Standards, (double)Standards and Hypocrisy

I hope I don’t offend anyone with this posting, but there are some things that must be said.

When Deena Hayes makes silly statements, the outcry isn’t as strong. When Billy Yow makes similar statements, everyone wants his head. Last week was no different.

During a County Commission meeting, according to Saturday’s News & Record, Commissioner Yow made some statements during a discussion of minority hiring practices; see the following excerpt from N&R staffwriter Nate deGraff:

It all started late in the meeting when Democrat Carolyn Coleman , who is black, noted that about 2 percent of the county’s paramedics were African Americans. She called the low numbers a “shame and a disgrace for a county that says it believes in diversity.”

That brought a terse reply from Yow, a Republican, who is white. He started talking about the difficult training that paramedics have to endure.

“Perhaps, maybe, as I’ve suggested in the past, that you would indulge yourself and the African American community, and invite ’em down to go through some of this training,” Yow said. “And in case you haven’t seen it, it’s tough. A lot of ’em don’t want to do it — Bruce, don’t look at me like this.”

That was Democrat Bruce Davis , a black commissioner who tried to interrupt. Yow kept going.

“I think that if we have to go substandard to pacify you and your wishes, I think that we’re doing a grave disservice to the county as a whole,” he said.

“Substandard?” Davis said. “Substandard?”

“I mean people that don’t meet the qualifications,” Yow said.

Then Davis spoke.

“Yes, it is tough training and it should be. But for you to sit here and insinuate that African Americans could not step up to the challenge of tough training is absolutely ridiculous.”

“I didn’t say that,” Yow interrupted. “You did.”

Davis continued to criticize Yow’s remarks.

“I take that as a personal insult,” he said.

“You’re dumb enough to take it that way,” Yow replied.

On Friday, Yow said his words were misinterpreted. He said he doesn’t want the county to lower its hiring standards for anyone, “whether they be white, black, Asian, whatever.”

“If we start changing the criteria because they don’t think the (minority) numbers are high enough, we’re creating a substandard environment and we’re putting everybody at risk,” he said.

Davis spoke with Yow after the meeting and said Friday that he believed Yow’s explanation.

“If he’s sincere about it, then I don’t have any problem with that,” Davis said. “I think he needs to let the public know, though.”

Now, side-by-side, here are Deena Hayes’ comments from last December where she mentioned slaves and slavemasters during a discussion of the Very Strong Needs program:

“I was concerned when we moved this program to
Lincoln because I saw what happened to the community at Wiley and the organizing that went on at the school between parents, some of our teaching staff, and some of our central office staff against that community.
“When you take a community or a program whose participants are affluent, middle class and predominately white; and you move them to a very vulnerable community that is working class, poor and predominately black and of color, it can be very exploitive. “Out of their own mouths you have heard the derogatory ideology coming from the participants in this group. ‘If parents, other parents did to their children what we did to ours, it may produce some of these gifted children’. Talking about the field trips. Someone even said earlier this year that ‘we didn’t even care that the school didn’t make AYP’ and I guess it’s because you knew it wasn’t your children. “And so I have real concern about putting this kind of program at one of our schools until you have the talent and the experience of a department that can help them make that adjustment. Because when you have that kind of superiority and you put it at a school like
Lincoln or at Wiley, and you talk about ‘mingling’. That’s like slave and slave masters mingling. Equality never had to be at the table. And it produces that sense of superiority and inferiority.
“I spent the weekend with a young man, a sixth grader at
Lincoln and he talked about ‘the smart white kids’. I remember a VSN parent who’s a good friend of mine who had a child at Wiley and when the bathroom broke when the program was segregated, which it always stayed segregated at Wiley, that when their, the bathroom broke on their wing that white child had to go to the ‘black’ bathroom.
“You are breeding something here. And I wish we would stop recklessly and carelessly doing that. I would vote right now to disband this program and to send these parents back to their home schools and let their children take advantage of the advanced learner program and if they want more special services for their kids to go and seek those. But I really wish you would stop putting this program, and I’m definitely opposed to it going to Welborn, given the history of this program at two schools in predominately black and poor communities.”

Now, I agree that Yow’s statements could have been worded slightly differently, but all persons should be held accountable for their words and actions. Elected officials should be held to a higher moral standard. They work for us, the people, for it is us that elect these people. And when they make misstatements, it is our responsibility to call them on it. That’s all.

E.C. 🙂


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