Monday, February 21, 2005

More news from Waco

Waco's First African American Mayor Dies

Although my blog is beginning to seem obsessed with it, I haven't really kept up with the goings-on in Waco. So I didn't know that Waco had elected Mae Jackson last year, a woman who is being remembered as "a unifier of races and social classes."

Baylor students used to like to tell this joke around the lunch table: pour a pile of salt on the table, then pour black pepper around it. What's that? Baylor. Ha. None of us white students seemed to give much thought to why that was the case or how the people living in the neighborhoods around Baylor felt about this private college full of mostly pretty well-off white people in their midst. None of us white students ever talked much about the politics and ethics of living off the labor of Black people, even though Black folks from the city were clearly visible around campus, doing lots of hard and often unpleasant manual labor.

And then in summer 2003, a Baylor basketball player disappears. He's Black. He's been murdered. And the white coach circulates a rumor that the player was dealing drugs, trying to cover up the money the athletics program was handing him under the table.

That white coach is forced to resign, finally, when a Black assistant coach hands over taped conversations with him. The last I heard, that assistant coach is a persona non grata, without so much as a job.

So, yeah, some racial politics going down in Waco, fueled pretty strongly by the Baptist college on the banks of the Brazos. Now that there's a regime change at Baylor, let's hope the city will have sense enough to go for some consistency: sounds like another leader like Mae Jackson wouldn't be a bad idea.

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