“Insulting, inflammatory and inaccurate coverage”

The following (unpublished) letter to the Daily Dartmouth was forwarded to members of The Review‘s staff by Michael Amico ’07 and his organization, the “‘D’ Watch (Dartmouth’s News Media Watchdog).” Mr. Amico was recently featured on DartLog for a letter to the editors of the Daily D in which he criticized that paper’s coverage of Martin Luther King Jr. day celebrations and its speaker, white lesbian Dorothy Allison.

JEWELLE GOMEZ’S LETTER TO THE “D”

Dear Editors,

I would appreciate your printing my letter (unedited) in The Dartmouth as a rebuttal to your insulting, inflammatory and inaccurate coverage of my Stonewall Lecture on campus as well as that of Dorothy Allison the week before. As a graduate of Columbia University School of Journalism and a writer for more than 30 years, I understand that youthful writers often miss the larger picture when covering a story. The Dartmouth is 0 for 0 with underserved communities so far as I can tell. You have misrepresented lesbian/feminists, African Americans, and white Southerners and refused to correct your errors when they’re pointed out to you by fellow students. Your unprofessional approach to journalism resulted in gross misrepresentation of my lecture and the manufacture of divisiveness around the earlier presentation by Dorothy Allison for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. (In the future, try to print his name correctly each time.)

Whoever wrote the headline, “Leading gay rights activist bashes men, praises ’60s rock,” must have been in another lecture, not mine. Anyone attending my presentation or even reading the reporter’s many quotes from my talk would never conclude that I ‘bashed’ anybody or ‘railed’ at men. Where was the editor in all of this? And I haven’t heard those anti-feminist buzz phrases from anyone under 40 years of age since women got the vote. Anyone who knows my work (7 books and countless articles and lectures) would never say I ‘bash’ men. My discussion included positive references to many men-gay and straight. Your inability to tell the difference between a cultural analysis of patriarchy and male-bashing results in your insulting me, lesbian feminists and people of color. These are the time-worn tactics used to shut people up or belittle our opinions so you can obscure the real and important issues being addressed. In this case: the importance of discussing women’s sexuality and power. My talk wasn’t about men at all.

Your headline was so old fashioned it made your paper sound like a conservative tract from the 1950s. And it certainly didn’t represent the enthusiastic response I received from the students-women and men-who attended.

As an African American/Native American lesbian who worked for liberation in the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, the Women’s Movement and the Gay Movement, I insist on being recognized for all of who I am, not just who you find convenient. I’ve been a part of progressive movements in order to open up the world not close it down. You made a big (and unnecessary) deal of Dorothy Allison being white and Southern. Didn’t much of the Civil Rights Movement take place in the South; weren’t white citizens marching and dying too? The answer is yes, if you don’t remember your history. If Dorothy’s race was so critical, why was my ethnicity (which is evident in my biography as well as in my remarks) not mentioned at all?

Why does the reporter say that the entire Celebration “largely focused on gay rights,” when only two out of over twenty events focused on gayness? Selective reporting of facts is, in effect, lying; and those lies support the oppression of Black people and lesbians. I insist on my right and that of any other qualified speaker to make a presentation in celebration of Stonewall or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Don’t try to make me more invisible.

I’ve participated in other wonderful activities at Dartmouth, notably the Black/Native dialogue a few years back, so I know there is an active, intelligent and concerned student body there. I realize that this is just a student newspaper, but it seems like this would be the perfect time to be sharpening your journalism skills and learning about journalistic responsibility, not simply using the pages to generate misinformation and reinforce stereotypes. Have more respect for the history of our democracy and for your fellow students.

-Jewelle Gomez (February 17, 2005)

It may be of note that Amico is a reporter for Bay Windows, “New England’s Largest Gay and Lesbian Newspaper.”