Southern Dallas' Empire of Failure Wasn't Built by Democrats

Categories: Schutze

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A signed essay in Sunday's Dallas Morning News by editorial writer Tod Robberson suggested the historical lock-step loyalty of black southern Dallas voters to the Democratic Party has done them little good.

It's safe to say something has done southern Dallas little good.

In recent decades the overall saga of black people in the Dallas area has been a story of dramatic success. But not in southern Dallas. In southern Dallas, where incomes are a third what they are in North Dallas, the black population has been steadily dropping over the last decade.

But black population has been growing in the same suburbs where income growth is greatest. Performance of black students in Dallas schools has continued to be so abysmal that experts are calling the schools a K-to-Prison pipeline. But a hefty majority of black students in some northern suburbs pass end-of-year tests with flying colors, and many are at the tops of their classes.

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Robberson's not wrong. Southern Dallas is an empire of failure for black people. But it is also pointedly an empire of failure contrary to the success of black people who manage to get the hell out of it. It is poisoned ground -- poisoned by a monstrous historical error. More on that in a moment.

But first, do we blame all of this on the Democrats? I have to admit there is a part of me that would delight in doing just that, if for no other reason than to cast light on the utter and execrable failure of the Dallas County Democratic Party to accomplish one single damn thing as a champion of the interests of poor and oppressed people. Drive across the blasted landscapes of southern Dallas where poverty hangs thick as smoke in the air, and you will conclude people there would be better off bringing in a chapter of the National Action Party, the party of right-wing oligarchs in Mexico.

Oh, but wait again. That is what they already do in southern Dallas. Southern Dallas' elected leaders consistently jump at the end of puppet strings held by the private oligarchical Dallas Citizens Council. See, that's my problem with Robberson's paradigm: Southern Dallas really can't move any farther to the right than it already is.

In 2007 black southern Dallas votes organized by paid brokers were essential to the mayoral election of Tom Leppert, an opportunistic ultra-rightist. That same year black votes were harvested once again by the Citizens Council to defeat a referendum that would have required the Trinity River toll road be built somewhere other than on a dangerous alignment inside flood control levees.

Sometimes southern Dallas politicians and preachers even dress up their well-paid support for the oligarchs in terms filched from the Civil Rights movement, which has to be some kind of political sacrilege. In 2009 Dallas hotel-owner Harlan Crow opposed the creation of a city-owned convention hotel on purely business grounds, arguing it was a mistake for the city to mobilize tax-money subsidies in unfair competition with privately owned hotels. For that, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price gave a speech linking Crow to "Jim Crow" segregation.

The dependence of southern Dallas leaders on rich white people has important historical roots. Famed Dallas minister Zan Holmes, pastor emeritus of St. Luke Community Methodist Church, made a passing oblique reference to those roots when he spoke recently to a City Council retreat. Asked by black city council member Carolyn Davis if it was true southern Dallas clergy had been hostile to Martin Luther King Jr. during his few visits here, Holmes, himself a famous and tough crusader for integration and equal rights, said the hostility had been a product of a "denominational dispute" in the black church.

Sometimes in the oversimplified universe of high school textbooks and really bad movies, we forget how complicated life is really. In this matter, we may miss the fact that lots of black people were in favor of segregation. Before the movement years in the late '50s through early '70s, black America was intellectually divided between followers of W.E.B. Du Bois, who called for confrontation and integration, and Marcus Garvey, who thought black people were better off with a system of separate equality, otherwise known as segregation.

Southern Dallas has always been a capital of Marcus Garvey-style racial separatism. In the cities when big things happened back in the movement years, all of that separatism business got blown out of the water as Uncle Tom-foolery. As a big city where it has survived intact, Dallas is unique and anomalous.

It's a phenomenon that continues to operate at the most basic level of city politics in Dallas. We saw it again only recently when black City Council members competed to see which one could out-sing the others in praising a city manager who had just been caught red-handed lying to the council to help a gas drilling company. We are about to see it again in the fight for school reform.

It's a mentality that is OK having kids who will never read, write or count and are sentenced to lives of serial imprisonment and Third World income levels. All of that is acceptable. A sliver of the pie is the best we can hope for. And the pie only always and only comes from the rich white man.

That doesn't mean southern Dallas votes Republican, because there is very little about the Dallas Citizens Council that is Republican. Harlan Crow is a Republican. The reason Tom Leppert's attempt at an ultra-right Senate candidacy never got off the ground was that Republican voters saw him for what he was really -- a country-club wise-guy willing to dabble in local socialism or anything else as long as he and his cronies got some money out of it. The true philosophy of the Dallas Citizens Council has always been, "Let's you and me raid your piggy bank."

