by Rosetta Miller Perry
Many decades ago Fannie Lou Hamer, American voting and women’s rights activist, community organizer, and a leader in the civil rights movement, said “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Today The Tribune paraphrases that by saying we are incredibly disgusted, as well as being sick and tired, of seeing Nashville mayors overlook and ignore qualified Black males for positions in their administration. It makes things even worse when they personally claim to be concerned about this issue, then turn around and do the exact opposite when it is time for hiring.
In a recent meeting in our community about the upcoming mayoral race many in the African American community let it be known that we are sick and tired of white administrators recycling a handful of familiar Blacks from administration to administration. They don’t do that with the white community, there’s a constant turnover and recruitment of fresh faces, even as they find room for the handful of folks whose career consists of floating from administration to administration.
But in Nashville it seems there’s a small circle of Blacks who keeps being appointed from administration to ‘administration. The implication is that this select circle is qualified, and therefore we must hire that “elite” Black crew out there because no other Blacks in Nashville are qualified. This process denies many others the chance to obtain key, high profile jobs, no matter their qualifications. This policy also displays ignorance of and contempt for the Black community as a whole.
Let’s also be clear we’re not singling out individuals, but examining a trend and criticizing a policy. A recent announcement that a Black female had joined the Office of Economic and Community Development as manager of the Music City Council and of special projects (MC2). Her past experience with the sports and entertainment agency CAA should help “leverage partnerships in the community” the mayor said, to maximize MC2’s effectiveness.
Well all that may well be true, but we ask again why is it seemingly impossible for any mayor to put qualified Nashville Black males in similar positions? But for some reason, it is seen as a detriment or disadvantage. Did you ever hear Nashvillians talk about hiring qualified white males? Is being a qualified Black male a Term of Endearment for Nashville’s Black male population? The Tribune always has and always will champion opportunities for everyone; women, Latinos, the LGBTQ community, etc. But we’re angry because it seems there’s no place in any Nashville administration for Black men. We just saw one highly qualified person lose his position partly because of an ignorant black under achiever black gal and in large part because of his refusal to be subservient to people who lacked even half his expertise, education or experience on the very issues he was hired to facilitate.
While some folks want to waste time and energy on issues like the police chief, who I do support, and someone who while far from perfect like all of us, has actually tried to address issues in his department. The time has long since passed when high-minded rhetoric can substitute for tangible action. The NAACP should insist that the city be required to hire those TSU Black male graduates into entry level positions so one day they will be in the position just like the young white male college graduates that are hired in city entry level position and years later become supervisors in the city administration and deny the next generation of black male city positions. We want statistics, the community needs to know how many entry level whites vs blacks did the city hire in the last 2 years? What is the plan for those running for mayor?
Not only are we, the Tribune and the overall Black community, sick and tired of being sick and tired, but we’re also going to seriously look at the hiring record of the next administration. Sounding good and doing nothing is no longer a viable campaign strategy. Recycling the same ole Negroes in nothing positions is not an option for our community in 2019.
Enough is enough.