Dear Mr. Mayor:

I watched your filing event online the other day. Very interesting stuff. Obviously, you’re angry with the Commercial Appeal. Quite honestly, they’re not my favorite. When I think of local newspapers that really dedicate themselves to the important issues that affect their city, the CA doesn’t really register on the list. Still, they’re the only daily we have here in Memphis, and while I understand your anger, I don’t get your rhetoric.

You called the “white controlled media” “bigoted”, I’m not sure that’s the word you intended. In your press conference a couple weeks ago, you took some time to define some words for the media covering and the people watching the event. I thought I would take a tip from your masterful performance and define some words for you.

Bigoted – obstinately convinced of the superiority or correctness of one’s own opinions and prejudiced against those who hold different opinions.

Obstinate – stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or chosen course of action, despite attempts to persuade one to do so.

Racism – the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

It seems that I have erroneously called your comments racist in a previous post. I would like to correct that mistake now. Your comments were not necessarily racist, but most certainly bigoted. In the mythology of W.W. Herenton there is no room for any opinion or perception of reality other than the one held by W.W. Herenton. That said, I would like to agree with you on another point you made on Tuesday. Yes, we need more positive public interest stories in all our media outlets. Memphians need more positive stories so that we can pull ourselves from the deep depression that we find ourselves in as a city. There are good things happening in Memphis, and the media has a duty to seek them out and report them, if for no other reason, so that more people can be educated about them, and hopefully join them in their efforts to make Memphis the best Memphis it can be.

Unfortunately Mr. Mayor, shiny happy uplifting stories don’t change the reality that there are serious problems that need to be dealt with, so, without trying to be one of those “bigoted white controlled media” people that you detest so much, I have some questions that I feel need to be answered.

What is your vision for the future of this city?

What positive outcomes do you see on the horizon as a result of your leadership?

What are you doing, as the city’s chief executive to stem the tide of violent crime, poverty, teen pregnancy, and the highest infant mortality rate in the nation?

How are you supporting the efforts of those people who are working for positive change in this city?

Why haven’t you sought to highlight the efforts of those seeking positive change through the bully pulpit afforded you as the city’s chief executive?

As the Mayor for “all the citizens of Memphis” what have you done, through action or word, to heal the racial and class divisions that help maintain the economic and social disparities plaguing this city?

With all due respect, these are not loaded questions, but honest points of discussion that seek to lift the conversation from one of harping on the problems, to providing a positive future for the city. These are the same questions that should be asked of your counterparts running for the office that you currently occupy.

Finally Mr. Mayor, I would like to agree with you that there are people in this city who would seek to oust you on strictly racial grounds. The problem with your tactic in addressing these individuals is that you empower their argument by throwing racially divisive rhetoric back at them. As a leader who seeks positive change in a city filled with nay-sayers and dividers, surely you do not seek to employ divisive rhetoric to propel yourself to an unprecedented fifth term. Surely you, of all people, know that a positive message, that does not ignore the problems, but seeks to deal with them aggressively and in a manner that unites the city, is the path that will bring you, and the city, forward.

I encourage you to move forward with your positive message, and look forward to hearing it, as it emerges in the coming months.

Thank you for your time.

Leave a Reply