BLACK LITERATURE GETS UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE FROM PROF

BY HERMINA FREDERICK

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

As soon as you walk into the classroom, you notice how her African attire sets the tone for an exploration into the hidden dimensions of African-American literature. You know you have found it -- Elizabeth Brown-Guillory's African-American literature class.

Elizabeth Brown-Guillory's students say she is a mediator who does a masterful job of exposing the hidden cache of African-American literature in a manner that elicits the "I see" experience from black, white and Hispanic students alike.

"Since taking her class," former student Marcia Galatas said, "I have become more enlightened about the literary genius of my ancestors."

White, Hispanic and African students alike say Brown-Guillory's tutelage gives one a more informed perspective of the black dilemma under slavery, and one begins to understand why black writers were hindered in exposing their work.

Since coming to UH in 1988, associate professor Brown-Guillory has revitalized interest in African-American literature among students. For several years, black literature had not been offered at the university, so, at its inception, students flocked to fill up class slots early in the registration period and ever since, she said.

"We have had a waiting list of several students each semester."

She teaches a curriculum that includes, among others, Survey of African-American Literature, Masterpieces of African-American Literature, and Black Women Writers and American Literature Since 1868.

"I focus my students' attention on the dynamics in American racial consciousness and lead them to view writers, story plots, poems and characters in the light of the nature of the times that they lived in," Brown-Guillory said.

Often, she said, students tend to bring to black literature their personal experiences and biases, often clouding their appreciation for the work itself.

It is by no mere penchant of chance that Brown-Guillory excels in her field. Since entering the University of Southwestern Louisiana, she mapped a straight course to a doctoral degree in literature, specializing in British and American literature, with emphasis on African-American literature.

In the interim, she honed her teaching skills, imparting her knowledge to students at USL and Florida State University.

By 1980, after completing her doctorate, she attained assistant professorship of English at the UNiversity of South Carolina. Two years later, she joined the faculty at Dillard Uiversity in New Orleans.

In her role of assistant professor at UH, Brown-Guillory sits on several of the English Department committees.

Author, playwright, actress--Brown-Guillory takes her place among contemporary black female literary artists.

Speaking of her accomplishments in this area, author Margaret Walker Alexander said, "The decade of the '80s is truly the decade of black women in American Literature...It is this decade to which Elizabeth Brown-Guillory belongs, with two plays prodeced and published, Bayou Relics and Snapshots of Broken Dolls."

Her latest creation, It's Just a Little Mark, is tentatively set for production this fall.

In addition to a host of published articles, she has delivered several presentations across the country. She is the author of three books, Their Place on the Stage, Alice Childress' Blueprint for Humanism (critical study) and Wines in the Wilderness: Plays by African-American from the Harlem Renaissance to the Present (edited).

Alexander is one among several professionals to laud the accomplishments of this mid-level professor. Her most recent award, Outstanding Professor of 1990-1991, awarded by Sigma Tau Delta, the UH English Honor Society, is introductory to the many accolades her professional peers deem her worthy of.

In addition, she takes the opportunity to deliver keynote speeches to civic, religious and business organizations in the Houston Metropolitan Area.

Her latest presentation, Focus on Africa: Black Women Playwrights, funded by Kentucky Humanities, centered on opening the humanities to a multi-cultural perspective.

Away from the bounds of academia, Guillory shares her time with her family as well as with the community.

"I'm concerned about our old people in nursing homes," she said. "We don't realize how much history is going to waste in these old folks, and no one taps into such valuable resources."

 

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THOMAS DECKS AFFIRATIVE ACTION BEFORE JOINING COURT

BY REBECCA MCPHAIL

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

In a majority opinion written for the U.S. Court of Appeals, newly-appointed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas further debilitated the already-dwindling number of affirmative action programs in the United States.

Thomas sat on the appeals court prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court last October.

In a 2-1 decision released last Wednesday, the court overturned the Federal Communications Commission's decision to give special treatment to a Maryland woman interested in owning a radio station.

The preferential treatment is in compliance with a Congressionally-sanctioned FCC policy calling for special consideration in awarding television and radio broadcasting licenses to women and minorities.

In the 34-page ruling, Thomas wrote, "In this case, the government has failed to show that its sex-preference policy is substantially related to achieving diversity on the airwaves."

Cynthia Freeland, director of UH's Women's Studies program, disagrees with Thomas' reasoning.

"We've seen from shows like Cagney and Lacey and Murphy Brown that content does change if women are involved in production," she said.

Thomas' opinion is also in direct opposition to a prior decision by the Supreme Court.

In 1990, the court ruled on Metro Broadcasting Inc. vs. FCC. In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the FCC's preferential treatment for minorities. Justice William Brennan, who has since retired, wrote the opinion.

UH law professor Sydney Buchanan said the Supreme Court employed an ethnic diversity test to reach their decision. The court felt ethnic diversity would be enhanced by giving preferential treatment to minorities and upheld the FCC ruling, Buchanan said.

