|It Comes Down To Right And Wrong
11/5/2014 3:41:57 PM
By Barney Blakeney
Some things just come down to right and wrong. Often, we get bogged down in the legality or expedience of things and that dictates our response when we really should only consider whether something is right or wrong.
Two things our community is facing makes me think we really should just look at them from the perspective of right and wrong. The incident of Academic Magnet High School football players conducting post football game rituals is one of the things, the other is some conduct I’ve observed at a downtown bus stop. I think both have wide-ranging implications for our community.
The football rituals is tearing our community apart at the seams. Football players at one of the best high schools in the nation, Academic Magnet High, while making animalistic sounds ritualistically smashed and ate watermelons that bore caricatures of Blacks on them. The melons were named after the historical Black high school where their new school now is located.
Only 15 Black students attend AMHS. Only one Black student is on the football team. When Black parents complained about the ritual, the coach was fired then rehired after AMHS parents protested. The school district’s superintendent even has lost her job over the controversy.
I’m finding that thing hard to write about. I always say you can’t make sense out of nonsense. That our community now is having discussions about whether the rituals were racist of just racially insensitive makes no sense. Throw in the coach’s firing and the superintendent’s resignation and the whole thing has resulted in a mass of complicated confusion.
I’ve read some of the commentary and it’s almost unbelievable. It’s discouraging to see that so many in our community are so jaded in their thought.
I don’t have enough room in this space to go into the mentality of those who say they don’t see the inherent racism in the ritual itself or the willingness of those who would condone it. Has Charleston not progressed any on issues of race and humanity since 1814?
I am equally discouraged at the failure of so many in our community to deal with the realities of right and wrong concerning an incident I witnessed while at the bus stop at Meeting and Columbus streets. I heard one drunk guy rail against a drunk woman over her having performed oral sex on somebody else as two elderly women sat waiting on a bus.
Now I’m no prude, I’m a sailor’s son and I’ve inherited a foul mouth. I’m not bothered by profanity or sexually explicit language, but I was raised to be respectful. Some things you can’t say in front of just anybody.
It always ticks me off that loiterers at that bus stop take up the seats from people waiting on buses. Those guys don’t want to get on a bus, that stop is where they gather during the day to sit, drink and socialize. Never mind that others, including women who have spent the day working somewhere, are forced to stand and listen to their dribble.
I’ve called the cops about the guys at that bench before. Some of ‘em are good guys, but the bus stop ain’t the place for them to take up residence forcing those ladies and others to stand and listen to crap. The other day the guy with the bad leg was off the chain. He was drunk and used some of the nastiest the vulgarity I’ve ever heard at that bus stop. Two of the ladies looked like somebody’s grandmothers. I asked him to chill. Of course, he told me what I should do and where I should go to do it.
I called the cops when I got to my destination. Sgt. Michael Nick was on top of it and assured me he’d take action. Mike is a good cop. I’m sure he did as he said. But I was more discouraged by the responses I got from some other Black folks.
Two guys, one a police official the other a city councilman, got angry with me saying there’s nothing that can be done. Another city councilman wouldn’t even take the time to address the issue.
The two guys I spoke with gave me some rap about the law and how the guys at the bus stop had rights. My thing was never mind all the rights, what is going down is wrong and never would be tolerated in another area of the city (white folks’ neighborhoods). At least the two guys who took the time to talk with me blew me off. The guy elected to represent that district of the city wouldn’t even respond.
Now I ain’t the smartest child my mother had, but I’m smart enough to know that custom and legality don’t always determine right and wrong.
Sometimes allowing young boys to manifest what is customary at football games or old men to disrespect their women at bus stops comes down to doing what’s right.
I’m thinking Charleston hasn’t moved past 1814 because the people we trust to take us to a better place either don’t know or don’t care about right and wrong. I’ve said it before, we have got to do a better job choosing leadership.