So you think we’re ready for a black president…

Posted on Tuesday 9 January 2007

Opinion polls indicate that the United States is ready for a black president. I don’t think so — or at least, they’re not ready down here in this part of the country:

GREENWOOD, La. — Two shotgun blasts were fired into the home of the town’s mayor, who says he had been cursed at before but never physically threatened.

Police stepped up security after the shots were fired early Monday at the home of Ernest Lampkins, who was elected in 2004 as the first black mayor of the small, predominantly white northwest Louisiana town.

According to the article, Greenwood, LA is about 150 miles from Westlake… where they’re dealing with this:

WESTLAKE, La. — In the hours before his death on the evening of Dec. 30, the first black mayor of this overwhelmingly white town started learning 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.”


But by 10 p.m. Gerald “Wash” Washington was dead in the deserted parking lot of a former high school, a bullet wound in his chest. His gun was found by the body.

The coroner and the sheriff have pronounced Washington’s death a suicide _ a finding that has embroiled this oil-refinery town in conspiracy theories, with Washington’s kin and friends insisting he had no reason to end his life.

Westlake is just outside Lake Charles, and all of 48 miles from Vidor, the town that recently found itself in the national spotlight via CNN:

Vidor is a small city of about 11,000 people near the Texas Gulf Coast, not too far from the Louisiana border. Despite the fact that Beaumont, a much bigger city just 10 minutes away, is quite integrated, Vidor is not. There are very few blacks there; it’s mostly white. That is in large part because of a history of racism in Vidor, a past that continues to haunt the present.


“The vast majority of our citizens are not racist,” said Vidor Mayor Joe Hopkins. “We’d welcome anybody here who is a good solid citizen.”

Indeed, I was left with a genuine impression that some Vidor residents wanted the city to welcome other ethnicities. But when I sat down in a café, and talked to residents, I also heard the sound of prejudice.

Peggy Fruge told me she’d welcome blacks to her neighborhood. Then she said this:

“I don’t mind being friends with them, talking and stuff like that, but as far as mingling and eating with them, all that kind of stuff, that’s where I draw the line.”

Vidor is 76 miles from Jasper — the town that provided the world with this chilling story in 1998:

Churchgoers made the grisly discovery on the morning of June 7, 1998. It was the dismembered body of a man, later identified as James Byrd Jr., 49. The horrific details soon emerged: Byrd, who was black, had been chained to the back of a pickup in the East Texas town of Jasper and dragged to his death. As the world recoiled at the news, three white men were arrested. All three were tried and convicted in 1999 — two sentenced to die, the third to life in prison.

And Jasper is 122 miles from Greenwood, LA, where this post started.   Anybody but me think there’s something just a bit off-kilter here?

This (red)neck of the woods is no way ready for a black president.

7 Comments for 'So you think we’re ready for a black president…'

    January 9, 2007 | 11:39 am

    It’s all, always about race isn’t it. I’ve concluded that racism is rapidly becoming the new bedrock upon which this society is being re-built. It’s the reason the question is asked, “is this country ready for a black president” rather than “is xyz a qualified and good candidate for the office of the presidency.” Considering the awsome lack of leadership ability, competence, and honest intention, demonstrated by the slate that runs for Presidency of the U.S., perhaps the question should be, “Is the world ready for the election of this particular brand of American Incompetence to be elected President of a Nuclear power?”

    January 9, 2007 | 11:51 am

    Glide –

    What it should be, unfortunately (and obviously) is not what it is. Nor is it all about race for everyone.

    The problem (imho) isn’t that we’re re-setting with a new foundation, but that there’s a fault line in the original bedrock, and we’ve been trying to build on top of it.

    I’ve often read that racism is “dead”, and in many ways, there’s some truth to that. The US has made enormous progress in eradicating institutional / government-sponsored racism. I also think that the next generation of Americans will do much better with this than we have. AC (at age 10) and her friends (mostly young teens), for instance,  are consistently demonstrating nearly complete indifference to skin color or ethnic origin. That’s a hopeful sign.

    Unfortunately, it only takes one yahoo with a shotgun to kill someone.

    January 9, 2007 | 11:56 am

    Well, I would also venture to say that there are areas of the country that aren’t ready for a woman, or a LGBT, or a Muslim president (heck, there is a particular bedroom community just west of Houston that I think would have real issues with that last one – maybe they would have to try and get their Friday Night Races on ESPN?)

    And, I suspect it will always be such – which is why I am still a fan of the Electoral College (realizing that this helps to reign in the sociopathic vote.)


    January 9, 2007 | 12:04 pm

    Unfortunately, it only takes one yahoo with a shotgun to kill someone.

    So, what would you do — establish special ‘quarantine camps’ where we could lock up those yahoos before they can do any harm? What about Muslims (after all, ‘everybody knows all Muslims are throat slitters and terrorists’), Jews (‘everybody knows they control the world economy’), Republicans (‘everybody knows they want to make their grandparents eat dog food’), Democrats (‘everybody knows they hate American and are traitors’)… need I go on?

    I thought not.

    So, what we are left with is a rule that says you don’t go around killin’ folks just because you don’t like them, and the assurance (such as there is) that if you break that rule, something you don’t like is gonna happen to you.


    January 9, 2007 | 3:15 pm

    When it happens they’ll get ready or get left behind, I expect. From where I’m sitting, the odds for a female or black president look pretty favorable at the moment.

    January 10, 2007 | 12:27 am

    You forget how often that people are not voting for, but against the other guy. IF the opposing candidate to the black one is completely the common kind, then yeah, but if not and they are both a first time potential for something, who knows.

    January 11, 2007 | 10:09 pm

    When a black candidate runs, who is more likely to cross over and vote opposite their race? Whites or blacks?

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