It’s time, once again, for my monthly, “You rip, I respond,” column.
You know how it works: Angry folks write, I respond and make an awkward video. Then hilarity and an occasional accusation of white guilt ensue.
I hope you enjoy.
Now, on to this month’s emails …
You're a (expletive) joke. — Pat
Hi, Pat. Thanks for reaching out.
(Insert shruggie emoji here.)
Kristina Walker loses 110-percent of her credibility when she has the gall to use the term "social engineering" in relation to people's desire to have a place to park their car. It appears to me that she is simply an ideologue who has an agenda that she will pursue for the sake of pursuing it. — Steve
This month, for fun, we tried something a little different. Since your email was largely a critique of executive director of Downtown on the Go Kristina Walker’s position on parking, I reached out to her. Then, we included Walker’s response in this month’s video.
While Walker can speak for herself — quite well, I might add — here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
Walker’s use of the term “social engineering” was likely due to the question I posed to her.
During our interview, I asked Walker to respond to the critique that designing Tacoma’s downtown with more than just drivers in mind amounted to socially engineering people out of their cars. It’s a complaint you often hear in debates like these — the city’s plastic-bag ban comes to mind — and it’s not difficult to see why people feel this way.
On the other hand, I think Walker was smart (and correct) to push back on this criticism. After all, by designing our cities almost exclusively around vehicles for the last century, planners have essentially “socially engineered” people into cars. When driving is the only effective way to get around, what other reasonable option do people have?
If and when the playing field is leveled, I suspect we’ll find that the desire you allude to — people wanting their cars and therefore needing a place to park — isn’t as strong as many seem to assume.
Yes, there likely will be a faction of people who just prefer to drive and park. That’s not going away, and no one — even Walker — is trying to ignore this.
The whole idea is simply to provide people with transportation options, which is not only smart, but essential as Tacoma grows.
Your diagnosis (of the reaction to Lincoln High School Vice Principal Logic Amen’s music) shows you are suffering from a severe case of white guilt. It’s true that overt, covert and even subconscious racism is a too common aspect of our culture. However, your condition prevents you from accepting the fact that sometimes even black people make poor decisions and that they deserve the consequences for those decisions. I’ll let you go now so you can answer that call from Al Sharpton. — Dan
I’ll address this more below, but when it comes to the “white guilt” you mention, I don’t feel afflicted.
It’s true. I don’t feel bad about being white. I just don’t.
I am, however, aware of the privilege that comes along with being a straight, white man in America.
I am, however, cognizant of the way dominant, white culture has historically oppressed and disenfranchised people of color and other minority populations.
I can, however, see why this is a major problem that desperately needs addressed, not ignored — because people’s lives depend on it.
And I do, absolutely, feel compelled to use my voice and my platform to speak out about it.
As a white man, it’s the least I can do. I don’t feel guilty. I feel obligated.
(Lincoln High School vice principal Logic Amen) is a professional, and this has nothing to do with race or freedom of artistic expression. It has everything to do with expected adult behavior and standards that are unspoken but known. So please do not put him in the same category as Kap or a black/white civil rights issue. What Logic did has nothing to do with civil liberties. …This has now been a major topic amongst me and my Black colleagues and we all agree that no district employee regardless of race, especially a leader, should ever utter those lyrics, let alone publish them. — Stacey
I appreciate you reaching out. I received many emails in response to my column on Lincoln High School Vice Principal Logic Amen, which was not unexpected.
First of all, let me just say that I completely understand your take on Amen’s music. That’s the thing about art — it elicits reactions. A Facebook acquaintance of mine described Amen’s music as “complex and personal” and “filled with profound sadness.”
Others, it’s clear, feel quite differently.
Here’s the thing: No matter what your opinion on Amen’s music or whether or not it was appropriate for a school administrator to make it, I think it’s important — and valid — to have a frank discussion about the way race and a historically black art form likely influenced people’s reaction.
Would white people have rushed so quickly to judgment? Would we have been more open to understanding? Would we have taken more time, or even given the benefit of the doubt in some cases, if this was a novel and not a mixtape?
White or black, I think a number of people would have objected to Amen’s music. I think that’s clear, and I said as much in the column.
But I think it’s equally clear that while opinions on this art and its appropriateness coming from a school administrator may differ, we also can engage with a larger question about the way black voices and expressions of black-lived experiences are judged by white culture.
Put more succinctly: I don’t think you have to like or approve of Amen’s music to acknowledge and grapple with the likelihood that race played a role in the visceral reaction to it.
Nobody cares about what you think. Start a blog if you want your dribble heard. Otherwise, objectively report the news. I’m sure your (expletive) hippie liberal journalism instructors told you to interject your thoughts on everything, but most people are sick of it. Keep it news ONLY. — Brian
Hi, Bri. Good hearing from you.
If straight news is what you’re after, I suggest you read the work my talented colleagues produce … and skip this space entirely. You’ll notice my column is conveniently labeled as “commentary.”
Because. I’m. A. Columnist.
Hope that helps.