A few months ago, to my surprise, I received an email from Jane Sutter, Editor of Community Partnerships & Niche Content at the Democrat and Chronicle. She invited me to join a forum to discuss their coming “Unite Rochester” initiative, ostensibly intended to serve as a catalyst to bring this community together on the topic of race. I was more than happy to offer my opinion as someone who is married to a Thai immigrant, expectant father (at the time) of a multi-racial child and one who is passionate about our community. (My daughter was born on Thursday April 5th. Mom and baby are doing great)
At the time I offered to bring my wife, as I believe her opinion and thoughts would be valuable to the conversation. To my surprise, the forum I had been invited to was to consist of whites only. They had been breaking out small groups of blacks, latinos, asians, and whites to get their thoughts on how to best approach this initiative. My wife and I had a good laugh at the thought of me going to a “whites only” breakfast. At that first meeting I offered the idea of not focusing on race but rather topics of interest to the community which would provide an avenue of people from various backgrounds, races, religions, etc to come together and “unite”. That idea was quickly shot down.
I was asked to return to another breakfast a few weeks ago that consisted of the various groups from before, where the D&C could bring us all up to speed on what was going on with “Unite Rochester”. Among many items brought up that day was the paper's disappointment that more people were not engaging on the topic, especially whites from the suburbs. I again offered my thoughts of focusing on topics of interest and allow for diversity and uniting to happen organically. Many participants, of all colors, in the room agreed but not Karen Magnuson, the paper's Editor, Jim Lawrence, its editorial page Editor, or publisher Michael Kane.
After the meeting I reached out to Jane Sutter to offer my willingness to be a blogger once again for the D&C, this time for “Unite Rochester”. At first, they seemed to be interested. I was the person they wanted to be involved, right? A white guy originally from the suburbs, although now a city resident. Plus, in a multi-racial/multi-cultural marriage and father to a multi-racial/multi-cultural child. Jackpot!, you'd think. But apparently not to the D&C.
I received a call from Jane, essentially saying that they were concerned about what I would choose to write about. She also referred to a "personality conflict" between Jim Lawrence and me. I replied, “When Jim starts accusing you of being a liar and actually takes the time to call you on the phone to complain when you publicly disagree with him, you too would have a personality conflict.” (See my previous posts for examples)
Here was the offer from Jane, on behalf of the D&C: I could try writing a few blogs and she would review them. I guess if she approved I could then post them. After a good laugh, I pointed out that I can comment on any post, as long as I abide by the D&C terms and conditions, and don’t need her permission to participate in the dialogue.
I find it humorous, disappointing, and totally unsurprising that this is how “Unite Rochester” is going. The D&C isn’t at all concerned about uniting anyone or anything. They are rebranding the same ideology that they have been pushing for the last few decades. They are looking for blacks and latinos to author blogs that softly point the finger at whites in the suburbs for causing the issues that exist in the city and for guilty whites to author blogs that agree with those viewpoints. They are not interested in diversity, but rather in their own rigid orthodoxy.