Edward Okpa on Why He's Not on DART Board. A Hint: Um, "Al Lipscomb"?
After the jump, a very interesting communication from former mayoral candidate Edward Okpa, which just arrived in my e-box. Okpa, as the Friends know, is one of the people who got slimed in the whole Dallas Area Rapid Transit board appointment process. --Jim Schutze
Yesterday, Wednesday May 28, 2008, my consideration to the DART Board was derailed in part and or whole because before the 'd-day', some in the community were already up in arms against the nomination. I could not understand the uproar but responded because some in the City leadership Mayor Leppert and Hon. Caraway suggested that I throw my name in the hat/process. I was glad to do so even though serving on the Board would have eliminated all and any contract I have with DART and DFW International Airport. I was willing to forego the contract in service of my City.
On Tuesday May 27, 2008, I appeared before the City Transportation Committee chaired by Hon. Koop, who is my Council representative. The interviewed from comments received went well but I was still apprehensive because I could not understand the reaction from some in the African American community.
On Council day - May 28, 2008, I went to the Council meeting but arrived after the debate and uproar relating to the appointment. I was not privy to what went before my arrival which coincided with the Council taking a break. In any event, I was later told that former Councilmember Al Lipscomb made a comment that he has a problem with me being a 'NIGERIAN'. Whether Al was put to this or he saw such comment proper in aid of or to sway opinions in favor of whomever he wanted, I thought such comment from someone who some years ago accepted a Chieftaincy title from a Nigerian community in Dallas, was appalling, sad and reckless.
When I ran for Mayor; 2003 and 2007, even Al after a debate with Laura Miller and Mary Poss, commended me for a wonderful performance on the issues. That was the second conversation I remember ever having with Al. I know of the man but never really sort to know him. Al's reckless comment has no place in politics but may be seen by some as useful in achieving their often warped agenda. On the two occasions I ran for Mayor, some in the black community had issue with me running and confronted me with all sorts of aggression and unbecoming comments. Dallas Morning News Political reporter Gromer Mathew Jeffers, wrote that Don Hill was the only 'black' in the race. He later retracked the comment. It makes one wonder: When is one who is black black enough?
Were what Al said to come from an 'Anglo', such a person would have been called names. But coming from him, is ok to some as long as the means served the purpose/end. I guess that is the nature of lousy politics in the minority community where debasing each other to score and make a point appears acceptable.
I am a VERY proud Nigerian and proud naturalized US citizen, who in my 22 years living in Dallas/US, has lived up to the tenets of what my parents taught me and what my good friends have added. I am no push over nor a nuisance. If someone does not want me to serve, that is ok. But picking my country of origin as a course of action and cause for reckless commentary is something fit for the dust bin and sad from a pillar of Dallas black community.
I am glad Al said what he said because it goes to remind me of an Igbo saying; 'may the breeze come upon a chicken so that we see what is hidden under the feathers'. Were my father alive, he would said Son, 'never sweat when someone whose background and disposition make you look like a Daniel Come to Justice.
Ejike Edward Okpa II Dallas, Texas
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.