Black and Blue

Today?s sermon is on the burden of hopelessness. To begin, the Reverend Dr. W. David Lee?pastor of New Haven?s most distinguished and most ancient black congregation, Varick Memorial ame Zion Church; graduate of Syracuse University, Yale Divinity School, and Union Theological Seminary; and most recently a candidate for a seat on the Yale Corporation?quotes not from psalms or prophets, but from the early hip-hop innovator Grandmaster Flash. ?It?s like a jungle sometimes,? he intones from the pulpit. ?It?s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder / How I keep from going under.? Acknowledging that not everyone in the audience will recognize the reference to the The Furious Five?s 1982 chart-topper ?The Message,? a rumination on the despair of ghetto living, Lee assures them that they know the sentiment from somewhere: ?If you don?t know Grandmaster Flash, you know Marvin Gaye said it too, and dmx is saying it today: Out there, ?It?s like a jungle sometimes.?? Echoing in the vast sanctuary of the church, a turn-of-the-20th-century gem in New Haven?s rough Dixwell neighborhood, the ?Amens? and ?Go-Ons? of the congregation alternate with guffaws of recognition. The popular preacher is just getting started.

Hopelessness might seem an unbearable burden here in the shadow of an Ivy League university that often forgets Dixwell?s residents when they stop sweeping floors and serving food and go home for the night. ?You all know those people, you know they?re out there,? he reminds his congregation. ?You know those people who make it to the top and forget the folks who got them there. Some of y?all got managers like that. You think they?d understand your plight. But don?t you dare throw in the towel. We know a God who will help you keep your faith.?

Lee has made it his mission in life to remind those at the top of what they owe to those who sustain them, and to see that justice is done. In an effort to link the disparate communities of which he is a part?Yale and the ghetto that surrounds it?the Dixwell pastor recently ran as a petition candidate for an alumni seat on the Yale Corporation?the University?s governing board and ultimate authority, traditionally a bastion of wealth and national influence. Despite showing early promise, he was trounced. Today?s sermon comes roughly one year after he began in earnest the campaign that filled his community with the hope of finally being heard. But Lee?s God, as he tells his congregation, is a God who turns weaknesses into strengths and mishaps into miracles. With the power of his God behind him, the thrashing Lee took at the hands of administrators and fellow alumni may well be a blessing in disguise?one which leads all of Dixwell out of the jungle and into the promised land.

The part of Ansonia, Connecticut, where Lee grew up was what Dixwell is today: a crossroads of poverty and privilege. Lee was from ?the wrong side of the tracks.? The world of his childhood sounds much like the jungle described by Grandmaster Flash: His mother raised him and his six siblings in a four-room apartment. He had no contact with his father. Family members used drugs. His family moved from the projects to the north end of town when Lee was ten, and he was given his first glimpse of life across the divide. He vividly remembers the first day of fifth grade. ?Me and another girl were the only two blacks in the classroom. I was like, wow, my other school had been diverse, but this was something else altogether.? He soon befriended a boy named Keith who lived in the whiter, wealthier Hilltop neighborhood. The two would hang out listening to Keith?s father?s Elvis Presley records; Lee was soon a die-hard fan, borrowing lps to listen to at home. He says of the time spent in Keith?s house, ?That was the first time I was ever in a white person?s home, and he was my friend. We were the same. … That?s when I knew that there was another side to life. That made me say, ?This is what I want to be.??

Football, it became clear as he grew older, was one inroad to prosperity. Knowing his mother could not pay for college, Lee set his
sights on earning a football scholarship to anywhere that would take him. He admits that he was in the right place at the right time. ?I was
privileged to be part of a football tradition that was second to none in the state of Connecticut,? Lee says of the football program at Ansonia High School. On the gridiron he found what he calls ?an understanding of what I would like life to be like in the future.
Ansonia wasn?t all black or all white; it was a mixture. On the field, the only skin that mattered was the pigskin. You had young men from all walks of life coming together to work toward a common goal.?

When Lee talks about the children of Dixwell?his favorite topic when discussing Yale-New Haven relations?you get the sense that he sees in their lives the same hardships he endured, only with fewer opportunities to leave those hardships behind. They too come into contact everyday with a wealthy white kids? house up on the hill?Yale University. ?Kids should be able to do more than just visit and walk through the halls of this great institution. They?ll allow kids to sit and see all the prestige of Yale, but never have a fair fighting chance to attend it? That?s criminal.? So he calls for Yale not only to send student tutors into New Haven neighborhoods, but to tap into its $11 billion endowment and give financial support to New Haven public schools. Lee says he too wanted to attend Yale. But when Syracuse offered him a full scholarship for football, he had to accept.

Lee lettered all four years at Syracuse as a defensive back. One game in particular stands out in his mind. In the early 1980s, Syracuse head coach Dick MacPherson was struggling to rebuild a failing program that the University was considering cutting altogether. The turning point that Lee credits with saving the program came during his junior year, when Syracuse hosted top-ranked Nebraska at home on September 17, 1983. The year before, Nebraska had shamed Syracuse in Lincoln, winning 63-7. This year, both teams were undefeated, though Syracuse was unranked. ?We upset them 17-9,? Lee says. ?And that was our greatest game. That game I?ll never forget?because we shocked the world.? Lee?s preacher demeanor is gentle and conciliatory, but you are always aware of the potentially explosive power of the underdog beneath the veneer. You know he has told this story a thousand times. He loves the shock of it. He relishes the credibility earned in a scrappy, come-from-behind revenge victory. To hear him talk, you?d think he almost likes starting with one mark in the loss column: Having disarmed his opponents by lowering their expectations, he can hit them full force for a win even sweeter for the surprise.

Lee played his senior year with torn cartilage in his knee. Having always planned on playing professionally, he took a year off after college to have arthroscopic surgery, then arranged try-outs for the New England Patriots, the New York Giants, and the Dallas Cowboys. He was cut from both the Patriots? and the Giants? squads, and as he was about to fly to Dallas, his knee swelled up again. In what he calls the
most difficult decision of his life, he decided not to get on the plane and to give up his hopes for a professional career. Football, after
all, offered no sure future. A photo above Lee?s desk in his church office reminds him of this. It was taken after the best play he ever made, a blocked field goal he returned for a touchdown. Lee holds the ball triumphantly in the air, beaming, as teammates jump to congratulate him. This is not what Lee notices in the photo, however. He sees Wes Dove, a hulking lineman in the right side of the frame. ?He was a gentle giant,? Lee says, ?everybody?s friend, and one hell of a football player.? Dove tried out for the Miami Dolphins after graduation. When he didn?t make the cut, Lee recounts matter of factly, he went home and put a bullet through his head.

