Victim of sexism?
As a faculty member at Texas Southern University for nearly 30 years, I was naturally interested in your cover story of our new president, Dr. Joann Horton ["The Terminator of TSU," by Michael Berryhill, October 6]. While I do not have information to evaluate the mounting criticism of Dr. Horton, it is obvious that she has a major image problem that is growing steadily worse.
The one aspect of the article which was disappointing was the failure to address the issues of sexism and homophobia which have clouded Dr. Horton's tenure from its inception. In spite of the fact that TSU has never had a woman chief executive there were blatant sexist responses against her appointment, e.g., students demonstrating that they needed "a black male president." (Observed one Afro-African male faculty member dryly, "They have had one for nearly 50 years!")
An even more subtle, but as sinister, issue is the pervasive heterosexism which permeated her appointment. At her first press conference she was badgered by a member of the Afro-American press corps on her family status and her marital plans. Persistent "rumors" about her sexuality abound. Ironically, even if one agrees with the homophobic notion that sexual orientation is a "stigma," the basis for such rumor and innuendo border on the ludicrous: e.g., her official residence is the Warwick Towers rather than the traditional South MacGregor presidential house; she has attended university functions with female companions. Thus, the need to "suspect" her sexuality belies the tenuousness upon which such rumors rest. Even if the Warwick is a symbol of gay chic to the naive, the fact that at least one of her women co-attendees was a longtime member of the TSU Board of Regents either destroys the credibility of the rumor mongers or adds another element of "conspiracy" to the gay baiting.
Whether Dr. Horton is a terminator or an innovator, only time will tell -- whether sexism and homophobia have clouded the discussion is already known.
Eugene M. Harrington
Professor of Law, TSU
Dead in the water
I have enjoyed Tim Fleck's articles for some time now. They are usually insightful and often deal with controversial subjects. His article about the MFA's mortgage for Peter Marzio [News, "Art of the Mortgage," October 6] is not such a piece. Perhaps this was just an attack on Mr. Marzio, and in that regard the article is controversial.
His broad attack on how trustees of non-profit organizations use funds to assist employees with home purchases is misplaced. Many times during the past 20-plus years I have assisted new non-profit organization employees with locating a home in keeping with the position for which they had been hired.
As an example, several years ago a private school hired a new headmaster. This person had never owned a home before, therefore had no equity from prior residences to invest. His previous posts had included a residence owned by the employer. He was required to have a home in which he could comfortably (read "not lavishly") entertain current and prospective trustees, parents, students and donors. His private home near the school would not have been qualified for a commercially available mortgage. In the best interest of the school, the trustees believed that providing a below market mortgage was appropriate. The point is the "best interests" of the organization.
I do not know the circumstances of Mr. Marzio's loan, but to bring it up after more than six years leads me to believe that Mr. Fleck was dead in the water for an article. I hope that he has more success next week.
Okay Brad, here we go again! I realize Frank Sinatra is a legend and deserved some space in your column [Pop Moment, "Twilight of the God," by Brad Tyer, October 13], but please ... Melissa Etheridge once again was in town at The Woodlands and once again was ignored by you (or are your reviews running late?). She literally rocked The Woodlands.
The Houston Chronicle called it a "love-in" -- I called it a religious experience -- almost too much for mere words. KLOL says "she crosses all boundaries." While the lesbian population was in full support of Melissa, there was a broad spectrum of other fans in the crowd. As I've written before -- Melissa can rock -- let's give her some reviews.
Do the Continental
With regard to your article, "Zydeco Blues" [News, by David Theis, September 8], I am grateful to your wonderful reporting on the Continental Zydeco Lounge. A recent transplant from Berkeley, California, where zydeco is alive and well and where a club like Doris McClendon's Continental would still be a "shrine" and packed every night, I was shocked and saddened to learn about the hard times it is facing. My husband and I went to the club and we were astounded by the beautiful music, the incredibly warm and friendly atmosphere and also at the empty tables and dance floor. It was a Friday night, and if it had not been for a private party of about 25 people, the Continental would have been virtually empty.
I have contacted a club owner and a promoter in Berkeley who are interested in having a fundraiser out there for the Continental. I know that KPFT is supposed to have one, too.
But fundraisers are not all this wonderful place needs. It needs lots of people, lots of dancing people, all week long. The magnificent dance of the zydeco must be nurtured and kept alive in this country! The Continental Lounge is one of the most authentic dance halls anywhere, and Houstonians don't even know how lucky they are to have it here. I encourage all your readers to get their butts down to the Continental and see what they're missing.
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