Open letter to a critic

I sometimes get a plethora of responses to the bi-weekly pieces that I write. And then there are times that no one says a word, at l
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

I sometimes get a plethora of responses to the bi-weekly pieces that I write. And then there are times that no one says a word, at least to me, about anything I write. Usually, about the columns from which I want to get responses; I never hear a peep. The responses, when there are any, vary and that is to be expected. Most people, even those who like my opinions, always make sure I am totally aware they don't agree with everything that I say. Oh really!

My standard response is: What is it that you don't agree with. After all, I do know everything, don't I?

But on a serious note, I do realize the psychology of making sure people who get to say seemingly anything they want is always kept in some kind of check. So with all that said, I do enjoy and appreciate the readers' forum.

I usually do not respond to public critique of my columns when they appear in the forum, but I do try and respond to any personal e-mails I get. Usually the forum responses are of a personal attack nature, and usually combative in tone and I don't want it to appear I am always trying to defend myself. After all, it's only my opinion. But I will admit I do love the give and take of discourse. And then I rarely respond because I really would like to spend my time and column talking about the important issues of the day, rather than fighting with someone who is calling me names and making shameless attacks on my character.

About once a year I do respond to a reader's comments, usually in an attempt to bring clarity to something I have written. In my last piece I wrote about the issues surrounding Sandusky High School's Black History Month program. Although I received a multitude of positive responses, I did receive a negative comment from a reader who obviously didn't understand the broader nature of issues I was espousing. I didn't think the column was that nebulous, but I will admit I probably can be somewhat esoteric at times. And I do sometimes ramble on and on, saying the obvious while providing no solutions. But my intellectual style generally is not to provide solutions, but to generate conversation and thought.

I was called judgmental and told my comments were venomous and do nothing but alienate the people of Sandusky. I thought to myself the writer must have me mixed up with someone else. I can't have that kind of power. Can I?

I think the writer feels I am too critical of the school system's administration. She must have read some of my other stuff. I will admit I have followed with great interest for about the last 30 years the goings-on within the system. And I will admit my sheer frustration and disbelief with a number of dubious decisions and the lack of sensitivity the many different administrations have shown on so many issues related to the success of people, especially of people of color, in this community.

I am grateful for the first-rate education I received here in Sandusky. I personally consider my educational experiences here as some of the highest points of my life. I will never forget the expert and even inspirational teaching of Mr. Craver, Mr. Robert Brown, Mr. Smith and Mr. Fred Leffler, my history, biology, English and economics teachers, among others who actually created within me a hunger to learn, a rush to articulate and a wish to write.

It was that educational experience which has taught me to be a critical thinker, an investigative intellectual and a consummate seeker of truth. For me not to speak out on issues I find questionable about a system I support wholeheartedly would be to offend and disrespect everything I learned in the Sandusky City Schools.

I think that because she allowed her personal involvement with the system to compromise her objectivity, the writer missed the broader issues which actually acted as the backdrop for my column -- issues which any perceptive person will admit include a history of ongoing nepotism, legacy hiring and the continued lack of sensitivity to the need for minority promotion, recruitment and retention.

The SHS Black History Month committee did an excellent job. Principal Poggiali, whom I personally like and think is doing a good job, is to be commended for involving a diverse committee in the planning of the program.

And, to my critic, if I confused the Black Student Union's involvement with the committee's involvement, my bad!