It's About Understanding
[Re: Feature, “The Heartbeat of Africa,” Feb. 16-22] Thank you for your interest in the African dance community here in Albuquerque. I hope the article will contribute to the ongoing evolution of the community.
Despite my deep respect and sensitivity to African-American issues, I am not, in truth, "always seeking validation" from the African-American community. I am validated in my own art each time I teach a class. Whether in schools, summer camps, other studios or in my own, I am validated by the pure joy and transformation that I witness and have reflected back to me from all those with whom I dance! This includes the many African teachers and drummers, both local and those recognized internationally as masters of their craft, who come to Maple Street to teach.
They have not only encouraged me to study and to share what I have learned, but also consider themselves a part of our community. In turn, our community is a very active and respected part of the larger national community of African drumming and dancing.
No, I am not seeking validation, but understanding. It is my intention to pursue and contribute to a world in which people are judged not by the color of their skin, but by the contents of their character.
Maple Street Dance Space, Owner
Join the Beat
Thank you for the great article about African dance in Albuquerque [Feature, “The Heartbeat of Africa,” Feb. 16-22]. I have recently moved away from Albuquerque and I miss the scene so much. I studied at UNM and Maple Street for four years or so. I am now taking African dance classes in Connecticut and it really isn't the same. The African dance scene in Albuquerque is full of wonderful, talented dancers and drummers who are not recognized enough. There is so much beauty and solidarity within the community that I have yet to find elsewhere. I am so pleased that this community has finally been recognized in the Alibi. I hope that readers recognize how completely awesome these classes are and take the opportunity to drop in on a class. It is a great way to get exercise and meet interesting, passionate people. There really is no cost that is too much for this kind of experience. I encourage everyone to attend!
New Haven, Conn.
Wilson Will Rebut
Contrary to Susan Terry's experiences [Letters, “Bad Form is Better than No Form,” Feb. 16-22], I've always gotten a response to my letters to Heather Wilson. I write her probably twice a year. We've been in agreement only once (Abu Ghraib: inexcusable, intolerable). Unlike the proforma notes I usually receive from Domenici and Bingaman, she actually speaks to the issues I've raised (with one exception: she ducked and red-herringed the privatization of social security). Otherwise, she hasn't been afraid to argue a point or state and defend her position. I've assumed she could tell from my letters she wasn't in the running for my vote and so had nothing to lose by speaking her mind. Heather Wilson doesn't usually think or vote the way I'd like her to, but she has been attentive and responsive to this constituent.
A Chance for Cody
To the good people of New Mexico, I implore you to stand up in opposition to the unusually harsh conviction of Cody Posey, who killed his father, stepmother and stepsister after years of torment and abuse. What the jury did not hear is that the boy's father, Paul Posey, brutally beat the boy since he was 18 months old.
To parents, I ask you what kind of monster would beat a toddler about the face and torso with a belt? What would you do if it happened to your child at the hands of someone you trusted to care for them? Now imagine being subjected to severe abuse on a daily and weekly basis for years. Imagine the terror this child lived in.
There were more than 30 witnesses who testified, under oath, that Posey isolated and abused his son. He refused to let Cody's maternal family see him. He was not permitted to participate in any extracurricular activities, even though he was a good student and well-liked by his teachers. He was not allowed to talk to other students at school. His stepsister, Marilea (sic), was paid by Posey to spy on Cody and report any broken “rules.”
Fourteen-year-old Cody was in desperate need of protection when he shot his father, stepmother and stepsister. The father repeatedly assaulted the boy with belts, fists, cables, wet ropes, hay hooks and pliers.
Cody's attorney, Gary Mitchell, stated after the conviction, “The boy never had a chance.”
Following closing arguments, the jury was instructed to deliberate on the basis of what “a reasonable person in the same situation would have done. How can any of us possibly understand what it is like to be severely beaten every day? Do we expect the victim not to defend himself? How can we, as adults, expect a 14-year-old boy to exhibit clear, rational, “reasonable” decision making?
The ultimate tragedy is that the District Attorney's office will most likely ask the court to sentence Cody as an adult. He could be in prison until the age of 63. In an adult facility, what kind of physical and sexual assaults will he be subjected to?
If the state of New Mexico will not show mercy to this boy it is incumbent upon us, as citizens, to stand up for him. The judge in the case, the Honorable James Waylon Counts, and the District Attorney, Scott Key, are elected officials. They are charged with carrying out the will of the people. In New Mexico and throughout the United States, people are calling out for mercy for Cody Posey. That is the will of the people.
What can we ask of the state of New Mexico? Reduce the charges to manslaughter in self defense. Provide psychiatric treatment and counseling in a secure residential facility for juveniles. Commute his sentence to time served. We are his last chance. And Godspeed to Gary Mitchell.
West Chester, Penn.
Letters should be sent with the writer's name, address and daytime phone number via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also be faxed to (505) 256-9651. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium; we regret that owing to the volume of correspondence we cannot reply to every letter.
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