Marion Brothers

Marion Brothers

Friday, April 27, 2007

HAT TIP to Bud Kennedy

From Eddie Griffin (BASG)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Mark those that sow seeds of discord among neighbors. A Hat Tip goes to Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy for marking such a man. His “In Farmers Branch, if it’s not bigotry, it’s snobbery” (04/26/07) was one of the best READS of the week.

What we have is a man traveling around the state instigating Texas townships to enact local ordinances prejudicial to the Hispanic and Latino community. His name is Tim O’Hare from the City of Farmers Branch, which recently made national news for its anti-immigration ordinances, sparking a grassroots fire in the Immigration Debate.

Tim O’Hare led the charge to enact city ordinances that would: 1) Prevent undocumented immigrants from renting apartments; 2) Provide federal training to local law enforcement to round up all the illegal immigrants; and 3) Bar any business transition to be done in any other language than English. The anti-Spanish law was meant to ‘send a message’, O’Hare said to a group of Republican woman, who invited him to speak in Fort Worth on Wednesday.

O’Hare, who is a member of the church of Christ, claims that he is no racist. His concern is about preserving and protecting the community’s property value and spurring economic development. He sees illegal immigrants as cause of economic deterioration in Farmers Branch. Many people see it the same way across the country. The problem, as he sees it, should have been fixed 20 years ago.

I assume the Hispanics and Latinos moved in after properties were either abandoned or hard to sell. It would be hard to imagine that they invaded the Texas town like the Alamo. And, I assume they were accepted into the community, around the state, and around the country at a time when the law winked at illegal immigration. Now Tim O’Hare wants to right the ship and lead Texas into another non-shooting war with our neighbors south of the border. Though he does not say it, many people advocate mass deportation, notwithstanding some Hispanic families have lived in the state longer that Texas has been in the Union.

All of this seems insidious, except there is a wave of sentiment sweeping the nation on the Immigration Question and pending legislation before the US Congress and state legislature. In order to protect their economic investment in property, O’Hare and others would uproot all 12 million immigrants and send them back to Mexico.

The issue of race is the headliner for this debate. Though O’Hare claims not to be a racist, his elitist protection of property and wealth is the class basis of racism. When city governments began writing laws that negatively impacts upon a select race of people- forbidding them to speak their native language, forcing them to live outside the city limits, and subjecting them to apprehension and detention based on their ethnicity- that is institutional racism. This is a fact by definition and cannot be altered simply because someone feels that racism is something else.

I have dealt with this issue extensively in previous essays in relationship to the Immigration Debate. Recounted below are excerpts and links to references to Eddie Griffin's previous articles related to the Farmers Branch anti-immigration controversy and its hidden connections with racism.


Un-neighborly Neighbors in Farmers Branch
By Eddie Griffin

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.

Oops! There goes the neighborhood in Farmers Branch. The City Council wrote an ordinance aimed at their Hispanic neighbors that would thrash out the illegals among them and deny them basic rights. They deny them the right to speak their own language, declaring English to be the “town’s official language”, according to the Star-Telegram editorial, “The wrong road” (11/15/2006 edition). They would also deny them the right to shelter.

One arrogant blogger extolled the City Council by declaring that council members took “guts” to stand up for the rule of law. Does that make the law sacred, simply because it is an ordinance enacted by man? There is a greater law.

Post Reflections on the article above

This article highlights the frailty of manmade laws. It is a religious argument about how to treat strangers and neighbors. But it sets up the next article that shows how laws crafted by racist intent- that is, to protect and preserve “white rule”.

Race Card Trumps Issue
By Eddie Griffin

November 25, 2006

I saw the term “race card” mentioned repeatedly some letters to the editor purportedly as a backlash to an article written by Bob Ray Sanders, entitled “Small-minded laws for a small Texas city”. [See, “The law in Farmers Branch”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 11/25/2006].

The legislation of Jim Crow ordinances was classic racism. The enforcement of Jim Crow laws was also racist, though it was the law of the land in the South, enacted by people who vehemently opposed to being characterized as prejudice. No, they were not bigots, but honest citizens creating laws to preserve the order of nature as God ordained. So also are the misguided sentiments of honest citizens in Farmers Branch with their anti-immigration sanctions. But these new ordinances do not pass the taste, feel, and touch test to be racist, according to small town standards in Texas.

Post Reflections on the article above

The key point here is that racism is unrecognizable to itself. People assume that all laws are good laws, especially if it favors them and disfavors the other guy. We call it “equality under the law”, but the law itself is unequal. This is how the playing field got to be so un-level and how it was kept that way for so long. During the rule of bad laws, prejudicial laws, customs, and practice, everybody else accumulated their wealth and carved out their little piece of the rock. By the time the minority races became eligible to own a piece of the rock, all properties were already taken by colonialists and their descendants.

To own, you must buy. But you can only buy what the colonialists are willing to sell, and always they keep the best for themselves and their posterity. This is where Tim O’Hare finds himself- protecting a piece of the rock in Texas handed down by the colonialists to their descendants by way of silver spoon and laws crafted to keep it that way.

