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Prominent Blacks Favor Blame Game Over Accountability in School District Scandal

March 2, 2011

Question: why can’t some Black people stand to be accountable for the contemptible, asinine things some Black people do?

Let’s be real.

We’ve all watched over the past week as the Urban League leadership and other prominent Black people in Seattle have been implicated in a fraud investigation that has dominated the news cycle ever since it was discovered.

Maria Goodloe-Johnson is likely out as Superintendent of the district, as is the Chief Financial Officer Don Kennedy.

Now the great blame game has begun. And it makes me sick.  It pisses me off.

It started today when Eddie Rye announced to the media in an impromptu press conference today, that he and others were duped by Silas Potter, the man at the center of this whole debacle.  He claims Potter mislead  everyone, and the scandal starts and stops there.

The Urban League today blamed the media for taking innuendo and making something out of nothing.  They did nothing wrong. That’s their position.

And finally, Silas Potter himself has spoken up all the way from Florida. He’s pointing the finger too, saying he was just following orders from his supervisor Fred Stephens, and Stephens’ supervisor Don Kennedy.  

Don Kennedy has already gone on record through his attorney that he did nothing wrong, it was all Potter.

If none of them are responsible, then someone please tell me who is?

Why is it when a scandal hits a Black organization, agency or entity, it becomes CYA by any means necessary?  Do these people really think that flat denials of wrongdoing actually shore up the public’s trust and faith? Because it doesn’t.

The UL is walking a fine, fine line on this contracts issue. They say they had contracts which were approved by the school district. That’s true. But what about the integrity of those contracts?

They may have felt they were doing nothing wrong then, but in the face of the SAO’s audit, can they really, truly say they could have done nothing different in hindsight?  They’ve learned nothing? Seriously?

That is what’s setting us back fam, that mentality right there.  “We did nothing wrong, point the finger elsewhere.”

And these people are considered by the media and plain ol’ average everyday folks, to be the “leaders” of the Black community in greater Seattle.

Leaders who take no responsibility for this ugly mess.  Leaders who beg of us to stop focusing so much attention on the negative and move on.

But if we don’t focus on the negative, on the dirt, on the stinky stain we’ve all been smeared with thanks to a select few in “our community,” then who the hell will, because clearly it ain’t gon’ be the “leaders.” They’re too busy smelling the roses and thumping each other on the back and trippin’ off of hallucinogenics.

Yeah I said it. You gotta be high to look at this situation and think everything happened on the up and up.  If it were all legit the Superintendent wouldn’t be about to lose her job. The Urban League wouldn’t have felt they needed to go on the defense in that very sad display of solidarity.

Why are they denying it? Because people in the Black communtiy fear the Black community will be harmed by any scandal, so the response is “deny, deny, deny.”

That’s the wrong approach to take, and actually does more harm to the Black community than good.  If it’s well known that we won’t take those amongst us to task for their wrong-doing because we don’t want it to get out that there are people doing dirt in the name of the Black community and worse, Black children, it gives room for people with less than positive intentions to take advantage.

This entire situation is not okay. You know it, I know it. It may not rise to the status of illegal behavior, but too many people did a lot of wrong here.

At the very best, the UL was doing a sub-par job of fulfilling their contracts with Seattle Schools and with the city. We needn’t look any further than the City of Seattle’s evaluation of the UL as a contractor for the Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. We’re talking about an organization charged with saving our children’s lives. The street outreach workers worked very hard. The YVPI Coordinator who has since left the UL did her damnedest to create a solid program.  The City didn’t find fault with those on the ground working with our youth. But most of those folks are now out of a job because the UL did such a piss-poor job in their overall obligations they lost the contract.

Yet they feel they did nothing wrong?

Oh I beg to differ.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim Anderson permalink
    March 3, 2011 9:49 am

    I completely concur about the need for accountability, but am very put off by your assertion that the finger pointing somehow has to do with the players being black. How does that have anything to do with it? This is standard CYA procedure in a variety of setting, and cuts across all races. (Anyone remember Watergate?) Your statement “Why is it when a scandal hits a Black organization, agency or entity, it becomes CYA by any means necessary?” is really troubling. How is it a black thing?

  2. Black in Seattle permalink
    March 3, 2011 10:48 am

    Where does Sable say “this is a black thing”? Nowhere, because she didn’t make that claim. She, as a Black woman, courageously decided to take to task, “prominent” Black people in Seattle’s Black community, who are notorious for shady behavior and pointing the finger elsewhere.

    It’s fine if you want to say “everyone does this”, but we’re not talking about everyone, we’re talking about Black people, and that’s okay too. Sable is spot on in her commentary; the people in question are prominent, they’re Black, and they’re not taking any ownership of this big fat mess.

    She is also right in pointing out that the individuals in question are considered to be “leaders” of the Black community, which makes their behavior all the more disgusting- we are too often seen as a monolith people and if THESE GUYS are our leaders, lots of people will think ALL Black people participate in underhanded business dealings.

    I’d like to say for the record none of these people, not James Kelly, not Tony Benjamin, not the Urban League as an entity are my leaders. They’re individuals who are self serving and could give a rats ass about the rest of us.

