Putting this white guy’s indignation on hold

Before white folk get all indignant about the Pulpit Forum’s characterization of the Bellamy-Small/Gatten feud as being, “deeply rooted in racist assumptions and values“, do what I did: take a deep breath, listen, take another deep breath… think… then resolve not to allow your twitching knee to jerk out of control this time around.

My first thoughts when I watched Holder’s video from the Forum’s press conference was typical white-guy-think: …”there they go again.  The Race Card.  How in the world can a group of intelligent people actually defend the obvious-to-me transgressions of an obvious-to-me rogue council person and then have the audacity to throw around the charge of ‘racism’ to explain it all?  I’m sick of it.”

Key words in my first thoughts above are “intelligent people” and “obvious to me”; because they are and it is.

This time, instead of saying “how dare they”, I’m going to do the un-white thing and try to understand how such scenarios play out, seemingly over and over, in Greensboro:  An elected white person criticizes another elected black person for something that would be deemed understandable and defensible had it been white-on-white, or black-on-black criticism.  But when said criticism (justified or not) crosses racial lines, charges of racism arise from the black community and there-they-go-again indignation arises within the white community.

For this to happen again and again in Greensboro, it should be obvious by now that we are doing something really wrong.  All of us. 

We need to change something, because what we are currently doing, or not, is clearly not working.  But I fear our current leadership, both black and white, will be more interested in forwarding their entrenched and comfortable “assumptions and values” than taking the long-needed baby steps that might finally, mercifully, heal Greensboro’s racial chasms, be they real or perceived.

Update: Sue, after recapping Bellamy-Small’s “spiraling” points… “…In any other business’s chain of command, would Ms. Bellamy-Small still be working there? Isn’t it time we looked beyond race and focused on performance and the greater good?

Doug Clark’s inconvenient truth: “…now the battle lines are drawn. You’re either for Gatten or for Bellamy-Small.”

The Inside Scoop received this from TDBS’s probable November opponent, Luther Falls… “…I join with the Pulpit Forum NAACP to denounce the recall request of Council member Diane (sic) Bellamy Small (sic) by Councilmember Florence Gatten…”

WFMY’s Public Forum is all fired up.

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29 Comments

  1. Jim Rosenberg
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Florence Gatten is the Ringmaster of this circus. Ray Charles could have seen this coming.

  2. Posted March 2, 2007 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    You know when people are thinking about the greater good when they see the real issue and don’t try to make up surrounding issues and then try to FIX the real issue. Sometimes it’s just a bad politician and not a bad “African American politician.” Enlarging this into a citywide racial whatever doesn’t serve the city’s greater good. Not knowing what the result had to be (that is, some organized effort to defend incompetence by calling it something else), might be Gatten’s only miscalculation. Let’s see who tries to co-opt this next.

  3. jc
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Personally, I think the mayor should have done this. I dont care what color you are, if you are acting like DBS was, you needed to be called out. This needed to be done. Hopefully, her non-sense will stop.

    Its a shame the race card had to be played, but it doesnt surprise me. That said, we should not be afraid to speak out because of it. We are too PC most of the time.

    FG might have pissed some people off, but I’m certain she has endeared herself to many who feel the same way she does.

    Jim, your line was pretty funny!

  4. hugh
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    “We need to change something, because what we are currently doing, or not, is clearly not working. ”

    There’s a simple solution, Hogg. White politicians should hire Black proxies to do their criticizing. The City Council can work some money into the budget to take care of this. After all in Greensboro Government there’s no problem too small that can’t be fixed by throwing money at it.

  5. bill
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    David,
    A great take on a confusing issue. You’re right on both counts; “it’s obvious to me”… and they (Pulpit Forum) are “intelligent people.”
    Understanding how rational people can see this argument from such diverse view points may help us as a community. I don’t know what we’re doing wrong, but there has to be a better way for us to move forward.
    Thank you for your insightful blog.
    Bill O’Neil

  6. Posted March 2, 2007 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I’m very close to coming to the conclusion that the problem is generational and will not go away until new and younger blood is in power. I think about the way I relate to my black friends and they to me,–we can discuss the most contentious of issues with sensitivity and respect. The current power centers, both black and white, are borne from a period of struggle and confrontation, and while not without great achievements, their methods and perspectives are antiquated.

