Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – August 12, 2012

It has been said that Sunday is the most racially segregated day of the week in the United States. Two weeks ago in Mississippi, this saying was proven true once more. Meanwhile, the mystery of Mitt Romney’s taxes continues. Can he really be elected without disclosing his tax returns? And finally, Michael Jordan is already in the Hall of Fame. Now he is doing something that is more important that scoring baskets.

Mississippi Goddamn!

About 45 years ago jazz legend Nina Simone wrote the song, “Mississippi Goddamn”. It was a song that highlighted the outrageous racism that was unique even during the worst racist eruptions that have convulsed this country. Sadly, Mississippi has fairly earned its characterization as an ultra-racist enclave that is truly the last holdout of the Confederate States of America.

So we shouldn’t have been surprised that a predominantly white Christian congregation in that state of confusion called Mississippi actually banned a black couple from being married in its church. Keep in mind that this couple was not committing the unpardonable sin of engaging in interracial marriage. Both the prospective bride and groom were black.

The couple, rather than fight foolishness on what is supposed to be a day of joy and celebration got married in another church. After a few days a representative of the church apologized with one of those gossamer “if we offended anyone” routines that are employed by gaffe-prone celebrities, politicians and athletes.

And at the end of the day nothing has changed in Mississippi.

Mitt’s Mystery

In 1968, George Romney, Mitt Romney’s biological father, became the first presidential candidate to release his tax returns and he released twelve years of his returns. Since then, liberal and conservative and Republican and Democratic candidates have all released their tax returns as a matter of course.

It seems reasonable, after any cabinet secretary has to release his/her tax returns. Certainly appointees of many local, state and federal offices have to release their tax returns. And, come to think of it, shouldn’t the American people have the right to know how their president makes his/her money?

Apparently Mitt Romney doesn’t think so. He has spoon fed the public one year of tax returns and has only committed to releasing one more year at some point in time. The contempt that he has for the political process and the American people is so foul that you can almost smell it.

While it is true that tax returns and private finances are personal, it seems pretty clear that an individual who chooses to hold public office has to give up some of that privacy.
Or else they can just stay home and stay private.

It will be interesting to see if Mitt Romney can continue with this stubborn refusal to hold on to his tax returns and still get elected president.

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can’t fool all of the people all of the time”. Mitt will just have to learn the hard way.

Hooray for #23

Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest professional basketball player who ever lived. And while there is an argument in a sports bar or a barber shop that is just waiting to begin, there is no doubt that Mr. Jordan has come a long way from his apolitical days (remember “Republicans were sneakers too”?).

Michael Jordan and several other NBA players have endorsed the candidacy of President Obama and are actively campaigning for him. And while supporters of Barack Obama are understandably pleased there is another positive dynamic that cannot be ignored.

For too long too many black professional athletes confine their celebrity to selling overpriced sneakers to underserved youngsters. In the alternative they engage in saluting conspicuous consumption while promoting self-destructive behavior. Clearly Mr. Jordan and some of his colleagues have realized that they can be a force for positive change and engagement in the political process which can result in benefits that even the best sneaker can never provide.

Hooray for #23.

Have a great weekend!


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