Color Guard

Judged by dance only: I was a Stingarette in the year 2000-2001 at Texas City High School. I am a young black lady, and I don't agree with everything in this article ["Stung," by Zoe Carmichael, April 24]. I think the Stingarettes are not racist; in order to make the drill team, you have to be a good dancer and have the right dance techniques.

Mrs. Mills was my dance instructor, and there were never any problems of racism on the drill team. Basically you just have to be a good dancer.

Ashly Johnson
Texas City

Help from the outside needed: I have taught here 28 years and, yes, it has been a struggle. I have applied to be an administrator several times after earning my master's and passing the EXCET exam on the first attempt. They have hired individuals who have not even taken the exam!

But no, the jobs always go to individuals who are younger or from somewhere else. My question is this: If I am a teacher who has remained here for so long and my evaluations are exemplary, why have I not been able to gain a position as an administrator?

I once was recommended for my campus, but the superintendent refused to submit my name!

Yes, Texas City ISD is a racist district in many arenas, but so is Texas. What can the African-American citizens do? We have one female on the school board, but little is heard from her.

We need national organizations to aid us.

Name withheld by request
Texas City

Making the grade: I am a former Stingarette, and it's obvious that the main concern of the article is that no black girls make the team. Well, the last year I was on the team, three of the four black girls who made the team dropped out! I bet no one mentioned that.

Why try out if you're just going to quit? Bianca Roberson stated in the article that the Stingarettes is a racist organization, but her three or four best friends were on the team -- not to mention that they were white. How can they be racist if their best friend is black? I am not rich and I am Hispanic, and I made the team. Doing some of the things that the Stingarettes do takes more than just practicing a few hours a day for what -- two weeks? I've been dancing for ten years, and I still cannot do half the stuff that we did. Is our school really that racist? My senior year, four out of five class officers were black, including the person who has been our president all four years. Also, the homecoming queen has been black ever since my sophomore year, four years ago.

I think all this has been blown way out of proportion. Has anyone thought that maybe the girls just weren't good enough?

Elke Stevenson
Texas City

Skip the racist label: As a graduate of Texas City High School, I am shocked to hear claims of racism associated with the friendly town. My experience was quite different. I think it's terrible that one incident, such as a girl not making a drill team, can be used to label a city as racist.

There was much more to the Jayla Weatherspoon case. The Stingarettes had a weight limit that year, and she was over it. It had nothing to do with color.

Katie Bedard

Real news: Wow. I never get tired of commenting to my friends about the excellent reporting of your staff. I use your publication exclusively to find out what's happening in Houston. Thank you for continuing to focus on news stories the "other rag" finds not worthy of its time.

I especially liked this story and the one a few weeks ago concerning sex addicts ["Getting Off," by Craig Malisow, April 3]. I am in classes at Catholic University, and the article was quite helpful in discussions in my moral and medical ethics class.

The Reverend Harry Duffy
Washington, D.C.

Black and white: Does that mean that they don't have any talent? Oh, that's right. You're just another knee-jerk liberal and, of course, the white folk are gonna make sure the black folk don't get ahead.

Suck on it, folks: You're still brainwashed by the ponytailed old hippies from your J school.

Dan Sanders

They're the racists: I am a 2002 graduate of Texas City High School. I am insulted, because by calling an organization that I was once involved in "racist," you are calling me racist, and I'm not. If anyone is racist in this situation, it's the people causing all the commotion. If they think that the Stingarettes are personally out to keep African-American girls off the team, then they need to take a step back and look at who is being racist.

Color has nothing to do with anything. People say that these African-American girls should have made it because they have rhythm, but rhythm doesn't play a big part. Neither do splits and kicks, for that matter. The tryout consists of being able to have clean, sharp movements, good technique and stage presence.

Most black girls don't try out because they know that the Stingarettes don't do the kind of "booty dancing" they like. Why? Because the Stingarette organization is respectable and classy.

I agree with Traci Mills and Bill Doughty. There should not be another tryout for these girls. If they weren't good enough the first time, why would they be good enough the second?

Aimee O'Callaghan
Texas City

In denial: I appreciate the coverage of this story. Unfortunately, America still has a race problem, and often the media turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to it.

Thank you for publishing this story and making it known that though we live in the most diverse city and country, we still have prejudice issues. Great job to Zoe Carmichael and the Houston Press.

Andrea Thompson

Leave football out: As a 2002 graduate of Texas City High and the brother of a former Stingarette, I believe that these allegations are absurd.

If they believe the Stingarettes team is so racist, then why do they still want to be part of it? Plus, many of the Stingarette girls have taken dance for years and deserve to be on the team. The judges are not even from Texas City, so how can you consider our dance team racist?

If they're going to have a problem with the dance team, then that's what they need to concentrate on and leave the football team alone.