When writing his U.S. Court of Appeals decision, Thomas took the Supreme Court's test and applied it to gender instead of race, Buchanan said.

"It's not that Thomas has stated the law wrong," Buchanan said, "It's a question of whether he has appropriately applied it to the facts."

Briana Gowing, an official in the Consumer Relations office of the FCC, said there are no records regarding the number of women owning television and radio stations in the U.S. However, the FCC did do a study of television and radio stations with ethnic-minority owners.

In 1991, the cumulative number of blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans who owned radio and television stations in the United States was 287. That figure accounts for 2.7 percent of the total number of radio and television station owners in the United States.

Now that Thomas has tipped the Supreme Court's scales in favor of conservativism, Buchanan is afraid that this is just the beginning of affirmative action's decline.

"They (the Supreme Court) may be more reluctant to support various voluntary affirmative action programs that private employers and the government have adopted," Buchanan said.

Freeland is still adamant in her support of the FCC's preferential treatment toward minorities.

"The best arguments for affirmative action point to long-term benefits," she said, "and there may be more definite benefits in the long run if stations are women-owned."

 

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STATE INCOME TAX NEEDED

BY MEAGAN MCGOVERN

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Texas spends the least amount of money on higher education, and yet

Texas' state universities have the lowest tuition rate in the country, Harrell Rodgers, dean of the College of Social Sciences, said.

There seems to be only one way Texas universities can make up for this discrepancy financially, and that is by "having extremely big classes, by having an awful lot of temporary people in the classrooms and by having a lot of teaching assistants," Rodgers said.

There seems to be an answer to the age-old problem of lack of funding, and some have suggested the solution is a state income tax.

Texas is one of only nine states in the nation without an income tax, and yet for a long time, Texas had a balanced budget, thanks to the enormous revenue from the energy industry.

In the past 10 years, however, as Texas' oil-based economy slowly dwindled, so did Texas' income.

"Twenty-five percent of Texas citizens say they would accept a state income tax, if there were no alternatives," said Richard Murray, a political science professor at UH.

Rodgers, who heads UH's legislative relations committee, said, "What we have right now is a situation in which we have a biennial session to pass a biennial budget. Every time the legislature comes back into session, they find themselves facing a big deficit. They have not generated enough money just to continue services at the current level. So they're faced with either cutting services in the state or finding some new way to tax."

Over the last four legislative sessions, or eight years, the state has faced a deficit of $4 billion to $5 billion. Temporary solutions to the problem have included increasing the sales tax to 8.25 percent, implementing a lottery, increasing taxes on liquor and tobacco, and cutting funding to state projects.

"They haven't addressed the basic problem, and that is the fact that the tax system is just inefficient," Rodgers said.

"Now where we are is that if the legislature has to go to a lot of trouble just to bring us back to the current services, we're certainly not going to be expanding. So, little by little the legislature has not been funding certain state projects."

Without an income tax, the state simply cannot function with state services, Rodgers said.

"Without an income tax, they (the legislators) don't have any way to take care of the problem."

A state income tax would be "the key to finally straightening out the financial problems in Texas." The current system is "inefficient" and doesn't tap into currently-developing resources, Rodgers said.

The system places "nearly all of the burden on middle- and lower-income people. The higher-income people pay a very small percentage of their total income," Rodgers said.

The lack of funding for state programs has really hit hard at UH, he said. Since 1985, UH has lost 18 percent of its budget. In most state universities, students pay 25 percent of the cost of education. UH students currently pay 9 percent. "It's inevitable that if we don't get some financial help, we will not be able to handle the amount of students we have," Rodgers said.

Right now, he considers UH to be overcrowded "in terms of the faculty/student ratio. We certainly need more faculty and we haven't been able to do much hiring in the last few years."

"No one from other countries wants our TVs or our cars, but people come from the ends of the earth for our higher education. It's really too bad that we're doing our best to destroy it," he said.

The state income tax question will be raised again in January 1993 when the new Legislature meets in Austin.

 

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DRIVE-IN CLOSES SATURDAY

BY GRAM GEMOETS

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Think about it. If you commute to campus, most likely you spend a lot of time in your car. In fact, it should seem more like a second home than a vehicle. So why not take it to the movies with you?

This might just be your last chance to see a drive-in movie in the Houston area. The I-45 Drive-In will close its doors this Saturday night.

Opened in 1962, the I-45 Drive-In has shown everything from American Graffiti to The Addams Family. But Saturday night will be its last hoorah.

"Business has just been so bad in the last two years," a theater spokesperson said. "Some rich developer has bought the property and won't renew our lease. What can you do?"

More of a fad than anything else, drive-in movies reached their heyday back in the early '60s. From that point on, they have been associated with all kinds of tall tales.

"People used to hide in car trunks to sneak in," a theater employee confirmed. "Car-hopping and necking have also been pretty popular."

