City Desk

First, a Non-Black Homecoming Queen; Now, a Non-Black Mayor?

233454_baltimore_smoke_stack_1Fresh on the heels of all the hullabaloo on historically black Hampton University in Virginia naming its first non-black Miss HU, some in the majority-black city up I-95, Baltimore, are in a bit of a tizzy themselves over the possibility that a white person could become mayor if Sheila Dixon is convicted of a crime. You see, Mayor Dixon, who is African-American, has been indicted on charges of theft and perjury – among other things, she allegedly pilfered gift cards that were supposed to go to needy children – and is scheduled to stand trial beginning next month.

Marvin Cheatham, president of the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP, rallied support at a recent state meeting of the organization for a resolution that seeks to prevent the governor, Martin O'Malley, from appointing someone to the post – even though it seems he doesn't necessarily have that authority anyway – in the name of ensuring that an African-American keep the post.

"Our concern is who would the governor appoint?" the Baltimore Sun quoted Cheatham as saying. "Here you have a predominantly African-American city. What if the governor appointed somebody white? Would he appoint someone Irish to be the mayor?"

A Republican would also be deemed unacceptable, Cheatham said.

This all reminds me of what I consider one of the best clarifications ever, also relating to Baltimore's mayoralty – and race. It came in 1999 care of the Washington Post after O'Malley (white and Irish, for the record) clinched the city's Democratic mayoral nomination.

The headline: "White Man Gets Mayoral Nomination in Baltimore."

The clarification: "In yesterday's late editions, the headline on the front page story about the mayoral primary election in Baltimore, 'White Man Gets Mayoral Nomination in Baltimore,' distorted the role of race in the election and violated Washington Post policy about reporting racial identifications only in proper context.

Ideas? Comments? I'm at eniedowski@washingtoncitypaper.com, or on Twitter.

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