Jonathan Amato

Sad Memories

Tough times at Devereux: I just finished reading your article ["A Hanging Offense," by Margaret Downing, April 24]. Whew…

My wife hung herself while receiving outpatient treatment at Devereux. Her therapist (she told me) recommended that we separate if possible during this time, so she was staying in a motel. Although we spoke frequently for several weeks, we didn't see each other in person. What I didn't know was that she was acting out with alcohol and drugs as well as sexually while there. Later, she came home for a weekend, which I thought was wonderful. Everything seemed much better, then she left to return to the motel. Two days later, her boss called and said she had not shown up for work, so I headed to the motel to find her. And I did.

When I saw the Yates family's experience on TV, it felt like a hand gripped my heart and squeezed. Then today I read your article. I can't say I appreciate the memories it prompted in me, and I suppose I'm not sure what I really think about all this.

I don't know much about the case you wrote about, but I can tell you what I do know. I checked myself into Devereux several weeks after my wife's death because I was drinking heavily and could not sleep or hold down food. After a day of sitting and talking with other patients, and no interaction with any staff, I asked to see the doctor on duty and convinced her to release me. I walked out.

What the hell is going on over there? I don't even play a doctor on TV, but I'm not stupid -- or am I?

Name withheld by request

Prison Problems

National attention: I just read your article ["Mail Sacked," by Scott Nowell, April 24], and this is to let you know that people all over the United States and abroad read what is happening in the Texas prison system and know that the system is broken. I applaud you for a well-written article.

Thank you for sharing it with all of us. Keep up the excellent work.

Judi Grierson
Shawnee, Kansas

Courageous Commissioner

Savvy Garcia: Keep the articles coming about this feisty lady [The Insider, by Tim Fleck, April 10]! Sylvia Garcia has had to win over many diehards and good ol' rednecks. They've made it difficult, but she is a great lady and will beat them at their own game. More power to her.

Name withheld by request
La Porte

Money and Monet

Turned away: Just what is the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston doing with all that cash ["Pink Slip Exhibits," by Jennifer Mathieu, April 17]? We are rapidly becoming a society of the haves and the have-nots! Those who are teetering on the border are being pushed over the edge by the haves.

My daughter needed extra credit for a high school art course, so we organized a trip to the MFAH. Imagine my embarrassment that as a single mother of two, on a limited income, I had to turn around in the lobby and exit with my daughter in tow because I could not afford the $7 per-person admission.

Cheryl Jansch
Sugar Land

Bush Whacker

As Texas goes: What in the hell has happened to the American people [Letters, April 3]? How long can the people of this nation remain satisfied with the blatant stupidity displayed by the leadership of both political parties?

Bush screwed Texas to death and is loved by all. Now the nation is falling in step. What's next?

Mike Lombardi
Texas City

Singing the Blues

Name shame: I was so pleased when I picked up the paper and saw that our show was given a great review ["Everybody Loves ABBA," by Lee Williams, April 24]. But I was more than a bit disappointed when I realized that there was an error with our names!

I think you meant to say "Lund's enormous voice," seeing as the songs then mentioned are ones that I sing! I know this was an honest mistake, but I wanted to draw your attention to it.

Go figure -- I get a nice review and then can't use it!

But thanks for supporting the show. We all work really hard to keep it fresh and exciting.

Monique Lund
New York City

Taught a Lesson?

Advancing angst: Poor man. Rod Paige has been in over his head for quite some time, hasn't he ["Dumb and Dumber," by Tim Fleck, April 17]? How can we ever forgive Laurie Bricker and Jeff Shadwick for their promotion of Paige as the best urban educator in the United States?

Charlotte Coffelt


Red Whine

Pretentious passing: It's so distasteful to hear Paul Roberts's disparaging remarks about Houston's food-and-wine scene [Toque Off, by Robb Walsh, April 10]. Are we really such a lackluster town? Well, Waterford Trophy-winning French Laundry Restaurant didn't seem to have a problem with it when it sought out Houston's own, Paul Roberts.

I remember when I emigrated from New York City more than 20 years ago looking to step up and sell wine. Customers would order iced tea with their paella. Yes, I cringed, but I was young then. The years since have taught me to be grateful and gracious, and the knowledge that style is not just about taste but decency as well.

While I wish Mr. Roberts all the best in his new job on the West Coast, he might give some serious thought to changing out his wardrobe. We wouldn't want them to think anything disparaging of our "Houston boy."

Peter A. Garcia


Heil of a Note

Straight on Stuka: I consider it highly irresponsible to have referenced Hitler in your article about Stuka's controversial name [Racket, by John Nova Lomax, April 17]. You are painting a black picture with a title like that. Thousands of Houstonians support companies such as Mercedes-Benz, which is known to have used concentration-camp labor to build cars for Nazis during WWII. And you have the nerve to pick on a Texas small business owner who has nothing to do with that part of world history?

The name Stuka is thought-provoking and metaphorically derived, as your first article about the club states ["Achtung! Stuka!" by Craig D. Lindsey, January 30]. There was no need to build any kindling beneath this new, promising and long-anticipated club by giving your second article that title ["Hitler's Bunker Found -- in Montrose?"].

And to Amanda Matthieu and her friend, it would have been a lot easier to have asked someone what the meaning of "Stuka" was while you were there, instead of trying to stir up a silly witch-hunt while hiding behind the press.

Jennifer Neira



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