Letter writer unhappy with new City Attorney’s race being mentioned by Councilman Thorpe and in headline

Dear Editor:

I am disappointed that the Antioch City Council has decided to move back in time and judge someone on the color of their skin, rather than the content of their character. Antioch Council hires first African American as City Attorney, the headline above the fold (in the March print edition as well as on this website, here), was such a disservice to both Mr. Smith, and Lamar Thorpe’s comments were equally degrading.

We have lived in Antioch for 31 years and have never run anyone out of town. We really don’t care what color someone’s skin is, but we don’t want to be categorized as someone that would act like Lamar Thorpe.

It just blows my mind that something as trivial would have any impact on the decision. Is he educated? Is he qualified? Does he have the demeanor and manners to be an asset to Antioch? These are more important questions than the color of his skin.

Susanne Larson


5 Comments to “Letter writer unhappy with new City Attorney’s race being mentioned by Councilman Thorpe and in headline”

  1. Publisher says:

    Ms. Larson,

    Thank you for reading the Herald and taking the time to write your letter to the editor.

    In response, I chose to write the headline that way because it was both a fact pointed out by Councilman Lamar Thorpe during the meeting and frankly, I believe it is of historic significance in our city. While I don’t believe Mr. Smith was hired because of his race, and I shared two of his credentials in the sub-headline, one of which was pointed out by Mayor Sean Wright that Mr. Smith has a degree from Harvard, I believe the fact that he his African American and in one of the top two staff positions in the City is important to many in our community and many of our readers.

    I disagree that writing the headline that way was a disservice to Mr. Smith, pointing out a fact, and I’m sure he is aware of it. He’s a member of the NAACP and I venture to say he probably appreciated it being point out. I also disagree that it is trivial. I believe celebrating and recognizing the advancements of people of color in our society, and specifically the Antioch community, knowing it’s past, racist history, is a positive thing.

    Frankly, I don’t care what someone’s race or skin color is and agree the decision to hire should be made on an individual’s qualifications for the position, which I believe this was by the council. Neither the headline nor the article stated that the fact he’s African American was the reason he was hired. But, again, it is of historic significance in Antioch and important to many in our community. African American boys and girls in our community now have another person in a leadership position in our local government with whom they can identify and hopefully, look up to.

    Allen Payton, Publisher & Editor

  2. Laura Glass says:

    My problem with the headline is that Mr.Smith is not the first African American as the headline indicated. He may be the first African American City
    Attorney for Antioch, but I agree, why does the race matter. Pointing out race, gender or sexual orientation just serves to divide society. We need to eliminate labels.

    • Publisher says:

      Ms. Glass,
      Thank you for reading the Herald and taking the time to write a comment.
      Mr. Smith is the first African American hired as the Antioch City Attorney.
      Perhaps in time, as more advances are made in both race relations and by people of color, it won’t matter any longer.
      Allen Payton, Publisher & Editor

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