Favorite

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.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

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…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

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

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Caution: government at work

    I have several government targets this week.
    • Oct 19, 2017
  • Pork barrel III

    Mike Wilson, the Jacksonville lawyer and former state representative, for the third time last week won a victory for the Arkansas Constitution and taxpayers and set back pork barreling.
    • Oct 12, 2017
  • Fishy lawmaking

    Last week, the legislature decided not to press a fight that could have further upended a balance of power in Arkansas already tilted too far in favor of the legislative branch.
    • Oct 5, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

October

S M T W T F S
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 Viewed

  • Cotton to CIA?

    Political junkies without a real election to overanalyze fill the void with "what if?" scenarios. With the State Fair underway, consider this column a helping of cotton candy for such readers.
  • Caution: government at work

    I have several government targets this week.
  • The casting couch

    Long ago and far away, I had an academic superior who enjoyed sexually humiliating younger men. There was unwanted touching — always in social situations — but mainly it was about making suggestive remarks, hinting that being a "hunk" was how I'd got hired.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Caution: government at work

    • As to the AR Chamber of Commerce-DO NOT FORGET it supports passage of SJR8, which…

    • on October 19, 2017
  • Re: The casting couch

    • Freedom from fear is a human right.

    • on October 19, 2017
  • Re: Cotton to CIA?

    • I think Cotton's nature will always be pro war, pro guns, increased defense budget, unrestricted…

    • on October 19, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation