Jewish World Review March 15, 2005/ 4 Adar II, 5765
Not black enough
You know, I don't ever recall hearing one white person tell another, "You're not white enough."
So I just can't figure why some black folks keep trying to create criteria to be black "Membership has its privileges, but only if you live by our rules."
One such group, the Call 'Em Out Coalition, gave Sambo Sell-Out Awards at a February dinner here in Detroit, where City Council member Sharon McPhail (shame on you!) read the nominees. Winners included the mayor, the superintendent of the city schools, a constantly controversial City Council member and businessman Dave Bing.
Public officials are always fair game. My ire is reserved for an attack on one of our best and brightest, who is neither public nor a sellout.
Bing, an NBA star with the Detroit Pistons before becoming a business star who located his auto-supply company in Detroit instead of, oh, a dozen suburban cities he could have chosen, wants to build a charter high school near his business a living symbol of what the ancestors wanted. He wants to hire local graduates, but many of the best leave Detroit while many of the rest aren't equipped to start work.
"I'm not anti-public schools," he said in news reports last month. "But I don't think they will fix public schools quick enough to stop the drain. And if parents and children don't have other options, it's a lose-lose proposition for both the public schools and the city of Detroit."
It doesn't hurt Bing
So how does a small group of haters honor his commitment? They give him an award whose name may just as well have been Little Darky.
For persons of color to call someone of Bing's integrity anything but great doesn't hurt Bing. It makes them look ignorant of who he is and what he means to our community.
And they need to know: If you're going to take him on, you're going to have to take me on, and not just me, but many of us who are, as Maya Angelou calls us, "the hope and the dream of the slave."
When you choose to attack our best and brightest out of racism or ignorance, it's nothing to laugh about. It means you've forgotten the grandparents and great-grandparents who fought hard for us to define ourselves, our successes and our communities. They wouldn't like what they see.
Looking for ways to help
So for those who think being black means letting the public schools die while throwing darts at those who would help, who think being black means letting the city perish before accepting help from someone white, for those who want to take Dave Bing's membership card in the black race, then take mine, too.
Those who would rather call names than welcome solutions don't represent my history, my present or my future. They're segregationists who can single-handedly kill Detroit, if allowed. Michigan respects Dave Bing. Can't say the same about the Call 'Em Out Coalition, which attacks those who won't join in their hate.
There was another group born of hate. If this coalition isn't careful, they could become the next Ku Klux Klan.
The only thing missing would be the hoods.