Ann Arbor not as progressive as some may think
M I enjoyed Nick Woomer's the peripherals of the painted pic- Street, State Street, or Briarwood,
ay 17 column "Violence at Ku ture. And those minorities that and the staff followed him around
Klux Klan rally must be pun- have "made it" are not enough to the store?
ished" concerning last Tuesday's make the city of Ann Arbor as When was the last time
trial and the potential prosecution progressive as some suggest. he had to demonstrate in front of
of the "rioters" at the KKK rally If we would like to say that the student body and University
held nearly a year ago. I would Ann Arbor is truly diverse and
like to entertain him with a cou- multicultural, we must then look community to prove his merit for
ple of thoughts touching on Ann at the people that make it being here'?
Arbor. "diverse," "multicultural," and/or When was the last time he
Often, Ann Arbor is viewed "progressive." This would had to worry about waking up to
a progressive town. Some include University students, with flames of a burning cross (or
reports even say this town is one their limited cultural experiences even racial and/or homophobic
of the best places to bring fami- and feelings of racism and sex- slurs) threatening his acceptance
lies. Many times, people report ism, that move into South Quad in the community (this happened
and remark on the diversity and at the beginning of the year. to a local family in Washtenaw
multicultural format of the city. When was the last time C t h s
However, as a young African Woomer was told that the only It is without a doubt that this
American male who has visited reason he was at the University
this town from Detroit for the last was because of his color? patnted picture of Ann Arbor is
four years for the sake of an When was the last time the shown in black and white. I don't
"education," I find this painted city of Ann Arbor closed down a expect Woomer to understand the
ure very troubling. Believe it social gathering of blacks and reason why people decided to
M ot, Ann Arbor has its share of latino/as, while Hill Street was demonstrate in front of City Hall.
problems like every other town in blossoming with the fraternity Without a doubt, there were
the United States. and sorority parties of many some who saw, understood, and
I find it troubling that this white students? How often is grasped the message of the pro-
often-painted picture only Woomer forced to have his par- testers, realizing that the picture
applies to white, middle and ties and other social gatherings in often created for the city of Ann
upper class families. Look at the the Michigan Union because this Arbor can hold true if people are
city of Ann Arbor - most of the diverse, multicultural and pro-
black and other racial minorities gressive city has no outlet for willing to stand firm and atempt
a e left in pockets of the city, him to express his cultural expe- to challenge those of others,
y are found in the North rience? including the Ku Klux Klan.
Maple Estates, Hikone, and other When was the last time - This viewpoint was writ-
housing sites, clearly placed in Woomer went shopping on Main ten by LSA senior Kevin Jones.
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Monday, May 24, 1999 - The Michigan Daily - 5
A few people who drive me insane
M y parents did it. My grandparents did it road.
My neighbors did it. My friends did it. rAgain, I test the strength of my brakes, but this
But I never thought I would reduce myself to this time I have enough time to make ridiculously rude
point of banality. and obscene gestures out the window.
This summer, I'm doing the unthinkable - I'm Unfortunately, the Reader keeps on reading,
working a 9-5 job. probably riding to a mediocre job with little room
There are many benefits to being a working for advancement. He'll probably end up a 50-year-
stiff. The weekends are free, and theres old unmarried furniture salesman who
enough time during the weekdays to lives in the small one-room house on the
have a little fuln before going toubed at 10 corner, shunned by his neighbors.
p.n. Unfortunately, being a working Joe As hideous as the Reader and Speedy
carries a severe penalty - rush hour may be, one other driving persona grates
traffic. my nerves more than anyone. While many
I set out for work at about 7 a.m. - names may describe him, I will refer to
just me, Howard Stern and the open him as Mid Life Crisis.
road. I cruise down a nearly empty State We've all seen this 40-year-old
Street, wishing it could be this desolate schmuck cruising down the highway in his
all day long. red convertible - the midlifecrisismobile.
But before Howard can crack his EFFREY Sure, his car may have been funded by his
first Rosie O'Donnell fat joke of the day, OSSEFF kids' college savings, but he's leaving his
I have to merge onto 1-94. SWE1\ T 1_ W wife for a 22-year-old blond Starbucks
This is when the hell begins. I turn .TY coffee server, so family doesn't really mat-
ott my blinker and speed up. I only have ter.
about 100 feet, so I need to move quickly. As he speeds down the highway with his toupee
Of course, the driver to my left, who I'll call blowing in the wind, he blasts the timeless hits of
Speedy, pretends he does not see me trying to avoid Sonny Bono or Bruce Springsteen. Although the
crashing into the upcoming sign. He doesn't slow road is pretty crowded, he does not pay much atten-
down or accelerate to give me room to move over. tion to his neighbors on the road. When he decides
He drises exactly at my speed. to merge into the left lane, he neglects to use his
What is going through his mind? Does he think signal, taking me by complete surprise.