    This is not to say that suspicion and prejudices are non-existent in younger generations, but they are less prevalent and, in my opinion, younger generations come from a different starting place, one of greater acceptance, one where discussion and action are not founded on division and suspicion.

  7. Mick
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Do what you want David. Im tired of this BS. It is never enough no matter what happens. Nelson Johnson is a plague on this city. The Pulpit Forum just proved where they stand and will ALWAYS stand. Black is always right no matter what. You cannot hold intelligent discussions when folks have this attitude about anything. If anyone can even half heartedly defend DBS…. ARRRRGGGHHHHH. THE Pulpit Forum has just “jumped the shark”. Im done.

    Here’s an idea. How about we treat ALL folks the same regardless of their skin color. Im tired of tip toeing around. See how well that worked out for the cop. We would have all been better had he treated her as he would have treated me. Here’s your ticket” and “tell it to the judge”.

    Now, all that being said….. I believe she recieved her special treatment because of her position not because she was black. She/They are the ones crying about race being involved. If her district wants to rally behind her and her idiotic behavior so be it. They will be the ones stuck with ineffective representation and the rest of us just get a good show.

    Take a deep breath my ass. This is BS.

  8. The CA
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    The racism exists because we are constantly told it exists. Whether it ACTUALLY exists is another story. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  9. Posted March 2, 2007 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    I think you’re on to something, Roch, about this being generational in large part.

  10. hugh
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Right from wrong, manners and respect. Are White folks and Black folks that far off as to be in debate as to what is considered to be bad behavior, manners and disrespect?

  11. Jim Rosenberg
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Public leadership is about framing issues so that progress can be made with the resources available at the time. Nelson The reaction of Diann Bellamy-Small, Nelson Johnson and the Pulpit Forum to a public spanking from Florella DeVille were entirely predictable. If this was the kickoff of Ms. Gatten’s mayoral campaign, it is telling: a pointlessly divisive public chest-thumping that picks at a still-healing scab and stands no chance of yielding a positive result. Being right is easy. Doing right is not. I can and do agree with nearly every negative statement made about Ms. Bellamy-Small, and I completely rejecting the notion that Ms. Gatten is a racist — but I still lay blame for this whole mess right at the feet of Ms. Gatten. Imagine the set of all possible strategies for dealing with the issue of Ms. Bellamy-Small, and consider the choice made by Ms. Gatten: public humiliation. What a sad excuse for leadership.

  12. jc
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    DBS is a public person and maybe public humiliation is what is needed to reign in her non-sense. She should be held accountable for her actions and if she is humiliated, its by her own doing.

  13. John D. Young
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Roch, good point. We do seem to be frozen in what I have heard referred to by some black friends as “a grey haired view of Greensboro” — frozen in old battle lines drawn in the ’60s and ’70s that are maintained by tradition without benefiting our current community. Even the Pulpit Forum’s press conference yesterday spent a lot of minutes on the issues around 1979. Gatten, as Jim Rosenberg clearly stated, had to understand how her comments would quickly rush folks to their designated battle lines.

    The behavior of everyone is so predictable you can create your headlines a day early. Do these “usual suspects” really represent the long term interest of Greensboro? If it is generational or if its caused by the fluoride in our water we need a new direction and new leadership.

    Bitterness on top of bitterness, rigid lines drawn in the sand, no real conversations all help maintain our sad situation. Joe Killian is right that we cannot really describe to friends in other locations that this is not an old “Saturday Nigh Live” sketch about dysfunctional city interaction — it is the way we really treat each other and we continue to stay on this same unworkable path.

