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Fresh perspective: It’s one of the best things about diversity. Elect women to public office, and all of a sudden funding for daycare and battered-women’s shelters gets a higher priority. Bring minorities onto the team, and somehow all those allegedly well-intended ethnic jokes cease to be so funny. Columbus Day? Not a big thrill for indigenous people in any part of the Americas.

So it made sense when Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks wanted “slave owner” included on a biographical plaque to hang beside a recently acquired portrait of Tarrant County pioneer Thomas Jefferson Jennings, a former state legislator and Texas attorney general in the 1850s.

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Brooks is the only African-American commissioner, and his four white colleagues didn’t question his request. Still, he was a little defensive afterward when Static colleague Jeff Prince asked why the addition was necessary. Ever the devil’s advocate, Prince asked whether the county should add the phrase to the plaques of other slave-owning pioneers hanging in the building.

“I assume it was something [Jennings] was proud of at the time,” Brooks said. “Being a slave owner is part of who he was.” Then he expressed suspicion about being questioned on the issue by someone who works for a company that “buys ink by the barrel.” True, more and more reporting is done in cyberspace these days, but get real – any print reporter who has ever asked Brooks a question was an ink-barreler.

Brooks obviously felt uneasy at being challenged. His aide, who was present, obviously wanted to shoot daggers into Prince’s heart. Prince wasn’t so comfortable either – he was starting to think maybe his questions made him look like an apologist for slavery.

Static thinks, what’s the big deal? There’s nothing wrong with questioning a public official about a matter of public policy. And nothing wrong with adding the “slaveholder” phrase to the Jennings plaque – or to that of his namesake Thomas Jefferson either.

For that matter, Static would like to see the phrase “beats up girlfriends” added whenever appropriate to the biographies of various sports personalities whom the public worships. And let’s don’t even get started on the televangelists.

This may explain why Static has never been invited to write anyone’s biography.

 

Grub/Stake

It was one of those little win-win events that makes Static (occasionally) think there is hope for the human race: A seed company provided the basics, young people discovered that food doesn’t come from grocery stores, and the resulting vegetable plot and herb garden at the All Church Home for Children‘s Wedgwood campus in southwest Fort Worth will provide healthy grub for the kids living there. In addition to a safe, stable home, the campus staff provides therapy to the young people, ages four to 18, who are unable to live with their families for a variety of reasons.

About 200 folks turned out for last weekend’s festivities. Seedlings were provided by Burpee Home Gardens, a city council member helped cut the ribbon, and a bunch of kids got to dig holes and get dirty without getting in trouble. Into the 200-square-foot garden went tomatoes, green beans, peppers, lettuce, and watermelons. Over the next several months, the kids will get to eat (or turn their noses up at) vegetables they grew themselves. There’s not much better a feeling than stepping out the back door to snip herbs or pick a tomato from your own garden for that night’s dinner, much less harvesting that first gi-normous melon. (Even if, as in Static’s case, thanks to a not-so-green thumb – overwatering? underfertilizing? – the veggies are sometimes a tad stunted.)

Almost as much fun? Getting to write “Burpee” in the newspaper. Not as good as when they named that football game the “Poulan Weed Eater Bowl,” or writing about Arlington’s “Mayor Cluck” – but close.

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