Write to TV Execs

For the most part, I agree with your commentary [Lisa Frazier's Inside Prince George's column, Aug. 4] regarding African Americans and the "dumbbox"--my father's reference to the television.

However, if African Americans or any people of color want to view reflections of themselves in media, there must be a time when the community as a whole takes a stand and declares enough is enough!

The boycott from the Hispanic community is very good, the NAACP lawsuit is also good, but everyone must understand the power as individuals we consumers possess. Writing letters to media executives is a valid start.

Last season, UPN network had a series that was based on an African American butler-servant who was a spy during the Civil War. This scenario sounds harmless enough. However, the series was offensive; it ridiculed the condition of chattel slavery.

I had enough. Several friends and I went on a letter-writing frenzy.

The series was canceled. The network said it was due to poor ratings . . .

This is the type of power as consumers we wield. If African Americans could just truly understand that, then we could further the discussion with possible series ideas.

Thank you for your article. Hopefully it will set a fire under some dormant consumers.

April H. Brown


Put on Talent

YOU GO, FRAZIER! De-emphasizing affirmative action programs should not mean it's okay to stay within your comfort zone and not seek out talented people of color. Programming should represent our multicultural society. Our children who already watch too much television should be able to watch more educational programs that include people of color. Also I would like to see more public service announcements that featured local elementary and high school academic achievers as role models. Let the kids talk about what it takes to achieve. Kids identify best with other kids.

Betty Wilkerson

District Heights

An Informed Adult

I would like us African Americans to take a new handle on this issue. What about a BET2 that has programs about that "professional" returning home to his African American community? This idea may not "fix" how others view us, but we can change how we allow ourselves to be portrayed, and we can stop supporting institutions that do not support us.

About the lack of major retail in Prince George's County: I have been living in this county for two years, and I would like to be part of an aggressive program that educates people about the impact of spending their money in other counties. Ten years ago, as a young woman, I never thought about issues like that, so I am sure there are many people who simply buy what they need where they can get it and not think that unless you make a conscious effort to support your retail environment, you will not get improvement or recognition for your spending power. Now as an "informed" adult, if I can't find a product in my neighborhood, I use mail-order catalogues or I simply do without it. I know this may not work for every circumstance, but if we each can implement a strategy for shopping that allows us to boycott the retailers that have been boycotting us, we can bring about change. I hope we can make a collective effort to make this a major issue for every resident of this county.

J. Williams


Turn Away

I agreed with your article regarding the lack of representation of people of color on TV. I would like to further add that this also extends to Hollywood feature films as well. Additionally, the shows that do feature African Americans are also some of the worst shows on television. Although "The Hughleys" features a positive male character, it is a horrible show and not funny at all.

Also, the black-owned BET is a disgraceful example of television. Robert Johnson has done nothing to improve the situation with both of his amateur-run stations (BET on Jazz), which run commercials in the middle of a musical set. I think we would be better served to turn away from TV and films altogether if we are not given the quality we deserve. Of course, we must appreciate quality when we get it. Look what we did for "Beloved" when it came out. I have seen better movies, but it was still a quality effort.

Harold K. Allen


Wrong Place for Store

I think a Wal-Mart at the intersection of Routes 210 and 228 in Accokeek is a very bad idea. I am already having to deal with ever-increasing traffic and congestion everywhere in the area. Building a huge Wal-Mart in a location that is now woods would make it all much worse. Even more traffic, noise and light pollution, a negative impact on property values, the resulting loss of local businesses in the existing neighborhood shopping centers--these are the things that Wal-Mart would bring. Is this really the kind of development that Prince George's County needs?

What about trying to use some of the empty space already available along Indian Head Highway? The former Hechinger at the Swan Creek Shopping Center has been empty for years--and it's well over 100,000 square feet. If Wal-Mart were interested in adding to our community, let them use that existing space and add to it, if necessary. We need development that will not destroy the businesses that we now have and create more vacancies. Let's use what has been built already and work to revitalize it.

Our elected officials should do whatever they can to stop the approval of a Wal-Mart in this rural location. It's the wrong place!