I'm just going to disappear? His refusal to This is what bugs me more than anything. Is it
acknowledge my car's presence forces me to slam that difficult to use your signal? Is it uncool to flick
the brakes and risk an accident. a switch? It must not fit in with the daredevil image
Luckily, I avoid disaster and continue to my des- Mid Life Crisis is trying to maintain. In the future,
tination. But then I am confronted by another auto- he plans to not come to a four-point halt at stop
motively challenged person - the Reader. He's signs. These people need to be cognizant of my few
about 25 years old, and he's also singing along to an needs as a fellow driver. I don't ask for much. All I
obscenely loud Backstreet Boys tune. want is a ride to work and a few uninterrupted
The Reader has a magazine open and propped laughs from Howard.
against his steering wheel as he drives. He drifts - Jefey Kosseffcan be reached over
into my lane, more engrossed in his rag than the e-mail atikosse'fflj mmnich.edu.
Social rejection an importantfactor in shootings
,(, ecause they deserved to die." These were I remembered the time my friends paid me to
B the words scrawled across 30 pieces of kiss the ugliest guy in school while everyone
paper found in a California middle schoolers stood around laughing and taking pictures.
backpack, along with the names of 30 students. We used to joke about students who reminded
The boy was found in class with a .40-caliber us of the "weird guy" from Billy Madison who
handgun, and did not deny to police that he had made a list of people from high school to kill.
every intention of using the weapon. I can name a dozen kids who it seemed like
Fortunately, he was apprehended every single person in my high school
before disaster struck. But students at picked on. No one ever stopped to con-
Heritage High in Conyers, Ga. were not sider the damage we were really doing
so lucky Thursday morning when T.J. to those kids - kids who probably had
Solomon shot six classmates. a thing or two in common with Eric
My 14-year-old sister recently told Harris, Dylan Klebold and T.J.
me that she is scared to go to school Solomon.
every day. And she's not afraid of any- While the victims of the shootings
thing. certainly are not to blame for the vio-
The country has become complete- lence, I wonder if circumstances would
ly engulfed in discussions of children have been different had the gunmen
and violence - what should be done to AMY been more accepted and respected by
make the schools safer, who should be BARBER their peers.
blamed and how shocking school eARER'S I wonder if the outcasts at my high
shootings are. school would be happier today if only
But when I sat down to think about my friends and I treated them with an
it, I realized I wasn't actually all that shocked by ounce of courtesy.
the shootings. While watching a Jenny Jones rerun at three
The gunmen in Littleton were two outsiders in the morning about kids bullying their peers at
who had been teased and rejected to the point school, I was enlightened by a guest's comment .
where they lost control. They certainly harbored no, really I was. It came from the dad of a bully,
deeper psychological problems along with sick, who defended his son because "they're just kids."
racist views, but their status as outcasts undeni- Clearly the "they're just kids" defense doesn't
ably contributed to the tragedy - and classmates carry much weight anymore. Children remember
described Solomon as an outcast who regularly things. We are all affected by things that hap-
sat alone on the school bus. pened to us while we were growing up.
In an effort to make sense of these events, I While I can't relive high school - and
thought back to when I was in high school. I wouldn't do so for all the money in the world -
remember the cliques. I remember the kids who I realized that maybe I should be a little less cruel
never fit into any of the cliques. and a little less arrogant when dealing with,peo-
I remembered how horrible it felt to be reject- ple I don't think are as good as I am.
ed or even made fun of. I remembered the hurt Maybe then no one will think I deserve to die.
and hate in the eyes of the kids I made fun of so -Atti Barber can e reached over
people would like me more. e-mail at abarber( (michedu.
I am sick and tired of hear-
ing city leaders paying lip ser-
vice to Bike to Work Week,
such as in May 17th's article
"Week to promote bicycle use
in Ann Arbor".
Instead of getting local
cafes to offer discounts on cof-
fee, a better way to promote
bicycling in Ann Arbor would
be to create more bike lanes,
install more bike racks, and
fid other types of incentives
for people to ride.
For a college town, this is
not the best environment for
bicyclers. The hostility that dri-
vers in this town have toward
pedestrians and bikers is often
frustrating and scary.
Drivers rarely stop at cross-
walks, and they don't check
sidewalk traffic before exiting
driveways or turning right on a
red light. Often they don't even
allow pedestrians to cross on a
green before turning.
Promoting safety and
respect for bikers and pedestri-
ans should be the first step
toward creating a safer, cleaner
t~-fl~~ GE I U-i AH menoIIIk )t
* F +l l tl 1 J