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Good News Dallas
by    Mon, Dec 19, 2005, 01:25 PM

Rufus Shaw.jpgHad a city council person uttered to a Black city council person something to the effect that African-Americans were running city hall, Black folks would have considered the statement a compliment. Had the same utterance been directed at a white city council member, white folks probably would have felt the statement was nothing less then a fact. But when Black city council woman Maxine Thornton-Reese allegedly told city council man Mitchell Rasansky that Jews are running city hall, Mr. Rasansky reacted in horror. And now charges of anti-Semitism have entered the public debate with Blacks and Jews, historic allies, facing off over the issue. The irony is there are little or no anti-Semitic sentiments in the Dallas African-American community.

Let’s be clear on this: any suggestion that Jews are in control of Dallas city hall is so patently false it almost doesn’t deserve more then a passing mention. Secondly, African-Americans are anti-Laura Miller without any consideration of her religious beliefs.

African-Americans are monolithically Christian. I would guess that less then 15% of the entire Black population in this country worship a religion other then Christianity. Our plight in America has been dominated by issues of race and the color of our skin. Religious persecution is not something we are very familiar with. Consequently when people of the Jewish faith take issue with African-Americans based on alleged anti-Semitism, confusion more then understanding, dominates the debate.

South of The Trinity Mayor Laura Miller is considered a bad mayor. She is not a bad mayor because she is Jewish. She is a bad mayor because she lacks the consensus building skills that are essential for a mayor with limited powers in a city manager’s form of government. Miller’s aggressive, divisive style has led many of us South of The Trinity to believe that fermenting racial discord is a way for her to hide her failures as mayor. None of her failures as mayor has anything to do with her being Jewish nor should her failures be a reflection on the Jewish community.

One of the city’s most admired and revered elected politicians in the hearts of the African-American community was the late Mayor Annette Strauss. If anything, her being Jewish was considered an asset when there were differences between Mayor Strauss and the Black community. It was her Jewish history of shared persecution that moved African-Americans to give her the benefit of the doubt. Mayor Strauss led this city through one of our most racially tensed periods. When she died, there was profound sadness among the African-American political leadership here.

What goodwill Mayor Annette Strauss had created between Jews and African-Americans has been all but squandered by Mayor Laura Miller. What was once a mutual respect for shared persecution and a history of working together to eliminate religious and racial injustice has now become a divisive ugly caricature. Whatever Mr. Rasansky meant to do when he brought these seemingly benign incident to the mass public’s attention, has backfired into a closer look at the damage Mayor Laura Miller’s reign has done to Black/Jewish relationships in Dallas, Texas. That’s how it looks from South Of The Trinity.

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