The exterminator

Black politico Dwaine Caraway sounds a lot like a redneck when it comes to slamming his enemies

To start off with some perspective, let's put this shoe on another foot. Try to imagine a white man, a leader in the business community, lashing out against white women who marry black men. Imagine that he accuses them of "sleeping with the enemy."

Imagine that he lumps these women in with all people who criticize him, calling them "roaches," and says, "Eventually we are going to have to exterminate them intelligently."

I am familiar with the maxim that you can't equate white anti-black sentiment with black anti-white sentiment, because centuries of history and social and economic grievances render the two feelings distinct, even when the words sound the same. I even agree with that maxim.

But death threats are death threats. There isn't any difference racially in the meaning of "exterminate"--a word with some especially ugly historical connections. If somebody used that word on me, I would look for a hole to jump in first and then maybe ponder the complexities of ethnic politics later when I was on vacation.

This story is not about a white man. This is about Dwaine Richard Caraway, who is black. Caraway is president of Profile Group, an advertising agency and political consulting firm. He is a member of the Dallas Park Board and is married to Dallas City Council member Barbara Mallory Caraway. Caraway is prominent in the black business community and is also well traveled in the larger multi-ethnic business and political realms of the city.

Addressing a black business group recently, Caraway did not name Jeannette Brantley-Wango, a columnist for a black newspaper, The Weekly, who is married to a white man, but it was obvious from the context of his remarks that he was talking about her. Caraway included her in a group he called "These little no-working, ain't-got-nothing-else-to-do back-biting people that continue to get with the other side of the fence and continue to keep our community divided.

"You got some of these folk that's married to white people that's black. They understand that, because their house is already divided. Let's be real clear with that. Their house is already divided. They already got two sides of the deal, of the issue."

Saying he did not "have a problem with interracial relationships," Caraway nevertheless went on to describe in detail a recent column Brantley-Wango had written for The Weekly that was critical of Caraway and his wife: "But then the reality of it is, if you're going to come and you're going to write in the newspaper and you're going to put falsehoods out there in a black newspaper perspectively and you're going to talk about all the black leaders we have, and then in the final portion of your column in the black newspaper you are going to glorify the white folks, then, to me, I might as well be reading The Dallas Morning News."

In the final paragraph of Brantley-Wango's July 5 column, she wrote favorably of council members Laura Miller, Donna Blumer, and Sandy Greyson, all of whom are white and all of whom had fought for a stronger city ethics code, which Caraway, his wife, Mayor Ron Kirk, and the Dallas Citizens Council all had vigorously opposed.

In his racial rant at the July 11 meeting of the Pylon Club, a black salesmanship organization, Caraway went on to complain bitterly about community activist Sharon Boyd, who is white. He did not name Boyd, but he waved what he said was a copy of her Web page while he spoke. Boyd's Web page, dallasarena.com, often contains accusations of shady dealings involving Caraway and his wife.

"What makes this white woman and gives her the authority to try to regulate black folks?" Caraway asked his audience. "She is not anybody I need to be afraid of."

Caraway said, "It is not the white woman's fault. It's the other little black women that's talking to her on a daily basis, telling her what's going on. She don't know what the heck is happening on Martin Luther the King or Malcolm the X [MLK and Malcolm X boulevards]. She's too afraid to come and find out, but she's got a couple little roaches that's running around here that's talking to her on a daily basis and disseminating information."

Caraway compared black people who share secrets outside the race with drug dealers who prey on black children. He concluded by saying, "Eventually we are going to have to exterminate them intelligently and move our community forward."

The particular burr under Caraway's saddle these last several weeks is a lawsuit filed June 20 in local district court accusing him of using his wife's position on the city council to squeeze money out of a municipal airport operator, and then having the operator put out of business by the city when he wouldn't keep paying off. The basic situation, which has to do with Redbird Airport in southern Dallas, involves so much possible skullduggery on all sides that a seasoned political pro like Caraway might normally be expected to shrug it off, at least in public.

But in this case there is evidence--one piece in particular--that smells unequivocally bad for Caraway, no matter what anybody else may or may not have been up to. Filed with the suit is a letter that Caraway sent on his own letterhead in September 1999 to the former operator of Redbird Airport, Tennell Atkins.

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