So the empire of failure in southern Dallas really doesn't tell us anything useful about Democrats and Republicans. What it tells us is that separation doesn't work. Think about it. What are you and the rich guys going to separate first? The money. And how is that going to work out for you, do you figure? The really big question at the end of the day is this: Is that deal OK with you? Do you not think you can do better? For example, how about the whole damn pie, a fork, a napkin and cup of coffee?

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60 comments
DallasJarhead
DallasJarhead

"Personal responsibility is the name of the game" The citizens of South Dallas have nobody else to blame but themselves. It takes about 60 seconds to walk in and out to cast a vote. Also, it isn't very difficult to take a moment out of your day to do some research and vote for the best possible candidate. I have lived in Oak Cliff my whole life minus 4 years when I served in the Corps and not one person mentality has changed. They are quick to blame others or the "white man" for the poor choices they have made in life. It is an endless cycle that will never end and I am tired of trying to talk any sense to anybody around here. 

lzippitydoo
lzippitydoo

When you have John Wiley, Craig Watkins, Al Lipscomb, Dianre Ragesdale etc.. - and they were and kept getting re-elected, the representation has been severly hampered over the years!

PerryMoore
PerryMoore

The people of South Dallas get what they settle for, just like white folks in the country. The problem that skews their natural inclination to do better is that they can't see past that check in the mailbox.

pgrove1704
pgrove1704

Ok, so that's politics in general. Yes the Black Voters of Dallas are sometimes duped; but aren't all voters subject to trickery from time to time? I was and am still in favor of the Convention Center Hotel. I dine there often and frankly am pleased by the amount of Blacks employed there. They're working, some are putting themselves through school I would imagine. So I count it as a win. Regarding Mary Suhm; did she handle that deal (mineral lease on public park land) 100% correct? No. Did she personally profit from it? No one has made that claim. Is she the best city manager that Dallas has had in a very long time? Yes. So why the fuss? It's not about race (all the time) sometime it's about why fire someone who's going a good job?

pgrove1704
pgrove1704

Ok, so that's politics in general. Yes the Black Voters of Dallas are sometimes duped; but aren't all voters subject to trickery from time to time? I was and am still in favor of the Convention Center Hotel. I dine there often and frankly am pleased by the amount of Blacks employed there. They're working, some are putting themselves through school I would imagine. So I count it as a win. Regarding Mary Suhm; did she handle that deal (mineral lease on public park land) 100% correct? No. Did she personally profit from it? No one has made that claim. Is she the best city manager that Dallas has had in a very long time? Yes. So why the fuss? It's not about race (all the time) sometime it's about why fire someone who's going a good job?

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

"So the empire of failure in southern Dallas really doesn't tell us anything useful about Democrats and Republicans."   Vote farming is not party specific, it's all about power and money.  The shame is that residents of south Dallas are happy with separation and either don't care or don't recognize they are being played to their own detriment..

lisa.dawn
lisa.dawn

Great article in explaining the truth of what is going on in Dallas. Currently almost all of the political and economic decisions are made outside of our communities--and often outside our country--without our participation or voice. Dallas leaders are controlled by a private mafia business which under the guise of doing good and charity, steal from the programs that are supposed to ensure that the most vunerable people and communities are helped. How did this happen?? This private mafia business that controls Dallas leaders have skillfully manipulated our nations jurisdiction to "offshore" and this private business often creates both a victim and perpetrator to further their agenda. The public/private partnership makes this scenario possible. Resolution will never happen until this private criminal business is held accountable.

j.walter.miller
j.walter.miller

So it's actually the white guys fault that the black leaders from down south sell their own constituents down the river?  Accountability is not in Jim's vocabulary.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

In the interest of Occam's Razor, it would have been quicker to just blame Democrats pre-1980, when the state flipped over to Republican.

Same bunch or their spawn.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

South- Southern Dallas will continue to have untold value until the actual  work is finished  .

Until then it is a place where the  financing of  ideas  to be offered , studied ,bickered over and finally put to pasture  is of more value to the movers and shakers of this town   than the land it self.

big_oj
big_oj

I just thought that his article was a bunch a bull. Do we need new people? Yes, but what will make you think Republicans are going to actually care for us people in the South? It was just non-sense. I'm just ready to vote off my School Board Member and my City Council Member this May.

