Saturday, February 12, 2011

Open Letter to Sam Carson, Sr.

Dear Mr. Carson,
Today, your nephew, Congressman Andre Carson, spoke eloquently and openly about what it takes to serve this community. He said it takes serious people with the "heart for public service." Now, I know you have a good deal of your mother, Julia Carson, in you, so I won't question your heart. I will, however, question your racially-charged comments earlier today.

Just the other day, you announced out of the blue that you were running for Mayor of Indianapolis. You did this with little or no warning. You have done little or no work to gain support or raise the kind of funds that will be necessary to win, and, frankly, few people knew that much about you.

Today, I saw you at the slating convention, and I resisted the urge to walk up to you and ask why you were running. You and I have never met, and it's certainly your right to run. I've heard that you supported Governor Daniels for re-election. Again, that's your prerogative. I, too, have voted for the occasional Republican. I was content to just leave it alone and talk to you another time.

Then, as I was leaving, someone told me that you had spoken with Abdul-Hakim Shabazz about Chairman Ed Treacy's comments on you entering the race. Let me just say, I was horrified to read what you told Abdul. You said that Chairman Treacy's admittedly harsh words were equivalent to him calling you a, "dumb n****r." That, my friend, was uncalled for, and I believe it has no place in our public discourse. You are entitled to your own opinion, but I cannot disagree with you more.

Let's provide a little background.

Sam, your mother is the reason that I'm in politics. I honor her memory, and I think about her often and smile. I was her "Decatur Boy", and she was my Congresswoman. I think back to seeing her smile and getting my Julia hugs. I felt pain when people would criticize her, and I was devastated when she passed.

You must know that Julia and Ed Treacy butted heads a few times, but they worked together in this city and in this party to make our Democratic tickets look like our voters. They did the job well. Candidates from all different backgrounds were elected.

Now, you look at our current county ticket. We have a vibrant and excellent ticket of talented individuals. This county is ready to move forward with them. Then, you have to take the light away from them with your use of a word so vile and so racially charged that people shut down at the mere mention of it.

From your comments, I can only be led to believe that you are trying to make this out to be a black and white issue. It's not. Ed Treacy wasn't insulting your intelligence or your race in his statement. He was merely stating what some would call the obvious. Nearly everyone was puzzled by your decision to run. He was raising serious questions about your qualifications for an office like the Mayor's Office. We have had four years of a man who clearly didn't have the "capacity" to do the job, and I think we have seen the results.

Therefore, I urge you to reconsider entering the race for Mayor. You seem to believe that the office is about the person running for it. It's not. We need serious leaders that have serious solutions. Utilizing the "N" word in a public discourse in response to someone merely questioning your qualifications for the job doesn't show that serious commitment to our city. Saying things like this shows that you want to take this election into the depths, and I just don't think that's going to bring us a job or prevent one crime.

Mr. Carson, I don't know what motivated you to run, but, please think about how you are going to conduct this campaign before you do it. We need serious solutions to move our city and county forward and not racially-charged rhetoric. We need to be brought together not broken apart.

Words like yours only undermine what we can do as a united community. Come and be a part of the conversation your mother helped start.