Letters To The Editor

After viewing your April 4 issue, I wanted to pass on some of my thoughts after reading the paper. The attempt of humor in using the Pimptatious ’05 centerfold imagery was in very poor taste. Combining it with the letters section compounded the insult;the best thing you can think of as funny is putting African-American males in pimpwear and expounding on it in the university newspaper? If I remember correctly, Asian-Americans were recently offended by the use of stereotypical imagery printed on Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirts; are you planning to select and offend a different race each month/issue as a selling point to increasing and maintaining your readership? I always thought colleges and universities were striving to increase diversity and racial harmony, not as a tool to promote and encourage racial profiling. Please eliminate these types of coarse, inbred humor from the paper.

John Parker

I am writing in response to the April 4 edition which included an April Fool’s Day insert, The Skyline Skew. I respect the right of the paper to speak freely. This letter is aimed at encouraging your reflection on the editorial choices made in this issue. While some parts were quite humorous and very clever, the “centerfold” of “Pimptatious” and the associated advice column were another matter. I was offended to see such a racist stereotype in the paper and wondered why it would be viewed as funny. I encourage the editorial board to consider these questions: At whom is it OK to poke fun, and who is exempt from that treatment? Why was this stereotype selected? Would it have seemed funny if other stereotypes had been utilized-stereotypes of women, or white men, or Filipinos or Latinos, or Jews or Muslims, for instance? When, if ever, is the use of stereotypes good journalism?The paper recently won a number of awards at the JACC (Journalism Association of Community Colleges) Annual State Convention in Sacramento, including the award for General Excellence, competing against all the state community colleges. In addition, a number of students won individual awards. I congratulate you on all of those. I hope you will subject your recent edition to the same high level of scrutiny that brought you those awards.

Sincerely,Victoria P. Morrow, Ph.D.President, Skyline College

I respect the right of the student paper to exercise the freedoms of press and speech so essential to a healthy and free community. I also urge the paper and by extension the entire college community to hold itself to a higher, more responsible standard in the exercise of its precious freedoms.The Skyline View published an April 1, 2005 edition of The Skyline Skew, a pull-out section of the paper that is intended to be humorous and satirical, an April Fool’s “joke.” It contains an advice column, “Ask Pimptatious,” that appropriates young black cultural vernacular and punctuates it with a large centerfold (Pimptatious ’05) of a dark-skinned African-American male dressed in a fur coat and shades. In case the reader misses the not-so-subtle imagery of the black male as a violent, immoral criminal who owns and controls women as property, the column contains supporting language such as “slapping bitches…to get gold teeth,” “playa hater,” and “homeboy.” In the staff box, the photographer is identified as “image ho” and the “person” responsible for the image is listed as “the White Man.”Under the auspices of using free speech to be humorous or, as the writer puts it, to tell a “complete and utter joke,” the reader is then urged to “get a clue, move on, and above all … try to laugh.” I would like to raise the consciousness of the college community and urge you to do something else with this material. Instead of laughing at what amounts to a racist and misogynistic “joke,” recognize this use of stereotype as a negative and dangerous force visited upon our college community. Know that it is made up of words that create conditions and consequences that affect all of our lives. And know that you, as individuals and as a collective, can create a louder statement of respect and sensitivity for diversity that literally drowns out the ignorance and ugliness of bigotry.The college’s mission statement declares that “Skyline College is a comprehensive community college that provides learner-centered education in a culturally rich and socially responsible environment.” I believe we have failed to meet that mission with respect to this recent edition of The Skyline View. The award-winning Skyline View has tarnished itself and its credibility in an effort to use race, class and gender as a punch line; and that is not so funny after all.I write this letter with hope that we can engage in a critical dialogue around the essential importance of taking seriously our commitment to an inclusive community and ultimately act to make that commitment a reality for Skyline College.

Regina Stanback StroudVice President, Instruction