Unlike Dove, Lee had never staked everything on a pro career. Even before he dreamed of playing football, Lee knew that his true vocation was the ministry. The call came when he was ten, in an event Lee labels ?The Budweiser Experience.? He and his friend Morgan Johnson, called MoJo, were walking across the projects one Saturday morning to the nightclub owned by MoJo?s father, whom they helped with clean-up chores for pocket money. Lee told his friend then that he wanted to be a minister when he grew up, though he couldn?t say why. Later, as they sat at MoJo?s father?s bar sipping soda, MoJo called out with a laugh, ?Hey Dad, you know what David wants to be when he grows up? A preacher!? ?Nah, you don?t want to be a preacher,? Mr. Johnson replied?a sentence that was punctuated by the crash of a giant Budweiser mirror that had suddenly fallen from the wall behind him. ?Son,? Johnson said to Lee as he surveyed the damage, ?you be whatever you want.? ?It scared the daylights out of me,? Lee says. That fear led him to keep his plans to himself.

In 1989, Lee finally enrolled in seminary at the Yale Divinity School. At 25, he had been making a good living for a few years, first by
selling Fords and Subarus, then by selling insurance. He gave up his $40,000 salary and took out loans to pay for school. ?I decided that
instead of just making money, I needed to pastor people and make a difference in people?s lives,? Lee says. His determination was
reinforced during his last year of study for his Master of Theology degree. Caught up in the intellectual engagement he found at yds, Lee
debated whether to continue his studies for a phd and pursue a career as an academic theologian, or to stop with his master?s and pastor a
church. As Lee and a group of friends confronting the same dilemma sat debating, Lee?s 20-year-old cousin was shot through the neck in a gang fight down the hill in Dixwell. Lee accompanied his aunt to the morgue to identify the body, and the event redirected the course of his life
for good. He returned to yds determined that his third year would be his last. ?I realized I couldn?t sit up there and study all that theory
if it didn?t make any difference down below. I needed to do something practical, to help build a bridge between the Valley and the Hill.? After graduating, Lee pastored numerous churches in New Jersey and one in Meriden, Connecticut, before being transferred to Varick in 1998.
Not long afterward, with labor negotiations looming on the horizon, the Yale administration began talking openly about strengthening the partnership between Yale and New Haven. To Lee, the time seemed right to build a bridge.

The opportunity presented itself when Levin started talking about partnership, partnership, partnership,? Lee says of Yale President Richard Levin?s positive rhetoric that led to his decision to run for the board. ?So I asked myself, are they serious about partnership? I never fathomed that it would cause the type of sensation that it did. I never dreamt that President Levin or the others would take it as an

The idea for Lee?s candidacy originated among local pastors active in the Connecticut Center for a New Economy (ccne), a local
union-affiliated research and advocacy group. Lee is vice president of its governing board. The Reverend Lillian Daniel, the ccne board?s
president and a yds classmate of Lee, claims that the idea was never centered around Lee or the organization specifically. ?His candidacy came up out of friendships among the local clergy, not through our organization,? she explains. The idea was that one of them ought to run
for a corporation seat, testing Yale?s commitment to partnership with the community. Lee sums up the reasoning: ?When you only have these wealthy corporate interests on the board and never have input from the level of the constituency you?re in a partnership with, there?s no room for that constituency?s self determination. And that?s essential for you to be received and respected in a host community where most people
still live in poverty.? Lee was chosen to run as the voice of that muted constituency. The Corporation controls Yale?s endowment?the $11 billion that Lee would like to see distributed in part back to the community. A seat on the Corporation would hardly give him free access
to the money. Lee knows that his would be only one of 18 votes in the board?s decisions?not exactly a mandate for sweeping change.
Nevertheless, he contends, having that community input could bring some issues to light that others might never have considered.

Using the rarely-invoked process of nomination by petition, Lee got his name on the ballot for the 2002 election of an alumni fellow for the
Corporation with over 5,000 alumni signatures supporting his run. Most years, candidates for the vacant alumni seat are nominated by a
selection committee chosen by the Association of Yale Alumni (aya). This unorthodox method was not what generated the controversy, however. A number of alumni had used it in the past, including William Horowitz, who became the Board?s first Jewish member in 1969. What rankled some prominent alumni and current members of the Corporation were Lee?s financial ties to Yale?s labor unions, who had paid for his $30,000 petition-drive mailing. Lee jumps to justify accepting the donation: ?How does a no-name pastor get a name out to all these alumni?? he asks in his own defense. ?I?m the pastor of a black congregation in New Haven, and I?m not personally wealthy, and so I had to go to those who would believe in this idea. The unions felt, hey, let?s try this. And it was no strings attached.?

Others disagreed, seeing an aggressive adversary in Lee rather than a potential partner. Kurt L. Schmoke, former mayor of Baltimore and the
Corporation?s first African-American Senior Fellow labeled Lee?s bid ?a mirage campaign, initiated by national labor organizations intent on
gaining ground on the campuses of private universities.? University spokesman Helaine Klasky called Lee?s tactics ?unsavory,? saying, ?If you?re collecting so much money from the unions, you must be promising these people something.?

As the controversy brewed, the official aya selection committee nominated only one candidate?architect Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington?to oppose Lee in a not-so-veiled effort at stacking the deck. (Normally a slate of three to five candidates is proposed.) An alumni committee led by former University Secretary Henry ?Sam? Chauncey began to publicly protest the ?special interest campaign,? taking on Lee?s supporters in a battle played out in special advertising sections of the Yale Alumni Magazine and on the opinion page of the Yale Daily News. The campaign focused primarily on Lee rather than Lin, who stayed above the fray and did not talk to the press. Lee?s supporters challenged the University to live up to its rhetoric. His detractors accused him of ?corrupting? the staid process with his overt campaigning and failing to meet the high standards of achievement normally required for entry into the august governing board. In a rare public statement about the election, Levin said in an apparent dig at the young Dixwell preacher that ?with an alumni body of 120,000, we should look for candidates who are extremely accomplished in their fields.?

As the months wore on, the campaign that was ostensibly not about David Lee became more and more overtly personal. The aya launched a website to inform alumni about the two candidates. Printed side by side with comments from Lin about her enthusiasm to serve the Yale community were comments from Lee promising to ?preserve the best interests of Yale University? as well as more adversarial soundbites. ?Levin is probably laughing now, but he won?t be laughing when we get there,? read one. Another declared that ?Yale has met its Waterloo in the Federation of Hospital and University Employees. It is indeed our time!? In May, an article in the Washington Post summed up the general feel of the campaign as it wound to a close: ?There are those at Yale University who firmly believe that the Rev. W. David Lee is a dangerous man?.privately, they belittle him as ambitious yet insignificant, a nobody and a spoiler, a puppet of dark forces bent on soiling their shining city on a hill.?

