Texas Liberal

All People Matter

The Time I Was Mistaken For A Black Man

One time in my life I was mistaken for a black man.

I once worked in the office of a black member of the Cincinnati City Council.

In late 1992-early 1993, my boss, current Ohio State Representative Tyrone Yates, was critical of racial comments made by former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott.

This did not sit well with right-wing bully Bill Cunningham at Cincinnati radio station WLW. 

This is the same Bill Cunningham who made news not long ago at a John McCain rally leading up to the Ohio primary. 

Mr. Cunningham and other WLW programmers encouraged listeners to call Councilman Yates and voice their displeasure about his views on Mrs. Schott’s comments.

We took many hundreds of calls.

Because of death threats our office received, a Cincinnati police officer was posted in our council office for three days.

One caller said to me that because of comments made by Mr. Yates and because I worked in his office, he was going to come to City Hall and “hang you by your black balls.”

I told the caller I was Italian.

He did not miss a beat. He said—“I’ll hang you by your spaghetti.”

Did the caller hate only black people or was he a hater in general? Likely it was a close call.

Often when a black person who speaks up, whether the comments are valid or not—and Tyrone’s comments were valid— that black person is demonized.

Forces of “respectable” conservatism sit back while the shock troops do the dirty work.

We see the pattern today with John McCain silent as Barack Obama is portrayed as some kind of militant. ( The burden is on any black politician to establish that he or she is not some kind of “militant.”)  

We see this in my current hometown of Houston just this morning. The Houston Chronicle reports that Jeremiah Wright has canceled three planned sermons in Houston due to death threats.

Is it any wonder why many black folks, and people of all kinds, don’t see American society as fundamentally decent? 

March 26, 2008 - Posted by | Cincinnati, History, Houston | , , , , , , , ,


  1. hater in general i liked the way that was worded. i think a bitcher in general a hater in general or more on the positive side a doer in general. i think that most people dont hate the other color but the misunderstanding of how people can be so different with the same misunderstanding that we are so similar. i would like to think most people are not hateful bitchers but the day to day people i run into make me beleive that is not true.

    Comment by bill brady | March 27, 2008

  2. Well, i am a black woman (of caribbean heritage) who is born and bred in england and well, if you have an opinion you do have to tread very carefully in order to not be called ” a black woman who talks to much… or….An angry black woman.”
    some people find it hard to separate you from your colour when you do not share their opinion and they will voice negativity and if you have the gall to ask them not to use slurs, they will give you a strong beration on how “YOU ALL” (who all? it just me you are talking to)” are just as racist.

    Comment by lifeisannoying | March 27, 2008

  3. i guess “you all” and “them” and “they” are all generalized words that should be avoided in civil conversations.

    Comment by bill brady | March 27, 2008

  4. He said — ”I’ll hang you by your spaghetti.”

    i weep for all the idiotic sycophants out there who heed the cunningham/limbaugh call, but i did a hot coffee spit take when i read the part of your telephone exchange posted above. it would have been right at home in mel brooks’ film “blazing saddles.” 🙂

    see… this is a good example of why i find your blog so interesting. i appreciate the way the texas liberal enriches the dialogue on issues of race and politics with its author’s philosophical bent and unique sense of humor.

    keep up the good works, neil!

    Comment by Troy Turner | March 29, 2008

  5. bill cunningham is a nasty fuch!

    Comment by bill brady | March 29, 2008

  6. Lifeisannoying–Thanks for the comment. Little surprise that it is the same all over.

    Troy—Thank you very much for such a nice comment.

    Bill–Bill Cunningham has been awful for all these years now. And laughing all the way to the bank I suppose.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | March 29, 2008

  7. well if he is right and there is a god he will meet him on his way to hell where he will than meet me.

    Comment by bill brady | March 30, 2008

  8. I so respected Tyrone when he was on Council. He is a politician more concerned for his constituency and what is best for them than his political ambition, much like my boss was, Bobbie Sterne, who recently celebrated her 85th birthday out here in California with me and her daughters.

    Comment by Laura | March 30, 2008

  9. Bobbie now lives down the street from me at the place where I vote whenever there’s an election. I see her out and about periodically, e.g., at cultural or political events.

    Comment by Newton | March 30, 2008

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