    FG, DBS and some others on the Council need to be replaced by people who will at least try to work for the citizens of Greensboro and help heal some of these wounds rather than yank off the scabs. I understand that around mid-March we will see clearly with charts and graphs how badly most of us feel about our City and County leadership. Maybe we can realize when compared to other communities with charts and graphs we are not healthy and we need to create something better.

  14. Mick
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Roch and others,

    DING! I have thought for some time (years) that once the 60′s generation moves on we will all be better off. We owe a lot to those folks. Good and bad. However, their (also mine I might add) time is gone. They dont seem to be able to move forward. Stuck in the causes of the 60′s. I tire of there crappy chants as well.

    Mick

  15. Jim Rosenberg
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    The day before Ms. Gatten’s heroic act of moral purity, Ms. Bellamy-Small was a politician disconnected from her constituency and in rapid decline. She faced a re-election battle which she barely won in the previous cycle and would likely be fought once again as the only sitting African-American officeholder not to receive the endorsement of the most influential PAC representing African-American interests. The day after Gatten’s announcement, Bellamy-Small was embraced by her community, all the selfishness and oddity washed away in martyrdom. Whose interests does that advance aside from Gatten’s own?

  16. DSB
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Being new to Greensboro, I find this political infighting fascinating. DBS is guilty of being eccentric. Is cultural insensitivity equal to bigotry? That might be the question. Should DBS be afforded more latitude for her behavior? Probably. She did nothing criminal. But she does represent a bunch of people who perceive themselves as having historically been given the shaft. Nonne of this should surprise anyone, especially an alleged “seasoned” politico.

  17. Jon
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Ms -Small should consider placing Ms. Gatten on her re-election payroll and occasionally have her spout anti-Smallian comments which will further cement Ms-Small’s chances of being re-elected where at one time her seat was in contention.

    Her possible opponent was Machiavellian in his support of Ms -Small knowing full well if he sides with whitey his political career in that district is kaput.

    I thought these types of political machinations only occurred in Chicago and Boston?

  18. hugh
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Laying the blame at Mrs. Gatten just plays into the hands of the race baiters. It’s making it an issue simply because she is white. Had Skip Altson been the one to call for BS resignation, the bully pulpit forum’s race card would have been shut down and the meat of their argument neutered.

  19. Jim Rosenberg
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    She’s not street enough to demand acknowledgment, but Florence Gatten is Diann Bellamy-Small’s political daddy. What makes Greensboro’s racial politics unique isn’t the effectiveness of radicals, it’s the failure of moderates. If Greensboro had a moderate coalition of reasonable officeholders willing to occasionally step off the ideological gas and make back-and-forth compromises, cries of racism would have a false ring. Instead, we get Gatten’s call for resignation, the Council’s stronger than necessary slap at the TRC, lock-outs, firings, lie detector tests, punitive document drops, and a million other missed opportunities for building trust. This makes it possible for self-serving politicians to whisper to to their constituents, “they are out to get us,” and be believed. Florence Gatten is right about Diann Bellamy-Small. Congratulations. Big deal. It came at a price. I’d bet anything it cost Gatten a chunk of trust from Goldie Wells, Yvonne Johnson, and the broader minority community — which makes her a less effective politician. It costs all of us to have yet another negative racial firestorm ignite and be followed by the inevitable period of bad governance. Instead of a shrill and and clunky public rant, I wish Gatten had quietly sought to gain the trust of Johnson and Wells, and in the process give a moderate center a chance to be born.

  20. David Wharton
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Jim.

  21. hugh
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Jon, you have a point, DBS should go to some sort of cultural sensitivity training. She’s obviously offending her working peers and the public in general with her antics.