By the time the ballots were finally cast, the aya had spent $65,000 on mailings sent to clear up the confusion of any Yale alumni who may have assumed that Lee had the group?s endorsement. Chauncey?s committee had spent $80,000 in a direct effort to defeat him. Lee?s side, by contrast, had spent only $55,000, $30,000 of which went towards the initial mailing. Despite the disproportionate spending, many thought David still had a good chance of slaying Goliath. The controversy had generated far more free publicity than he ever could have dreamed of receiving, and his campaign themes were thought likely to strike a sympathetic chord with alumni who had graduated in the last two decades, when New Haven?s fortunes were at their lowest. Goliath, however, withstood the challenge: David Lee lost by a vote of 8,324 to 45,575.

When the final count came in, Lee was already spinning his loss as a win on principle. He told his supporters, ?Don?t let anyone tell you we lost. We have won a big victory. …We educated the world that there needs to be a better relationship between town and gown.? Lee acknowledges that the victory came at something of a personal cost, however. ?To say I was nothing but a union flunky, I thought, wow, that was low,? he says of the insinuation that he is beholden to union interests. ?That was an attack on my integrity. But anyone will tell you that because of this pulpit, I have independence.? At times his stances have alienated certain supporters: New Haven Mayor John DeStefano?s outspoken support for Lee?s candidacy cooled as Lee?s public criticism of city schools grew more intense.

Community reaction to the campaign and its outcome was largely positive, with support for Lee growing as events unfolded. Lee says his own congregation was fully in favor of the idea and outraged by Yale?s conduct during the campaign. When asked about how the election had turned out, one church member said bluntly, ?It was a crime. He was robbed.? Others, however, saw the effort as flawed from the start, going so far as to suggest that Lee had sold out. Former New Haven alderman Anthony B. Dawson, a prominent black leader in the community, asked in a letter to the New Haven Register, ?Why would Lee want to join Yale?s stuffy board anyway? Where was his sense of black pride? ? As I see it, the day of high-profile black preachers in public matters must come to an end.? In the end, though, Lee?s conduct under fire seems to have had a greater impact on his reputation than any of the attacks directed against him. ?Yale made it seem like the barbarians were storming the gates. They besmirched his character in an unfair way,? says Daniel. ?I think his standing went up in the community not because of Yale?s tactics but because of the way he handled losing and being personally attacked. People really admired that the day after the election, he was still out there doing the work he had always done.?

Lee?s third sermon of the day is still focused on hopelessness. He has been invited as a guest preacher to the Mount Carmel Pentecostal Church on State Street, a storefront church that shares a city block with one other church, three abandoned buildings, a deli, and two pawnshops. The scripture lesson is from Exodus 14:13-14, when the Israelites see themselves trapped between the Red Sea and the rising tide of Pharaoh?s advancing army:

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the
salvation of the Lord, which he will show you today: for the Egyptians
whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. The
Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

Lee sees in the passage a justification for undying hope. ?The Israelites,? he explains, ?got so focused on the enemy, they forgot the power of God.? Capitalizing on their experience, Lee offers the congregation two rules to live by when the odds seem stacked against them: ?One, know your enemies but keep your eyes on the Lord. Two, remember that if God has got you in there, God will get you out.? Lee knows his enemies, and the congregation no doubt also knows to whom he is referring: At a September revival meeting for Yale?s unions sponsored by the Greater New Haven Interfaith Ministerial Alliance, a clergy group Lee founded this summer in the wake of his defeat, Lee explicitly referred to Richard Levin as ?the Pharaoh.? As he finishes his sermon in a frenzy of sweat and shouts and gesticulations, the church ushers bring him towels, one of which he leaves draped around his neck as he leaves the pulpit, looking more like a prizefighter?robed, straight-backed, and soaking?than a preacher. ?Now remember,? Mount Carmel?s pastor instructs the congregation, ?Don?t you all ever dare throw in the towel.?

There?s strategy as well as consolation in Lee?s sermon. The struggles members of his congregation face in the dilapidated Dixwell jungle call to mind another, more famous, Rumble in the Jungle: the heavyweight title bout fought between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire, in 1974. Just as people today think of Lee?s chances of ever gaining a seat on the Corporation, everyone then thought the underdog, Ali, was sure to lose; the odds were set officially at 4-1 that Foreman, the defending champ who outweighed Ali at fight time, would hold off the challenge. With different advice coming at him from all sides, Ali entered the ring and pursued a strategy that no one expected, largely because it seemed suicidal: As the bell rung round after round, Ali dodged and danced a bit, then found the ropes, where, like Moses and the Israelites, he simply stood still, asking again and again, ?Is that all you got?? as Foreman pummeled him with blow after blow to his ribs, kidneys, and head. After eight rounds of thrashing the challenger with everything he had (even as the unrelenting crowd still kept up the Lingala chant of ?Ali boma ye!???Kill him Ali!?), a beleaguered Foreman found himself wearied to dizziness from the effort. Seeing him weak, Ali burst forth and felled the champion with a right-hand lead?perhaps the most elementary punch in boxing, one which any fighter worth his salt should be able to see and defend given the time it takes to throw it, and thus one which Foreman was never expecting. No one had thrown that punch at him in two years, in large part because you throw a right-hand lead at the heavyweight champion of the world only if you wish to insult him. Of course, from the moment
that punch landed, Foreman was no longer the champ. Ali?s radically unorthodox strategy of hanging on the ropes until the time was right?he called it the rope-a-dope?is now taught to future mbas: Take the beating until you can wear your opponent out, then strike hard when he?s weak. Yale, however, seems to have failed to learn anything from Foreman.

David Lee insists that he is not fighting against the University he loves. But one can?t help but hear something of a prizefighter?s taunts in the declarations of his affection. Despite the beating he took in his first bid for a seat at the Corporation table, Lee declares without being asked, ?I?ll do it all over again if I have to,? suggesting that the bout is not yet over, only its first round. ?I?m thinking about it,? he says when pressed on whether he intends to run again, ?but I hope it wouldn?t have to be the way it was the first time.?

And of course it won?t be: Lee is now a big name thanks largely to the attention Yale drew to his cause, and his community support is growing by the day. He was painted as a powerful villain, and the first aspect of the image seems to have stuck; Lee, who is 38, is only in his fifth year as Varick?s pastor, but already the community and his fellow clergymen look to him as a leader. He is a common presence not only at Varick but at churches around the city. He is seen as an advocate capable of making the community?s interest heard and confident enough not to back down. ?He stimulated a lot of community leaders,? said James West, co-chair of Varick?s Board of Trustees. ?He?s not deterred in his mindset to be a true leader. He?s not going to let anyone back him down.?

?It shouldn?t be a battle,? Lee says of his continuing effort to forge an equal partnership between the city and the University. ?It should be about welcoming a new perspective. That should be appreciated, not seen as a problem.? Lee knows that he is seen as a problem, however, and that though he may be reluctant to wage war, it is clear that he will
if necessary. One way or another, Lee is confident that his new perspective will be incorporated into the University?s vision: ?I think we could avoid a battle if we?re serious about partnership. But if we?re not serious about partnership, we may have to force our way into that room.?

