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NAACP is not colorblind

October 24, 2009

While strumming through the pages of The (Baltimore) Sun last week, I came across an article that stirred my interest. According to the Sun article, the Baltimore City Chapter of the NAACP was concerned about the prospects of the governor appointing a white or Republican mayor should Mayor Sheila Dixon be removed from office because of her legal problems.

Apparently, the Baltimore City chapter of the NAACP must not have a lot of confidence in whites or Republicans, I thought. Given the peculiar tone of this thinking, I couldn't quite imagine how this city elected Martin O'Malley and William Donald Schaeffer to the position of mayor (both are white).

Maybe the voters of Baltimore are a lot more savvy and more intellectual than the members of the current NAACP group want to give them credit.

Actually, in the same article it was reported that should Mayor Dixon be removed from office because of her current legal problems, the president of the Baltimore Council would assume the mayor's duties and responsibilities.

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The governor would not be involved in the process.

I found the article a little more than controversial, and I was not sure if columnist Leonard Pitts would take up the side of logic and argue against the NAACP position in wanting a selection based on race, political party or ethnicity.

According to the president of the Baltimore Chapter of the NAACP, he shared his opinion that since Baltimore was a predominantly African-American city he was concerned that the governor might appoint a white, or even some Irish person to be mayor.

I know my grandmother Gen, who was a McGowan (a great Irish family) must be squirming a little in her grave over these remarks.

If she was still alive, maybe she might offer up an old Irish curse of sorts. Something like, "may you be afflicted with an itch and no nails to scratch with." Deserving enough for an Irish critic, I chuckled.

I thank God for the Irish and especially my grandmother.

Apparently, the president of the NAACP and the group specifically wants an African-American to lead the city, since they believe that person might more reliably understand those circumstances of Baltimore. Not sure that thinking alone will fix the many problems that exist there.

Just to make the conversation a little more titillating and dumb, I wonder what the NAACP might say if some other city residents took the very same position of their group, but used a different race.

Maybe some white voter might be thinking we need a person of the white race to be mayor so that person might identify more with their problems. I know the president of the Baltimore City NAACP wouldn't be mad about that, now, would he?

I also wonder how the NAACP president in Baltimore might feel to learn that the first two presidents of the NAACP were, you guessed it, "white." I'm sure he must be aware of this important part of the NAACP's history. OK, maybe he's not.

Perhaps he might offer another resolution at his next meeting to have these two individuals stricken from the history of the NAACP because of their color.

In fact, from my review of the group's history, it appears that most of the impetus for the origin of the NAACP came about by white sympathizers concerned about the horrific plight, murders and mistreatment of those people of another color in the early 1900s.

Too bad the NAACP president has totally forgotten about this important part of the group's history.

Given the problems of Baltimore, I think it would be wise and prudent for the NAACP there, as well as the voters, to seek out the best person for the job regardless of race or origin.

If the next mayor is effective and successful in solving problems, it should make little difference what they look like. Maybe a small, skinny oriental, or an Italian who speaks broken English, a person of Polish or Irish descent, or even a problem-solving African-American.

Race, color, or ethnicity should never be part of anyone's criteria for political office, including the NAACP of Baltimore City if they are truly concerned about solving the many problems that confront their town.

Lloyd "Pete" Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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