Posted in: Exclusive, Opinion

Stewart’s Blog: Byron Dobson Refuses to Address Local Race Issues

Posted on March 13, 2016

Stewart’s Blog: Byron Dobson Refuses to Address Local Race Issues

The recent article by Tallahassee Democrat writer Byron Dobson, “Race: An issue too wide to get our arms around”,  helped me understand why we live in one of the most racially segregated cities in America and why it may never change.

Mr. Dobson’s article was based on his coverage of a recent Village Square event entitled “Created Equal: A conversation about race and founding ideals and our hometown.”

In his article about the event, Mr. Dobson cites national incidents of racism in Chicago and Minnesota and refers to facebook comments to support his conclusion that race is “an issue too wide to get our arms around.”

There was very little in Mr. Dobson’s article about race and “our hometown.”

I thought, “why hold an event on local issues of race and not discuss local issues of race?

My view is that local leaders, entrenched institutions – including the local media – choose not to address local issues affecting race in fear of upsetting the local power structure.  A power structure made up of exclusively progressive Democrats, including African-Americans.

Asking race questions of these leaders – face to face – can be uncomfortable.

Challenging the status-quo with people you see every Sunday at church is difficult.

Putting powerful people on the spot might not get your phone call returned when you need a quote.

Mr. Dobson wrote there is “plenty for us to ponder”, but then he chose to write about the incidents at a Trump rally in Chicago and a racist marketing technique used by a restaurant in Minnesota.

What about Tallahassee?

It is much easier for a writer to stoke the issue of race by referring to incidents far away from Tallahassee, like Chicago and Minnesota, than to pose difficult questions here at home.

Why not ask  City Commissioners why they continue to support a regressive fire services fee that removes millions of dollars from African-American neighborhoods? The same type of regressive fire service fee which was voted down in Lakeland, Florida when the NAACP and others asked questions.

Why not ask the County and the City why some on the southside are still not connected to central sewer?

Why not question  School Board members about their votes on policies over the last five years that have resulted in D’s and F’s for southside schools?

When the Mayor of Tallahassee says we are rapidly growing jobs and a national report shows Tallahassee ranks at the bottom  in job growth, why not ask him about the disconnect?

These type of questions continue to go unasked and unanswered, year after year.

Mr. Dobson wrote “The forum served its purpose of bringing people together for a few hours to discuss an issue that is hard to address. Nobody went there hoping to find solutions.”

The bottom line is a lot of people are not looking for solutions. They are looking for affirmation from people that think the way they do. They are searching for a warm fuzzy “you are doing a great job.”

For decades leaders have talked and talked. The lack of action by our local leaders has now redefined our community. Inaction has ramifications and the hard data confirms those ramifications.

We are number one in the state in crime rate, a number of studies show we are one of the most economically segregated communities in the United States, and job growth on the southside does not exist.

No matter how uncomfortable, it is time for community leaders -like Mr. Dobson – to focus on Tallahassee, not Chicago and Minnesota.

20 Responses to Stewart’s Blog: Byron Dobson Refuses to Address Local Race Issues

  1. bob fulford Reply

    March 13, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Amen. So be it.

  2. Jane Reply

    March 13, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    I live on the northwest side, and I’m still not connected to central sewer. Why? Because the City fees to hook up are cost prohibitive. Cheaper to crap in the yard and pay the $17 extra per month that is added to my electric bill, along with the fire fees, storm water fee, and waste collection. Pretty soon, the fees will be more than I pay for actual electricity. I remember when property taxes use to pay for all these “extras”. Those were the days.

    Oh, and about the race thing. I remember reading somewhere that there were more black owned businesses after The Civil War than there are today. Everyone has the corner market on “poor me”. I’m disadvantaged because I’m a woman, because I’m black, because I’m an immigrant, because I’m uneducated, because I’m gay, because I’m ugly, because I’m fat. You can always find someone or something to blame for your personal failures. I can tell you life is hard, and not just for you, but for everyone. Ask Ben Carson if “white privledge” stopped him OR JC Watts, OR Emmett Smith.

    Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you will get. But you can always spit out the orange cream and reach back in hopes for a better one.

  3. Peggy Reply

    March 14, 2016 at 6:18 am

    Addressing the local problems would reflect poorly on the African Americans in power locally who seem to be more interested in promoting themselves than solving these issues.

