It's all a photo op: As I was reading the story about Quanell X and his transformation from celebrity racist to unifier of mankind ["Quanell X," by Chris Vogel, January 15, 2009], I couldn't help but recall my own Quanell X story:
After Hurricane Katrina, my other (white) co-workers and I were at the Astrodome looking for employees from our New Orleans-area hospitals that might have evacuated to Houston. The dome was hot and packed with people, and the tensions were high. Obviously, it was a very stressful time and I will never forget the desperation in the faces of those people who had lost everything and were separated from their families. I had located a young girl who worked as a nurse's aid in uptown New Orleans and was trying to make arrangements to have her family transported to Dallas and placed in temporary housing when Quanell X's motorcade pulled up past the very secure barricades of the Astrodome.
Mr. X and his "disciples" poured out of the shiny cars with great fanfare. Women dressed in white from head to toe and very well-dressed men in three-piece suits and ties all walked into the Astrodome and "mingled" for maybe 20 minutes, then filed back into their cars and sped away. Their immaculately tailored clothes and crisp, uniformed gait were quite a contrast with the sweaty, dirty and exhausted evacuees and volunteers that were packed into the Astrodome. What struck me most in that moment, and what has stayed with me since, was the fact that a very obvious and prominent member of Quanell X's entourage was a professional photographer. He followed their group and snapped photos while the group shook a few hands.
Many people from all walks of life were working in the Astrodome that day and for many days after, but for Quanell X and his followers, it was a photo op. I understand the importance of working for justice and equality, and I agree that sometimes the language used to open dialogue about right vs. wrong makes people uncomfortable. I'm not opposed to that. I just can't help but wonder if this Houston Press cover story and the reporting of Quanell X's "transformation" is not just another photo op. In the interest of black and white folks everywhere, I hope it isn't.
Name withheld by request
Man-on-the-make: Your extensive article seemed more like a press release written by this activist than a piece of analytical reporting.
Surely, the man has performed some good deeds and drawn attention to official misdeeds, but he is really just another man-on-the-make. That is what links the three stages of his career — selling dope, selling racism and, now, selling racial moderation.
No wonder he gets support from Michael Berry and a Baker Botts attorney, and receives so much Fox coverage — he is a mirror image of CEOs who would sell anything, disregarding the public good to build their own little empires.
What Quanell X is not is a consistently good citizen who works at a real job. He is a symptom of a society that celebrates hustling and denigrates the working person.
Online readers weigh in:
It's Sunnyside: The article says "Phillips 66 gas station on the corner of Cullen and Bellfort in Houston's predominantly African-American ThirdWard."
Erm, that's the Sunnyside area — Cullen and Bellfort is Sunnyside.
Comment by Crowley
Good work: Pretty good story about an interesting local figure. I enjoyed reading it.
Comment by Nate from Houston
Blame the media: Does anyone else find it ironic that somehow, in a time when public remarks of racism are condemned and the speakers of those words are shunned, Quanell X can say that "white people are on the back burner" and that somehow makes everything he has said in the past okay? It's not like he said he was wrong about what he said in the past, or that all racism is equally unacceptable, he simply implied that hating white people is not his focus right now. Wow...way to give this guy relevance and meaning by giving him press. The media is to blame for the negative impact he has on the world, but most of all the black community.
Comment by brian from
Not the news: Personally, I have no use for the man. He has convicted thugs running to him instead of turning themselves in. He still spews hate speech on a regular basis. He still gets too much attention and airtime.
He is not the news. He does not represent the black community as I see it. I have friends who are black, and they do not act or talk like this man.
One, a very religious fellow, is the best of what I would consider a human being to be. He doesn't clamber for the spotlight. He does his duty every day and knows he will be rewarded for his beliefs.
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I don't think Houston needs him or people like him. I think people like him demean society and detract from the greater good.
Comment by Tom Becker from
For the record: Randy Sylvester was not accused of killing his "two daughters," it was a daughter and a son. How can I believe that the rest of this article is accurate?
Comment by Alex from houston