When is a joke not a joke? Everyone has an opinion, but my feelings are that it’s not a joke when it’s a sitting city commissioner saying that all members of a single race look alike. That’s exactly what Tommie Postell said after making a slight flub on Phil Cannon’s name.
The flub itself is understandable. City commissioners have a lot of names bouncing around in their heads, and since I’ve called my only son by names that aren’t his, I’m not going to fault Commissioner Postell for making an honest mistake. However, saying that “all white people look alike” wasn’t acceptable.
Postell tried to say afterwards that he doesn’t see race, it was just a joke. Here’s the thing though, I didn’t find it particularly funny. I didn’t find it funny because Tommie Postell hasn’t exactly shown that he was colorblind before.
Take, for example, an incident in 2005 when Postell wanted to block business owners with the last name of Patel from being able to use any references from someone else named Patel. For the record, Patel is an extremely common name. A large percentage of folks of Indian descent are named Patel. Several of his fellow commissioners pointed it out to him. Postell didn’t seem to care, claiming “you two are relatives if you’ve got the same last name.” That’s like saying everyone with the last name of Smith are relatives.
Also, take for example that Postell was one of several folks who argued that consolidation supporters had motivations that stemmed more from race than the potential savings from eliminating the duplication of services between the city and county. Back in 2009, Postell said “Consolidation means reducing black voting strength any way you can.” The fact that “black voting strength” would be minimally impacted was lost on Commissioner Postell.
I find it amusing that after this track record, Commissioner Postell doesn’t understand why some people would be upset by his comments. He doesn’t seem to grasp that he would crucify any public figure who said the same thing about black people. The truth is, in that instance, he should step up and call such people out. However, it’s hypocrisy to call them out while making the same comment towards others.
Commissioner Postell may honestly feel that race isn’t an issue for him. However, his history makes it clear that he may want to do a lot of soul searching to see if that is truly the case. If it is, then he needs to reevaluate his comments.
The truth is, comments like these cannot be allowed to stand. All citizens, white and black, need to be held to the same standard. We all must be held accountable for our actions and words. Commissioner Postell owes the citizens of Albany an apology.
I understand there are some efforts towards a censure against Commissioner Postell. It’s my hope that the City Commission does just that and that Commissioner Postell, and any other commissioner who makes such remarks in the future, learn from their mistakes and recognize that such comments do nothing to unite our city.
I only hope that someday we can look back at this, Commissioner Postell and myself, and laugh at how this all went down and how this may have actually been the catalyst towards moving Albany forward out of the dark ages of racial tensions that have plagued this city for decades. Unfortunately, until Commissioner Postell recognizes that his comments may have been hurtful towards a significant portion of Albanians, that day will never come.
Written by Tom Knighton. Tom Knighton is the managing editor of Laws-n-Sausages.com, a political blog focusing on SWGA. He is the former co-owners of SWGAPolitics.com and currently serves as the Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Southwest Georgia