'Cause what you say is what you say. Say what you say how you say it whenever you saying it, just remember how you said it ...
I listened as my wife played back the message, and afterward I could only shake my head and laugh.
One of my wife's friends, who knows my vocation, left a phone message for me that spelled out, in no uncertain terms, her contempt for Albany City Commissioner Tommie Postell. According to the messenger, Postell had made a comment about how "all white people look alike" or something to that affect.
She wasn't exactly pleased.
Not having had an opportunity to look at a newspaper over the previous nine days (don't ask), I wasn't sure of the context of Postell's apparent remark. After I found out, a few thoughts came to mind:
1) Postell is about to catch hell from squawkers who live for such moments;
2) The former educator has a penchant for ignoring that internal filter that keeps most of us from saying the first thing that pops into our heads;
3) Much more will be made of this than should be;
4) And race will once again take its place front-and-center in the local dialogue.
Here's what else I thought about Postell's comment: So what? He made a statement that he obviously meant as a joke, and a few people jumped on it and tried to turn it into some racial diatribe that provides proof positive of the commissioner's true inner feelings.
Of course, there are plenty of people in Albany who remember those not-so-bygone days when race was the determining factor in virtually every decision made by Albany city officials -- a time, it must be noted, when some black politicians decided to test the boundaries of their newly-won majority by pulling off the same kind of power plays their white counterparts had utilized for years leading up to the shift.
A lot of those observers have sat quietly for a long period, just waiting for an opportunity to pull out the race card they've been holding in abeyance, like trying to catch the 14 and 10 of the trump suit in a final hand of Rook. Since Postell is black and he made a seemingly disparaging remark about whites -- BAM! -- time to drop that Rook in there and catch him.
Anyone who's familiar with Postell's latest term of endearment recognizes it as a play on the demeaning racial epithet whites once commonly used in reference to blacks. And while it's no less demeaning when reversed, surely no one who's ever met Postell believes he was sincerely using the term to denigrate a white official he had nominated for a position.
Certainly the commissioner's previous unflattering comments about the "Patel" surname were more indicative of racial animosity than the lame "all white guys look alike" joke that played out about the time Postell's Afro started to recede.
The truth of the matter is, under the guidance of city managers Alfred Lott and James Taylor, Albany's city commissioners are much more concerned these days about the green of constituents' money than they are the white or black of their skin. Postell's foot-in-mouth comments notwithstanding, that beats the heck out of a body like the Dougherty school board that has become the poster child for votes based on racial and personal agendas.
Oh, and one final note for all you folks who have somehow come up with the idea that the "furor" over Postell's comments will hurt him in his quest to retain his seat on the commission: Ain't gonna happen. Your outrage only fuels his popularity among the voters who put him in office.
That's politics, baby, Albany style. And when it comes to the predictability of Good Life City voters ... well, let's just say they all look alike.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcheralbanyherald.com.