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DON’T BLAME BLACKS FOR PIRACY To the editor: I read with considerable interest the Oct. 27, 2003, commentary by Evan P. Schultz, entitled ” Don’t Cry for Her” [Page 90]. What caught my eye was the illustration depicting a young black girl holding a piggy bank seated on or behind a computer and surrounded by stacks of CDs. Hovering over and glowering at her are two gargantuan figures, and she is visibly and understandably terrified. Upon reading the article, it becomes clear that the subject is the illegal pirating of copyrighted music over computer networks and the Recording Industry Association of America’s lawsuits targeting those pirates. The article makes the point that the batch of defendants includes a 12-year-old girl. Quoting from an article appearing in a recent issue of Wiredmagazine, Mr. Schultz writes that many file-swappers “simply don’t understand what they did wrong.” He continues, “Though she changed her tune soon after the recording industry sued her daughter, the 12-year-old girl’s mother initially told the press, ‘It’s not like we were doing anything illegal.’ “ The little black girl in the depiction, in the mind of most readers, is immediately implicated as the 12-year-old girl, who, along with her mother, “simply don’t understand what they did wrong.” The clear implication of that image, taken together with the quoted passages from Mr. Schultz’s commentary, is that it is black people who are the villains, when the facts show just the opposite. There is a widely acknowledged “digital divide” in this country, which would suggest that the girl depicted should not be black. In the fall of 2000, the U.S. Department of Commerce found that “white and Asian-American and Pacific Islander households continued to have Internet access at levels more than double those of blacks and Hispanics,” and that “86.3 percent of households earning $75,000 and above per year had Internet access compared to 12.7 percent of households earning less than $15,000 per year.” According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, located in Washington, D.C., “when it comes to race and ethnicity, whites are notably more likely to have Internet access than blacks or Hispanics.” In its Main Report, Pew states, “in most aspects, these racial and ethnic variances are explained by income.” This letter is not intended to suggest that Legal Times’choice of this depiction represents a deliberate attempt to mislead your readers as to who the most likely culprits are. It is likely that Legal Timeswas not motivated by ill-will toward any person or group, and I prefer to believe that to be the case. As African-Americans, however, we have become sensitized to the many illustrations, depictions, and media coverage of welfare recipients, drug users, and dealers suggesting that these are “black” problems, although statistics show otherwise. Legal Timesmust be responsible and circumspect as to the impressions conveyed through illustrations. The inclusion of this illustration, as the saying goes, is worth a thousand words. I find it personally insulting and insensitive. Horace McClerklin Wiggs & McClerklin Alexandria, Va.

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