Matthew Underwood, a senior in Davenport College is managing editor for TNJ.

A Separate Peace

A few weeks ago, I watched from a distance as an eclectic group of New
Haven residents bearing homemade signs and banners gathered on the
courthouse steps to file a war crimes indictment. Their list of alleged
war criminals included George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and
Colin Powell, and they were pressing for prosecution.

A greying, unassuming man clad in stained and faded jeans and an old
denim jacket addressed the crowd through a megaphone: ?We are resisting
and showing our protest to the ones in power!? Standing in rows on the
courthouse steps, the participants clutched their anti-war banners in
silence, staring straight ahead solemnly and purposefully. Someone
distributed copies of the indictment, with a list of the country?s most
powerful officials at the top and the Connecticut Peace Coalition of
New Haven?s email address on the bottom. In unison the group read the
entire indictment aloud. Then a few representatives stepped into the
courthouse to present the document to Connecticut?s Attorney General.
?Now we?ll see what they have to say,? someone remarked smugly. There
was applause and a hesitant chorus of ?yays.?

?Sorry people,? muttered a passerby stopping to glance up at the
protesters. I frowned at him, but I didn?t wholly disagree. Neither did
I correct a friend who referred to them as ?those crazies.? But at the
same time, their stance against attacking Iraq mirrored my own. As the
drumbeat for war had intensified over the past few weeks, I hadn?t been
able to shake the guilty feeling that students like myself had a role
to play. Hasn?t it traditionally been up to students to tilt the scales
to the left, to keep the government?s hawkish tendencies in line? And
if the protest movement was in fact my inherited duty, didn?t I share
some common ground with the protesters on the courthouse steps? A few days later, I took one of the white armbands that symbolized my
disapproval of war on Iraq. I dangled the frayed strip of cloth from a
strap on my backpack, carefully positioning it where my stance against
the war would be visible?but not too visible.

At one of the Coalition?s tri-weekly street-corner vigils, Joan Cavanagh
had taken up her usual post, solemnly distributing copies of the
group?s latest anti-war leaflet as fellow members stood behind her with
a banner. A loose tweed coat dwarfed her slender frame; a red knit
beret partly hid her shoulder-length grey hair. There was something
resolute about her silhouette, as she extended her arm every time
someone walked by. At forty-eight, Cavanagh is no stranger to the
anti-war movement. She made her debut as a protester when she was
active in her high school, then she dropped out of college after one
semester to join a collective that was working against the war. She
didn?t go back to school until she was 29. ?I actually have the pride
of saying I was in prison on my 21st birthday,? she told me. ?Most of
my friends were pretty cool with it. By that time they weren?t
surprised,? she explained. ?I had already been arrested six or seven
times and had done jail time for it. My mother wasn?t too happy; what
can you say??

About twelve people constitute what Cavanagh termed the ?core group,?
those who regularly come to the weekly coalition meetings. There are
about 50 members who attend Coalition events, and the group?s email
list has about 300 names. In four years, they haven?t missed a Sunday
on the corner of Broadway, Park, and Elm silently protesting sanctions,
and now war, on Iraq. In the face of New England winters, hateful
accusations and?perhaps worst of all?passersby who don?t even look up,
what sustains such dogged resistance vigil after vigil, week after
week? ?I can?t associate with the US government. I have to actively
dissociate myself,? Cavanagh told me. ?Silence is complicity,? she
continued, likening present-day protesters to Germans who resisted Nazi
authority. ?If everyone had capitulated at that time, what kind of hope
do we have of the human race?? I winced. That?s the kind of comparison
that leaves a bitter after-taste, that makes eyes narrow at the thought
that someone really had the nerve to say such a thing. It?s the kind of
analysis I?m quick to reject.

One-by-one, Cavanagh handed out leaflets to anybody who would take one.
She had already given out 100 leaflets in half an hour, she told me
proudly. She knows many passersby do in fact read the flyers, she told
me, because she often receives responses to them via email. Others
clearly don?t. A few people walked briskly by without looking up. ?No
thanks. Iraq. Hmmm ? See you guys later,? said a man walking by. I
wonder if those who refused the leaflet were wary of what didn?t come
from The New York Times, too wedded to the mainstream to ponder the
possibility of their own indoctrination. Maybe like me, they?ve learned
to parrot the opinions of those with the highest credentials and to
second-guess the chorus from the margins that seems to culminate in a
simple refrain: If The Government is behind it, it?s corrupt, no
questions asked.

But my faith in the system is instinctive, not intellectual.
Rationally, I realize that those cloth banners are about individual
issues more than subversion for its own sake; I believed one of the
coalition?s members, when he vouched that he doesn?t ?pick a side ahead
of time,? and I respected his and fellow protesters? willingness to
challenge what they read. But my fear of being a dissenter must die
hard, for I secretly hoped no one I knew had seen me standing beside
Cavanagh, holding a piece of the anti-war banner.

It was a Sunday afternoon, and 14 people had shown up to protest on the
corner of Broadway, Park and Elm. Cavanagh stood a few feet away,
distributing flyers. Just across the street, a man dressed in an
American flag costume and fiercely waving an enormous flag danced
across his strip of sidewalk shouting against the cacophony of honking
cars. ?Saddam Hussein! He is a poacher! Let?s kill him now!? he cried,
addressing the anti-war protesters. ?And you support him! USA!? The
anti-war protesters glanced up at him every once in a while, but didn?t

?It?s a matter of increasing numbers,? Joan said to me. ?As the numbers
increase, the impact increases.? So the government really notices?
?They hear it,? she said. ?They know it?s out there.? When it comes to
protesting, numbers make a dual statement, directed both at the
government and at the people. ?I feel there?s a lot of people [who]
unfortunately need reassurance that they?re not the only ones who are
against what George Bush is planning,? said a Coalition member named
Paula, a freelance writer and poet. She hopes to provide that
reassurance, she explained, by ?standing out in the street corner with
the signs and slogans they have in their hearts but they?re not ready
to show.? A lot of people thank her for what she?s doing, she told me.
?I say, ?why don?t you join?? They say, ?well I?m glad you?re doing
it.?? I shook my head in disapproval, at the same time fully
recognizing that she?d described me to a t. I resolved to change.

