Monday, February 16, 2015

A Lesson In Character for Governor Baker: Bravo Dr Scott

A major amount of kudos and credit goes to Dr Beverly Scott, the soon-to-be former General Manager of the MBTA in Boston. Her on-air resignation as the answer to Governor Baker's criticism was very classy, bold and necessary. This also was a very public break and response to the psychological game that gets run on people of color in leadership positions when thrown under the bus by their so-called superiors.

Governor Charlie Baker pulled a very familiar move in his criticism of Dr Scott. Somehow, he looked past being "disappointed" with the Department of Public Works and their failure at snow removal, and any number of other services and utilities serving the state and people of Boston and zeroed in on attacking Scott's management of the MBTA. Baker seemed completely unaware of the fact that The "T" is, as Dr Scott put it, an "antiquated system" with subway cars that are well over 30 and 40 years old and tons of service equipment that's in dis repair. I imagine Baker felt that Dr Scott should have worked that ol' Black magic and gotten things running without any of the other elements in place. When it became obvious that the subway was going to be a problem, the MBTA switched to buses to cover the routes. Of course, the MBTA got criticized for doing this as the streets have not been sufficiently plowed to accommodate the buses. While it's the Department of Public Works that's responsible for plowing, the press and governor still blame this on the MBTA.

American government and industry have a very long standing tradition of letting things fall apart, then putting a Black person in charge and blaming them for the mess. As cities teeter on the edge of bankruptcy and social decline, Black people suddenly become mayors (Philadelphia, Washington DC, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Hartford... need I continue?). Usually, when massa pulls a move like Baker's, the Black administrator in question coweringly offer an apology and/or explanation, and deals with the beating that their professional reputation has just taken.

Doing this, especially for the political leadership, is a quick and easy way to appear competent. Let's face it, years and years of stereotypes about Black people being lazy, incompetent, and ineffectual make it very easy for people like Baker to attack people like Dr. Scott without any preceding conversation or briefing.

As usual, Baker worked from his assumptions as opposed to reality. He did not take into account that the MBTA had actually put a person of some advanced intellectual and ethical character into the position. Now he's had to back peddle, dine on crow and smooth over a lot of rough patches that he created. Ironically, he has also flagged himself as 'another one.' The hopeful lesson that Baker has learned: you can't throw someone under a bus while they're driving it. When you bring a plantation mentality to the Governor's Mansion, you're bound to discover that some of your House Negros are Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner and/or Denmark Vessey.

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