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Elephant in room needs a name

Letter to the Editor

By Edward Wolff (Jonesborough)

Last Monday, the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) met to select a replacement for Jerome Fitzgerald. Mayor Wolfe nominated Adam Dickson, noting that there had been an African-American on the BMA for numerous years. The “word” went out that the Mayor’s action might be challenged. A host of people attended the meeting to support Mr. Dickson.

Interestingly, where did the people sit to support Mr. Dickson? The African-Americans sat on one side of the room. European-Americans sat on the other side. When Mayor Wolfe spoke of his resignation, he spoke before the European-Americans, but not in the center of the room. Dr. Kennedy spoke for Mr. Dickson. He is not a member of the African-American community.

First of all, I want to state that I believe none of the dynamics were intentional. None of the actions, from anyone, was racially motivated. I’m not sure many people thought about it. This, unfortunately for me, is what usually happens. Racism is subtle.

Some months back, two of us visited the town administrator about jobs for people of color. He assured us that everything was being done to make that happen. I don’t challenge him. I also went before the Washington County Commission, citing that there are no formal data to evaluate diversity in the employment area.

Why do I mention this?

I do not have many answers. I do know we have to continue to name the elephant in the room.