In recent months, the I-45 has tried to attract business. They started running The Rocky Horror Picture Show on weekends to stimulate business.

Instead of generating new business, however, the midnight showing only attracted undesirables. "We had to stop showing it. You can't imagine what the place looked like the next day."

Weather is partly to blame for the closing. Soaring heat and unpredictable rain make Houston an unlikely place for an outdoor theater.

But we must still mourn the passing of an entire genre in American culture. The drive-in movie has been a symbol of our unique lifestyle.

Like hot dogs and apple pie, the drive-in is an American invention. Where else in the world do people so love their cars enough to take them to a movie?

So if you're tired of the same old weekend activities, why not give the I-45 Drive-In a try? For current schedule information, call 448-4449. Remember, this is really your last chance.

 

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ATHLETE HAS CHARGE OF SEXUAL ASSAULT DROPPED

BY CROSBY KING

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Insufficient evidence is being cited as the reason for dismissing sexual assault charges against a UH football player Thursday.

During a criminal disposition, District Attorney Cindy Marshallinformed UH freshman Daniel Adams' lawyer that she would not pursue the case.

UHPD arrested Adams on Oct. 15 at the Cambridge Oaks Apartments and charged him with sexually assaulting a female student.

UHPD Asst. Chief Frank Cempa said the woman claimed she was an acquaintance of Adams and was visiting his apartment when he began making sexual advancements.

Cempa said the woman claimed things got out of hand when she resisted Adams. She then claimed Adams pursued her and raped her.

Marshall said the case could be opened up again if other people came forward with relevant testimony about Adams. Since Adams is not currently being tried, the situation would not become double jeopardy.

Bennie House, Adams' attorney, said he was delighted with the outcome.

"I do know the district attorneys performed their job very ably," he said, "but the evidence was just too insufficient to do anything."

House described Adams as a "clean-cut young man" who had never been in trouble before.

"He's not a Mike Tyson reject or clone," he said. "He doesn't show the aggressive, cock-sure attitude that (Tyson's) shown."

UH Athletic Director Rudy Davalos said the athletic department deals with cases like Adams' on an individual basis. He said Adams has not been suspended, but another athlete charged with a crime might be.

UH Football Coach John Jenkins said Adams, a red-shirted wide receiver, should be treated the same as any other student on campus.

"(He's) innocent until proven guilty," Jenkins said. "That's always the stance we're going to take."

Adams could not be reached for comment, but his father, Reuben, said he was "very pleased, very happy" to hear the news of the dismissal.

 

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PRODUCER BATHES IN LIMELIGHT

BY TIFFANY RATHER

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

There should only be serious movies with serious actors and serious plots existing in this world -- Not!

Almost everyone is falling down in hysteria and laughter over the very non-serious movie, Wayne's World.

Lorne Michaels, the producer of Wayne's World, is loving the success the movie is generating and is bathing in its limelight.

It set a box office record the first week it opened. Michaels is glad of its opening success.

"It's very nice to break the record. It's better than being poked in the eye with a sharp stick. However, movies aren't judged by the records they break," Michaels said.

The movie's success stems from jokes written by Saturday Night Live writers Mike Myers, Bonnie Turner and Terry Turner.

Wayne's World consists of the happy-go-lucky, head-banging, straight-from-hell duo, Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey), whose primary purpose is to "party on" every possible chance they get.

Campbell and Algar represent every parent's worst fears and every teenager's ultimate fantasy -- to be young, free, irresponsible and alive with no other care but to "party on."

Wayne Campbell was created by Myers in high school. Garth Algar was created by Carvey. The character of Garth is based on Carvey's brother Brad.

"Wayne's World" was a sketch introduced on SNL in 1989. Since the movie has become so successful, viewers are wondering if "Wayne's World" will still appear on SNL.

"Everytime we (writers of SNL get an idea for "WW," we will do it," Michaels, executive producer of SNL, said.

When asked if success will encourage Myers to leave the cast of SNL, Michaels said, "I like Mike, and Mike likes the cast. People leave when they want to. But, Mike doesn't want to leave. He'll be there for a while."

Michaels was the executive producer of SNL from 1975-80. He left the series for five years. During that time, he produced and co-wrote Three Amigos, Nothing Lasts Forever and Gilda Live.

Michaels hears a lot of criticism from viewers who think the first episodes of SNL were the funniest and refer to them as the glory days of the series.

"SNL is just as strong as it was in the beginning. Today, SNL is better written. We have young, talented writers now. We always keep young writers. The first five years, we just wrote the sketches as we went along," Michaels said.

He said truly talented writers are easy to recognize. "Once we realize their potential, we let them into the SNL door," Michaels said.

He said the biggest contribution of SNL to the world is making people laugh and really nothing else.

"We haven't changed the course of Western civilization. (We're) just a bunch of people having fun," he said.

 

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