I am writing in response to the article on Mark Mathabane entitled "Collective Power" [July 12]. Cynthia Greenlee writes: "But don't mistake Mathabane for an academic or a checkbook activist; he's a grade-A agitator. This slight, quietly energetic man 'called out' the South African regime even as his family remained under its thumb, quit the prestigious Columbia School of Journalism, wrote a book that makes banned lists nationwide and married a white woman to boot. Mathabane will gladly keep on being contentious--if that's what it takes to effect change."
I do not think that Mathabane's marrying outside of his race should be linked to "calling out" the South African regime, quitting a pretigious school or authoring a banned book. Despite the opinion of many, those involved in interracial relationships are not in them to be defiant, contentious or to agitate. Interracial relationships occur for the same reasons as same-race relationships. It is offensive to suggest otherwise.
I do not think that Greenlee or The Independent's editors intended to be offensive. However, as members of the press, you should consider how a listing of activist endeavors concluding with "marrying a white woman" could affirm or perpetuate the belief that those involved in interracial relationships do so to be an activist or to otherwise agitate others around them.
Referring to the race of Mathabane's wife in the context in which it was noted has no relevance. Perhaps you could have referred to her race in mentioning the book they co-authored, Love in Black and White, in which they discuss living as an interracial couple in the United States.
Although Hal Crowther's new book, Cathedrals of Kudzu ["Vines, Venom, Veracity," Aug. 23] brims with wit and insight, his description of the relationship between belief, doubt and drink misses the mark. In particular, Hal's assessment of Walker Percy seems somewhat misrepresentative both of Walker and of Catholicism. Surely the Church hasn't surrounded Percy with "the odor of sanctity," nor is Percy as assailed by doubt as Crowther would have it. Many incidental pieces in Lost in the Cosmos are egregiously orthodox--religiously self-certain to an almost embarrassing degree.
Crowther seems determined to accord moonshine a sanctuary of its own, a place where unbelievers can participate in the true secular sacrament. However, the well-documented relationship between writers and drink has not, in the main, been happy. Crowther's claims on behalf of "the boozy doubter's purgatory" make one wonder why boozy doubters are so easily piqued by devout Catholic drinkers, particularly when so many boozers eventually come in from the cold to sip sacramental wine around a much larger table. Lonely regard for moonshine tends to be just that.