Bring on the noise

Why the hecklers heckle, and why Bill Keever's gotta go now

"But why the cursing?" I asked. Beasley squirmed in his plastic seat, and looked away. He was embarrassed. He'd been brought up Baptist, like I was.

I reminded him that he'd called a Hispanic DISD employee a "lying bitch" at the January 23 board meeting after she was assaulted by a New Black Panther in the hallway, claiming he touched her breasts. Beasley didn't even witness the entire incident, but got in the woman's face afterward and harangued her publicly.

"I said 'lying witch,'" Beasley protested rather feebly.
Hmmm...the victim and at least one witness heard the word "bitch." But even if Beasley's account is true, big dif--as my big sister always said to me.

"You got this lack of respect going on with these people," Beasley went on to say, referring to the white trustees, particularly Keever. "This city should be glad black people are acting the way they are--'cause it could be on another level. They act like they want a body count.

"Racism should cost everyone," he added. "If it costs you some money, maybe even some bloodshed, maybe then you'll listen."

Later on, Beasley took me on a mini-tour of black Dallas. We drove through the State-Thomas area and examined some particularly hideous apartment complexes in South Dallas.

Beasley pointed out each sight, each evidence of seeming injustice, with a word or two of protest--all mixed together with his running commentary on racial problems in DISD. At one point he hastened to add, "All whites are not bad--all white people are not out to get us."

Greg Beasley seemed confused. He was full of grievances, but didn't quite know what to do with them. His scrapbook bustled with words and images, each one chafing some tender part of his soul. Yet together they were a jumble.

He was grasping for significance, to rise to a place where he could make a difference--any difference, as long as someone noticed, and as long as someone cared.

"You know, I am ill. I have the flu. And you guys must know, you have to stop trying to treat us like children."

T.L. Youngblood acted as Kathlyn Gilliam's enforcer at the January 23 board meeting. She tried to kick me out of the DISD board room during a recess, employing various specious arguments about why I had to leave. Ms. Gilliam had wanted to address "her" people, and, apparently because of my skin color, I wasn't one of them.

Youngblood chuckled to herself when things got really nasty that day. She showed up again at the February 11 meeting, delivering a long account of racial slights allegedly suffered by her and other black DISD activists.

"Just as our forefathers stood steadfast in the face of bigotry, racism, and do we," she said that day. "We shall not be moved."

I caught up with 58-year-old Thelma Lucille Youngblood last week at her well-kept home near the Cedar Crest golf course. I knocked, but she wasn't in the mood to talk. "Nothing personal," she said. "I have no respect for the Observer because of Laura Miller...they do use her articles, and 90 percent of those that I've seen are very disgusting."

Then she shut the door.

"I want my tax dollar...don't touch my wheelchair, or I'll own ya."
"There's two of me," Earnestine Taylor told me from her bed in the Bryan Manor nursing home. "There's the Martin Luther King Jr. in me, and there's the Malcolm."

No doubt about which one I saw at the last January board meeting--when Taylor, 53, addressed a board member by the stately moniker "asshole" and, at one point, appeared to be using her wheelchair as a battering ram after she was refused re-entry into the 50-seat DISD board room.

Taylor found a way to get her point across that afternoon, by any means necessary. That meant bellowing "I want my damn tax dollar!" at various inappropriate intervals--which, I may add, is a tad insincere, seeing as Taylor doesn't pay any property taxes.

While we're on the subject of small hypocrisies, may it also be known that Ms. Taylor has no children, and didn't even bother to vote in the last school board election, according to county records.

But the Earnestine Taylor I tracked down to her spartan room at Bryan Manor was clearly in MLK Jr. mode. She offered me the only seat available--her manual wheelchair, patched with duct tape. "That hurt your feelings, didn't it?" she asked, referring to Youngblood's attempts to boot me out of the board room.

Well yeah, maybe, if I'd really 'fess up, which I didn't just then. No one enjoys being the target of prejudice, and unfortunately, many black Americans embrace the deception that they cannot be bigots because they're the oppressed. Not so.

And that's ultimately what left me disturbed after the four-hour conversation I had with Earnestine Taylor--which was conducted while her very elderly roommate shuffled back and forth within a six-foot space, repeatedly bumping into me with her walker.

I just can't buy this two-of-me stuff that so many of the protesters espouse. In my mind, you either walk in love and forgiveness, or you walk in hatred. You either curse people, or you bless them. Love and hatred cannot coexist, and Martin can't abide Malcolm. Bigotry and prejudice are always evil--whether they come from the oppressed or the oppressor.

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