Frank Damba


Smart Growth?

This is to express my opposition to the proposed construction of the largest Wal-Mart in the State of Maryland at the intersection of Routes 210 and 228 in Accokeek. The giant store--about five times the size of the typical Safeway, with an estimated 50 checkout lines--would overwhelm our rural community and dramatically change our quality of life. Stores of this size in other locations generate more than 900 car trips an hour--and the hours run from 18 to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you think traffic is bad now, just wait, if this store is really built.

I have been a resident of Accokeek for over 13 years and have enjoyed its peaceful character and beautiful environment. But with the increasing development over the years, the area is becoming just one more example of poor planning and out-of-control urban sprawl. Adding a Wal-Mart will just make the problems worse. As I spend hours commuting along Indian Head Highway, I have plenty of time to look at the many vacant retail stores in the existing shopping centers. The impact of a 203,000-square-foot Wal-Mart on these stores would be dramatic, leaving us with even more unsightly empty boxes.

Whatever happened to Maryland's Smart Growth policy that calls for concentration of new development in areas in or near areas that are already developed? It was enacted to combat ever-increasing sprawl, widely recognized as the cause of traffic congestion, ever-longer commutes, inefficient use of public resources and the break down of local community. Allowing a Wal-Mart at 210/228 to overwhelm our small rural community is just the opposite of the state policy of Smart Growth.

Why are we paving our paradise to make a parking lot? And making what we have already paved an empty wasteland? Please let our elected Prince George's County officials know that this is not acceptable.

Linda M. Lampkin


Superstore vs. Cluster

I support the stance of "Citizens for a Livable 210" (CFAL 210) in its opposition to the proposed Wal-Mart at the 228/210 intersection in Accokeek. A single store of the planned magnitude there (the largest Wal-Mart in all of Maryland), would harm the rural character of the community, the environment, the existing network of local businesses and the traffic flow.

Many diverse neighborhoods were represented at recent CFAL 210 Wal-Mart informational meetings. The overwhelming sense there was that the other current and planned Wal-Marts within a half-hour radius would already be more than enough of that company's presence in the locality.

The Mattawoman watershed, part of the area Maryland recently considered a critical, nationally unique area, was recently purchased for millions of taxpayer dollars to preserve its natural resources in perpetuity. A store of Wal-Mart's size and scope would compromise the integrity of this very area, which Marylanders had just paid dearly for, to protect.

The numerous shopping malls north and south on Route 210 already have large vacancy percentages; a Wal-Mart at 228/210 would further degrade the business landscape with its historically documented corporate practice of dropping prices to drive other stores out of business, become a local monopoly for the short term and then vacating the store as its profit margin declined, removing itself as a tax base, in turn. This does not fit within the "Smart Growth" espoused by the state government.

The additional traffic that a Wal-Mart of the proposed size would bring in would further degrade the regional vehicular flows, in an area already cited as being the nation's most congested.

I support a mixed-use development of the property in question. Instead of the net losses in tax revenue, employment diversity and community cohesiveness suffered by a community burdened with such a single, out-of-proportion superstore, fiscal options should be explored to encourage a cluster of smaller, more regionally sensitive businesses in its stead.

Kent L. Hibben


Praising Chapel Story

I read an article in "Prince George's Towns" that really interested me, since I have spent all of my 69 years in the shadow of Andrews Air Force Base and indeed worked there in 1947 and 1948 before I married. I even married a man who had been raised in Camp Springs, gone to World War II and returned to the area.

The article, "Praise for a Base Chapel," caught my eye, and I really enjoyed it. Forest Grove Methodist Church was familiar to me, as well as the names Old Fields and Meadows. These really rang a bell! I thoroughly enjoyed the article.

Mrs. Pat Day

Fort Washington

The Prince George's Extra welcomes Letters to the Editor. Fax to 301-952-1397, e-mail to pgextra@washpost.com or write to Letters to the Editor, Prince George's Extra, The Washington Post, 14402 Old Mill Rd., Suite 201, Upper Marlboro, Md. 20772. Please include your address and a daytime phone number. Letters may be edited.