Stumbling at the Color Barrier

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Obviously in the real Dallas everybody's got sewers, because it's a city, but in the sector people don't have sewers, because it's just a sector. Pitre and his landowners have been lobbying City Hall for years for sewers so they can develop student housing and retail around the new campus. And just think, if they had sewers, they could be a part of the real city, and then we might not even have a sector any more.

The mayor goes on about his strategy: "Two things I believe are important. One, I always look at our assets. One thing this city has is a lot of money. We have a lot of wealthy individuals, philanthropists, businesses, shareholders in this city. Eighteen billionaires in this city. Forget about the half-a-billionaires. There's a lot of money. Robert Reich called it 'the secession of the successful.' We cannot have the secession of the successful here. So that's one strategy."

No secession of the successful. What, they were going to have their own sector? The golden sector? Damn. But, in terms of something a little more here and now maybe, something we could actually do, what about a sewer? You know, like no more secession of the sewer? Cessation of the sewer? Whatever. What about a damn sewer? For a start.

Yeah, now Liz Cedillo-Pereira is talking about how they started a Catholic church in her parents' living room many years ago in West Dallas, and now she's a lawyer. I think I have heard this one from her before. She thinks we should have citywide pre-K. Oh, wow, maybe she's going to talk about school Superintendent Mike Miles and school reform in Dallas and the urgent need to bring poor minority children to full literacy by the end of third grade.

But maybe not, because that might open up the issue of the full court press that black elected officials have brought against Miles because they think he's a threat to their school district jobs. Yeah, she's kind of backpedaling to her law practice now. If you're undocumented and you've got a problem, call Liz. I would.

So now the Reverend Jakes is up, and I am really anticipating his words. Jakes has spread his voice throughout the world in his television ministry and in movies he has produced and appeared in. I have to think he is the one who is going to come down hard on the basic immorality of racial and ethnic separation.

"I do movies and films for Sony Pictures and other entities," he says, "and we purposely produce films in areas that have tax incentives."

Hmm. Tax incentives for movie producers. OK. We've got the city divided into two hemispheres by cullah, and we're going to attack that problem with tax incentives for movie producers. Jakes happens to be a movie producer. So I guess we get the drift.

Sorrell! He'll do the deed. You can count on Sorrell. A successful young lawyer, went to Oberlin, got a law degree from Duke, now doing a doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania, took on the task of shepherding a small struggling historically black college in southern Dallas, did crazy stuff like turn the football field into a farm.

Oh, wow, Robert Pitre is shouting something at him from behind me. Remember, he's the landowner guy near the UNT campus. I can't make it all out exactly, but I think Pitre still wants a sewer.

"What I will tell you, Robert," Sorrell says to him, "is that I think it is important that infrastructure is more complicated than people appreciate."

Is it? A sewer? Is a sewer really all that complicated? Maybe. Let me just toss this out there: The danger, when you have imaginary hemispheres in your brain, is that you will go out into the real world and try to make those hemispheres come true. You can't rearrange the physical world into divisions that do not exist naturally, but you can do all kind of weird stuff to the man-made world, like only put sewers in half of it.

But this is not complicated. Build a sewer. People can do a lot more kumbaya when they've got a sewer to go home to. The head of a major city department tried to tell me a couple weeks ago they can't put a sewer down Pitre's street because its uphill, and shit won't go uphill. So you mean to tell me there are no sewers in Switzerland?

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze