Letter from the Editor 

Maybe you saw the sub-headline in last Saturday's Commercial Appeal "analysis" of the 9th District congressional race: "Ford wins primary but Cohen offers hope of white representation in 9th District race."

Oh, you didn't see that one? My mistake. The line actually read, "Cohen wins primary but Ford offers hope of black representation in 9th District race." That's better, right?

I am so very tired of the race card, no matter who deals it. It seems the Rev. William Larsha and some other African-American leaders are upset that Steve Cohen won the Democratic nomination for the 9th District, a district Larsha believes was created by "decent white people so African Americans and white people could send an African American to Congress."

That statement is so misguided in so many ways that I don't know where to begin to criticize it. But I'll start with the basic civics lesson: Congressional districts in the United States are set up so that the citizens may choose the person they consider the most qualified to represent them -- black, white, pink, or purple. In the 9th District for the last 30 years or so, that has meant sending someone to Congress named Ford.

This year, Cohen won the Democratic nomination over a well-qualified field of mostly African-American candidates. He won 80 percent of the white vote and about 18 percent of the black vote -- a higher percentage of the black vote, by the way, than any candidate except Nikki Tinker.

But Larsha, the Rev. LaSimba Gray, and others have decreed that Cohen is the wrong color. They say African Americans in the 9th District should support the candidacy of Jake Ford, who's running as an independent. They have every right to this opinion. And if the majority of voters think Jake Ford is better qualified to represent their interests, then they should vote for him. But the fact is, Jake Ford has no record of public service, no record of employment except in his father's lobbying firm, and a GED education. Most tellingly, Jake Ford has refused all requests for interviews from the media.

All we know about Jake Ford is that he is black and his name is Ford. That may be enough for Larsha and Gray, but it's not enough for me, and I don't think it will be enough for most of the other sentient voters in the 9th District -- black, white, pink, or purple.

Bruce VanWyngarden, Editor


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