There?s something exhilarating about crowds, especially when they number
in the hundreds of thousands like the one in Washington, dc, a few
weeks after my initial encounter with the Coalition. ?There?s no power
like the power o? th? people ?cause the power o? th? people don?t stop,
say what?? I was jumping up and down as I shouted with the crowd. ?This
is what democracy looks like! That is what hypocrisy looks like!? we
cried gleefully, pointing from ourselves to the White House beside us.
It was a celebration of the First Amendment. As far as you looked, all
you could see were protesters and their signs. For a few hours, I
believed we were a force to be reckoned with; I believed in ?the power
o? th? people? and ?what democracy looks like.? We were living it.
Maybe that?s how the coalition members felt when they delivered the
indictment to the State Attorney General and sat back to wait for the
trial to begin. I wondered how I?d once mocked the cardboard signs of
the Connecticut Peace Coalition and marveled that it had taken me so
long to truly comprehend the power and the imperative of resistance.
?The people! United! Will never be defeated!? we shouted rhythmically,
and I believed it. It was my job to put that truth into action. As the
numbers increase, the impact increases. And silence is complicity.

In the middle of the day, swept up in the anti-war fervor, I removed my
white armband from its inconspicuous position on my backpack and asked
a friend to tie it around my arm.

But the magic was fleeting, and shortly after my return, the torn piece
of cloth was relegated to my desk drawer with a promise to retie it
that I have yet to fulfill. In fact, the protest at the capitol already
feels like a distant memory. A Yale student and Coalition member I
befriended on the bus to dc asked me afterward if it I would attend
more large-scale protests like it. I didn?t have to pause much to
answer in the affirmative, and I haven?t changed my mind. I guess I
have no trouble protesting when thousands of people around me are doing
it too.

Yesterday, I attended one of the Coalition?s street-corner vigils for
what might have been the last time. That day?s banner read ?No us
Military in Iraq.? I couldn?t agree more wholeheartedly. And I don?t
think they?re a bunch of ?crazies.? I respect their conviction of their
own accountability in us foreign policy, their courage in challenging
the mainstream, and their determination to display their resistance to
the people and the government person by person, week after week. I
considered volunteering to spend a few minutes holding up a corner of
their worn, cloth banner. But after hanging around for a few minutes, I
decided against it and left.

Erica Franklin is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College.

Pedalling Politics

I have butterflies in my stomach,? Charlie Pillsbury tells us, smiling
hopefully as he guides his bicycle into the street. In spite of his
silver beard, khaki shorts, and bike helmet, he speaks to the cluster
of reporters and carries himself in a way that reminds me of Gregory
Peck playing Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. The four of us
accompanying Charlie on the ride finish stretching, eager to begin.
Swinging our legs over the bicycle frames and settling into our toe
clips, we merge with the main street traffic on our way down the
Connecticut coast.

It is a perfect fall day. We bike by small pastures and crumbling stone
walls. The leaves on the maples and oak trees are just beginning to
turn, and the shade they provide has a mottled, rosy warmth to it. We
bike for miles without word or rest. Lulled by my enjoyment of the soft
hills and scenery, I almost forget we are riding for another purpose.
With 25 days until the election, Charlie Pillsbury is campaigning to
win a seat in Congress. A victory would make him the most powerful
Green Party politician in the nation, and as a candidate, Charlie has a
unique appeal. He has worked for 30 years in New Haven, the largest
city of the congressional district, as an attorney, an advocate for the
homeless, and the director of a community mediation center. He can even
claim some degree of national name recognition: His great grandfather
founded the Pillsbury Company, and college roommate Gary Trudeau
modeled Mike Doonesbury, the lead character of the Doonesbury comic
strip, on Charlie. And yet, there is something curious about this
campaign: Every one of us riding with Charlie knows he has no chance of

Even for a candidate who is unknown, inexperienced, and outspent,
there is one last-ditch populist ploy that can turn the tide: the
campaign tour. After all, well-run campaign tours have been responsible
for some of the biggest electoral upsets in American history. In the
1948 presidential election, every poll, every journalist, and even
Harry Truman?s own wife predicted that Thomas Dewey would beat him by a
landslide. After a 22,000-mile whistlestop campaign tour with hundreds
of speeches from the back of his train, Truman eked out a victory. In
1992, a relatively unknown governor from Arkansas upset a war-hero
president after a media-frenzied bus tour across the country.

In this tradition, Charlie is setting out on a 5-day, 160-mile
listening tour through all 25 towns in the district on his royal blue
Schwinn ?Traveler? 10-speed bicycle. Seemingly unaware of how perfectly
the tour fits most people?s stereotype of the hopelessly na

Points of Departure

Framing Sacco and Vanzetti
by Sara Hirschhorn

One fall day in 1971, Neil Thomas Proto had an epiphany. It wasn?t
about God, or Vietnam, or flower power, or love. For the George
Washington University law student, studying the execution of two
Italian-American shopkeepers for robbery and murder in a Boston prison
on August 23, 1927, was an awakening. Proto recalls hearing a few
conversations about the case in a class and going to see a recently
released film on the subject (the one with the Joan Baez soundtrack, he
fondly remembers these days). Then he just knew: Nicola Sacco and
Bartolomeo Vanzetti were about to change his life. When ?Justice On
Trial: Ben Shahn?s Case For Sacco And Vanzetti,? a collection of the
modernist painter?s gouaches and tempera paintings accompanied by
historical photographs and film, opened at the Yale Art Gallery on
October 14 for a two month run, it was not only one of several events
commemorating the 75th anniversary of their deaths, but also the result
of a one-man mission to bring Sacco and Vanzetti to New Haven.

When you talk to Proto, who tends to get hysterical when addressing the
subject, it is hard not to feel like those dim memories from the annals
of high school history are going to change your life as well. Though he
now lives in Washington, dc, and works at a high profile law firm,
Proto was born and raised in New Haven and still maintains a residence
here. He has devoted the better part of his life to reading, studying,
and educating about the Sacco and Vanzetti case. In the process, he has
constructed his own revisionist history of Sacco and Vanzetti?s story,
become a collector of Sacco and Vanzetti-related folk music, and
co-adapted an operetta??The American Dream: The Story Of Sacco And
Vanzetti??which debuted at New Haven?s own Shubert Theater this April.

After that fateful day in 1971 when he first realized the spiritual,
philosophical, and historical significance of the case, Proto hit the
books. For the next two years, it got ?a little intense.? He spent
months studying the eight volumes of transcripts and reading every work
he could find on the execution. Finally, in 1996, Proto began his
magnum opus, a manifesto published in Italian America, the magazine of
the national Sons of Italy, on the significance of the trial. But after
publishing a second article in 1997 for the 70th anniversary of Sacco
and Vanzetti?s execution, Proto had a second epiphany: that the message
was not getting out. So, after 27 years of devotion, he redoubled his
efforts. ?Why was this not talked about?? he remembered. ?And what does
it mean that it wasn?t talked about??

