At Tuesday’s meeting of the Dallas County Commissioners’ Court, Commissioner John Wiley Price, a black, was heckled by whites using what he understood to be racial slurs regarding his alleged participation in forcing the resignation of an Election Commissioner who was a 24-year county employee. Following the session, Price exploded at the offending group that had been in the audience with “all of you are white. Go to hell.” Emphasizing that the following was NOT an apology, Wiley released this written statement:
In the absence of a fair and balanced media outlet in Dallas, I wanted to submit a statement that offers my perspective of an “encounter” that took place at Dallas County today. Unfortunately, my comments were broadcasted [sic] without the benefit and the full context which they were made.I have been patient and accommodating in every regard as it pertains to the recent resignation of a Dallas County employee. There are laws and business practices in place that govern the discussion of personnel matters and I will honor and respect them. I even went as far as to grant a candid one-on-one interview with the Dallas Morning News and have done countless interviews with others.
However, in open court today, after every considerate attempt to discuss the matter further, one of the speakers shot off a racial slur. “Chief Moolah” has its roots in a slang that was used against Italian immigrants and was later used by the same to defame or discredit African Americans. The speaker continued to use terms like “tribal” and his intent to make race an issue was obvious. “Nigger” is “Nigger,” spoken overtly or incognito.
My history and record will reflect that I am one whose tolerance is limited or non-existent when it comes to racial slurs. The comments were bad enough, but to have them hurled by a member of the Tea Party, known for their racial insensitivity, was more than I plan to absorb.
This is in no way an attempt to apologize to those with who felt the need to infuse race into an otherwise orderly meeting. But all of my friends, black, white and brown alike, are well aware that I am always willing to debate, but never at the expense of my race and my heritage. [CBS News Affiliate, Dallas]
Price had every right to state the above. It would have been better had he not spoken out but waited to write and issue the above. Further, the head of the Commissioner’s Court or even the highest County official should have taken the matter to a higher level to address all citizens who would attempt the same name calling to remind them of the rules of order at meetings, of American values and abuse of freedom of speech. It is not just between Price and his detractors. It is a larger issue that requires leadership to totally take it out of the hands of the combatants and to a level of general principle and concern.