Monday, December 22, 2008

Say What?

I made my opinion known and stayed out of the Superintendent fray in Nashville. They've decided to offer the job to Jesse Register of Chattanooga. The Tennessean headline was probably most accurate in identifying the move as 'hesistant'. It seems to be their MOS. Of the three candidates available I believe they made the best choice.

Of more concern to me was a comment from female and black MNPS BOE member Karen Johnson (District 6-Antioch) which caught my ear the other night. I've gone to WKRN, WSMV, WTVF and WZTV and reviewed their on-line videos and not one of them has the quote but I know I heard it while surfing the late news as did several commentators at the Tennessean web site. Metro 3 isn't re-running the live broadcast so I can't check that. The video showed her saying that her immediate reaction to hearing Jesse Register was among the candidates was doubt that a white man could run such a diverse school system. To her credit she eventually voted for him. However, I'm disappointed she thinks that way. I'm very surprised to hear her make this comment in public.

What about being white disqualifies anyone for a job? I'd like to know when we will actually get past the assumption that only people 'like' people can actually advocate for them and serve them well. It's the same sort of nonsense that says only women can understand women's issues or vote for their good. What's the use of all this diversity training if the end result isn't people who can understand someone else's POV and need? Would it be good to have Hispanics, women, the handicapped involved in the governing of our world...yes. But I'm looking at the BOE and I don't think lack of 'diverstiy' at the top of the system is really a problem.


Karen said...


I just returned to Nashville and was forwarded your blog statement with reference to me again. What most people don't understand is the constant fire I am under by a small group of people who want to paint me as being against my own race. I am not against anyone and the wall that I was up against at this meeting I am not going to go into. The fact is I was told that here you go again, voting for someone who is a white male versus the black candidate. I was accused of this for the vote I made for the chair giving my vote to David Fox. I was accused of being against blacks by the rezoning vote, and now I had accusations around this situation "I was told we are watching to see if you do the right thing this time" The fact is that my vote is not based on race "ever" but I did have to lay it out there what I was challenged with. There was no doubt Jesse Register was the most qualified and I stand behind this vote also. It's unfortunate the meeting was not taped so that the entire context of what I said could be understood. Those who were there understood it and in fact I received calls after the meeting that were very positive. It's unfortunate that you would reference my comment the way you did, but nevertheless I made the choice that I felt was right based on Dr. Register's clear qualifications exceeding the other two candidates. I am excited about working with him.

Karen Y. Johnson

Kay Brooks said...

Thank you for clarifying, Karen. I know you've taken a LOT of heat for your previous votes. If I understand you correctly you were not expressing your own frame of mind but giving voice to the comments you knew were coming based on the criticism you'd already received.

I'm going to bump your comments up to a new post to give your very reasonable explanation as much exposure as possible. I do wish the meeting had been taped. I wish the news report I, and others saw, was still available.

Again, thank you for taking the late at give the community a better understanding of what happened.