Proto started talking to important people. He got on the phone with
Mayor John DeStefano, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, and Yale Law School
Dean Anthony Kronman to put together a symposium that was the first
phase in a mission to bring Sacco and Vanzetti to New Haven. He played
on Yale?s historic connections to the case?countless articles in the
Yale Law Review, petition drives by the yls dean, and the advocacy of
the Supreme Court Justice and then-Professor William L. Douglas?and
wasn?t above drumming up a little Yale/Harvard rivalry over the issue
either, like calling up the Mayor to suggest, ?John, would you call the
mayor of Boston to ask him what he is going to do to commemorate the
anniversary of Sacco and Vanzetti?? Slowly, he converted them to his
idea of bringing Sacco and Vanzetti to the city.

Proto?s crusade paid off. ?I was just tickled,? he recalls, ?it was
great fun, a merry experience.? There were large turnouts at events
like the gallery exhibit, the New Haven Colony Historical Society
reading, and the ?compose-your-own-Sacco-and-Vanzetti-folksong? evening
sponsored by the Eli Whitney Folk Festival. Proto proudly remembers ?a
very bohemian crowd.? And, the operetta played the Shubert to a
sold-out crowd.

If the exhibit?s coming to New Haven started with Proto?s epiphany, it
is only appropriate: The art itself was the product of a full-blown
religious experience. The painter Ben Shahn (a Jewish immigrant who
arrived in the United States only two years before Sacco and Vanzetti)
called his series of 32 modernist, distorted gouaches (8 of which are
on display at the art gallery) and 2 tempera canvases ?The Passion Of
Sacco And Vanzetti,? in reference to the death of Jesus. Shahn
explained his political art with an epiphany of his own: ?Ever since I
could remember, I?d wished that I?d been lucky enough to be alive at a
great time?when something big was going on, like the Crucifixion. And
suddenly I realized I was. Here I was living through another
Crucifixion. Here was something to paint!?

For Proto, his own is as much a ?great time? as that of Ben Shahn.
?It?s stunning how analogous it is to what is going on today,? he
remarked. Although the anniversary celebration was planned years in
advance, the themes of anti-immigrant sentiment and criminal justice
seem especially pertinent?a connection which exhibit curator Robin
Jaffee Frank did not hesitate to acknowledge. Perhaps the yearlong
commemoration is unlikely to inspire miracles. But did it change Neil
Proto?s life? ?Absolutely.?

Mussel Man
by Meredith Angelson

At the corner of Elm and Howe, in the huddle of establishments famous
for their quick eats and cheap drinks, something has changed. There is
a strange new glow around Rudy?s Bar & Grill. It might be the new neon
signs in the window. It might be the sunlight reflecting off the new
sliver furniture outside. It might be the blinding whiteness of the
?Belgian Frites? banner above the door against the crusty sienna bricks
of the wall. One can?t quite be sure. The ineffable magnetism which
surrounds the dimly lit and cozily grimy dive draws you in to press
your nose and grubby fingers against the window and peer in with the
wonderment of a child at the window of a toy store on Christmas Eve; or
more poignantly, a college student at the window of a bar on a midweek

You cannot have failed to realize last year?s addition of Belgian
frites to Rudy?s menu. Even if you?ve never tasted them (for shame!)
the legend of their succulence and superiority to any fry you?ve ever
tasted has surely wafted down Elm Street and piqued your interest and
your appetite. You may even have heard of the man behind the myth, Omer
Ipek, known to those less intimately acquainted with him as ?the frites
guy.? Ipek, a Belgian native who came to the United States three years
ago, started working at Rudy?s a year ago. No mere fry jockey, he
trained as a chef at the Cuisine Belge Enseignement Internationale in
Brussels. (He also, conveniently, has a degree in Economics.) While
working in New York at ?Belgian Fries? fast food chain, he met former
Rudy?s owner Thomas Henniger. As the two discussed Henniger?s business,
Ipek says, ?I told him it was a good idea to add Belgian fries to his
menu, because in a bar you drink beer, and fries go along very well
with that.? Omer Ipek is a wise man with good taste.

He has imported from Belgium the most essential tool of his craft: the
frites machine. ?You can?t find that kind of machine here,? he
explains. Belgian frites friolators are more powerful than the machines
typically used in fast food restaurants in the United States, and they
are larger and have round frying baskets. ?With round baskets, the heat
moves all around the sides of the basket, which cooks the potatoes
faster and makes them crispier,? Ipek says. The differences between
Rudy?s plump and juicy frites and McDonald?s fries, parched and chewy
by comparison, don?t stop there. Ipek?s fries are 100% vegetarian,
cooked in soybean oil, and his potatoes are carefully hand-picked and
prepared. ?I don?t buy Idaho or some cheap potato. I try to get the
right size: 70 count potatoes??that is, 70 potatoes per 50 pounds of
potatoes??which have a better taste for fries than Idaho.? Ipek
hand-peels the potatoes and soaks them overnight. Each day he dries
them out before he ?blanches? them in the fryer for several minutes at
a low temperature. He sets them aside for at least half an hour before
cooking them a second time at a higher temperature until they are ready
to serve. Ipek then presents each customer with a silver funnel
overflowing with fries, gently glistening with soybean oil amidst the
folds of wax paper and crowned by a tiny plastic spear, plunged
whimsically into a frite. He offers his customers over 20 different
sauces with which to eat their frites, including Belgian Mayonnaise,
Curry Ketchup, Thai Peanut Butter, Andalouse, Americaine, and his
personal favorite, Samurai. He imports their ingredients from a Belgian
sauce company because, he says, ?In Belgium they are very fancy about
sauces.? We?re pretty damn fancy in New Haven too: Rudy?s now goes
through 600 pounds of potatoes a week.

Omer Ipek has certainly brought a great deal to this bar with his
frites. Before their advent, few people realized that Rudy?s even had a
menu. Now, thanks to Ipek?s European sensibility and talent in the
kitchen, Rudy?s is becoming known as a place for meals and snacks, as
well as quality brews, good conversation, and loud punk music. But the
mystique of the frites cannot wholly account for Rudy?s new appeal.
Those neon signs in the window are new. The stretched bunting set up
outside when the weather is warm welcomes customers to ?Rudy?s Bar &
Grill? and invites them to relax Parisian caf

Holey Wars

We?re looking at a classic match-up here, folks, and the stakes
couldn?t be higher. Think Liston-Clay but a whole lot sweeter?and
glazier. On November 19, the Milford, Connecticut, donut world will
change forever. A brand new Krispy Kreme on Boston Post Road is set to
square off against perennial favorite?and Boston Post Road
neighbor?Dunkin? Donuts. The grand opening is part of Kreme?s master
plan to usurp Dunkin?s worldwide donut hegemony. Kreme first
established itself as a major player on the Connecticut donut scene
with an October 8 opening in Newington. But with the Milford arrival,

Krispy Kreme looks to take one more geographical step toward invading
Dunkin?s birthplace of Quincy, Massachusetts. Donut aficionados will be
carefully watching the Milford battle. At stake is the eventual control
of the New England Market. I talked to a handful of nervous employees
from the two franchises, and though both sides tried to downplay the
significance of November 19, it?s clear: They?re hungry for victory.
Krispy Kreme may have Southern charm on its side, but Dunkin? Donuts
has tradition?not to mention home-field advantage. Connecticut is
Dunkin?s territory. And Bill Rosenberg is the president. Rosenberg,
Dunkin?s founder, was already peddling his tasty dough on Boston Post
Road before Krispy Kreme even thought about selling its first donut in
New Orleans in 1937. Dunkin? has been a New Haven mainstay for
generations. Some of Rosenberg?s first employees were Yale students,
and there are 54 Dunkin? Donuts within a ten mile radius of campus. The
global numbers are even more daunting: Dunkin? Donuts has more than
3,500 shops in the United States, and over 5,000 worldwide. Krispy
Kreme doesn?t even have that many employees.