  22. steve flynn
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    re: the gatten attack on dbs

    i think GSO’s ‘blogsboro’ should reflect deeply on this week’s events. the blogs (including msm blogs like wfmy) seem to offer our community an important space for dialogue. but, who is reading and posting to these discussions? surely the one-sided vitriol being posted in recent days does not represent this entire community? yet, it is out there, and it is ugly. what is the blogosphere’s responsibility?

    how do we develop a blogsboro that includes a broader representation from the community, most especially from the many that are poor, of color, or too busy to ‘keep up’ or ideologically put off by the dominant dialogue in the blogosphere. so many of greensboro’s neediest and struggling poor have no dog in the local discourse hunt.

    the digital world has great promise in terms of democratic dialogue, but so far i’m unconvinced it is helping raise up the voices of the less privileged.

    how do we blog advocates ensure we are self-aware about our medium’s limitations in terms of community dialogue? how do we continue to try to construct new ways to include voices of the ‘other’ in our conversations? i think there is promise here.

    we’re in for a difficult period as far as race relations in Greensboro go (so what else is new): how can the blog world contribute in affirming ways?

  23. Posted March 2, 2007 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    So how is Que Pasa covering this story?

  24. Posted March 2, 2007 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Oh wait, I can check on line. Nope. Nothing but what most people seem to care about more than politicians jabbering while Roma burns: http://www.quepasamedia.com/web/content/view/2631/62/lang,en/

    GREENSBORO – El negro de la pistola, el asaltante afroamericano que ha cometido más de 20 asaltos en contra de latinos en esta ciudad, aparentemente fue atrapado el jueves 22 de febrero cuando pretendió robar en casa de Leonel Leal Alegría y de María Araceli Barrón Martínez, una pareja originaria de Querétaro, México.

    El incidente ocurrió en el aparcadero de casas móviles Oakwood Forest alrededor de las 7:30 de la noche.

  25. Posted March 3, 2007 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I’m afraid your point is lost in the non-translation, Jim. I suppose I should apologize for not being able to read Spanish very well.

  26. Posted March 3, 2007 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    David, you don’t have to read; just cut and paste: http://babelfish.altavista.com/

  27. Posted March 3, 2007 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    It’s even better in translation. I love Babelfish!

    ***

    GREENSBORO – The black of the pistol, the Afro-American attacker who has committed more than 20 assaults against Latin in this city, apparently was catched Thursday 22 of February when it tried to rob in house of Loyal Leonel Joy and Maria Araceli Barrón Martinez, an original pair of Querétaro, Mexico. The incident at night happened in the aparcadero of movable houses Oakwood Forest around the 7:30. In agreement with Loyal, the seven inhabitants of traila were playing lottery in the ground of the room when colored person entered by the armed fore door with a pistol, the face covered with a knitted cap and the hands contained in black leather gloves. “Dénme the money”, it barked in his characteristic style. Nobody was wanted to undress of its properties so the attacker, like in other occasions, struck in the head to his victims with the handle of the pistol. “Tírense all to the ground. This type says it in serious “, recommended Barrón to its family. The thief approached Loyal. He struck several times in the head and he took a chain to him that hung of its neck. “Good looking which the pistol is without bullets”, he said Loyal to give value to his relatives. When colored person focused his batteries to the three women who also were in the room, Barrón said to him that they did not have money and a handful of currencies threw to him whereupon they played the lottery. The bandit disturbed and, for surprise of all, Loyal he took to the black of the neck and he pushed it against a wall “Ayúdenme”, it shouted. Then Justino Joy, cousin of Leonel, held a leg to him. Loyal Javier, its brother, he took hold the hand with which maintained the pistol, and together Raymundo Miranda, friend of the family, undressed it of the weapon, that went off, leaving a hollow in the floor of the house. Everything became confusion. The men managed to demolish the colored person, who was left mouth down, trying to get up itself furiously revolviendo itself, but the Mexicans did not allow, giving it him blows of all caliber. Araceli broke in the head a porcelain deer to him and Raymundo began to strike to him with a coffee. “I feel It, déjenme to go”, lloriqueaba colored person. Two women left to call to the police, that she recommended to let to them strike the attacker and to only immobilize it until they arrived. So that it let move, one of the men took hold the neck to him being laid down on its back, and Araceli put a knife opposite to him. Five patrols and one twenty arrived from agents. “Until the firemen they arrived”, said Loyal, at whom they claimed to him was the thief that they looked for per months. She was his victim? Denúncielo Officially, the Police of Greensboro has not denied nor confirmed that has catched the attacker who has committed more than 20 robberies against Latin from October of the last year. The forces of the order have not made their name either public, but it is in the jail with a guarantee of 250 thousand dollars. The police is trying to put itself in contact with all the victims before confirming that it has to the black of the pistol, reason why is important that the affected ones by this man go to the police station so that they recognize it and the positions in his con increase. Also he is vital that goes in the opinion that is followed to him this man like witnesses, so that so many years in the jail occur him as it is possible.