There was an era in Fort Worth history when white homeowners put signs in their front yard saying, “This property is not for sell to Colored”.

Farmers Branch Immigrant Laws: Is it Racism?
By Eddie Griffin

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A story written by columnist Bob Ray Sanders in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, entitled “Small-minded laws for a small Texas city”, generated an onslaught of angry reader responses because it implied that the new Farmers Branch anti-immigration ordinances were racist.

One reader writes: “Farmers Branch residents have every right to pass these ordinances, and if Sanders doesn’t like them, who cares… Sanders should be ashamed of what he wrote, and he owes an apology to the council”.

Another writes of Sander’s critique: “ He plays the race card every time he gets a chance… He labels those who disagree with him as bigots. It makes me wonder who the bigot is”.

Still another writes: “Sanders has to be the ultimate racist. Any criticism leveled at someone with darker skin prompts him to toss out the race card.”

Post Reflections on the article above

For a long time in Texas, there was a racist practice that used to irk me and still irk black people- and, that is, when white folks make you apologize for something you never did. Not until the new millennium, have I ever saw a white man apologize to a black man for anything, for any wrong done to him- not in Texas. Never! But instead of angering me, it angers others because I say I have never seen it- as if I am supposed to see something that I have not seen or keep quiet about.

The writer who called Sanders “the ultimate racist” reminded me of how CBS Mike Wallace turned to table on Malcolm X by accusing him of the same. The above essay looks at that 1965 encounter and Malcolm’s response, and why it is relevant in today’s discussion on race.

We started out with our focus on Farmers Branch and its anti-immigration ordinances. But it degenerated by shifting the critique off the issue at hand and onto a reporter who called it as he saw it. This revealed a pattern of denial and shifting the blame, dating back to the time when blacks were forced to apologize for the slave master errors.

Why didn’t you tell me that I left the barn door open? It’s all your fault.

To some degree or another, this is the black man’s burden.


  1. Great post. I love this Afrospear idea that some people have been working on, but honestly I'm a little concerned that if separatism is taken too far, it could eventually hurt everyone - black, white and others. Reading what you wrote here gives me a lot of hope for great teamwork and improvements in America in the future.

    I have much respect for anyone who fought for rights in the 60's. Proud to have you helping lead the second wave. I hope people will remember this: Abolitionists and Suffragettes have always supported eachother.

  2. Thank you anne. I do not believe in separatism. I live in a city with a decent balance of power among the races. And, I go to a church of Christ congregation, comprised of one-third black, white, and brown. But sometimes it is necessary to speak among ourselves as "family", out of the mainstream. We are "family", by culture and heritage. Even in a melting pot, we are all still individual ingredients.

  3. Thank you for saying that, Eddie. I understand you personally are not a separatist, and because of your background and accomplishments, I think your opinion must count for a lot. I completely support the AfroSpear for the reasons you state. I'm just concerned about some young hot-headed bloggers who have drawn an invisible line and called the rest of the blogosphere, the "whiteosphere." I think past a certain point that stops being constructive and some black people (not you) may be in danger of sinking to the level of white separatists. I'm glad you're here as a role model for strength and reason.

    Is it o.k. if I give you a link and make you my "cool website of the day"?

  4. Thanks for stopping by my place. I respect your opinion. Of course you know what you need to do better than I do.

    If it's all the same to you, I'll continue my fight in a different way, but with the same goal in mind. It's the best way I know how for me, under the circumstances (being that I'm white and all). I refuse to think of myself as part of the whiteosphere, though. Some whites (the type you and I don't particularly care for) would be happy to have an exclusive whiteosphere. I don't want any part of that sort of whiteosphere. Maybe I would be happier in a grayosphere or rainbowsphere.

    I've always wondered about white privilege. I'm well aware that black people get treated badly, but I have never knowingly gotten a better job or apartment or anything like that because of my lighter skin. I always told myself that if I found a way to purposely use my color to my advantage, I would use it for good instead of evil. Blogging seems to be the answer for me. White people seem to naturally gravitate to my blog more than black people do. I didn't plan it that way. It just happens. If I can use that fact to slip in some educational and anti-racism information, and make white people think a little, then I will. It's the right thing to do.


  5. So if a hispanic agrees with Tim O'Hare and the recently passed ordinance against illegal aliens in Farmers Branch, does that make the hispanic a racist?

  6. Anonymous said...
    So if a hispanic agrees with Tim O'Hare and the recently passed ordinance against illegal aliens in Farmers Branch, does that make the hispanic a racist?

    Rest assured that only ANONYMOUS would ask this question. Back in the day, we would call a black turncoat an "oreo". Is there a cookie that is brown on the outside and white on the inside?

    Call them what you will, ANONYMOUS. There were always people like Tim O'Hare during the Underground Railroad trying to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law, under the pompous exaltation of the "rule of law". What good is the rule of law when enforcement means prejudice against the defenseless, on the one hand, and presidential commutations for cronies like Scooter Libby, et al., on the other.

    You tell me, ANONYMOUS. Which way is North?