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NC Sheriffs’ Association joins NAACP in reacting to Columbus County sheriff’s racist rants

Sheriff Jody Greene – Photo: Columbus County Sheriff’s office

In an instance of unusual allies, both the North Carolina NAACP and the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association issued statements yesterday responding negatively to the racist rants of Columbus County sheriff, Jody Greene.

The statements were in response to to a Wednesday report by Wilmington’s WECT-TV that detailed several disturbing developments in what has been an ongoing saga involving Greene.

The report explains that Greene uttered multiple racist and hate-filled statements in the aftermath of a closely contested 2018 election in which his residency in the county — a requirement under state law — was questioned. Among other things, recorded statements made by Greene indicated that he intended to fire all Black members of his department because of his conclusion that they had been opposed to his candidacy and been supportive of his election opponent Lewis Hatcher, the former sheriff whom Greene had narrowly defeated in the election, and Melvin Campbell, a recently-fired sergeant. Both Hatcher and Campell are Black.

This is from the report:

“Tomorrow’s gonna be a new f**king day. I’m still the motherf**king sheriff, and I’ll go up and fire every godd**n [inaudible]. F**k them Black bastards. They think I’m scared? They’re stupid,” Greene said. “I don’t know what else to do it. So it’s just time to clean them out. There’s a snitch in there somewhere tellin’ what we are doing. And I’m not gonna have it. I’m not going to have it.”

In the recording, Greene can be heard saying he’s going to start firing people who are “guilty by f**king association” with Campbell and Hatcher.

“We’ll cut the snake’s head f**king off. Period. And Melvin Campbell is as big a snake as Lewis Hatcher ever dared to be. Every Black that I know, you need to fire him to start with, he’s a snake,” Greene says before ending the phone call.

In response to the report, the NAACP issued a formal call for Greene’s immediate resignation. Here’s an excerpt:

Sheriff Jody Greene must resign. His language is divisive, nasty, and offensive — his words are disparaging and hurtful to people of color. His actions have cast a cloud over his ability to execute the office with impartiality.

Columbus County, and in particular its Black residents, deserve better. We deserve accountability. To restore dignity and confidence in the office of the Columbus County Sheriff, we demand a thorough investigation of all activities conducted by this office since the beginning of Sheriff Greene’s tenure, by all relevant authorities — including the State Board of Investigation and the federal government.

Meanwhile, late yesterday, the Sheriffs’ Association issued a statement indicating Greene had resigned from the group in response to its stated intention to hold a hearing on possibly expelling from the organization:

Therefore, the Association’s Executive Committee (governing board) voted unanimously to hold a hearing to determine, pursuant to the Association’s Constitution and Bylaws, an “appropriate resolution for the matter,” up to and including expulsion of Sheriff Greene from membership in the Association.

The Executive Committee provided Sheriff Greene due notice of the hearing and the opportunity to be heard, likely to be held tomorrow, Friday, September 30 at a time selected by the Executive Committee.

Upon being notified this afternoon of the Executive Committee’s decision to schedule a hearing, Sheriff Greene resigned his membership in the Association to avoid causing any controversy for the Association

Policy Watch will continue to update this story as events warrant.

Confronting history, Congress studies addition of lynching sites to national park system

People of color shouldn’t have to obliterate their presence to receive fair home values

A house for sale in Richmond, VA (Sarah Vogelsong / Virginia Mercury)

Another case of likely racial discrimination in housing appraisals has cropped up, this time in Baltimore.

The New York Times recently reported a Black husband and wife first received an appraisal of $472,000. After they “whitewashed” their home – removing family photos and having a White colleague stand in for them as the “owner” – a second appraisal came in at $750,000. That’s nearly $300,000 more.

The process is infuriating for Black and brown families. It’s also exhausting.

Why does such bias persist? Why can’t people get what’s due?

The account of Nathan Connolly and Shani Mott is one of dozens that have gained media attention in recent years. Similar allegations have occurred in California’s Bay Area, central Indiana and Cincinnati.

“It’s very humiliating to strip yourself of your own home,” Connolly told The Times.

Appraisals often are subjective. Still, these stories suggest something more than chance is afoot.

Federal statistics show nearly 98% of property appraisers are White. The percentage, and the comments from Black homeowners, raise questions about bias. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 says it’s illegal to discriminate in appraising residences.

Homeownership is a key way to pass down wealth to future generations. When the housing industry shortchanges property value, it harms families depending on an unbiased review.

A 2018 Brookings Institution study noted that “owner-occupied homes in Black neighborhoods are undervalued by $48,000 per home on average.” It studied 113 metro areas with at least one majority-Black neighborhood. In Virginia, the areas were Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Lynchburg, Richmond and Roanoke.

Not that African Americans have been able to rely on equity when it comes to housing policies.

The nation’s history is littered with racism in the market. This includes redlining, restrictive covenants and a GI Bill that in practice denied mortgages and home loans to Black veterans. Urban Renewal projects, including highways, often destroyed Black communities.

Vestiges of those decades-old policies remain today.

Isabel McLain, a research and policy analyst for Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, said Monday she didn’t have exact statistics on how often under-appraisals occurred in the state.

However, “we understand that racially biased appraisals are a systemic problem in Virginia, based on national studies that have included or reported on Virginia communities,” she noted by email.

McLain cited, for example, a Freddie Mac report released in 2021 that underscored biased devaluations. Researchers found a large portion of appraisers valued homes in majority-Black and majority-Latino neighborhoods below the contract price at rates much higher than they did for homes in majority-White neighborhoods.

“These disparities were not driven by a few appraisers but reflect widespread trends across the profession, including appraisers in Virginia,” she noted.

Blacks, Latinos – heck, everybody – just want to be treated fairly when it comes to housing. Numerous anecdotes and data indicate race in housing remains a fault line, one that hinders wealth and progress for people of color.

Veteran journalist Roger Chesley is a commentator for the Virginia Mercury, which first published this essay.

Historian: Politicians shackle the truth with efforts to control classroom discussions about U.S. slavery

The “The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story” by Nikole Hannah-Jones is displayed at a New York City bookstore on November 17, 2021 in New York City. First published in The New York Times Magazine, “The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story” was written to center the effects of slavery and the achievements of Black people in the history of the United States. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Of all the subjects taught in the nation’s public schools, few have generated as much controversy of late as the subjects of racism and slavery in the United States.

The attention has come largely through a flood of legislative bills put forth primarily by Republicans over the past year and a half. Commonly referred to as anti-critical race theory legislation, these bills are meant to restrict how teachers discuss race and racism in their classrooms.

One of the more peculiar byproducts of this legislation came out of Texas, where, in June 2022, an advisory panel made up of nine educators recommended that slavery be referred to as “involuntary relocation.”

The measure ultimately failed.

As an educator who trains teachers on how to educate young students about the history of slavery in the United States, I see the Texas proposal as part of a disturbing trend of politicians seeking to hide the horrific and brutal nature of slavery – and to keep it divorced from the nation’s birth and development.

The Texas proposal, for instance, grew out of work done under a Texas law that says slavery and racism can’t be taught as part of the “true founding” of the United States. Rather, the law states, they must be taught as a “failure to live up to the authentic founding principles of the United States, which include liberty and equality.”

To better understand the nature of slavery and the role it played in America’s development, it helps to have some basic facts about how long slavery lasted in the territory now known as the United States and how many enslaved people it involved. I also believe in using authentic records to show students the reality of slavery.

Before the Mayflower

Slavery in what is now known as the United States is often traced back to the year 1619. That is when – as documented by Colonist John Rolfe – a ship named the White Lion delivered 20 or so enslaved Africans to Virginia.

As for the notion that slavery was not part of the founding of the United States, that is easily refuted by the U.S. Constitution itself. Specifically, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 1 prevented Congress from prohibiting the “importation” of slaves until 1808 – nearly 20 years after the Constitution was ratified – although it didn’t use the word “slaves.” Instead, the Constitution used the phrase “such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit.” Read more

U.S. House panel looks into disinformation targeted at communities of color

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