies that herd the farmers into factories to produce junk that is then shipped thousands of miles to consumers in richer countries. Globalization disrupts the very patterns of development that could bring climate systems closer to the balance we need. How could endless lines of giant televisions and toys shipped from Shanghai to Boston represent a sustainable system for American consumers, Chinese workers or the Earth? Instead, let’s build a global web of interlocking local systems that provide food and basic goods for people in each region.
Of course, we will continue to trade for what we can’t produce, but let it be fair trade, not free trade. I promise not to be a narrow, Republican-resembling localist, Peter, but you should reconsider your own certainties about what’s best for the rest of the world. We all need to live and think differently or we will not survive.
In last week’s performing arts preview [“Encore, Encore!” September 15], we stated that Ronald Braunstein would take over next spring as director of the Vermont Youth Orchestra. In fact, he arrived this spring. Braunstein’s VYO debut is Friday, September 24, in St. Albans and Sunday, September 26, at the Flynn Center. See the Seven Days staff blog, Blurt, for an interview with Braunstein. Our apologies for the error.
Due to an editing error, last week’s “Fair Game” incorrectly stated that Vermont’s state troopers endorsed Matt Dunne in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. They endorsed Dunne in the 2006 race for lieutenant governor, but not in the recent primary.