I have not talked much about race in these blogs.
Sure enough, Lisa Veldran, president of the Meadowood neighborhood association, has injected the race issue like a plague bacillus into the bloodstream of a very healthy event.
She was trying to derail this Wednesday's Southwest side neighborhood summit meeting, at which a Code of Conduct and a Residents' Bill of Rights will be presented.
The guilty white liberal told the Wisconsin State Journal that:
When people talk about teenage boys wearing their pants low enough to show their underwear, she said, you're "really targeting the African American community. ... Underlying all of this is a discussion about race and class." [Southwest side residents asked to back a residents' 'bill of rights']
Early Saturday afternoon I e-mailed these questions to Veldran:
I reviewed my copy of the Residents' Bill of Rights and the Code of Conduct and could find no mention of underwear. Yes, I have encouraged its inclusion on the checklist but, as often happens in a democracy, I did not prevail.
So I have these questions for you, Lisa Veldran:
1) Does your copy of the proposed Bill of Rights and Code of Conduct reference "teenage boys wearing their pants low enough to show their underwear"?
2) If it does not, could you share with us your reason for introducing that element?
3) Since you have introduced the topic of race, which of the proposed Bill of Rights/ Code of Conduct are race-specific?
4) Do you personally disagree with any of the proposed Bill of Rights /Code of Conduct? If so, which ones?
5) Do you hold people of different races to different standards of conduct even though our statutes and ordinances do not discriminate by race?
I posed these questions on Saturday noon via e-mail and have not received a response. Which is interesting, given that Police Chief Noble Wray and the Mayor's Office can respond to Blaska's Blog, state legislators and other opinion-makers respond, but not Lisa Veldran, who runs the Madison Common Council Office as her day job.
If and when she deigns to respond I will pass them on to you, the loyal reader.
The irony is that when we met a couple of weeks ago at the Meadowood neighborhood center, Denise Lamb of Midvale pooh-poohed the harm done by low-rider pants, Florenzo Cribbs of Allied Drive piped up "They're illegal in Atlanta!"
Believe me, I will press these points with her Wednesday, August 26, at the "Neighborhoods Restoring Safety" meeting, sponsored by the Southwest Alliance of Neighborhoods, beginning at 7 p.m. at Falk elementary school, 6323 Woodington Way.
Now the question becomes whether her husband, County Board Supervisor Matt Veldran, supports those views. He did, after all, vote against Alderman Thuy's proposed curfew ordinance (as a member of the Equal Opportunities Commission).
I have long supposed that Supervisor Veldran takes his marching orders from the missus as well as the downtown Progressive Dane clique.
Neighborhoods Restoring Safety
It is unfortunate Lisa Veldran would inject this destructive element at this late date especially since the community has been positively energized by the constructive, problem-solving approach. In fact, some of the organizers of Wednesday's meeting have been meeting with leaders from the black community - people like Florenzo Cribbs. Just last night (Sunday) they met with James Monroe, whom I have featured in a previous blog.
Wednesday's meeting could not be more constructive. It will discuss strategies and solutions to crime, public safety, behavior, and quality of Life problems in all of our neighborhoods.
Read for yourself if you find anything "racist" about these two documents:
- They can confront bad behavior in their neighborhoods and be supported in doing so by other residents and police when necessary.
- Acceptable norms of behavior established by the neighborhoods be enforced and applied consistently in both the schools and the neighborhoods 24/7.
- They will have input and control over the quantity and location of Section 8 housing in their geographic area or neighborhood.
- There's more.
- The premise of the Code is to promote personal responsibility, respect, and civility. This Code is part of an overall strategy to address inappropriate behavior and foster a community climate that supports a positive Quality of Life and a Safe Community.
- Purposes of the Code are: To insure that all members of the community are treated with dignity and respect.
- There's more.
The South West Alliance of Neighborhoods (SWANS) consists of: Allied Drive, Dunn's Marsh, Greentree, Ice Age Falls, Hawks Landing, Heather Glen, Highland Village, High Point Estates Jamestown (Fitchburg), Maple-Prairie, Meadowood, Midvale Heights, Orchard Ridge, Park Ridge, Prairie Hills, and Valley Ridge.
Elephants in the room
At a neighborhood meeting at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, right next door to Balsam Street, on July 28 our facilitator, city parks commissioner Emanual Scarborough, promised to address "the elephant in the room." That being the issue of race. Indeed, the audience was almost evenly composed (I almost wrote "divided") between black and white. But there were no divisions by race.
Being Blaska, I spoke up. "You can talk about race if you want but frankly, the subject bores me to tears."
We fear living next to the Huxtables? We elected a black man as president. Our police chief appears to be black, now that I think about it. So what?
"This is about behavior," I concluded.
That statement seemed to find acceptance.
Think about it. Was Mayor Barrett of Milwaukee relieved to find that the man crashing the lead pipe over his skull was white?
We did not talk about "race" that evening at Good Shepherd. Except for one lady who could not stop talking about the vandalism done to her lawn and the drainage ditch behind her property. Everyone groaned when she concluded with the supposedly ameliorating statement that some of her best friends are black.
Just to cut the saccharin, I countered that some of my worst enemies were black.
At another meeting, across the street at the Meadowood neighborhood center, a liberal asked, in essence, how does a white person speak to a black person. At that meeting, I pointed to my mouth: "With this."
What is needed, to the limited extent that race is relevant, is for all of us to speak out against toxic behavior that some claim as cultural - including gangsta rap, the M-F word, poor school habits ("learning is white"), and yes, the prison-inspired underwear displays.
If you find racism, report it! Madison's Equal Opportunities Commission is voracious. Otherwise, shut the hell up about racism. Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint write, in their book Come On People:
Back in 1950, there were twice as many white people in prison as black. Today, there are more black people than white in prison. We're not saying there is no discrimination or racial profiling today, but there is less than there was in 1950. These are not political criminals. These are people selling drugs, stealing, or shooting their buddies over trivia.
Blaming white people can be a way for some black people to feel better about themselves, but it doesn't pay the electric bills. There are more doors of opportunity open for black people today than ever before in the history of America."
The Blaska Code:
Now let me make this admission: I am white. I admit it. I don't try to hide it. I am not particularly proud of it, nor am I ashamed. It is something over which I have no control. (I blame my parents.) What I can control is my behavior. I will admit that I don't always do a good job of it but that defines what is meant by being an adult.
Blaming extraneous factors for one's actions is the height of irresponsibility. I own my conduct - no one else, no social or economic force.
I totally reject the excuse-making of uber-liberals like Stu Levitan, who blamed crime and the breakdown of social order here on the southwest side on "the lack of employment opportunities, affordable health care, and adequate mass transit."
A poor upbringing, may be factors contributing to anti-social behavior but do not excuse it. People are causative agents. It is why the Judeo-Christian heritage holds that people are given a free will. We make our own reality.