Steven Haynes is walking an interesting path on this letter from the anti smoking crowd. First, he is a long time city council person, who's main issue is the protection of the Erma Hayes Center. I'm not sure we can give him credit for anything else in 8 years on the council, beyond being a calm, pro-business, pro-people candidate (at least, I think he gets his votes right very often). The Erma Hayes Center is a black entitlement hot spot, that provides daycare and other programs in and for the North East part of Carbondale.
The letter is a pretty standard, over the top, letter to influence a uncooperative politician. If this was a class or cover letter for getting a job, the anti smoking folks would be given extra credit for personalizing their message for each person. I don't know if they sent this to our other black city council member, she was probably already on board.
Can I understand why Steven was a little upset? Sure. Do I understand why he went into a funk about it? I think I would have called Mary personally and fired her up (or more likely these days, written her up in my blog :)). But, I'm kind of direct.
The worst part about being black in todays society is surely the uncertainty about where you stand with people. Do they like me? Do they hate me? That is what everyone feels. If you are black, it's do they hate me because of my skin color. That is a big burden to carry around.
But, I don't understand how you can function as a city council person if you aren't willing to deal with this confusion directly and honestly. I realize that it is a lot to ask.
In the end, do I think that Mary Pohlmann is a racist? Absolutely not. Did she go close to the line in this letter and maybe all over the line? Yes, she did. Did Steven Haynes handle this well, I don't think he did. Mary's intended to do the right thing, Steven should have given her the benefit of the doubt. She is a near retirement age, wife of professor, super liberal after all.
I like the quote in the Clarence Page article I blogged about,
As one immigrant Jamaican friend once told me, "I'm too busy working two jobs to worry about the white man's racism."One of the pleasures of being a white man, is you don't wonder if you are being discriminated against. When things go your way, you just work harder. I hope in my lifetime that everyone in the USA feels that way. But for now, I think we can agree that this has been blow out of proportion and is headed toward a yellow journalism treatment by the DE (which is my domain in this town).
Your comments are welcome.