No excuse . . .

BY JOE BUCK COATES
[email protected]
Below this column, you will find a letter that we received on Monday from a long-time local resident.   
The letter was written in response to my column a couple of weeks ago (“We can  not, must not, tolerate this”, June 25, 2014) on the topic of remarks made by Ward 3 Alderman Shirley B. Sandifer to an employee of the Water and Sewer Department.  During the recorded conversation which took place inside city hall, perhaps even inside the Mayor’s own office, and on the ‘down low’, Sandifer pressed the black female employee not to proceed with filing a sexual harassment claim with the U. S. Equal Opportunity Commission against her superior.  During this taped conversation, Sandifer said that having to get rid of the current head of the Water and Sewer Department, a black man named Lloyd Hilliard, would not be good for the city because a white man would take his place.  “And, we don’t need that,” because Hazlehurst is a majority black city, she explained.  The whites, she has already decided, are waiting for the blacks to fail so whites can say “We told you so”, according to Sandifer as she further explained her beliefs to the employee.
To summarize the letter below, the writer says that blacks in this town may have a right to be prejudiced against whites, based on one alleged incident that occurred when the writer was a little girl strolling through town one day.
I have a real problem with this.  Everyone  should have a real problem with it.
To use past racism as an excuse to put a stamp of acceptance on racist actions today is still wrong.   For an elected official to attempt to use race as a tool to pressure a city employee to keep a potential legal situation quiet is shameful and unethical.    It’s harassment of a different sort with the same hideous result–embarrassment to the citizens, business owners and operators, other elected officials and city workers and to those who have business with the city.    Constituents should demand immediate resignation over actions such as these – by any alderman.
As I said in my June 25 column, the career of long-time former Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi was destroyed by comments he made at a birthday party for Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina that were far less contentious than those made by our Ward 3 alderman in her conversation with the alleged victim.   Lott was forced to resign after the fallout from just about everyone.  But THIS time its okay because a black person made prejudicial comments about whites???
No. It’s not.  Racism – in the past, today and now and forever – is wrong.   Condoning it by propping it up with actions of the past only allows racial tensions to fester.  The cycle will be perpetual if people of all races don’t stand up and put a stop to it.
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LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
Letter to the Editor of Copiah Courier – in response to your Editorial 7-2-14
The jail used to be behind the Courthouse, where the parking lot is now.
I was a child, walking with my Mamaw. Passing by the jail yard, which was fenced with chain-link, we saw two young black men systematically beating two German Shepherds. When asked why, the jail officials explained that it was necessary to have the police dogs beaten by black men so that the dogs would be trained to hate them and want to attack them.
If a black person from here was prejudiced, and I’m not saying anyone is, it shouldn’t be a surprise.
Sincerely,
Melinda Arrington
Hazlehurst, MS

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