An Open Letter to Henri Brooks, Member of the Shelby County Commission

Dear Mrs. Brooks,
You were quoted in today’s Commercial Appeal newspaper as saying that Shelby County is a place where “everything is about race.” In the context of the issue that you were commenting on, race would never have been mentioned if you had not mentioned it. In regard to a piece of property at Lamar and Kyle which belongs to the county, a black man offered a proposal to buy the property and use the building on it to train men to fix home appliances. A white man asked the county to donate the land and building for use as a senior citizens’ center. Both ideas were decent ideas that would help people. The first idea was probably better, since the taxpayers would receive payment for the land. But before any vote had been taken, you (unless you were misquoted) made hurtful racial comments about “white colonialism.” Many of us who live in this county are sick of racism and racial arguments and comments. We want to build a community, and we can’t do that if people are constantly mentioning race, and injecting it as an issue where it doesn’t go. If you want to argue that the black man’s proposal was better for the citizens of Shelby County, you had every opportunity to do so, by pointing out that job training is needed in Memphis and that his proposal would pay the county for use of the land and building. But instead, you chose to make the issue about race, as if you expected the vote to go in favor of the white man’s proposal before a vote had even been taken. We must build a community beyond race if we hope to work our way off the “most miserable cities” list. I hope and pray that you will join with those of us of all races who want to quit jumping to racial conclusions when we disagree, for the good of our community and of our children. If you are not willing to do that, please resign from your post. Sincerely, John M. Shaw
Bartlett, TN