Redbirds, Red Ink
Thanks to the Flyer for Frank Murtaugh's comprehensive look at the Memphis Redbirds/AutoZone Park story (Cover Story, March 4th issue). AutoZone Park is a great public asset, but building a $75 million ballpark for a Triple-A baseball team in 2000 was a serious over-reach. The finances were never going to work. Now it's time to pay the piper.
Don't get me wrong. I love going to AutoZone Park a few times a year. It's a fun experience for me and my friends, and I hope the new Redbirds management group can get the team's finances squared away. But if ever there was a lesson for Memphis (Beale Street Landing? Number One Beale? FedExForum?), this is it. Don't build more than you can pay for and don't overestimate future revenues. Optimism is one thing. Realistic planning is another.
Note: See this week's cover story, page 18, for another object lesson in economics.
I own an old car that runs very well and doesn't burn oil. But it won't pass inspection, because the hydrocarbons are measured as being too high. I've been through the line three times, with a one-and-half-hour wait each time. My mechanic tells me that if cars like mine have to wait in line for over 30 minutes, they won't pass, because the catalytic converter will load up as it idles.
Mayor Wharton seems to be replacing all of former mayor Herenton's useless hires with his own people, instead of eliminating those positions. Meanwhile, we're laying off the vehicle inspection bureau employees.
When Wharton tells Forbes magazine that we're not miserable, he hasn't talked to people waiting in the inspection lines.
I laughed out loud several times while reading Randy Haspel's Rant on the Winter Olympics (March 4th issue). That guy is funny! ("Down goes Frazier!") And, like Haspel, I too think the quadrennial obsession with curling is pretty nuts. Not to mention inflatable beavers and skiing with guns.
As an African American, I am disturbed by the social disorder that black-on-black violence has contributed to in Memphis. Political leaders and community organizations often identify the massive poverty that exists within the black community as the root cause of these crimes. While poverty is a factor, I do not believe that it is the primary cause of such violence.
One of the root causes of such disgraceful criminal acts is the self-hatred embedded within the black community. Feelings of lower self-worth have contributed to some blacks not seeing their lives as meaningful. Another root cause is the absence of black fathers' involvement in the lives of their children. The children abandoned by black men become subconsciously resentful of their black male peers. This embedded anger motivates some black males to murder other black males without remorse.
Although I am African American, I am afraid to live in most communities in which the majority of the residents are black. I know that there are blacks who may rob me or sexually assault me or even murder me, because they do not feel my life has value. Most disturbing of all, I know that blacks with this mentality do not value their own lives.
I do not blame poverty for the social disorder we blacks have created for ourselves, for our community, and for Memphis. I refuse to blame racism for why many of us are destroying each other. The oppressive years of Jim Crow are gone, but African Americans continue to marginalize themselves by committing violent crimes against each other.
We were more unified as a people when we were labeled as inferior citizens. We valued ourselves more when we were excluded economically, socially, and politically from society. The majority of black men maintained a genuine relationship with their children during a time when they were not even respected as men.
The black community in Memphis and throughout the country must recapture the self-respecting and dignified mentality we once had.