Building the Black Turnout

While I understand your concern over the noticeable lack of color in the [National Folk Festival] audience ("Music for Some Folks," Arts & Culture, Oct. 12), there may be some other reasons — along with the dearth of marketing —for low black turnout. Before assuming why black folk didn't turn out, take a piece of advice from "Chappelle's Show" and "ask a black guy." As one of the few who went, let me offer up my observations.

First, the rain put a damper on bringing out big chunks of black Richmonders. As my wife and other female family members will attest to, black women don't like rain because it will mess up their hair. This is not a stereotype; it's a reality of African-American hair chemical processing. Many of the black women who came out sported natural hairstyles and braids, which stand up to moisture quite well.

Second, "Virginia's Gospel Traditions" is not an exploration of folk heritage for black people — it's called church. With all due respect to the Paschall Brothers and others, we blacks who attend church regularly already get a taste of that gospel and spiritual heritage on any given Sunday, as was evidenced by the exodus of black spectators when it was time for First African Baptist Church's performance. Many of us already know this group. Those black gospel performances were not educational for us — they were for white people.

Third, performances of the Crooked Road and similar groups would be interesting and educational for blacks and whites alike if the announcers and festival materials focused on how black blues, white bluegrass, and all gospel and country music have similar origins and structures. Ray Charles' music history is a testament to that, and the lessons provide a unifying story for all. Also, it would have helped me avoid getting funny looks from white people when I started singing along with George Jones' "The Grand Tour." My ribs still hurt from my wife's sharp elbows.

Conaway Haskins

Police Article Didn't Help

As a police officer for the city of Richmond and the mother of a 4-year-old whose father is a narcotics detective for the city, I take absolute offense to your ridiculous headline in reference to the rental-car situation ("Police Prefer Cutesy, Expensive Mazdas," Street Talk, Sept. 21) and the city police department.

Everyone is by now well aware of the past poor fiscal management that this city has been plagued with for so many years. But help me to understand why your magazine and so many others continue to focus on the police department in such a negative light. Not only is it entirely untrue, but it could possibly be damaging to some of the detectives who work in our most dangerous assignments, such as narcotics.

Is it really necessary for you to have to explain to the public why our narcotics division uses and deploys its manpower in certain vehicles? Do you think that the people of Richmond now have a better understanding of what the police department is truly up against now that this article has been published? I can promise you, Mr. or Mrs. Newspaper Reporter, that there is nothing "cutesy" about being a police officer or a narcotics detective for the city of Richmond. The city does not bestow any glory to their detectives like you see in some police departments, such as those in New York and Los Angeles. There is no pay raise and, really, the perks are not even measurable. Unless you consider sometimes not having enough cars to do our jobs and working 18 or more hours a perk.

Truly, Mr. or Mrs. Reporter, I am just asking that you spread some of the mudslinging around. I am sure there are a few other city agencies whose cars you could scrutinize and billing procedures you could audit. At least with those agencies, you wouldn't be jeopardizing the lives and the families of the people you are supposedly trying to expose.

Officer Victoriana G. Cangelosi

There's More to Pour

Your article "Common Ground" (Cover Story, Oct. 5) neglected many independent coffee houses in the Richmond area!

You left out World Cup Coffee and Lite Fair, which has won Richmond Magazine's "Best Independent Coffee House" for many years running and has been open in the heart of the Fan (and in other locations) since 1991.

You left out Betsy's in Carytown, another one of the oldest in the area.

17.5 Uncommon Cafe in the Farmers' Market of Shockoe Bottom. They were one of the hardest-hit places after Gaston and received almost no assistance to rebuild. The scene there is awesome, and the owners are some of the nicest people I have ever met.

What about Rostov's? ... Plant Zero cafe that serves the art gallery over in Manchester? Palani Drive in the Libby and Grove area? ... Ashland Coffee and Tea ... Lift on Broad Street?

If you simply would have opened your phone book you would have found around 20 independent, awesome coffeehouses that make up a special place in their respective communities. All are always looking for new customers to welcome into their family or regulars.

Rodney Rosser

Editor's Note: For a complete listing of coffee-houses in the Richmond area, click on the Lunchbox link in our Food & Drink section, online at www.styleweekly.com.


We incorrectly identified Scott Stadium, home of the Virginia Cavaliers, in last week's issue ("The Score," Street Talk, Oct. 13). Style regrets the error and salutes Virginia's impressive 26-21 victory over No. 4 Florida State.

Letters to the editor may be sent to: letters@styleweekly.com



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