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Bad to Badu

Poor judgment: When is alleged racism ever funny?

After reading the article "By the eBay" by Sam Machkovech (December 1), I was quite disturbed for one main reason. Freedom of speech is one thing, but it must always be tempered with humanity and societal responsibility.

Mr. Machkovech's article was intended to be satirical in nature, but his treatment of Erykah Badu was in poor judgment, incendiary, controversy-mongering and all other things associated with exploiting racial tensions.

To joke about an alleged incident (which did not happen in the first place, but more on that later) that involved highly racially insensitive sentiments has no place in the Dallas Observer or any other publication. To throw fuel on the fire of Dallas' community relations and to make one of the city's burgeoning icons a negative target is irresponsible at best and detrimental as a whole.

The motivation of the writers of the fallacious letters to the editor (Letters, March 31, 2005) that created the source material for Mr. Machkovech's article is not known, but opposing letters submitted to the Observer dismissing the alleged incident were not given the weight that the original letters were given. Please know this: Erykah Badu said or did nothing to hurt, threaten or disparage any group of people at the event in question, and a recording of the show bears that out.

I am not trying to lay the racial problems of Dallas on the writer or on the Dallas Observer--certainly the issue is much larger--but it is my hope that the Observer would be a part of the solution or at least not make it worse.

I have known Erykah Badu for more than 10 years and have spoken with her about the article and the accusation that sparked it. She was upset for two reasons. First, because it was based on something that did not happen and second, because something that is so vile and against everything she stands for was stirred back up for the sake of so-called humor. How would any of us like to be branded with such a despicable characterization (especially when it is not accurate)?

In its attempts to entertain and inform, the Dallas Observer should understand that everything is not "fit to print," even in the spirit of comedy. When it comes to one of the most serious subjects that we face, not everybody gets the joke.

Ward White

Dallas Editor's note: Ward White is Erykah Badu's lawyer.

Hidden racism: I am writing to express my utter discontent with the "editorial staff" of this New Times publication. Not only did "By the eBay" do all it could to disparage and belittle some of the better musical talents to come from and stay in Dallas, the words written specifically about Erykah Badu crossed so many lines. Let me first point out that I am a white man, 33 years old, living and doing business in this wonderfully diverse city. I work with men and women of all races and social backgrounds. I have never seen such a poor display of hidden racism in print time and time again by a publication that claims to be cutting-edge editorial.

Your paper has cast a dark, dark cloud over a venue (the Black Forest Theater) and a respected philanthropist, musician and mother--Erykah Badu. Did anyone in your editorial department stop to think about Erykah's young children, one of whom attends school in Dallas, and how these types of lies will hurt them? Did anyone in editorial stop to think about the target this would put on Erykah? As much as news outlets like to play it down, white people commit hate crimes against minorities, and I would hate to see anything come back on Erykah or any other people around her due to these statements about "Fuck the White People." I feel the Dallas Observer has tried very hard to put this "racial target" on Ms. Badu, a person who doesn't deserve this treatment in any way. I have been to every single event at the Black Forest Theater, from Prince to Snoop Dogg to events that the Observer sponsored like Paul Oakenfold and even other events such as Scholastic Saturdays, where Erykah and volunteers from her charity (BLIND) and St. Philip's School (South Dallas) brought in children displaced from the Gulf Coast disasters for a day of education, expression through art and compassion. Did anyone at the Observer notice that white people, Mexican people, black people, all people came to the Black Forest Theater to donate time, money and love?

I am so offended by the complete lack of ethics within your editorial group. I know that your advertisers will pick up on the fact the Observer is with you when there is something to gain and killing you when there is not. I say that after seeing Erykah on the cover of the Observer ("The Weird Girl," by Robert Wilonsky, October 16, 2003) and in the paper over the past 12 years.

Let me end this rant by saying that Dallas doesn't need any more undue racial rumblings. No city does. All of this hoopla is based on mistruths and misguided people.

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