Can we talk?
When did you become such an expert on the thoughts and opinions of African Americans? ("It's a black thing," Dec. 11). Respectfully, it was totally irresponsible and uninformed of you to suggest that because the allegations against the former county executive (Jack Johnson) didn't include ripping off poor black kids but taking advantage of the political spoils system, "in the eyes of many blacks" this was acceptable behavior. You justify this outlandish statement by saying, "That's why, for almost a month there's been a deafening silence out of PG County."
Most residents and elected officials in the county are appalled and embarrassed by what has transpired. The reason the media did not get to cover numerous press conferences or read pithy press releases from various elected officials was likely because we were not going to provide others with any more entertainment than what those individuals already have.
No, I am not downplaying the seriousness of the situation by referring to it as "entertainment." Rather, I understand the desire of some to see this tragic betrayal replayed constantly to denigrate the accomplishments of an entire race of people. What can I do to assure you that there's public outrage, even though you may not read press accounts about it?
Finally, I'd like to address why the inaugural crowd's greatest applause went to Marion Barry. Many of us simply cannot forget what he meant to the civil rights movement in his earlier years. Many of us cannot forget his early mayoral years, all those summer jobs, all those senior citizens he tirelessly served.
Many of us understand how many people are supportive when you are on top but forget about you when you are not. Maybe you are right, it is a black thing ... and you wouldn't understand.
Del. Dereck Davis (D-PG Co.)
Ironic, don't' you agree, that my Gazette column upset you more than Jack Johnson's arrest. Or, did I miss your angry letter to The Gazette back in November condemning Johnson?
The point of my column was that there's a huge gulf between the white and the black perspective of America. Not only is this obvious, it's been drummed into us by countless civil rights leaders and liberal editorial writers.
Our different views stem from our different vantage points. For instance, based on differences in experience and treatment, blacks and whites have conflicting views of the police, the courts and the criminal justice system.
You echo my point when you explain the black perspective of Marion Barry. Trust me, it's a lot different from the white perspective. Likewise, I contend, blacks are more understanding than whites toward O.J. Simpson, Michael Vick, Charlie Rangel and, yes, Jack Johnson.
You say PG's "deafening silence" was to deny whites the "entertainment" and to spare blacks the denigration. I say it was the reluctance to condemn a black leader for what whites do when they're in charge.
Not condemning isn't the same as condoning, it's simply choosing not to join the firing squad.
Blair Lee may look down on us but where was he when we were trying to get rid of Jack Johnson in 2006? He didn't help, he was not a part of the solution. What gives him the right to lecture us about race?
The 2010 elections gave us the chance for a new beginning. We elected a county executive who is committed to taking the county forward. There are a lot of good people in Prince George's County. If we unite in our neighborhoods, our elected officials will follow.
Twenty years ago, my friends tell me, they had the same problems with pay-to-play in Montgomery County. They changed it and so can we.
Hellmut Lotz, College Park
Let me think back to who was Montgomery's county executive 20 years ago. Oh yes, Neal Potter, Montgomery's no-growth high priest who spent 24 years in elected office fighting developers. And you say he was secretly taking kickbacks from these same developers? Boy, ol' Neal sure had me fooled.
Of course, you could be confusing Neal Potter with County Executive Charlie Gilchrist, who was probably taking bribes as he entered the priesthood. The Rev. Gilchrist died while serving poor people in a Baltimore slum. I wonder where he stashed all that loot?
What next, Hellmut, Ike Leggett belongs to the Aryan brotherhood?
I read with interest your article titled "It's a black thing." Although I have resided on the Maryland Eastern Shore for the past 10 years, I lived my first 51 years in Prince George's County, and I maintain great fondness for Prince George's and Montgomery counties. I am white.
The arrest of Jack Johnson and his wife saddened me, but corruption is a human thing. It's not white or black or red or yellow.
I understand the quiet coming from PG, and I think you explained it well. It's the circling of the wagons, the battening down the hatches; it's the family of the kid chased by the cops swearing to the officers on the front porch that they haven't seen the child while he is secreted upstairs, shivering under his bed. That happens in families of any skin tone.
Most folks of differing shades of skin live clean, simple lives. Goodness is a human thing, as is evil; we each have a choice as to which side of the coin to live by.
Richard Kendall, Eastern Shore
Your perspective, albeit white, strikes me as fair and humane. I wonder if Del. Davis would agree.
Blair Lee is CEO of the Lee Development Group in Silver Spring and a regular commentator for WBAL radio. His column appears Fridays in The Gazette. His
e-mail address is email@example.com.