Letters

The problem is you; Dance for the masses

The problem is you

Once again, I realize why there is no hope in Dallas. I left this city almost four years ago because Latinos can't tell their own stories in this city -- not in The Dallas Morning News opinion section, not at KERA, certainly not in the Dallas Observer. Alas, nothing has changed.

Then I read Jim Schutze's piece "Lost and found" in the April 6 issue. He's a good writer, and the story was humane, honest, and necessary. But he missed the point.

It is easy to talk about individual resilience in the face of adversity. I know lots of kids like these -- if you have the time, I'll tell you my story, which is like that of too many activists out there who raise bloody hell. Who are still confronting adversity every day of our lives.

This is why we know that DISD is not the problem, as Schutze suggests. I know; I worked with many administrators and teachers there during my professional life in Dallas. I spent time in lots of classrooms. The problem, and that is what too many of you don't want to hear, is this: The problem is you. I'll say it again in case you didn't understand. You.

It is the way that you and your readers refuse to pay the taxes required that would bring DISD the high-caliber teachers those kids deserve; send your own children to these schools in a show of real solidarity; live in the inner city so that your taxes can go to the schools. But you won't. Instead, you'll beat up on DISD -- let it burn down, squirting it with watery tests, underpaid teachers, and of course, piety.

It's true, DISD is rife with dinosaurs and a few vampires, but also many martyrs and heroes. Those young, beautiful people you profiled are the lucky ones. Like I was.

But I don't want your charity, your scholarships, your mentoring, your banquets. I want justice for the children of the public schools, though journalists like you and so many others don't want to hear about that. You know why? Because people like me challenge you. We challenge you to share. To change the system. So that poor children in this state get the good education they deserve.

When I was in the schools long ago, I learned about democracy, and how the public schools were fundamental to our sense of equality. It was something that I clung to, that made me so proud to be an American in the midst of so much turmoil. Me, the daughter of a sharecropper, went to a public school with the minister's daughter. The judge's son. That didn't happen in Mexico. No wonder I did so well in college.

Your not-so-subtle attacks on DISD (the easy way out for so many journalists) betray the great public education that once gave me so much hope. That doesn't exist anymore. You just see the individual success stories. I see too many of those who didn't have a chance.

On one of my visits to an inner-city high school a few years ago, a young Latino blurted out a question to me I will never forget. I had been answering questions about the city's role in low-income housing, college, John Wiley Price, sports heroes, etc. I answered truthfully, no-holds-barred, finally explaining how I have come to understand that the "I" and "we" have no meaning without the other.

"Then why doesn't anybody care about us?" He asked with hunger in his face.

I ask you, why don't you care about us?

Barbara Renaud Gonzalez
San Antonio

Dance for the masses

Annabelle Massey Helber has spoken to the "usual suspects," the Dallas Ballet insiders who are always ready to blame others for their extravagances, ineptitude, and downright foolishness in running, or ruining, the Dallas Ballet in the '80s ("Out of step," March 30). I was an insider just before the crash, the last vice president of development, a thankless and futile job of trying to tap the already empty or zipped-up pockets of Dallas businesses and socialite high rollers. It cost me a bundle, personally. Let me share a perspective your writer failed to provide.

Dallas Ballet, and Dallas Civic Ballet before it, were the arts toys of eight or nine well-meaning and very rich contributors who also were classical ballet fans. When the oil, banking, and real estate crashes hit in the mid-'80s, these committed people simply couldn't write the big checks anymore. No effort had ever been made to market to and engage the DFW metroplex proletariat. They wouldn't fit in. The Dallas Ballet continued its elitist black-tie openings, its posturing as a "see and be seen" social event for the dance cognoscenti, while a huge, untapped potential audience looked on and sniggered.

A few of us on the board tried to get the marketing people to reach out, to engage those who would have enjoyed an evening at the Ballet, making them feel welcome among the glitterati. Ballets around the world encouraged the broadest support in their cities, but the Dallas Ballet refused to democratize its appeal.

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