    • Tim Higgins Reply

      March 14, 2016 at 6:59 am

      Bingo

    • Frances Powell Reply

      March 14, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      Exactly

    • Bruce Strouble Reply

      March 21, 2016 at 9:49 am

      Excellent point Peggy. There is also political correctness issues that prevent open and honest dialogue about race in our city. I hope that is something that changes in the future

  4. Dennis Barton Reply

    March 14, 2016 at 8:35 am

    I like Mr Dobson but he is over the edge on this article. We have a black president, black attorney general, black supreme court members, black mayor, black city commission members, black county commission members, special set-a-sides to contract with blacks, black student unions, predominently black universities and on and on…and he is saying we have a race problem? As one of the members of the Suprement Court said “the best way to stop descrimination is to stop descrimnating”. It’s time to stop listening to those who have made a profession out of being black and start treating everyone the same

    • Diana Steinberg Reply

      March 15, 2016 at 10:30 am

      We DO have a race problem. It is the ones you name and other community “leaders” refusing to even state the real problem and instead blaming the atrocious crime stats and school failure rate in the black community on slavery and the newest: “white privilege”. I have always wondered how they spin the 74% illegitimacy rate among blacks to somehow also blame whites for that! And so they promote being a victim and dependent upon the govt. and no progress is made. Sad for everyone.

    • Joe Moye Reply

      July 1, 2016 at 11:29 pm

      You mean, there is no White Student Union? Why not? There are Black, Asian, Gay, etc ones. Will FSU not allow a White Student Union?

  5. HOPE & CHANGE Reply

    March 14, 2016 at 9:08 am

    The State Budget has $1.5 million for a Black Student Union building at FSU. What message is that sending?
    Think about It!

    • Diana Steinberg Reply

      March 18, 2016 at 10:31 am

      Meanwhile my daughter, a student at FSU, cannot even get her professor to respond to an email. The class is taught by the TA who also grades the assignments. She was forced to take the class on-line because the regular class was full and has requested help because her assignments have come back with less than acceptable grades, for her – “B”s. Met with the TA who told her to follow “formatting” – did that and ended up with an even lower grade on the next assignment. All online, with no explanation as to the grade. Not that it should matter, but both of these individuals are black. If this is the kind of “excellence” expected of blacks at FSU they do not deserve a student union.

    • Joe Moye Reply

      July 1, 2016 at 11:32 pm

      Have you seen the giant racist statue outside the Union?

    • Joe Moye Reply

      July 2, 2016 at 8:48 pm

      Would it be considered racist if FSU installed a statue honoring students, but only White students? There’s a huge statue of 3 Black student’s outside FSU’s Union. Why doesn’t FAMU build a statute honoring its White students? Hmmm,

  6. Frances Powell Reply

    March 14, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    The Mayor of Tallahassee is more concerned with helping his buddies make money off the city and getting as much personal media attention locally and nationally as he can rather than focusing on trying to solve the REAL local problems we have with youth and drug use, black on black crime, lack of decent paying jobs for high school and college graduates, and the expensive spending of our tax dollars are just a few. People want to blame discontent on racism because it is an easier target. Solve the problems I stated above (which may actually require effort)and you will be amazed how the conversation will change.

    • Diana Steinberg Reply

      March 15, 2016 at 10:39 am

      what we have in Tallahassee is a mini Washington D.C., including a mini Obama – Gillum. Any wonder we have the exact same problems?

  7. Frances Powell Reply

    March 14, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    excessive spending of our tax dollars (correction)

  8. Robert Reply

    March 15, 2016 at 10:53 am

    There is only one race: the human race.
    Everything else are scientific terms used to categorize differences between individuals that has been used since time immemorial by unscrupulous people to play upon fear to divide and rule.
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal …” PERIOD. No government agency should be allowed to allocate tax dollars to any organization that advocates for one group at the expense of another PERIOD no matter how well-intentioned their announced beliefs may sound.
    But we all know as long as there is money to be made, logic and reason have no place in society.

    • dnewman Reply

      June 7, 2016 at 9:47 am

      Thanks Robert now that makes since.
      Our white and black politicians are only out for themselves. They really think they are smarter than everyone else. They are protecting their six figure jobs and lifestyle.
      They get city vehicles Airport” and employees have to pay for parking. They are in a fantasy land. ” Tallahassee International Airport”.

    • dnewman Reply

      June 7, 2016 at 12:17 pm

      Thanks Robert now that makes since.
      Our white and black politicians are only out for themselves. They really think they are smarter than everyone else. They are protecting their six figure jobs and lifestyle.
      They get city vehicles,and employees have to pay for parking. They are in a fantasy land. “Tallahassee International Airport”.

  9. Hampton Reply

    March 15, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    $1.5 million for a black student union at FSU … Where did that come from? BUT, a white restroom at FAMU would be racist?

    NUTS, NUTS, NUTS

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