Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Black community support for Dr. Shawn Joseph

That Blacks rally to the defense of other Blacks even when they are known to be incompetents or corrupt or immoral is nothing new.  My earliest awareness of this may have been in the case of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell who was a politician and a Baptist preacher who engaged in morally scandalous behavior and illegality. Finally, the Democratic Party refused to seat him but his constituents reelected him anyway.  Over the years, this is the pattern time and time again. Here in Tennessee we have the case of the notorious Ford family of Memphis. Corruption and outrageous behavior characterized members of that political dynasty yet it did not impact their electability.

Nationally, from Reverend Al Sharpton and his involvement in the Tawana Brawley affair and his tax issues, to Representative Charlie Rangle and his various ethical and tax problems it, unfortunately, seems there are many ethically-challenged and incompetent Black political leaders. If one names off all of the Black political leaders one can think of and then analysis the names on the list, a large percentage of them will prove to be crooks or people of severe moral lapses.

It should not be necessary to say, that I am not referring to all Black leaders but it is. To even bring up this observation opens one to charges of being a racist.  I am not referring to all Black political leaders. I was pleased that President Obama had no ethical or moral challenges associated with him.  I didn't like his politics, but he appeared to be a moral and an ethical person. Off the top of my head I can think of Mia Love, J. C.Watts, Tim Scott, Condolezza Rice and Colin Powell as Black leaders without a trace of scandal. It shouldn't be necessary to name honest Black leaders to show that I am not saying all Black politicians are crooks. I accept that it is the minority of Black leaders who are crooks. I am sure across the nation there are thousands and thousands of good, honest and competent Black elected officials.

Some will say what about Spiro Agnew, or Boss Tweed, or Ray Blanton or Huey Long. Certainly, there are corrupt white politician.  The difference is, it seems to me, that when corruption is proven or credible allegations of corruption are made, voters do not keep reelecting these white politician. Their constituents do not keep supporting them when they are known to be corrupt or incompetent.  My perception is that many Black voters, defend Black leaders and just accept that the leader is corrupt or incompetent.

This brings me to the case of our Director of Schools Shawn Joseph. There has not been allocations of corruption against Joseph. However, there is plenty of evidence of incompetence and mismanagement and serious allegations of bullying and arrogance. Yet, he still has his defenders and the only reason I can see his defenders are still defending him is because he is Black.

The Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship, a Black ministerial group has rallied to his defense as has the NAACP and the Nashville Black newspaper, The Tennessee Tribune.  An article by the Nashville Voice in the Tribune said, if Joseph is removed from office, Nashville will remembered  as '“that racist city that forced the first ever Black Director of Metro Schools out of office.”'  This is the same line of argument being made by Joseph's white liberal defenders. They simply believe that performance and behavior that would be disqualifying if done by a White person must be excused and overlooked if done by a Black person.

If is unfortunate that so many are judging Joseph though this lens that expects less from a Black person. Fortunately, not all of Nashville's Black leaders are doing so. One of the School Board members who is a harsh critic of Joseph is Fran Bush who herself  is African-American.  As more an more bad stuff is coming out about Joseph, more members of the Black community are starting to break rank and putting the educations of Nashville's children first. Below is the report on this development from Phil Williams of Nashville's News Channel 5.

Debate over MNPS director's future divides black community

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For months, the Metro School Board has been bitterly divided over the future of Dr. Shawn Joseph.
Now, the controversy over Nashville's first African-American director of schools is dividing the city's black community.
"To me, it is not about Joseph," said Rev. Venita Lewis, a local community activist.
"It is about our children who are not getting a fair education, who are suffering, who now have moved out of the school system and into the street - and we have failed them."

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