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Letters to the Editors

Mall hat episode teaches children the wrong lesson

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 2000

Re: Tip of the hat sends Tyrone mall over the top, by Howard Troxler, July 19, and related stories about the young man ejected from Tyrone Square Mall.

How is it that an alleged man of God allows his child to wear a hat, in a gang-related manner, with the word "pimp" printed on it?

Had I worn such a hat in such a manner with such a message, my butt would not only have been kicked out of the mall, my father would have kicked it all the way home, too. I can't believe that this supposed minister is trying to rationalize his son's behavior by simply explaining that "pimp" means "in control." How ridiculous! No wonder these young men grow up with such little respect for women. Just listen to today's rap music to understand my point.

This young man could have learned valuable lessons from this experience. He could have learned respect for women and his elders. He could have learned that your appearance can and will define who you are. He could have learned to accept responsibility for his poor decisionmaking. But due to his father, Howard Troxler and the so-called civil rights bunch, this young man is going to learn what so many children today chant as their mantra: "Aw, c'mon, man, it ain't my fault!"
-- J.M. Touger, Tampa

The rules need to be obeyed

Re: The stories about Ephraim Sykes at Tyrone Square Mall.

The Rev. Manuel Sykes complained about the treatment of his son at Tyrone Square Mall after his son had sung there in his tuxedo. I, too, am a minister, and I have two sons who have traveled in the United States and in Europe singing in their tuxedos. If my sons went to Tyrone Square Mall, or any place else, and broke the rules, I would expect them to be asked to leave. And I would thank the security personnel for teaching my sons that they will be held responsible for their actions.

The Rev. Sykes appears to be teaching his son that if you get caught doing something wrong, just yell racism. Then everyone will get mad and suddenly you haven't done anything wrong, and it is the other guy's fault.

I hope Tyrone Square Mall does not apologize or change its rules. If the mall officials do, they might as well throw the rule book in the garbage because they will no longer be able to enforce any of the rules.

Columnist Howard Troxler should be made to go and apologize to his high school principle and then not be allowed to write any more columns like the one on Wednesday (Tip of the hat sends Tyrone mall over the top). Things are bad enough without his fanning the flames trying to make them worse. We sure don't need him teaching our children that it is okay to stand up to authority and break the rules if you don't like what they tell you.
-- The Rev. Ted Bambrough, St. Petersburg

Remembering a nice young man

A little over a year ago, I said goodbye to one of the most polite, respectful and hardworking young men I had ever had the privilege to teach. Ephraim Sykes was in my wind ensemble and jazz band at John Hopkins Middle School. I have a hard time picturing quiet and sweet Ephraim as some unruly gang member looking for trouble at the mall.

I strongly believe that the mall security people have a tough job, and they do it well. Although I was not there, I also believe that this is an unfortunate case of poor judgment of a very nice young man.
-- Mrs. Calista Zebley, director of bands, John Hopkins Middle School, St. Petersburg

Mall should apologize

Regarding the incident between the Tyrone Square Mall and Ephraim Sykes, I believe that the security guard clearly overreacted to the situation. Did Sykes walk around with several "thug" type people, all with there hats turned sideways? No! Did he do anything against the law! No!

I am a white person, and I believe that one clearly should have to do something unlawful in order to be evicted from the mall. What is next? Back in the '50s, white boys were also depicted as gangsters because of the way they combed their hair. It was an expression of one's one feeling then, just as it is for kids wearing their hats to the side today. God forbid that the next gang-related craze should be bald heads, then many of us baby boomers would be in jeopardy.

I believe the mall should apologize to young Ephraim, and he should be offered a $100 shopping spree to go with it. All security personnel should also be briefed on the proper handling of incidents such as this.
-- Robert D. Bates, Clearwater

Direct an apology to women

Re: Mall ejects teen over cap, July 18.

Ephraim Sykes wears a cap with the word "Pimp" (one who procures prostitutes for others) and his father is upset because the mall ejects him for not following rules. The Rev. Manuel Sykes needs to focus on more than his son's ejection from the mall.

When will the good reverend address the enslavement and denigration of women?

There is nothing more prejudiced than the words that males call women. The N-word may inflame the blacks. There are words that inflame women, and they are used all too frequently in rap music, on clothing and in language in public places.

As a woman, I would expect that the Rev. Sykes would have his son apologize to women everywhere.
-- Roberta Yancey, St. Petersburg

Discrimination of another sort

Re: Mall ejects teen over cap.