  3. Jim Eddy permalink
    March 3, 2011 11:28 am

    She does, right here: “Why is it when a scandal hits a Black organization, agency or entity, it becomes CYA by any means necessary?” I concur about the lack of accountability across the board, it’s painful to watch. But this kind of CYA behavior cuts across all races, there’s nothing Black about it, just like there’s nothing “white” about. This kind of CYA behavior is multi-cultural in the biggest way. Look at SPD for example, and the way they have handled their business of recent. Nothing Black about that.

  4. Black in Seattle permalink
    March 3, 2011 11:53 am

    Respectfully, I think you may be missing the point. This commentary is about members of the Black community and their behavior, regardless of the behavior of others. Are you saying there is no Black community? Are you saying these are not prominent Black people, organizations? A scandal in the Black community doesn’t lessen scandal elsewhere like SPD and vice versa. It’s not one or the other, it’s both. It sounds like you’re saying the experiences and obersvations about Black people in/around Seattle by other Black people in/around Seattle is not valid. I hope that’s not what you’re saying.

  5. Jim Eddy permalink
    March 3, 2011 12:18 pm

    Of course there is a black community, no one could deny that. And of course anyone can criticize anyone, particularly when there has been clear wrongdoing. I’m asserting that CYA behavior is not in this case, or ever, a uniquely black behavior. Plenty of black leaders and orgs in Seattle, both now and in the past, have not exhibited this CYA behavior under pressure. So to say that every time a scandal “hits a Black organization, agency or entity, it becomes CYA by any means necessary”, its inaccurate and untrue, and assumes all black people act the same way. And I have a problem with that assertion.

  6. March 3, 2011 12:52 pm

    Hi Jim, Sable here. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Let me assure you, I am not saying this behavior is either a) exclusive to the Black community or b) something all Black people, orgs, agencies do.

    What I am saying is there a Black orgs, agencies, entities in Seattle that have had related scandals that never made it to the front page of the Seattle Times. Why? Because those scandals were contained within the Black community by Black people. That is why I used the word “some” in the piece. I don’t speak in general terms about any group of people if I can avoid it. I didn’t say this happens every time a scandal hits a black org. I didn’t say this happens to all black orgs. I didn’t say all black people practice CYA in those instances. That may be what you read, but it is not what I wrote. Your perception of my words is not more authoritative than the actual words I wrote and the message I intended to send.

    Also understand that when I write a commentary, I’m not just putting down how I as an individual feel. I didn’t “go in” on this situation (ie, write the commentary above) for nearly a week. Instead I observed. I listened. Not just to those directly involved, but those indirectly involved and impacted by it. There is a lot of talk in the Black community about this. Yes, there is a lot of talk everywhere about this, but I’m not addressing that here. I’m addressing what a growing number of Black people are feeling and beginning to express more openly than ever before; that this kind of scandal is constant and *we* as Black people overwhelming hide it.

    Many feel that there is an “old guard” that is responsible for this kind of conduct. Until this latest incident, many in the community have felt powerless to take on said guard, for fear of being retaliated against or blacklisted (no pun). Those fears aren’t irrational or unfounded- they’re based on witnessing the experiences of others who have attempted to hold wrong-doers accountable.

    This may be a side of our community that you are not familiar with because it has been so hush-hush- but to say it plainly, corruption is rampant. Bold, underline rampant- probably everywhere, but I’m not talking about that- again, I’m talking about the Black community; the Seattle NAACP, the Seattle UL, CAMP, just to name a few.

    There is a feeling within the community of “finally!” it’s all out in the open, “finally” we can talk about those “leaders” who sooooooo many don’t consider or respect or want as leaders, but who the greater Seattle area views as such. Perception is not reality in this case. The mask has cracked. It’s falling apart.

    I’ll speak candidly for myself here. As a writer, commentator, reporter who is Black and has ties and ins to that community, I have in the past purposely not written commentaries or articles about at least 5 of the individuals named. I didn’t talk about them on the radio. Each time I knew about “incidents” involving them or the orgs they’re associated with, I had to carefully weigh the pros and cons. Telling a story about something or suffering the consequences of telling those stories. I have a family, I have children for goodness sake. Dealing with the crap that comes from speaking critically of prominent people in the Black community wasn’t worth it. If I were a full time writer for the Seattle Times or the PI or the AP- that would have changed the situation entirely. But I’m not. So when folks like me write something that makes people mad, you have a situation like the Deputy Mayor- who is Black- make a “friendly” call to your boss -who is a prominent Black business owner- and suddenly you’re out on your keester. Happens all the time in this community. I’m not the first, certainly not the last. You rock the boat, they toss you overboard, with no concern.

    I feel like School Board President Maier right now; let me apologize for not putting the things I knew out there when I did. Because the truth is, I still would have gotten a lot of crap for it, and had to deal with a lot of stress…but then all of THIS would have still happened. It would have been worth it in the end. The truth would have won. That was my lesson as it related to the current situtation, and I’ve learned it.

  7. Jim Eddy permalink
    March 3, 2011 1:18 pm

    Thanks for the thoughtful and insightful reply. I appreciate, and really appreciate your take and perspective. Keep up the great work.

  8. March 4, 2011 1:39 am

    Thanks Jim!

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