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Thursday Apr 23, 2015

South End's champions on Beacon Hill

I was excited to see both of our neighborhood State Representatives - Aaron Michlewitz and Byron Rushing - receive a champion rating from the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund when the organization revealed its scorecard today.

The South End is one of the most diverse parts of Boston and, as a result, great health disparities exist in our neighborhood. Planned Parenthood is committed to eliminating these disparities and Michelwitz and Rushing's ratings prove that they are committed to policies that will make the South End - and all of Massachusetts - a healthier place to live. One such initiative is the proposed Healthy Youth Act, which would ensure that any school electing to teach sexuality education uses a curriculum that's medically accurate, age-appropriate, and truly comprehensive. With teen pregnancy and STI rates higher than the state average in Boston, this legislation would have a remarkable impact.

Both of Michlewitz and Rushing represent the South End well and deserve recognition for their service. In their leadership positions as the new Chairman of the Committee on Financial Services and the continuing House Majority Whip respectively, both are well-positioned to have a positive impact on this legislative session. Both also share our community commitment to supporting organizations - like Planned Parenthood - that make us a stronger neighborhood every day.

Michael Falcone
Government Relations Manager, Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund and South End resident

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Song lyric, or slur?
I was taken aback by the kind of narrative that Michele D. Maniscalo used in reporting the story of Irene Small's fence vandalized by graffiti ('South End author's fence vandalized with racial slur', South End News, April 16). The media seems to want to sensationalize everything and create a racial divide. I would hope a local community paper like the South End News would not need to step down to that level.

The story opens using words like "Racially charged", "alarmed", "racial problem", "epithet laced message" and "uncomfortable". Growing up in the 50's I can understand why Ms. Small's would be shaken and upset over the word being used in the graffiti. Back in the 50's when someone dropped that word it had only one intent. However, The reader is then informed of the origin what was written on her fence, that it is quote from a popular Jamaican song from the 1970's by artist Boris Gardiner and most notably sampled by a very popular hip/hop rap artist's album which was released last month. One can easily assume this was not a racist incident but that of a young fan spray painting the song lyrics on a fence.

Then we are informed of the "Community Disorder Unit" "Chilling effect", "the reminder of the racial affront" and "Afraid they'd be next".

I begin to question whether Ms. Maniscalo even explained the pop culture reference of the sentence to Ms. Smalls or even to the Community Disorder Unit? I would feel that both Ms. Smalls and the Community Disorder Unit would have both drop this accusation that this vandalism was racially motivated if they were rightfully informed of this pop culture reference.
What would happen if the young person who spray painted this decided to write; "Last Real Nigga Alive" instead?


Richard M. Rizza


Publisher Sue O'Connell responds:
Dear Mr. Rizza,
Context is everything. Unfortunately , the tagger, who was vandalizing Ms. Small's personal property, must have run out of room, thus leaving us wondering if it was hate via vandalism, or just disrespect via vandalism. It strikes me that it is not Ms. Small who needs to be reminded of the power of the word in the 1950s, but rather you and the tagger who need to be reminded of the power the word still wields-with an "a" or an "er".

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