Viewpoint

Desperation leads politicians to do and say strange things. These are desperate times for the once invincible PPP. We are hearing some very strange things from the PPP’s quarters.

Former Oklahoma University fraternity member Levi Pettit recently stood before a bank of cameras and microphones flanked by a bevy of black elected officials, ministers and civil rights leaders at a black church in Oklahoma City. He apologized for his racially insensitive acts and ignorance. This was the act of a sincere young man who has been battered from pillar to post after the video surfaced of he, and his frat pals, carousing on a bus and shouting racist epithets.

Martese Johnson, 20, learned a lesson many before him have been taught: that African-American achievements and accomplishments are not a shield against a racist system. Earlier this week I participated in a PBS NewsHour Twitter chat on race and millennials. We discussed members of the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter, a white fraternity founded in the antebellum South, being caught on video singing one of their traditional songs about hanging “niggers” from trees.

Ferguson will hold municipal elections April 7. The mayor and five of the six city councilpersons are white. Three are up for re-election. Since Michael Brown was gunned down by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, the one loud refrain has repeatedly been how could a city where African-Americans make up the overwhelming majority of the population be policed by a nearly all-white police force, and governed by a nearly all-white city administration? The thought was that the Brown slaying angered and engaged so many thousands that it was almost a done deal that the first chance black residents got they’d jam the polls and revamp city government in Ferguson.

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