Saturday, January 06, 2007

Wait, It Is the 21st Century, Right?

A while ago, I blogged about how the residents of my hometown elected the town's first black mayor. Since then, one long term employee of town hall has resigned and one police officer has decided to go work in another parish. They are both white. While the police officer claims the other parish will pay more and and pay his mileage, the town hall employee has been pretty honest about the fact that she doesn't want to work for a black man. I know you're thinking, "that's two people, elle," but remember I come from a town in which we have three police cars, a volunteer fire department, and about four town hall employees. So this is significant. And no, these aren't throwbacks to another age--the town hall employee is a year younger than I am. And when I see her, she will smile and speak and I will once again be blown away about how some people just don't get it.

For a number of people in my hometown, "it" isn't racism if "it" doesn't entail some violent act. Sort of like the white girl who confided to me years ago, when my cousin J was dating a white boy, that she just didn't understand why he would date J when he could have a white girl. Or how my high school let black cheerleaders ride the bus with the all-black boy's basketball team, but the white cheerleaders had to be chauffered to games because "it wouldn't look right." I could regale you with stories like that all night, but I digress.

The reason I'm thinking about my hometown mayor, is because I read this: Louisiana Mayor's Death Sparks Controversy. Gerald Washington, the new black mayor of a mostly-white town, was found shot to death and the coroner has ruled it a suicide.
But the coroner and the sheriff have offered no reason for why Washington would have killed himself. No suicide note was found. And there is no evidence he bade farewell to anyone, put his financial affairs in order, or gave any other indication he was about to kill himself, authorities said.
In fact, Washington seemed to be readying himself for his new job:
About noon, he set City Hall's alarm system for the first time. He got instructions on how to raise and lower the U.S. flag. He had already ordered a new mayoral letterhead with his name on it and a button-down shirt embroidered "Gerald Washington, Mayor."
A few hours later he indulged in a hobby, placing a $4 bet at a nearby horse racing track.
Apparently, the coroner wishes people would just get over these damned unfounded conspiracy theories!
"This is the South, so of course everybody's going to say it was some white guy shooting a black guy," said Dr. Terry Welke, the Calcasieu Parish coroner who ruled that Washington killed himself.
Now why in the world would we think something like that?

6 comments:

ChasingMoksha said...

"the town hall employee has been pretty honest about the fact that she doesn't want to work for a black man."

This speaks volumes about the environment. Granted she is honest, but if the environment did not allow racism or promote it, she could not even be getting a new job because the new job would not want to hire some like her. So by hiring her they are saying that she is okay, thus, supporting her position.

ChasingMoksha said...

"Apparently, the coroner wishes people would just get over these damned unfounded conspiracy theories!"

It is like a coroner in a "In the Heat of the Night" episode or something.

rkef said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this. It's lonely out here, trying to find any information or perspective on this story, as the mainstream media is barely touching it, which is fascinating, given the fact that there are countless unanswered questions -- the kind of thing I guess I naively assume a real journalist might want to investigate.

Zan said...

Christ, I'm so wishing I could say I didn't believe this, but it is Louisiana. . .*sigh*

When Alexandria hired their first black Chief of Police, almost half of the force quit. The white half, of course. Some of them went to work for the sheriff's office, where the pay was admittedly much better. But some left because they said they were worried that he would favor the black officers.

This is a man they'd worked with for YEARS. He'd been the assistant chief for years and years. So they know the may, they know he's fair. And yet...gah.

RachelsTavern said...

Yeah, I'm awaiting the outcome of this one. It sounds very suspicious. I think they are bringing in a outsider to redo the autopsy.

zan said, "Some of them went to work for the sheriff's office, where the pay was admittedly much better. But some left because they said they were worried that he would favor the black officers."

I think this stems from the mistaken belief among many White Americans that Black Americans are just as prejudice as Whites. They realize they have been doing this, and suddenly when the tables are turned they expect that they will be treated the same way.

Zan said...

Oh, absolutely. Why else would they think that? That's what fuels a lot of prejudice in general -- well, if I was X then I would do Y and so will everyone else. But no....*sigh* I hate people sometimes ;(

Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...