Americano
Americano

So Southern Dallas Leaders (i.e. Democrats) jump at the puppet strings of eeviiil Whitey in the North?  Who is at fault here?  The Democrat Leaders who sacrifice what is best for their Constituents to line their own pockets?  Or the white guys who prey on the greed and weakness of the "Southern Dallas Leadership"?  I thought we were all responsible for our own behavior?  The evil white guys are called out for their behavior, but the weak, greedy Democrat leaders aren't held to account for theirs?  How can they be, we all know it's rich whitey's fault.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Culture is not static. Lockstep, blind loyalty to any cause usually proves to be counterproductive in the long run.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

I was gearing up to describe Leppert as something other than ultra rightist.  You said it twice, and left it there.  I'm squirming in my seat, "Aheming"  But, you addressed it.  Nice device there.  But, in hindsight, a cheap device!

[grins]

if6were9
if6were9

With every ground our society(the USA) makes......we have to remember that the basic foundation is one built upon protecting the wealthy landowners. The founders of this country set it up that way, and here in the microcosm of Dallas, that foundation is still firmly set. Mayor Rawlings was speaking nothing but truth, when he stated that the will of the majority came out in support of Ms.Suhm the other day. Being that the "will of the majority" is one backed by many $$$$$$-signs, and the Supreme Court(Citizens United) decision proved without a doubt the intentions of those said Founders. Their intentions, or their "will" if you may, will not be impinged by the "will" of the populous(in the psyches of the rich and powerful, the populous is the minority, since the populous has a minor sum of cash or influence, compared to the rich). Now, go back to your daily consuming habits. AMEN! :)

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

The Citizens Council only has a voice because of unbelievably low turn outs for elections in the city. These so-called political consultants we accord so much acclaim would be penny ante players in any other city. They move a few per cent of the vote, normally not significant. When only 5 per cent vote, it is a big deal. Absolutely no excuses exist in Dallas for not voting. Spread over two weeks, including weekends, you can even vote anywhere in the city. When people in South Dallas of what "they" did to them, those people need to look in the mirror. Get off your lazy behinds and vote. If turnouts were 30 or 40 per cent in every election, flunkies for the CC would be lost in the noise.

ptmoore2012
ptmoore2012

I don't agree that it is an exception. We have had or have a black Mayor, police chief, president, executive director at D/FW Airport, two Dallas city manager, Secretary of State, etc. South Dallas is a class issue not a race issue. You have the same problems in poor white areas. People who are still willing to vote for politicians like JWP, in the privacy of the voting booth, are telling you what they think of themselves. I'm not sure who is to blame or what is the cure, but blaming the Citizens Council is really silly. As for the schools, we have invested tens of millions of dollars - but elect a school board that is as dysfunctional as the Dallas City Council.   

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

The black flight issue you raise is interesting.  Evidently, something is going right for a few people.  Sadly, they are the exception to the rule.  There is plenty of blame to go around, but I think you have figured out that the next fight (school reform) could be the most determinative.  The children in south Dallas simply do not get the same education as their counterparts in other parts of the county.  Until that is fixed, how can anything else change?

ptmoore2012
ptmoore2012

The federal government required Dallas to go to single member districts. This did not take into account that the many minority residents from S. Dallas who are successfully quickly leave the city for the suburbs. Unless the people who live in S. Dallas elect better leaders they will continue to be victimized by the people they vote into office to represent them. Any business person who attends a single Dallas city council meeting will be loath to invest in Dallas. A contract is meaningless (gas drilling), the council is dysfunctional and you have to pay off local ministers and elected officials to get anything done. Bottom line. Unless voters in S. Dallas stand up for themselves and vote in honorable competent elected officials no one else can really do anything to help them.,    

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

The Democrats are the party of rich white people and poor black people.  South Dallas' problems come from rich white people preying on poor black people.

But don't blame the Democrats.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@pgrove1704 

Would you be willing to provide any examples of moral/political issues that cannot be relativized out of existence according to your dining pleasures?  What if, for example, they were serving stewed babies as an entree? Would you view it as a way to reduce future unemployment? 

director21
director21

@j.walter.miller I did not read from Jim's column the same thing you got out of it. I read it to say that the rich white guys were just doing what they always do to everybody and that the poor black guys willingly went along with it to the detriment of their own community because the rich, white guys gave them some crumbs from the country club dinner table, which is a lot better than from the dumpster behind McDonald's, though it is still only crumbs.

If you look at the way the minority members of the City Council and the CPC constantly vote against the best interest of their own communities hoping to curry favor with the DCC for themselves, then the picture becomes very clear. Those rich, white guys are not racists - they screw everybody equally, poor, white people included. The minority leaders in South Dallas just make it so easy for them to take advantage of the southern sector. People in South Dallas may as well give the DCC the pass codes to their bank accounts - if they have bank accounts.


wilme2
wilme2

@big_oj I hate to tell you some of the South Dallas candidates are running unopposed in May.  The time to get angry was before the March 1st filing deadline.

director21
director21

@big_oj I don't think Jim was suggesting that Republicans are going to take care of South Dallas, or anybody else but themselves, for that matter. I do, however, agree with you about voting out your elected leaders this May. They are a disgrace to the good citizens of South Dallas who deserve so much more than they are getting. Having been born and raised in Oak Cliff, I have seen how the southern sector has been treated for decades, and it is not pretty.