  28. Posted March 4, 2007 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    What a HOOT… my favorite passage…

    “…Then Justino Joy, cousin of Leonel, held a leg to him. Loyal Javier, its brother, he took hold the hand with which maintained the pistol, and together Raymundo Miranda, friend of the family, undressed it of the weapon, that went off, leaving a hollow in the floor of the house.

    Everything became confusion. The men managed to demolish the colored person, who was left mouth down, trying to get up itself furiously revolviendo itself, but the Mexicans did not allow, giving it him blows of all caliber. Araceli broke in the head a porcelain deer to him and Raymundo began to strike to him with a coffee.”

    A can’t stop laughing…. not at the crime, of course, but … damn, THAT IS FUNNY.

  29. Posted March 9, 2007 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Personally I believe, and have for years, that when these aging 60′s generation folks (regardless of race, creed, sex, religion or other preferences)move on we will all be better off.

    This statement came from one of the enlightened Bloggers in the superiorsphere of Greensboro. How nice to read that the world would be better off if I was dead. What is it about my generation that people think is so evil? I fought in Vietnam and was spat upon by others because of it. I’m beginning to feel like Roger Dangerfield and it’s time I got some respect.

    I will tell you what I see in the Blogosphere and that is a bunch of people expressing their own opinion without taking time to understand or even listen to anothers point of view. The few who do try to open a dialogue get slammed and labeled derogatory names.

    Prejudice is a human thing not a white thing. I heard a Blogger complain that even when going to a public areana like the coliseum, whites and blacks segregate themselves. “Whites wouldn’t ever come and sit near us” he remarked.

    Call me a racist because I wouldn’t come sit next you if you want too but hdid you considered just getting up out of his seat and sitting next to me? was my response. It’s just like the beautiful lady that sat next to me on a flight from Charlotte to San Diego many years ago. She first greeted me with a sarcastic comment and then ignored me when I spoke to her. Later, when she asked two ladies for the time, who refused to give it to her, I volunteered to answer her question. She responded by telling me I was the worst kind of WASP there was.

    After explainning to this country boy what was WASP was, I knew there was not any use in trying to make friends with her to I pulled out my copy of “Soul on Ice.”
    She asked me why I was reading the book and I explained it to her. We became fast friends.

    When I was nineteen, I gave my membership to Mo and Carolyn’s in Hickory to this sad looking young man. I only did it because he looked so sad, not for any other reason. I didn’t even think of color as being a factor.

    I’m not a mover or a shaker in this community or any other. I’m just a plain ole working man struggling to get by the best I can but I do live by the principals I learned in church many years ago. So far, I have encouraged four drug addicted street prosititutes to seek treatment thereby reduciang crime, making it less profitable to be a drug dealer and help save a life in the process. What exactly have you done to make life better for your fellow man?

    Some of us 60 year old people live good lives and have made a difference for the better in this world. I remember wanting a drink of water on a hot summer’s day and discovered that the only fresh drinking water had a sign over it that said “Colored Only.” I honestly thought they were the priviledged ones and I hated that feeling. I knew how I felt and I vowed that day never to make anyone else feel that way about something I did.

