The White Transition Team

I normally don’t give a shit about accusations regarding race and bigotry.  I work with far too many people of different nationalities and race to see them as anything other than colleagues, clients, and friends.

But Rod Watson’s commentary in today’s Buffalo News got me fuming.  Based on Chris Collins’ choices for his 31-member transition team chairs, Watson implies that Collins has shunned the African-American and Hispanic communities with his selections.  After all, “95 percent of the slots went to whites”.

Why didn’t Watson just come out and call Collins a racist?  He used every phrase but.

If Watson wants to charge racism against a person who is still 6 weeks away from taking office, then I suggest he seriously look at a group that’s much dearer to the citizens of Western New York, one that is exclusively white:  The Buffalo Sabres.

Go ahead, Watson; tell me that that there aren’t qualified minorities out there who can skate and shoot.  I think you owe us a commentary on how Tom Golisano is carrying on this white supremacy thing.  Tom must be a whitey racist for letting this continue for so long in a community that’s 45% minority.

Racism is clearly still present in Western New York.  People like Watson see to it that the race card gets played regularly.

I wish that people would comment on the qualifications of Collins’ team members, rather than the color of their skin.


4 Responses to The White Transition Team

  1. Mark says:

    In all fairness, isn’t it silly to compare the diversity of a municipality to a sports team? One impacts the way we live our lives, the other is a recreational event.

    Considering that Collins and his team will have a huge influence on the policies and initiatives of his administration, I think Watson clearly has a point here. It’s one thing to harp on the guy before he takes office by complaining he’s putting private citizens and former politicians on his transition team like it’s a business as usual approach (who’s he supposed to appoint, Chewbacca?) like Pundit did, but you’ll have to agree the minority viewpoint on his team is pretty limited. And keep in mind, this is a guy that ran a campaign to take money away from city residents and give it to suburban folks.

    Buffalo is the second most poverty stricken city in the nation. It doesn’t exactly sound like Collins is going to get right on that, is he? By pointing the discrepancy out in public, Watson has a chance to alert Collins to the problem and hopefully influence the future county executive to be more mindful of the issue whenever he does make his final appointments to his administration.

  2. Paul says:

    I’ll answer your paragraphs one at a time.

    1) Nope, it’s about as silly as crying woe is us, we’re black and you don’t care. All Watson would have had to do was compare based on qualifications or some other criteria commonly used to discriminate (pun intended) among various candidate. Last time I checked, discriminating based on race was illegal, and it is EXACTLY what Watson is demanding. No other rationale for choosing transition team members was given or even hinted at.

    2) Collins has/will have roughly 200 members on his transition team as each subcommittee is composed of an average of 6 members. What say we take a look at the list of his entire transition team before we decide that the guy is a racist and won’t be getting the minority viewpoint, shall we? Oh wait, I get it; Watson is complaining that its the CHAIRPERSONS that need to be 45% minority, just as it is in reality in Buffalo, right? After all, 45% of our business leaders, of our public and private school principals, of our college professors, of our ELECTED OFFICIALS – they’re minorities, right?

    This is so much bullshit. No where, not on the Sabres, the Bills, UB, Wegmans, National Fuel, OTB or ANY PLACE WITH ANY INFLUENCE will you find Watson’s quota system. It’s freakin’ illegal. Did I mention that yet? Watson wants – no, demands – choices be made on skin color alone. THAT sounds racist to me.

    3) Is poverty the cause and minorities the effect, or is it the other way around? Let me guess that the root problem with Buffalo is that there’s too many minorities, because after all, they’re poor and if we could just get that percentage down the area would be better off, right? So if Collins ignores the problems maybe they really will go away, right? Is that the conclusion that Watson is drawing based on Collins’ choice of transition team members? It certainly seems to be how Watson’s painting him, that whitey racist.

    * * *

    I must apologize for writing while I’m hot under the collar; normally I try to be a bit more restrained. But Watson played the race card, nothing more. He offered absolutely nothing constructive to the efforts to help Buffalo rise from the ashes.

    Watson is the racist here.


  3. Mark says:

    Eh, no problems, I tend to find it difficult to get too angry while having a conversation on the Internet. This is the point where I should put in a smiley face, but my English degree won’t let me do it.

    Anyway …

    I generally like Rod as a columnist because you can tell he’s pretty passionate and brings a viewpoint you usually don’t see in the paper. That being said, I get what you’re saying about picking people based purely on the color of their skin, and based on what Rod wrote, it’s hard to tell how much research he put into that column. But I would like to find out how hard Collins looked to find people with a minority viewpoint, because I’d assume the white guy from Clarence is going to have his blind spots when it comes to dealing with inner city problems. That doesn’t make him a racist any more than you or I, it’s likely that those issues not being in his direct frame of reference.

    It seems clear that people are getting left behind in the inner city, and it’s not a problem limited to Buffalo. But the report that Buffalo is poverty town #2 is eye-opening, and beyond the limited “special reports” the media trots out every once in a while, it doesn’t seem like many people are really trying to address that (and putting a casino in their backyard doesn’t really count as addressing the issue). If they are (and the media just isn’t reporting on it), then it doesn’t seem to be working very well.

    And I’ll point out again Collins wants to take money out of the city and into the suburbs, a campaign promise that won him a lot of votes but strikes me as very Dubba.

    If Watson’s rhetoric, if a bit knee-jerk, inspires Collins to consider paying more attention to the disenfranchised, then I think the column did its job.

  4. Paul says:

    Inflammatory rhetoric rarely helps to bring two sides together (hence, if Rod Watson and I ever meet in person, my original blog will probably and unfortunately act as a wedge between us). If Watson were really passionate about poverty in Buffalo I would think that he’d spend less energy destructively criticizing those who can help, and offer constructive ideas instead. Helping to alienate Chris Collins before he even takes office just isn’t the way to do it.

    I think Watson has an ulterior motive: Readership through notoriety, just like Fox’s Bill O’Reilly but on a smaller scale; vitriol sells. I think this motive transcends Watson’s genuine concern for the community and keeping his job or gaining that elusive national reputation perhaps motivates him more than does helping make this a better place to live.

    I am in complete agreement with you that as a wealthy suburbanite, Collins is going to have blind spots, and helping him to acknowledge and correct them is appropriate. I just think that Watson’s equating of “correction” to color was downright insulting and bigotry in its ugliest form.

    If Watson were to enter a retraction – or simply respond to the (relatively kind) email that I sent to him, I might reflect on this differently. But for now, I feel that I have seen Watson’s true colors, and as Watson himself said in his very first paragraph, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”.

    Thank you so much for your insightful comments. They are much more appreciated than inciteful [sic] ones.


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