I would sincerely hope that if I were to appear in a public place in a cap sporting the N-word that I would be speedily ejected for inappropriate behavior in a public place.

Ephriam Sykes appears to favor an occupation that is not only heinous and degrading, but also sexist in the extreme. How his father, a minister of God, can permit his minor son to wear such apparel is beyond me.

I was taught that people who wish to litigate are expected to have clean hands. I suggest that before one cries "racial discrimination," one needs to look at one's own attitude of "sexist discrimination." Dissing people is not funny.
-- Elvira R. Niles, Valrico

Values in decline

The Pimpgear Web site says, "Make sure everyone knows that you're a pimp, not a ho!"

Does the Rev. Manuel Sykes want to send the message that this verbiage is okay? Everyone knows that the word "pimp" demeans women! Sadly I regret that the values of our great country are declining rapidly, with our "great" leader Bill Clinton leading the way.

Wake up, parents!
-- York T. Somerville, Pinellas Park

Not buying it

Re: "Pimp" means individuality, not sex, July 19.

Have the words "pimp" and "ho" become less offensive because they have managed to be marketed to children on articles of clothing? A test might be to ask: Would anyone be comfortable with having themselves or a family member labeled a "pimp" or a "ho" in church or in public? The sane guess is: probably not. If that's what being marketed to children, should we be buying it?

However you spin them, the words are degrading to women. Would any parents be comfortable seeing their daughters walk around with a member of the opposite sex wearing such a hat? Once again the sane guess would be: probably not. Any parent/reverend who would allow his child out in public wearing clothes from "the Pimpgear collection" is complicit in that child's delinquency, should it occur. If you are preaching anything else, we are not buying it.
-- Charles Platania, St. Petersburg

Embarrassment seems in order

Why is a minister's son wearing a cap that says "Pimp"? I know if it were my son (and I'm not a minister), he'd be grounded for a month.

If I were the father, I'd be too embarrassed to make a big deal out of the whole event. If he has a daughter, would it be okay if she wore a T-shirt that said "Ho"? Makes you wonder.
-- Bob Dalzell, St. Petersburg

Democratic activist responds

The July 5 article Condo commandos face fight misinterpreted and misquoted my remarks in order to cast an adversarial shadow on Broward County Democrats. I have often stated that technology is the new wave and if we in the party do not get on the leading edge of that wave, then we will be buried by it.

I made it clear to your reporter that I have great respect for the people who have led Broward Democrats to victory so many times over the past decades. My efforts as president of the Broward Young Democrats have been focused on recruiting members outside the retirement communities using e-mail, e-groups and Web sites to improve communications and lay the groundwork to get out the vote.

My candidacy for president of the Council of Club Presidents for Broward Democratic Clubs was launched because of discontent among many of the newer club presidents with the stagnation and lack of organization in the council. The election that was scheduled on May 6 was officially postponed because after three consecutive years in office, neither the chair nor any of the officers had a copy of the current by-laws and they could not decide who was eligible to vote. (Actually, if the vote had been taken that day, I could have won, which could be the real reason the vote was not held.)

I rose to a parliamentary point of order, quoting Robert's Rules, which state that an organization without by-laws should first elect a chair. I never stated that "the current club presidents . . . didn't know how to run things" as published in your article. My motion was denied by the chair, who had prearranged selection of a by-laws committee to circumvent the election process.

I am neither "foaming at the mouth" nor trying to "create an issue" as others were quoted in describing my efforts. I have been working hard to register voters, improve communication and get out the vote to elect Democrats in November. The Broward Young Democrats are the largest Young Democrat club in Florida and we are one of the largest Democratic clubs of any kind in the state. I invite you to surf our Web site at and get more involved in the political process.
-- Randy A. Fleischer, president, Broward Young Democrats, Davie

Rage proliferates

Re: Parent rage at youth sports, editorial, July 14.

Last year I attended my 50th high school reunion in Reading, Mass., so I felt special pain about the father of a hockey player beating to death another player's father at the rink in Reading. This is a beautiful, quiet, prosperous town north of Boston. How could such a tragedy happen?

Your editorial was helpful, especially where you said, "Parents who cannot overcome such negative feelings should do everyone a favor and stay home."

We're having serious problems right here in Florida with road rage. Now it appears that we have to be alert to "parent rage."
-- Lois Cormier, Clearwater

Pleased with the paper

We just spent two wonderful weeks visiting our daughter and son-in-law in Largo. We enjoyed reading your paper every morning. Wish we had a paper up here like it.
-- Jens and Kay Ericksen, Racine, Wis.

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