    One of my pet peeve’s is whenever Bloggers have a lively banter going on (I hesitate to refer to it as a discussion) some wiseacre has to make the comment that “there are bigger issues in the world-why are you wasting time on local stuff?” Somnehow that blogger thinks that Anna Nicoles Smith’s death is more important than what affects the quality of life of all of us. She was a dumb blonde that parlayed her boobs into bucks and died at a (less than 60, by golly) young age of possible a drug overdose or drug interaction who had been screwing three or four guys at the smae time. She wasn’t exactly a model citizen. I’m not at all saying she wasn’t important. She was. We have people with problems similar to hers right here in your hometown and we should be doing all we can to help people kick the drug habit, prevent them for becoming addicts, and working to solve a host of other problems.

    The way I see the problem is that when a black person calls a white person a racist, the white person will jump up and say “No I’m Not!” Maybe next time, the white person should just say “Well yes I am but I’m trying very hard to understand the issues from your point of view. How can we work together to make things better for everyone.”

    Regardless if you agree or disagree with my approach I doubt seriously that the death of all of us sixty year olds is going to solve all of the racial or political problems in Greensboro or anywhere else for that matter.

    HERE IS THE QUOTE:

    Roch and others,

    DING! I have thought for some time (years) that once the 60’s generation moves on we will all be better off. We owe a lot to those folks. Good and bad. However, their (also mine I might add) time is gone. They dont seem to be able to move forward. Stuck in the causes of the 60’s. I tire of there crappy chants as well.

    Mick

    Jim Rosenberg March 2nd, 2007 |

5 Trackbacks

  1. [...] Hogg asks, “An elected white person criticizes another elected black person for something that would be deemed understandable and defensible had it been white-on-white, or black-on-black criticism. But when said criticism (justified or not) crosses racial lines, charges of racism arise from the black community and there-they-go-again indignation arises within the white community.” [...]

  2. [...] Meanwhile, Hoggard (I’m not picking on you, man) says he’s going to do the un-white thing: An elected white person criticizes another elected black person for something that would be deemed understandable and defensible had it been white-on-white, or black-on-black criticism. But when said criticism (justified or not) crosses racial lines, charges of racism arise from the black community and there-they-go-again indignation arises within the white community. [...]

  3. By Off the Record on March 2, 2007 at 8:56 am

    Battle lines…

    The statements issued Thursday by Nelson Johnson and the Pulpit Forum tell me Greensboro is in for a lot of turmoil, especially if Florence Gatten runs for mayor this year. “I pray that doesn’t happen,” the Rev. Cardes Brown told……

  4. By Vie de Malchance » Pennies From Heaven on March 2, 2007 at 11:37 am

    [...] Update: Check out Jim Rosenberg’s comment at Hogg’s blog: Public leadership is about framing issues so that progress can be made with the resources available at the time. Nelson The reaction of Diann Bellamy-Small, Nelson Johnson and the Pulpit Forum to a public spanking from Florella DeVille were entirely predictable. If this was the kickoff of Ms. Gatten’s mayoral campaign, it is telling: a pointlessly divisive public chest-thumping that picks at a still-healing scab and stands no chance of yielding a positive result. Being right is easy. Doing right is not. I can and do agree with nearly every negative statement made about Ms. Bellamy-Small, and I completely rejecting the notion that Ms. Gatten is a racist — but I still lay blame for this whole mess right at the feet of Ms. Gatten. Imagine the set of all possible strategies for dealing with the issue of Ms. Bellamy-Small, and consider the choice made by Ms. Gatten: public humiliation. What a sad excuse for leadership. Posted by Fec @ 10:36 pm :: Greensboro Comment RSS :: Trackback URI [...]

  5. [...] In the comments to this post, Jim Capo was trying to make a point but it was in Spanish.  I asked him to translate the article so I might get some idea of what his point was.  Jim suggested I use Babalfish to do the deed. [...]