At UT, never a tenured African-American | Nov. 7
UT article ignored tenure track
As a full-time, tenure-track, assistant professor (and African-American) at the University of Tampa, I am dismayed by Bill Maxwell's Nov. 7 article. The column's dismissal or ignorance of UT's African-American tenure-track faculty is as egregious as the suggestions made in reference to UT's administration and community as a whole.
Having earned a master's degree and a doctorate, published a book, and currently spending three days a week with 52 wonderful students, I am surprised that I now feel invisible to the community lying outside of the minarets' shadows. My fields of study may be literature and creative writing, not journalism, but I simply cannot subscribe to the journalism on display in the column or (speaking only for myself) the reduction of my colleagues to some sort of exotic black face.
Furthermore, and frankly, my aging grandmother was taken aback by the column's use of the phrase "a black" as 2011 dawns in the distance. After such disappointment, I'm afraid your newspaper no longer will be one of my morning reads.
Dr. Erica Dawson, Tampa
Find better ways to help the homeless Nov. 5
Awful sights downtown
no one should have to see
Panhandling bans and deodorizing downtown are only a beginning to assist the homeless.
Perhaps the newspaper needs to be proactive in finding an area for the homeless to sleep. Your parking lots could serve as sleeping areas. You could have an "executive washroom" put on your property to give them a place for their needs. The toilets will soon be filled with shirts, shoes, paper towels and other things that will not allow them to function.
Getting to my curbside car from church has been very eventful. A female guest and I were treated to cursing when leaving a parking place. We had interrupted the act of fornication on the sidewalk. The treat of human feces on the doorsteps and urine smell on Easter morn is delightful. Observing men and women using City Hall as a toilet is not a sight you want to see. The condoms, beer cans, food packages, liquor bottles, cigarette butts, etc., are cleaned up each day.
So, step up to the plate, St. Petersburg Times. What are you doing for the homeless?
Roberta Yancey, St. Petersburg
Obama was done in by his sulking base Nov. 4
Obama is more of the same
Financial Times columnist Clive Crook claims that President Barack Obama can blame the "whining left" for the midterm rout. This is kind of like blaming players cut in preseason for the team's losing record.
Progressives voted in large numbers for Obama in '08 — both in the primaries and the general election — but do you see any progressives on his team? Can you name a single thing he has done since his inauguration that progressives can be proud of? No.
Instead of fighting for change "we can believe in," he has taken the path of least resistance, continuing 95 percent of the policies of George W. Bush — even the shameful, horrible policies relating to war and civil liberties. President Obama did not lead on health care. He left it to the Congress, and in particular to Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., himself a wholly owned subsidiary of the health insurance industry.
Obama and the dim centrists surrounding him (like the barely intelligible Robert Gibbs) do not understand the first thing about leadership. You've got to fight for the beliefs and values of the people who voted for you. Presumably they are your own beliefs as well. But Obama has wasted all his political capital trying to play footsie with the folks who didn't vote for him. He has bought into the notion of the United States as "center-right country," thereby perpetuating that Beltway myth. And now he is preparing to cave in on extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich — an issue he could easily win on if he tried.
Frankly, his "above-the-fray" attitude of "bipartisan" detachment is deeply offensive to those of us who worked hard for his election. It is also political suicide.
Bret Raushenbush, Tarpon Springs
Get active, organize
I sure hope that the Democrats in Washington, D.C., and nationwide don't take the electoral losses as a signal that they need to move further right, as the usual pundits and so-called "experts" have been suggesting. On the contrary, Democrats lost because they didn't stick to their principles, and in fact didn't go far enough in implementing some much-needed sweeping changes in our government.
It remains to be seen, of course, if Democratic elected leaders will get the proper message from last week's losses and, finally, be willing to listen to the ones who elected them into office in the first place. What we as citizens must do in the meantime is demand that our elected officials do exactly that: Listen to us.
As a staunch Democrat and as a voter, I have little in common with the advocates of the right-wing tea party movement, with its often histrionic public presence that comprises more negativity, noise and bluster than it does constructive, thoughtful discourse. However, I think that the tea partiers get it right when they involve themselves in their communities at the local level and insist that our elected representatives pay attention to their needs.
We on the left and in the middle need to follow their example, albeit in a more positive, productive manner that brings about real change. It is not enough for us to merely complain about what we perceive as the lousy, tepid job our elected officials are doing; we need to get active, organize, and unify behind our principles to ensure that policies that benefit all in our community are implemented.
When campaigning in 2008, President Barack Obama didn't make "Yes I Can" the hallmark of his rallying cry to action, but "Yes We Can." If we continue to sit at home during election season when things don't go our way instead of actually doing something meaningful about our discontent, then we ultimately have no one to blame but ourselves for our losses.
Michelle Kenoyer, Riverview