MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Our nation is embroiled in a divisive – but necessary debate – over race and racism in our politics, government, and justice system. Much of that roiling debate has been brought on by the words and actions of our current president – who is at best racially insensitive – and at worst a stone cold racist. Making accusations of racism should always be done carefully – and with valid proof to back up the charge.
Which brings us to last week’s mayoral campaign event for Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer. The keynote speaker was political operative and CNN commentator Angela Rye – who proceeded to label incumbent Mayor Jim Strickland a racist – and a throwback to old time Southern Dixiecrats – who used bigotry as a weapon.
Rye made the comments while admitting that she does not know Strickland. In fact, she was born and grew up in Seattle, Washington – and now lives in Washington, D.C. She knows nothing about Memphis or the current Mayor – other than what she is being fed apparently by the Sawyer campaign.
Here’s the thing. Political candidates run their campaigns any way they choose. And often they can get down and dirty. But charges of racism against Strickland by a hired mouthpiece is not just wrong – it’s disgraceful. And it cheapens real acts of bigotry that we see routinely. Now, Sawyer owns those words. And if she wants to be taken seriously, she will strongly – disavow them. And that’s my point of view. I’m Otis Sanford, for Local 24 News.