Kreme may be the statistical underdog, but remember, Dunkin? had a big
head start. It wasn?t until the mid 1980s that Kreme expanded out of
the Southeast. Their fresh go-get-?em swagger gives them an outside
shot at an upset. And then there?s the secret recipe. In 1937, culinary
entrepreneur Vernon Rudolph convinced a gullible French chef to give
him the blueprints for his deliciously addictive yeast-raised donut.
Today, we call this donut the Hot Original Glazed. Just how good is it?
Krispy Kreme annually sells about the same number of doughnuts as its
rival?even though it has 4,750 fewer locations. The things just taste

In terms of raw power, both franchises have a lot to offer. Dunkin?
Donuts has fifty-two varieties of deep-fried goodness, along with some
of the best coffee in town. The total mass of Donuts coffee served in a
given year is equal to more than one million African elephants. The
kids at Kreme may lack this imposing poundage, but they?re a lot
taller. In two minutes, Krispy Kreme can produce a stack of donuts as
high as the Empire State Building.

Dunkin? Donuts has nothing that compares to the Hot Original Glazed.
But Krispy Kreme isn?t overconfident. In fact, a lingering question
remains as to whether or not the Kreme can compete with the
Munchkins?Dunkin?s donut holes. The Donut?s donuts are made by hand,
and for every round donut produced, the excess middle is sold as a
Munchkin. Kreme donuts, meanwhile, are made by pneumatic machines that
mold the dough into the perfect donut shape?sans surplus. Munchkins
have been a versatile weapon for Dunkin? Donuts in the past, and
there?s no reason to think this will change. In fact, Kreme seems to
have a major hole in its game-plan unless it can address the Munchkin

Expect to see a poised Krispy Kreme coming out of the gates on November
19. At the Grand Opening, there will be magicians and clowns?and what
more can you ask for? A free giveaway? The first customer in line gets
a year?s supply of donuts; the first hundred get a t-shirt. But if
Krispy Kreme wants to be successful in the long run, they?ll have to
convert legions of loyal Dunkin?s patrons.

Tuesday isn?t just another day. It?s a battle between the old and the
new, the established and untried, the champ and the contender. On
February 25, 1964, a 22-year-old Cassius Clay became boxing?s youngest
heavyweight champion when he creamed the venerable Sonny Liston. On
November 19, history just might repeat itself.

Tom Isler is a junior in Branford College.

Bonfire of the Vanities

Devil?s Night earned its name in Fair Haven this year. Near midnight on
October 30, an empty barn on Wolcott Street went up in flames. A few
blocks away, an abandoned home on James Street met the same fate.
Across the neighborhood at a house on Lombard Street, a car slammed
into the garage door, reversed, and sped away. The car too was later
found consumed by flames. When the sun rose on Halloween, both
buildings and the car had burned to rubble; no trace of the fires?
origins could be found in the smoking remains.
The destruction was a bitter irony for Fair Haven, where a recent
economic upswing has ushered in a spate of development ventures that
have begun to rejuvenate an area once regarded as New Haven?s immigrant
slum. The fires themselves are likely the result of long-standing
conflict over what course this development should take and, more
importantly, who gets to control it. During the last several years, the
neighborhood?s predominantly Latino residents have pushed back the drug
dealers and gang members who used to rule the streets. Family-owned
businesses and freshly renovated houses have cropped up on almost every
block. On Grand Avenue, El Charro imports the makings for its
traditional tacos all the way from Mexico. A fresh fruit stand crops up
every morning in front of the Dollar King. Local business owners,
residents, and politicians are laying out enthusiastic plans for its
revival. But while their goal is the same, their visions for how best
to achieve it often clash.

The Devil?s Night fires may be just the latest battle in the ongoing
war for control of Fair Haven?s future. It is no coincidence that the
targets of the attacks were two of Fair Haven?s veteran representatives
on New Haven?s Board of Aldermen, Raul Avila and Kevin Diaz. The
torched barn belonged to Avila, whose house stands in front of it; the
vandalized garage was Diaz?s. And just to make clear that the political
connection between the events was no coincidence, the still anonymous
vandals apparently targeted the James Street house because it was owned
by the Fair Haven Development Corporation (fhdc), a nonprofit housing
agency with close ties to the aldermen, who both sit on its governing

The history behind the fires is long and bitter and has split Fair
Haven into two camps, one allied with Avila and Diaz and the other
closely tied to the powerful administration of Mayor John DeStefano.
Avila and Diaz have long used their positions to exercise control over
the neighborhood?s development. Carping that neighborhood improvement
should always originate within the community, they demand that any
outside group that wants to work in Fair Haven defer to their authority
and operate through the network of businesses and nonprofit development
agencies that they control. But lately, DeStefano and his allies have
charged that Avila and Diaz have gone too far in their backroom
manipulation and strong-arm politics. Last summer, DeStefano backed
rival Democrat Johnny Martinez against Avila for state representative?a
slap in the face for a veteran Democrat like Avila. When Martinez died
in a car crash in October, DeStefano switched his support to another of
Avila?s rivals, Juan Candelaria, to make sure that Avila did not get
the job. Candelaria, with the critical backing of the Mayor?s office,
easily prevailed.

The mayor?s office claimed the mantle of good governance and clean
politics against Avila. With plenty of community discontent to marshal
to its purposes, City Hall made a convincing case. But the hands of the
city administration and its allies stopped looking so clean in late
October, when two well-known supporters of the mayor were arrested for
absentee ballot fraud in the elections for Democratic ward
chairmanships last March. That race pitted Menen Osorio-Fuentes, a
staunch Avila-Diaz backer and president of the board of the fhdc,
against the sister of Angelo Reyes, a staunch DeStefano supporter and
one of the men later arrested for tampering with the ballots. Reyes?s
green pick-up truck, which is often blazed with DeStefano For Mayor
signs in campaign seasons, is a common sight on the streets of Fair
Haven, where he is a successful private developer and energetic
community activist. He has made no secret of his opposition to Diaz and
Avila?s politics or to the fhdc.

