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Thanks For The Response
Published:
4/30/2014 3:44:54 PM

By Barney Blakeney


It’s rare that I get responses to the stuff I write. Every now and then I’ll get someone cursing me out over something with which they didn’t agree. Although I’m a big boy who’s been in the business long enough to know better, it still hurts to get criticism. But criticism goes with the territory, I try to learn from it. So I was pleasantly surprised last week to get a complimentary letter from Dr. Barbara Graham-Holmes of Charleston.

I know of Dr. Graham-Holmes (I’m still uncomfortable with ladies’ hyphenated names. Orangeburg Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter once called me on the carpet about my hesitation in calling her name. I couldn’t figure which to use. She informed me both are her name. I’m old school and some things still come slow to me) I’m familiar with some of the volunteer work Dr. Graham- Holmes does. Her letter was encouraging.

I don’t know Dr. Graham-Holmes personally, but I get the impression that like Rep. Cobb-Hunter, Dr. Graham-Holmes is a smart, intelligent, confident, assertive woman. Those women sometimes scare people. I don’t know why, but I think most people have this perception that women should look good and keep their mouths shut. Not those two.

I think they’ve got the good looking part down, but they missed the memo about keeping their mouths shut. And thank God for that! I think, both have made invaluable contributions to our community.

So anyway, I got this letter from Dr. Graham-Holmes and she’s telling me how she enjoys my work. It’s always good to know that people appreciate the work you do, but what’s special about Dr. Graham-Holmes’ comments was knowing that she’s not just a cheerleader, she’s in the game.

Hey ya’ll, this gig ain’t never been about accolades. And there ain’t enough money to make it a first choice for a livelihood. Like Rep. Cobb-Hunter and Dr. Graham-Holmes, I got stung by that ‘let’s better our community’ bug. W.E.B and some other folks said git in where you fit in. I can write a little bit, so here I be.

Keepin’ it real is my forte, and I learned from writers like former S.C. State Sen. Kay Patterson, that people can dig where you’re coming from when you put it where the chickens can get it. Be real, be honest, KISS (keep it simple stupid) it, and people will understand and perhaps appreciate. But I ain’t brilliant, so Dr. Graham-Holmes’ letter reaffirmed for me reasoning for some things I see and write about.

She asked several rhetorical questions:
-Why do negroes blame others for their lack of economic and educational progress?
-Why do negroes fail to adequately plan and prepare themselves to participate in business activities and other events?
-Why do negro elected officials renege on campaign promises so they can benefit themselves?
-What is the difference between an African American and a negro?

In her letter, Dr. Graham-Holmes said I say a lot of stuff in my work that others may want to say, but lack the courage. From her questions, I’m not alone in making such assertions. Much of what many of us say is stuff most of us already know. I’m fortunate enough to be able to sit in the board rooms and on back porches, and I hear the same realities at both. I think the problem is not knowing, but doing.

It’s one thing to know what to do and quite another to do it. People, not just negroes (or nigros as I prefer to refer to them) are lazy. Doing the right thing, whether it’s preparing a business plan or treating others fairly and equitably, often means swimming against the current.

We live in a global culture where bullcrap and corruption has become the norm, where selfishness somehow is seen as more beneficial than selflessness and the more I can get overshadows how much I’m willing to share.

I once had a young fox lecture me about altruism. She said all that’s good, but it doesn’t get you where you need to go. I had to ask her where the hell she wanted to go. As far as I know, she hasn’t gotten there. And she sure didn’t get where she wanted to go when we worked together.

I thought of that sister as I read Dr. Graham-Holmes’ letter. She related a comment made by the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who said that despite having acquired a seat on the highest court in the land, he still had not been invited to Washington’s exclusive white clubs.

I thank Dr. Graham-Holmes for her letter, it made my day. But like you, Cobb-Hunter, Kay Patterson, Thurgood Marshall and so many others, I’m just doing what we all do - trying to do the right thing.
 

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