HangTheTexan
HangTheTexan

@TheCredibleHulk I culture is not static; and culture is the sum of all its individuals; then, it implies that those same individuals must also be evolving. To be against murder as a culture is a non-changing bedrock loyalty. Anyway, what is your point? I missed that.

director21
director21

@ptmoore2012 You are describing exactly what happens when elections are popularity contests rather than opportunities to enable the best and most competent leaders for the best interest of communities and the city as a whole. Looking ay who is leading us right now, it is difficult to find more than a few who truly do work for their constituents rather than for themselves.

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

Can't it be a class issue and a race issue, among a myriad of other issues?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@bealotcoolerifyoudid 

I don't know that black upward mobility is an exception. It may be the rule, and Southern Dallas may be the exception. Black success only looks like an exception, because we in the media almost never talk about it and focus on drive-bys instead. 

GuitarPlayer
GuitarPlayer

@everlastingphelps

"The Democrats are the party of rich white people and poor black people.  South Dallas' problems come from rich white people preying on poor black people."

Another thing pulled out of Phelps ass. The man who thinks he knows everything but wipes his ass with his bare fingers.

if6were9
if6were9

@everlastingphelps You must not have read what Schutze wrote on this blog, and just started typing away with your inane drivel. If you had, you'd have seen where he actually does blame the democrats for the problems of south Dallas, but not the whole enchilada plate of their(south Dallas) problems......it's like with most things in life, which i'm sure you've yet to learn, things are a bit more complicated than what your conservative republican(maybe libertarian) mind can handle; especially stuff that deals with the sociological and economical variety(heck, that shit is commie pinko crap after all to you flat-earthers, right?). I suppose what i'm saying is, is that both of the major parties are to blame, and it seems that's what Jim said. But, I also suppose that Jim typed in the article that a lot of it can be traced back to the Dallas Citizens Council, and i'm not too sure how many actual progressive democrats are actually sitting within the confines of that space. Enjoy your day for what's it worth! :)

big_oj
big_oj

@wilme2 @big_oj Caraway was the only one that is running unopposed. Lucky for me, my DISD District was the first to get someone to run against. For City Council, Hill has 3 other candidates running, while Atkins has another one running against him. There are 4 people running in the P.G. District that was created.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@HangTheTexan @TheCredibleHulk 

I was trying to say that everything changes, and people need to be cognizant of change and elect leaders that represent the best chance of negotiating the dynamics of change. Culture is not static.

The second sentence sums up the entire point I was trying to make. I don't consider "being against murder" a bedrock loyalty - more of a core value. Apples and oranges comparison, there.

 Lockstep, blind loyalty is the domain of the unthinking and the uncritical and will always result in a dysfunctional political atmosphere, eventually.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

@JimSX Black flight has gotten plenty of attention. It was the big reason for the the schools being closed in South Dallas and the political changes of Hispanics encroaching on "black" council seats. The complaint that the white seats remained unaffected in redistricting stemmed from their voters staying in place. Many black voters, particularly the kind that vote as a duty not a paycheck, left for the suburbs and the existing 4 black councilpersons did not like the impact on their holds on their seats as Hispanics filled in the vacuum.

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

@JimSX I think we are making (or at least trying to make) the same point.  My comment was meant to be specific to Southern Dallas.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@GuitarPlayer @everlastingphelps 

Lovely image. One always wonders from whence such things issue. Remind me to stand my distance when you play the guitar.

observist
observist topcommenter

@if6were9 What?  That's crazy talk.  Everything can be blamed entirely on either Democrats or Republicans (depending on which party you identify with.)

OakParkStudio
OakParkStudio

@HangTheTexan @OakParkStudio The price Southern Dallas pays for lackluster leadership due to an allegiance to Dallas Citizen's Council is "too damn high."

Take that as you will. Unless and until someone like the aforementioned McMillan steps up to make it an issue we will continue to debate it.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@HangTheTexan @OakParkStudio 

How about you hike up your drawers, OakPark, take a deep breath and tell us which part you do not support?

EricSUCKS
EricSUCKS

@JimSX - Guitar player is your biggest fan, Jim!  Aren't you proud?  He comes up with amazingly well-reasoned arguments like "horse fucker" and "wipes his ass with his bare fingers".

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