[StBernard] The (gulp!) -- R-Word!
Westley at da-parish.com
Tue Nov 13 22:23:28 EST 2007
You are going to get me in trouble. Remember, I'm a little bit up the bayou
now from Buckwheat, and she ain't happy.
You know I've always wondered about this whole "N" word thing. Now that it
is no longer acceptable for white people to say it (but black people can),
does this now mean terms like "jungle bunny" and "spear chucker" are
NAACP: Dartez issue more than skin deep
Senior Staff Writer
In the aftermath of racially tinged remarks made by state Rep. Carla Dartez,
a leading Louisiana civil-rights advocate is calling on state leaders to
address what he said is a climate of poor race relations throughout the
Ernest Johnson, president of the Louisiana Conference of the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said he expects the
organization to make a major push for Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal's
administration to address race relations throughout the state.
"I predict that unless the leadership of this state and good people of sound
mind stand up against these racial attitudes, I predict by this time next
year we will have racial riots in Louisiana because black folks aren't going
to take it. The Ku Klux Klan has said they're not going to take it, and
unless we get these state officials doing something we are going to have
racial riots in this state."
Johnson's reference to the Ku Klux Klan was in response to news that some
groups identified with the messages of white supremacists have announced
plans to gather in Jena on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday in January.
Plans for counter-demonstrations by blacks are also in the making.
Johnson made his remarks at a news conference Monday at the Terrebonne NAACP
branch headquarters on Park Avenue, with NAACP Branch President Jerome
Boykin and Boykin's mother, Hazel, at his side.
Dartez, D-Morgan City, called Hazel Boykin Thursday to thank her for
ferrying voters to the polls to help her retain her seat against Republican
challenger Joe Harrison. The two candidates are competing in a runoff
At the conclusion of what had been an amiable talk, Dartez admitted her
signoff included the phrase "Talk to you later, Buckwheat," which Hazel
Boykin interpreted as a racial slur.
"I had a feeling I had never felt before. I never had no one say those
things to me," Hazel Boykin said.
Johnson said the Dartez remark is one more sign of unaddressed racial
insensitivity in Louisiana and the nation as a whole. He drew comparisons to
racial tensions in the town of Jena, where thousands rallied in support of a
group of young black men jailed for beating a white student in the midst of
long-standing racial tensions. Remarks made earlier this year by radio
personality Don Imus were also cited.
Quizzed later about his prediction of "racial riots," Johnson said he was
not referring to acts of violence, but rather protests and dissension.
Johnson's words were met with concern by some local black leaders, including
Bishop Arthur Verrett of Houma 's Faith, Dominion and Power Ministries, who
also heads up a group called Concerned Clergy of Terrebonne Parish.
Talk of "racial rioting," Verrett said - as well as what he has branded an
overreaction by the NAACP to the Buckwheat reference- is contrary to the
work and legacy of King, and therefore not in the best interests of black
people or the community at large.
"Dr. King's work was a work of non-violence," Verrett said. "Certainly I
believe the mindset of the NAACP contradicts the very intent of Dr. King's
work. This is why you have got to have people who can exhibit the wisdom of
God and also the application of love and kindness and gentleness and peace,
in order to defuse these kind of statements. It is mandatory that we allow
the word of God to have free course in the lives of people."
An NAACP call for Dartez's resignation, Verrett said, leaves the community
open to the election of her opponent - Republican challenger Joe Harrison -
with whom he states the community is not familiar.
"For (Boykin) to ask Dartez to resign over this matter and to endorse Joe
Harrison shows to me a lack of judgment, a lack of quality leadership, to
impose someone on the black community that we don't even know."
Dartez has issued a public apology and spoken directly to Jerome Boykin,
although she has not talked to Hazel Boykin since. Katie Nee, director of
the Louisiana Democratic Caucus, said Dartez told her she did try to call
Hazel Boykin directly to apologize, but received no answer, and that there
was no telephone message tape.
"She said the phone just rang and rang," Nee said.
Dartez's district includes portions of Terrebonne, Assumption and St. Mary
Boykin reiterated a request that Dartez step down, claiming she is not fit
to represent the people of a Louisiana district.
Lafourche Parish NAACP Branch President Burnell Tolbert joined the Boykins,
Johnson and other civil rights advocates Monday. Although Dartez's district
doesn't include Lafourche Parish, Tolbert said the situation has drawn
attention there as well.
"It was also offensive to us in Thibodaux," Tolbert said. "Being a state
representative, somebody that so many thousands of people have put their
trust in, you should be setting a better example than that. There are mixed
opinions, some people saying it doesn't mean she is racist. Some are saying
she needs to resign."
Melissa Sellers, a spokeswoman for the governor-elect, was told of Johnson's
concerns while traveling with Jindal and Gov. Kathleen Blanco in Washington
The administration is still in the process of examining priorities, she
"We are continuing to assemble a bipartisan and racially and geographically
diverse transition advisory team, which will include dozens of members from
all across the state on nine different advisory councils who will make
policy recommendations to Governor-elect Jindal," she said in an email this
"Additionally, the Governor-elect announced several policy plans which he is
now working with the advisory councils to implement, including education and
health care reform, that will benefit all Louisianians."
John DeSantis 448-7614 or john.desantis at dailycomet.com
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