Let’s stop playing the race card.

Over the past several months I have engaged in many conversations with people about Jerry Bledsoe’s ongoing Rhino serial.  Many times the talk has turned to some variation of, “It looks like the N&R is at the bottom of all of this.”

While I’ll acknowledge that it is certainly possible for the N&R to have slanted some things as Bledsoe charges, I’ll also remind them to keep in mind the history between Jerry and the N&R.  Most will say they didn’t know anything about that so I thought it was important to bring out some perspective.

Today’s column was written two weeks ago but I missed my deadline for earlier publication mainly because I was trying to check a couple of things out.  One of them was my hunch about the double entendre’ in the title of Jerry Bledoe’s series: ‘Cops in Black & White’.

I caught up with Rhino editor John Hammer shortly after that post and asked him if indeed there was something to my hunch.  He smiled a Hammer smile and said, as coy as you please, “...I’ll have to check my notes and get back to you on that.”  Maybe I wasn’t so far off base after all.

For more N&R/Bledsoe background you might want to check out what N&R editor John Robinson put up on his blog yesterday.

Here’s today’s column…

************************

N&R mast_1_27.jpg

Now that the investigations surrounding the Greensboro police department are winding down, we everyday citizens are promised a look behind the door down at City Hall.

City Manager Mitch Johnson says, “The Council has the ability, at my request, to open the door on some of this.� Hopefully our Council will have not only the ability, but also the will to throw the door open wide enough that even Jerry Bledsoe will discover things he has not seen before.

Some official light leaked out around the door’s edges when Councilwoman Bellamy-Small’s copy of the RMA report showed up on the Internet last year. Guided by internal findings advanced by the City Attorney’s office, that report damned many of former Chief David Wray’s administrative procedures and actions as racially skewed and the N&R reported on that.

But others have a different point of view.

Only the most uninvolved among Greensboro’s citizenry are unaware that Jerry Bledsoe is telling Wray’s side of the story in the Rhino Times.  In addition, only those who know of past animosities between Bledsoe and the News & Record anticipated that ‘Cops in Black & White’ was predestined to lay much of the blame for Wray’s troubles at the feet of his former employer.

The tension between this newspaper and one of the area’s best-selling authors has played out in full public view.  Exemplified by the 2001 book “Death by Journalism� and continuing into last year’s scathing op-ed piece he presented in the Rhino Times, Bledsoe holds great contempt for the News & Record and he’s not afraid to let it show.

Not that there’s anything wrong with Bledsoe telling a complicated and compelling story through his own set of filters and preconceptions.  But it is important to swallow several historically informed grains of salt with every weekly installment.

The way I see it, all coverage of the Wray flap should be taken with some salt as well.  With central players only talking to certain publications, the unvarnished and complete truth will not come from these pages or any other until the SBI investigations and whatever follows it plays out.  Also, with race relations being interjected into the background of this unfolding story, sides are inevitably being taken and spins on the “truth� abound.

We in Greensboro have a troubling tendency to over-play the race card anytime black meets white in local politics and perhaps our media has been a little too reflective of the community in that respect.

It is almost too much to expect for newspapers and reporters to be immune from this local phenomenon especially when the RMA report suggested that Wray wasn’t completely color blind in how he dealt with his department.

Thanks to Bledsoe’s series, those suggestions are now in question but the truth of the matter is still as illusive as it ever was.

All of us, including local news outlets, need to make a pact.  Let’s place the race card at the bottom of the deck and only bring it out after all other cards have been played, examined and discarded as inapplicable to the situation.  Lets stop assigning racial undertones to matters that can be satisfactorily explained by a lack of communication and understanding.  And especially, let’s stop assigning racial blame to matters related to human fallibility.

The David Wray door will be fully open soon and we should look forward to walking through it to discern the truth based on fact, not opinion.  I, for one, will be relieved to finally see this whole thing start to come to a close so we can move on.

This entry was posted in My N&R columns. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

3 Comments

  1. Sandy Carmany
    Posted January 30, 2007 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Well said, David!

  2. Posted January 30, 2007 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Sandy.

    One of my first conversations this morning was with Willy Hammer. He said essentially the same thing. I must’ve got something right.

  3. The CA
    Posted January 30, 2007 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Great post, David. I hope it is accorded with respect by the same people who have dismissed the same notions when suggested by others in the past. More and more people in Greensboro are coming to realize the truth in what you say, and what others have complained about for awhile, only to be greeted with deaf ears and casual dismissal.

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Hogg’s Blog » Simply Sam on February 1, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    [...] As I wrote in my N&R column earlier this week, our local publications are certainly reflective of Greensboro’s legendary racial divisions – and different publications take different points-of-view, but they hardly create them.  If Sam wants to identify the actual creators of racial controversy herabouts, he needs look no further than to some of our bumbling, self-promoting, insensitive and smug elected ‘leadership’ – both black and white. [...]

  2. By Hogg’s Blog » Confusing criticism on February 10, 2007 at 10:55 am

    [...] I loved the opening line in a letter to the editor in yesterday’s N&R from a fan out of Apex.  He was addressing last week’s column… “I am glad that your column (David Hoggard) comes with a picture of you smiling, because you are definitely a joke…” [...]