Time for some straight talk about race
Here we go. Can we talk? About race I mean? Can we talk reasonably and sensibly and without rancor and emotion? Probably not, but somebody has to say it and since I have managed to tick everybody off in this area at least a time or two over the past 16 years, it might as well be me.
If the above sentence had the word "tick" in it, you know Alice Queen edited my work against my strict orders to the contrary. Thank God for Alice.
On Monday, we celebrated the birthday of the late civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. on the same day that we watched a black president be sworn in for a second term, but, sadly, in many ways we are no closer to living the dream of Dr. King: Equality for all people, regardless of race, and a land where people are judged "not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
In fact, we may be losing ground that we made up after the turbulence of the 1960s.
This country is being divided daily by the demagoguery of politicians on both sides of the aisle, and I am not here to sling mud or point fingers at either side, nor defend either side -- so I will probably make everybody mad.
The Democrats continually wage class warfare -- berating the so-called one-percenters and corporate robber barons at every turn and insisting that it is the duty of the American government to share the wealth these people have amassed to create equality in the country. That is divisive. We do not need to wage class warfare in this nation. We do not need to set the rich against the poor. And the Republicans play their own games and speak out of both sides of their mouths at the same time. I told you; today I am an equal opportunity offender.
We have the gun lobby and the anti-gun lobby, and both sides use rhetoric and emotion and innocent children to prove their point. I am not a gun owner, as of this writing, but I do know that the Constitution of the United States guarantees the right to bear arms and that no executive order should be able to supersede the Constitution of the United States. I also know that mere laws will not prevent the kind of violence that recently took place in Connecticut. I am pretty sure there is already a law against walking into a school and killing people.
We are pitting gays against those that believe that homosexuality is a sin, and we are pitting the abortionists against the right-to-lifers, and the SEC against the rest of college football, and the Christians against the Muslims. You name it and we get angry and upset about it in this country. But the biggest area of division continues to be that which is drawn along racial lines.
You need look no further than our own community and the results and the aftermath of the November elections to realize this is true. I am speaking very candidly now, which is something we all need to learn to do when speaking about race.
Our community elected an entire slate of government officials and the vote was cast almost entirely along racial lines. It was, and if you want to deny that it was you are burying your head in the sand. I don't think I have actually read that statement in print over the past two months, but I have heard it alluded to everywhere. The primary criterion for casting votes in Rockdale County in November was the color of a candidate's skin. Period. It wasn't knowledge or experience or ability. It was race. Pure and simple -- and the color of someone's skin is a poor reason to cast a vote for that person -- black, white, red, yellow or polka-dot. Most black folks voted for the black candidates and most white folks voted for the white candidates and more black folks voted and the black folks got elected.
Now there is a big hubbub about an editorial piece written by Jonny Brown in which he used the metaphor of an airplane to describe the changing demographics in Rockdale County. Brown indicated that the plane has now been hijacked by blacks and will subsequently crash. I hope not. I am still aboard that plane.
The Democratic Party is calling, of course, for Mr. Brown's head on a platter and demanding that he be removed from his position on the Board of Elections. They are arguing that Mr. Brown's composition was racist -- and it might have been -- just as much of the campaign rhetoric I saw and heard coming from the Democrats leading up to the general election was aimed at eliciting votes based on race.
Enough is enough, y'all. I am talking to everybody! I am talking to the Democrats and I am talking to myself and my friends. Enough is enough.
I am willing to give those in charge the benefit of the doubt. I am willing to concede that they sought office to try and create a better Rockdale County and not just to try to have black people elected to political positions. So let's all quit quibbling over things that don't amount to a hill of beans and start working together to make our county better.
In the immortal words of that other civil rights martyr named King -- Rodney -- "Can't we all just get along?"
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.