Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Going to Hell in a Hand-Basket

Weird stuff happening in my city . . . and it's not good.

I grew up in the "lily-white" area of my city known as Waldo. Close to the state line (and the street is actually called State Line), upper middle class white folks moved into this area as 39th Street began to get seedy and black folks moved across Prospect, then Paseo, and (gasp!) actually right up to Troost. Once black folks crossed Troost, white folks fled in great numbers west into Kansas and east into the Independence area, abandoning Waldo. Even my parent fled -- but they went so far as to move to Colorado into a town where no black folks lived. Me? Well, I moved across Troost into a little bungalow and there I've stayed for nearly 40 years. I've never been the only "white folk" on my block, because the gay couple has been there nearly as long as I have. The recession has also made the prices of the fairly nice houses on my block look attractive and we've had another white couple move in.
Waldo became an area of nice family houses and middle class to lower income people. Closer to State Line and the houses got bigger and fancier. Closer to Troost the houses were a lot smaller.

Waldo now has a serial rapist stalking the streets -- attacking at least four women in the last year. That's bad. However, the news media has latched onto the story and turned it into sensational fodder. The rapist, as you might guess, is a black male of very general description -- balding, 6 foot, 25o pounds, round faced, and maybe 25 to 35 years old. They have a sketch of the guy culled from the victims description. Because of the hype on nearly every single daily newscast (Waldo Rapist Still at Large -- Women in Panic) and because the reward for his capture has grown so large ($12,000 and counting), now every black male who shops or drives through the Waldo area is suspect. Last week the police questioned a balding black male who was a grandfather -- nowhere near the reported age of the actual rapist. My husband looks very similar to the sketch of the rapist . . . and I've actually wondered if the police was going to show up at our door. We spend a lot of time eating and shopping in the Waldo area and we live just a smidgen away from the actual area. So far, the police aren't questioning 75 year old men - but you just never know.

It's important that women be aware to take precautions when something like this has happened - but the fanning of racial flames by our media, both print and video, seems out of all portion to the actual problem.

The Kansas City mayor is a joke. Mark Funkhauser was elected by people who thought they were getting away from old line Democratic and black politics in this city. They got a buffoon and an idiot. From trying to make his wife "co-mayor" to making decisions without the city council input, he has left out city leaderless. His newest media push was to help improve the Kansas City School District by using funds for curb appeal around the schools. We don't have enough funds to keep schools open but our mayor wants to mow lawns and plant flowers and this will make 50 years of poor education disappear?

Then, of course, we have the Kansas City School District who has made national news because they must now close 30 of their schools due to declining enrollment and lack of funds. For 50 years this school district has been an embarrassment to our city. Whites who might have wanted to remain in the city were forced into flight if they had children, especially those of high school age.

Kansas City proudly boasts of the new Sprint Center and proudly hosts college basketball tournaments. We brag about our luxury shopping on the Plaza and our delicious barbecue. But the truth is we are a failing city. We should be held criminally responsible for the harm we have done to our minority children through our educational system. We are a city that fans the flames of racism without a second thought when our "white" women are a risk -- but we have little to say about the harm we are doing by branding every balding black male as a threat. We elected a white mayor over an extremely competent black opponent and now our city government is in shambles.

When will we learn?


Margaret said...

We do seem to be revisiting the past in this country IN A BAD WAY! Look at what just happened to the Texas curriculum. I don't know why we keep having to repeat the same mistakes over and over; it's unconscionable.

Donna said...

Wow. You are right on target. Not that anybody will listen, but you sure have it right.