Letters Host Farai Chideya and producer Christopher Johnson read listeners' comments about recent segments of the show.


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It's that time of week again - time for your letters.

Joining me is NEWS & NOTES producer Christopher Johnson. Hey, Christopher.


CHIDEYA: So what have we got?

JOHNSON: We got a few letters about Erin Aubry Kaplan's commentary this week. Here's a clip from that piece.

(Soundbite of previous NPR broadcast)

ERIN AUBRY KAPLAN: In a confused world of multi-cultural soul singers like Christina Aguilera and Mariah, Beyonce was unapologetically and unmistakably black. Straining more than a bit beneath those glittery evening gowns and designer jeans, her butt was confrontational in the best way, and it reassured the rest of us that a figure like that still had a shot at celebrityhood.

JOHNSON: One listener wasn't so happy about this elegy to Beyonce's butt. In fact, Hollis Bradberry(ph) of Augusta, Georgia, was dumbfounded and wrote: Am I listening to Entertainment Tonight or NPR? Who gives a fat rat's you know what about the size or existence of Beyonce's backside?

Thanks for the letter, Hollis. We aired that commentary because it was an elegant metaphor of the reshaping that stars, no matter their race, often have to go through to meet Hollywood standards.

CHIDEYA: And speaking of reshaping and remaking, how about our December 26th Roundtable discussion on global marketing. Michael Brown(ph) of Orange Park, Florida, wrote to say he found the conversation enlightening, but also quote, “dated and off key.” He wrote: Unbeknownst to many black Americans is our power and clout in the global market place. Too many of us are always hoping to find approval from the white American mainstream. If we were to look beyond the American horizon, we would find a global appeal.

JOHNSON: And on Tuesday's Roundtable panelist Michael Meyers was in rare form on the subject of U.S. casualties in Iraq.

(Soundbite of previous NPR broadcast)

Mr. MICHAEL MEYERS (Executive Director, New York Civil Rights Coalition): When you have a policy of war, you're in and you're on a casualty count. And you can't get away from that. For me, the issue is not 3,000, not 4,000, not 5,000 more deaths, not 22,000 casualties or 5,000 casualties; for me, the question is when do we get out of Iraq?

CHIDEYA: Mary Elizabeth Anderson(ph) of Davis, California, praised Meyers for his comments. She wrote: Thank you, Michael Meyers, for sharing some of the most honest and earnest words I've heard on NPR in many, many days. The discourse of late has been dangerously timid as our public news services fall victim to the same amnesia that facilitated this unjust war in Iraq to begin with.

JOHNSON: Constance Beddetive(ph) of Silverspring, Maryland - that's my hometown - also liked what Meyers said Tuesday about the death of Saddam Hussein. She wrote: It horrifies me to hear us talk so lightly about finding various members of the terrorist groups to, quote, “capture or kill them.” We should be talking about bringing them to justice, not having the state take on murder as an appropriate action. Thank you, Michael.

CHIDEYA: But listener Sinora Cummings(ph) says Meyers needs to tone things down a bit. She writes: His insights are great, but until he can play nice, you should reconsider inviting him to comment.

JOHNSON: Finally, a recent Roundtable discussion on the felony conviction of two black fraternity brothers for hazing struck some listeners as close-minded. James Hardaway of Stone Mountain, Georgia, wrote to say he'd like to hear a broader perspective. If the leaders of the nine black Greek letter organizations are included in Ebony magazine's list of America's 100 most influential blacks there must be something more to the story than the narrow perspectives often presented on NEWS & NOTES.

Got some thoughts you want to express? Drop us a line.

CHIDEYA: You can call us at 202-408-3330, that's 202-408-3330. Or you can e-mail us, just log on to npr.org and click on Contact Us. Please be sure to tell us where you're writing from and how to pronounce your name, especially if it's something like Farai Chideya. Thanks, Christopher.

JOHNSON: Thanks, Farai.

(Soundbite of music)

CHIDEYA: This is NPR News.

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