Thursday, January 19, 2006

When the deck is stacked and the dealer cheats, is playing the race card unfair?

On Tuesday, January 17, 2006, the Lafayette City-Parish Council engaged in an amazing display of arrogance.

Because I said so,” City-Parish councilman and acting-chairman, Rob Stevenson, bellowed in response to a point of order raised by an African American citizen in attendance. “Because I said so,” Stevenson yelled to crush complaints of unfairness lodged by African American councilmen, Dr. Chris Williams and Louis Benjamin. And amidst Stevenson’s plantation snarl, councilman Dale Bourgeois insincerely bemoaned claims of racism, condemning African Americans present for playing the “race card.”

But, was Stevenson’s arrogance and Bourgeois' lament fair? When the deck is stacked with racism, greed and injustice, is it unfair to play the cards just as they are dealt? When, as happened Monday night, the chairman deals from the bottom of the deck, isn’t the dealer to blame if the race card is played?

“Playing the race card” is a conservative cliché meant to shame the victim into silence. Heck, even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over and kicked.

Dr. Williams and Mr. Benjamin were right! Right to complain about racism! Right to complain about greed! Right to complain about injustice! And, right to complain about arrogance! After all, like it or not, those were the cards dealt to them by members of the City-Parish council.


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