BEST GUTSY COLUMN

Bill Maxwell, St. Petersburg Times, May 23, 2004

Responding to the flash riot activity that occurred in St. Pete a few days before the Tyron Lewis verdict, Maxwell let all his frustrations hang out. He began by condemning the attack on a local doctor´s SUV by a mob of ¨angry young blacks.¨ And then he upped the stakes: ¨And now, I must say the following:¨ he wrote. ¨Living in St. Petersburg during the past 10 years has made me ashamed of being African-American.¨ Damn. That´s some balls, dude. He went on to criticize so-called black ¨leaders,¨ black parents who ¨fail to parent adequately,¨ blacks who tolerate criminals in their neighborhoods, blacks ¨who refuse to invest in their own community, who will not pool their resources for the greater good, who blame their problems on white people who live in communities many miles away.¨ On the face of it, some may argue that Maxwell´s shame just adds grist to the racist mill, reinforcing negative stereotypes of black people. But his arguments were well reasoned, passionate and, most of all, brave. Maxwell left the Times in June to become a writer in residence at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala. We´ll miss his contribution to the Bay area´s debate on race and other issues. And, we must admit, we´ll miss his feud with Uhuru leader Omali Yeshitela — it made for some good rhetorical pyrotechnics.

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