Just hours after Reyes and Yale senior Michael Monta

The Fat Trap

Juan Mendoza, a seventh grader at Fair Haven Middle School, used to be fat. Like most overweight kids in middle school, he endured his share of taunting. But as much as it bothered him, he didn?t know how to change his situation. ?I used to just eat and not really care. I didn?t know why I was eating what I was eating,? he remembered. At the end of the school day, having skipped lunch and breakfast, Juan would hit the vending machines and stuff himself with unhealthy treats. On the way home local convenience stores lured him in with the promise of his favorite snack: Doritos. At home Juan?s family served him fried food; until last spring he had never even tried broccoli or cauliflower.

But in the fall of 2001, all of that changed. For 16 weeks Juan and 20 of his peers participated in an after-school program designed by Dr.
Margaret Grey, Assistant Dean of Research Affairs at Yale School of Nursing, and a team of colleagues. To Dr. Grey and her team, Juan is
representative of a national ?epidemic of obesity? that has hit low-income and minority populations disproportionately hard. Though all
of America is getting heavier as a result of reduced physical activity and poorer nutritional habits, socio-economic factors often determine
who is most affected. It is a fact that the poorest people in this country are also the most overweight.

In this regard, New Haven is a prototypical American city. Statistics highlight the gaping health discrepancies that exist nation-wide between upper- and middle-class citizens and inner-city dwellers. While approximately 16 percent of American youth are obese, in New Haven, where 85 percent of students in public schools are either African American or Hispanic, and the majority eat state-subsidized free lunches, the numbers hover between 45 and 50 percent. 41 students participated in the 16-week program at Fair Haven and Sheridan middle schools. All of them were considered clinically obese and all but one of them were either African American or Hispanic.

Yale psychology professor and obesity expert Kelly Brownell likens the weight crisis to the early days of the hiv/aids epidemic. ?Obesity is somewhat like hiv/aids was in that it is a stigmatized problem and so despite its dire consequences the public is slower to respond,? he explained. For the most part, poor people in America do not have access
to healthy food, cannot afford physically active lifestyles, and live in communities where obesity is commonplace. More troublesome, however, is the fact that obesity is the number one cause of Type 2 diabetes, one of the fastest growing diseases in America. In a statement issued last winter calling for changes in school lunch policies and the fast-food industry, Surgeon General David Satcher lamented, ?The nation?s obesity epidemic has gotten so bad it soon may overtake tobacco as the leading cause of preventable deaths.?

For Juan, the program presented an opportunity to improve his health, to stop being teased about his size, and to become an exception to the
rule. A lot was at stake for Dr. Grey and her research team as well: If the program, one of the first of its kind, could reverse trends towards
obesity and, more importantly, Type 2 diabetes in Juan and his peers, despite their home and school environments, then it could be a viable answer to a national problem. But success will depend on the program?s ability to counter problems deeply engrained in American society.

Statistically, Latino males between the ages of six and twelve like Juan have the highest incidence of childhood obesity?clinically defined
by a ratio of height to weight above the 85th percentile. Childhood obesity has been linked to low self-esteem, altered body image,
decreased preferences for physical activity, and depression. The most alarming problem, however, and the one that Dr. Grey is most worried
about, is the direct connection to the early onset of Type 2 diabetes, a condition that impairs the body?s ability to use insulin. As a
result, fats and sugars are less effectively digested, causing high blood sugar levels. This can lead to reduced energy, high blood
pressure, heart disease, and kidney disease. In 1980, only 2 percent of Type 2 diabetes cases occurred in children between the ages of nine and 19. Now that figure has jumped to between 40 and 50 percent. The sharp rise in Type 2 diabetes in children is a troubling indicator of what is to come. ?The problem here isn?t only health related,? explained Grey. ?This health epidemic has huge societal implications. These kids will be suffering from complications in their 20s that we haven?t generally seen until much later in life?and this doesn?t have to be the case.? But if the over-arching goals of Grey?s course are of national significance, its classroom goals are surprisingly basic: nutrition, exercise, and coping skills.

Juan remembers the beginning of the class as being extremely challenging. ?Almost everything I learned was new and it was hard to
change the kind of food I ate.? At the second session of the class, students were asked to talk about the kinds of foods they consume and
think of why they might choose those foods. While choosing foods based on taste, cost, and convenience was familiar to the students, thinking
about nutrition was not. High-sugar and high-fat foods are ubiquitous, regularly appearing in advertisements and promotions, while messages
about nutrition are more obscure. According to Brownell, ?the economics of food are the reverse of what they should be. Unhealthy food is easy, cheap, everywhere, and tastes good.? The students? diets at the beginning of the course reflected this. ?Their diets were high-fat,
high-carb and low-protein. They were drinking close to a liter of soda a day and didn?t know that it was a problem,? said Diane Berry, one of the primary researchers.

During the first few weeks, the nutritionist for the course, Pamela Galasso, tried to give the students tools and information that they
could use when making choices about food. ?I had to present them with a new way of talking to get them thinking about and actively participating in more meals,? said Galasso. The approach Galasso used was holistic. Rather than focus on diet and weight-loss, she tried to emphasize small changes that students could make. She presented them with ?culturally competent? food guide pyramids that included foods that the students typically ate, such as rice and beans, and taught them some mnemonic devices to help them make decisions about food.
Among the devices were phrases like ?diet: Deprived Individuals Eat Too much??a reminder not to skip meals?and ?soda: Stop Options Decide Act??encouraging careful decision making when choosing a beverage. Though these strategies may seem simple, for students who didn?t know that ?four tennis balls? of rice was too much, they were welcome tools. Each week Juan made goals for the next week?s class based on what he had learned: ?Sometimes it was to add more vegetables or to eat some breakfast. I would try to eat less high fat food.? The course gave Juan clear messages about food and nutrition?messages that were not often reinforced at home or at school.

Unfortunately, processed, high-fat, and high-calorie food is just as prevalent in schools as it is in homes and stores. Students on subsidized school lunch programs do not have many options when choosing what to eat. School lunches, though financed by the government and required to meet certain standards, are often high in fat and light on fruits and vegetables. ?The government policies are confused,? explained Grey. ?There are rules and regulations regarding school lunches. But in places like New Haven, where many of the meals are subsidized, the stuff they get free or cheap are the high fat choices.? In a recent study only 20 percent of schools met all the government?s nutritional requirements. ?Lots of times I didn?t like the school lunch,? Juan said, ?and so I would buy a soda or a candy bar or maybe both.? Juan?s decision to skip school meals and buy food from the vending machines was not unusual. ?Lots of these kids are eating two meals a day at school. If the school lunch doesn?t appeal to them, they turn to the vending machines. They have very limited healthy options,? said Berry. Schools across the country have lined their hallways with candy-stocked vending machines and filled their cafeterias with