Color Blind?
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Something that I've noticed since moving to South Carolina is race. More specifically, the "race card". It seems nothing happens here without mentioning race (meaning black and white, specifically). It's a lot different out west.

The Charleston School District superintendent, a black woman, recently accepted a position in Seattle. The hunt was on for her replacement. The school board settled on another (white) woman, who is employed by the school district. Here's the story that ran last night, with the headline "School Board Split Among Racial Lines":
The Charleston County School board voted 6-3 Monday night to offer Dr.
Nancy McGinley, currently Chief Academic Officer, the job of Superintendent.
Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson stepped down from her three-year post at the helm of the district when she was offered the same position in the Seattle School District on April 12th. Her last day with the district will be June 15th. Dr. McGinley has been with the school district for three years and worked closely with Dr. Goodloe-Johnson crafting the “Plan for Excellence.” Her close contact with the program and with Goodloe-Johnson made most school board members comfortable with nominating her for the job. But others were not so comfortable with it. Three board members voted against offering McGinley the contract. They said they wanted a hiring process to take place that included a search for the best person for the job.
“It’s the school board’s responsibility to provide the best person possible for the job,” says Hillery Douglas, CCSD board member. “How are you going to do that unless you look for them?”

The local NAACP chapter got involved with the debate last week, when they first called for a nationwide search for the superintendent job. As it turned out Monday night, the three votes against McGinley taking the job were from the only three African-Americans on the board.

"As it turned out..." This story is being forced into the racial divide mold. The dissenting board members have, to my knowledge, never even mentioned race in any interview. They just feel that it would have been better to conduct a national search, rather than promoting from within. The media is trying to spin this as a race issue.

Truth be told, the local NAACP never lacks for something to protest. This weekend, another big story was that some parents want to open a charter high school, specializing in math and science. The NAACP thinks this is a terrible idea, and that it is just another ploy by whites to tread on black students and gain an unfair advantage. According to Dorothy Scott, a local NAACP leader:

Scott says her organization's members are not deceived by the Committee for the Charleston Charter School for Math & Science when it says the proposed new high school is merely an initiative to put a quality high school on the peninsula.

If white parents want a quality high school, that opportunity is possible at Burke, Scott says, though the school is currently under threat of state takeover for its continued low performance and a graduation rate of about only 27 percent.

Still, the newly renovated Burke High — constructed for 1,200 students with an enrollment of 700 — could easily accommodate a math and science accentuate program, says Scott. But whites downtown won't let their children attend school with blacks, she protests.

While the NAACP has been vocal in its protests, criticism of the proposed charter high isn't widespread among downtown black residents. But that doesn't mean black residents don't view the proposal with suspicion.

Blacks downtown are an apathetic lot. Like bumps on a log, they tend to sit undisturbed by anything short of an act of God. Much of the discussion about the proposed charter is limited to small intimate groups.

[Note the last paragraph - this is a regular article, not an editorial. Imagine if Imus had said that sentence! Then again, what can you expect from a paper that has a column called "The Jew-Gooder"?]

The local network news has characterized it as "rich white folk trying to keep their kids from going to school with black kids". No offense, but if rich folk of any color want to prevent their kids from hanging with the locals, they send them to private school. If the only public high school available to my kids had a 27% graduation rate, you better believe I'd be looking into alternatives!

Speaking of Imus, it still amazes me that while Al Sharpton swooped in to criticize the remarks (well, the fact that he publicly criticized them does not surprise me. That man never met a camera he didn't preen for), no one from NOW or any other organization condemned the remarks as being insulting to women. Apparently, insulting people's hairstyles is now a worse sin than calling them prostitutes.

I'm sure fanning the flames of racial tension in the Deep South, where the wounds from segregation still run deep a generation later, makes great news copy. Sometimes, though, drumming up business and selling papers comes at too high a cost.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 4/24/2007 06:42:00 AM | Permalink | |