Trouble in the ’hood 

My next-door neighbor was robbed at gunpoint while I was on vacation.

We learned later that the robber had cased four houses on the street — newly lit with street lamps — before deciding which one to rob, perhaps by eyeballing the occupants when they were drawn outside by tripped electrical breakers.

The robbery followed several others in the neighborhood, including the carjacking of a young woman a few blocks away.

Good news came to our unsettled neighborhood Monday, Thanks to evidence gathered in the abduction, a warrant was issued. The suspect turned himself in and it looks like he'll be charged with all my neighborhood's crimes, plus more.

Small world. It turns out I was about 10 blocks from the suspected robber's Twelfth Street house Saturday afternoon. I was at a parking lot rally for School Board member Micheal Daugherty, whose bid for re-election was to be decided after we went to press this week. His election, predictably, has split on racial lines. Daugherty is black, part of a four-member black ruling majority. His opponent, Anna Swaim, is white. The district is majority black.

Swaim seemed the better candidate. She shares my views on some important issues, but she also seemed more likely to improve transparency and order on a School Board that has lacked it. Still, I was sympathetic to Daugherty. The Pavlovian financial support of Swaim by white business executives, some with no ties now or ever to public schools, seemed motivated too much by race. Yes, there are fair questions about cronyism, backroom dealing and competence. But these subjects rarely stirred the business community when they could be applied to white board members. I found insulting and patronizing the frequently expressed view that the black board members only cared about patronage, power and lining John Walker's pockets, not children.

That's not what I heard at Daugherty's campaign rally Saturday. I heard black people ask, with true mystification, what made white executives fear black board members so. I heard them note the failure of the Little Rock School District to lift black students beyond the state average, even as it has become a magnet for high-achieving white students and even as tens of millions have been spent to accomplish more for minorities. I heard them say repeatedly that the number of schools judged in need of improvement was still rising. I heard them say that too little concern existed for black students' poor outcomes when a white majority was in charge. And I heard cries of sincere frustration over the sure toll of this failure, particularly for black males. They fall behind, they are shunted to “alternative” classrooms, and they soon graduate to crime and prison.

This brings us neatly back to the young man who robbed my neighbor. He turned 18 in March. He'd left school behind to live with a girlfriend and child. Given the ingenuity with which he pursued his criminal occupation, he must be teachable. But reachable? That's tougher. It's one reason I won't ascribe selfish motives to the people I heard Saturday. Time after time, they asked not for jobs or payoffs, but to be given a chance to deliver where white leadership has failed their kids, with the result of crushing damage to their neighborhoods and society. Whatever the election outcome, their voices deserve to be heard.


From the ArkTimes store


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Piazza gets off city campaign finance case

    Circuit Judge Chris Piazza has recused from hearing the city of Little Rock lawsuit against the state Ethics Commission and two mayoral candidates, Warwick Sabin and Frank Scott Jr., over their use of exploratory committees to raise money to prepare for a race for mayor against Mark Stodola.
    • Jan 23, 2018
  • Tuesday: Open line and the daily video

    Here's the open line. Also the news roundup on a deadly day.
    • Jan 23, 2018
  • Another school shooting, more dead

    A 15-year-old student opened fire after entering a Kentucky high school today, leaving two students dead and a dozen wounded. The shooter is in custody.
    • Jan 23, 2018
  • More »

More by Fritz Brantley

  • The incredible shrinking Huckabee

    Plus: COPS!
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • Going whole hog

    A Q&A with irreverent Arkansas-raised comedian Matt Besser
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • The Week That Was, Dec. 20

    The UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS. After our deadline last week, they landed a football coach, the collegiately successful — but personality-challenged — Bobby Petrino. Petrino fled a losing record with the Atlanta Falcons, who hurled insults at him in his wake.
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • Along the civil rights trail

    A convergence of events in recent days signaled again how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in civil rights.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • The Oval outhouse

    One thing all Americans finally can agree upon is that public discourse has coarsened irretrievably in the era of Donald Trump and largely at his instance.
    • Jan 18, 2018

Most Shared

  • USS Little Rock trapped in Canadian ice

    The USS Little Rock, launched Dec. 24 in Buffalo, is moored in Montreal because of the sudden buildup of impassable ice.
  • Arts Center reveal set for end of February

    The public should get its first view of what the expanded Arkansas Arts Center will look like by the end of February, Director Todd Herman told the Arts Center's board of trustees today.
  • Toad Suck, Museum of Discovery link up for STEM education

    Toad Suck Daze, the annual festival sponsored by the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce and Little Rock's Museum of Discovery have announced a partnership to put a STEM education program in more than two dozen Central Arkansas elementary schools.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Along the civil rights trail

    A convergence of events in recent days signaled again how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in civil rights.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • Hiding Hog money

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this week reported that a University of Arkansas response to an open records request shows UA officials regularly communicate with the Razorback Foundation, which supports UA athletics. Duh.
    • Dec 21, 2017
  • In black and white

    The men and women who patrol Little Rock in black and white vehicles tell a story in black and white.
    • Dec 7, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Sex crusaders

    • Caitlyn Flanagan made some very valid points. It is unfair to paint all men with…

    • on January 22, 2018
  • Re: On Oprah

    • All Oprah did was create a large, well-monied empire built on currying favor and pimping…

    • on January 22, 2018

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation