Article Comment 

Scott Colom: Cheering for Leondra and Omar

 

Scott Colom

 

Over the last few weeks, I''ve been thinking about how much Leondra Tillman and Omar Amir Gray''s ability to stay away from drugs matters for the future of Columbus. I grew up with Leondra and Omar in Columbus. As a child, Leondra would walk from house to house asking people if they needed their lawns cut or their leaves raked. Even then, he was enthusiastic; always with a steady walk and a serious face.  

 

My memories of Omar start in high school. He wasn''t an athlete or the student government type. He blended in more than stood out. Except, if you were lucky enough to talk to him, you found out that he possessed rare qualities of honesty and humility. He had little of the jealousy and envy prevalent in the high school experience, which is why he has a great memory of everyone in our 2001 high school graduating class.  

 

I lost touch with Omar and Leondra after high school. Recently, we''ve been reacquainted because they do some work for a realty company, CrossCurrents, managed by my brother, Andrew, and our friend Arjun Kaul.  

 

Leaondra has started a business called "Ja''Hi''nance Beautification." Omar is his main employee. Leondra and Omar paint, drywall, do home repairs, installations, mowing and weed eating, fencing, tree trimming, and planting. The company''s slogan is "a King Ship job, at a Peasant''s Price." (Leondra walks around with this list of job skills and the company slogan in his pocket).  

 

This company represents a second chance for Leondra and Omar. They both have had to deal with the consequences of bad decisions in their past. For a short period of time, Leondra sold drugs.  

 

Drug addiction is often viewed from the user''s perspective. But the drug dealer also enters a spiral of self-destructive behavior. Leondra admits he lived in a false sense of reality; a mindset that said making money was the only thing that mattered, and thus living fast and risky and hurting others felt justified. Also, for a born businessman like Leondra, compared to working at a fast food restaurant and surviving on minimum wage, selling drugs made business sense.  

 

On the other hand, Omar''s problems with drugs started because he wanted to be cool. His desire to have the respect of certain peers pressured him into trying cocaine. Before he knew it, he was spending $300 out of a $500 check supporting the habit. Eventually, Omar was convicted of drug possession and went to rehabilitation program, where he realized, as cliche as it may sound, that doing drugs isn''t cool and he kicked the habit.  

 

Maybe it was the constant promotion of drug dealing in rap music, or the high demand for crack cocaine, or the high concentration of poverty in some parts of this city; but, for whatever the reason, too many of my peers have been hurt by the drug epidemic. Too many have criminal records. Too many have died. Too many don''t have hope.  

 

Nevertheless, that''s not true for Leondra and Omar. Despite their past mistakes, Leondra and Omar say they are committed to staying out of trouble and want to have productive lives. They show up to work. They work hard. They do a good job. They aren''t perfect, but they are clearly trying, of that I can testify. They are also willing to tell their stories publicly, in the hope they can help others.  

 

Whether or not Omar and Leondra are successful in their recovery affects us in many ways. It impacts whether we continue to have high incarceration rates due to drug arrests and the crime associated with it. It impacts whether we can reduce the high school drop out rate or teenage pregnancy. It impacts whether neighborhoods can revitalize and prosper. We should encourage Leondra, Omar, and others like them. We need to find ways to help them, to motivate them. We should pray for them. Because, if they are not successful; if the ones who have not given up hope don''t succeed, then many of the major problems facing Columbus and Mississippi will not be go away.

 

Scott Colom is a local attorney.

 

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Reader Comments

Article Comment zenreaper commented at 1/20/2011 7:26:00 PM:

There is SO much wrong with this article, I barely know where to start, but let me give it a go:

"Recently, we've been reacquainted because they do some work for a realty company, CrossCurrents, managed by my brother, Andrew, and our friend Arjun Kaul."

Wow, I guess if you DON'T have a relative that works for the paper, you have to PAY for advertising, huh?

"Leaondra has started a business called "Ja'Hi'nance Beautification." Omar is his main employee. Leondra and Omar paint, drywall, do home repairs, installations, mowing and weed eating, fencing, tree trimming, and planting. The company's slogan is "a King Ship job, at a Peasant's Price." (Leondra walks around with this list of job skills and the company slogan in his pocket)."

Wow, yet ANOTHER ad, you forgot to list their business hours and a contact number.

"Also, for a born businessman like Leondra, compared to working at a fast food restaurant and surviving on minimum wage, selling drugs made business sense."

How DARE you?!? How DARE you compare the jobs of those who get up every morning go to work and EARN their money as somehow LESS business-like than a DRUG DEALER? Oh yeah, they work for your BROTHER.

"Maybe it was the constant promotion of drug dealing in rap music, or the high demand for crack cocaine, or the high concentration of poverty in some parts of this city; but, for whatever the reason, too many of my peers have been hurt by the drug epidemic."

Or maybe it was that they were low life SCUM that had no problem dealing drugs in our community, secure in the fact that people like YOU would make excuses for their actions. They became drug users and drug dealers because they wanted EASY money with little or no work, and were not afraid to break the LAW to do that.

You, sir, are a disgrace, not only to your race, but to the fine upstanding citizens of Columbus who work hard every day, so we can pay TAXES, to provide POLICE to protect us from the thugs and drug dealers you seem to think are just misunderstood business people.

 

Article Comment sityoassdown commented at 1/20/2011 10:30:00 PM:

Although I dislike this article on sooooo many levels, I must say that the article and zenreaper's comment are an accurate reflection of Columbus's # 1 problem. Many people from Columbus are so disconnected from reality. As I read zenreaper's comment, I agreed with many of the observations; yet I couldn't help but notice the poorly masked shallowness of the individual writing. Hmmm...let's see....I think I am a little more offended by YOUR use of the word SCUM than I am by Scott's factual statement about fast food jobs paying minimal wage. And can you please clarify what this article has to do with Scott's race??? I need to end this post before I go HAM on you... go HAM=lose control! And before you start turning red (yes, I said red) please refer to my username
P.S. shout out to class of 01

 

Article Comment zenreaper commented at 1/20/2011 11:10:00 PM:

"I agreed with many of the observations; yet I couldn't help but notice the poorly masked shallowness of the individual writing."

Well, if you agree with statements that you feel are shallow, doesn't that make you shallow?

"I think I am a little more offended by YOUR use of the word SCUM than I am by Scott's factual statement about fast food jobs paying minimal wage."

Sorry, drug dealers are SCUM, no if, ands, or buts. And minimum wage at a fast food restaurant, what is wrong with that? Do you think that a completely inexperienced individual should walk in the door at $25 an hour? Are you willing to pay $15 for your quarter pounder?

"And can you please clarify what this article has to do with Scott's race???"

Because the CONSTANT excuse for poor behavior and bad decisions is excused by many in the black community as a side effect of poverty and as the only "choice" many black youth have. This is a fallacy, and does the entire black race a disservice. It paints the EDUCATED black youth who fight everyday through the stereotypes, as the exception, not the rule.

So pull up your pants, speak properly, stop calling each other the "n" word, and start praising the successful black youth, who made good decisions, stayed in school, stayed away from drugs, and worked HARD for what they have.

"And before you start turning red (yes, I said red) please refer to my username
P.S. shout out to class of 01"

And before you begin to assume anything, perhaps you could sit YOUR ass down while I give a shout out to THE class of '87.

 

Article Comment sityoassdown commented at 1/20/2011 11:14:00 PM:

cute...I'll respond when I feel like it. Right now, I need to rest bc I've been working all day so I can pay "taxes". I WILL be in touch.

 

Article Comment sityoassdown commented at 1/21/2011 12:21:00 AM:

zenreaper-
I see you like to use all caps, so let me reiterate in a fashion you are more likely to understand. "MANY" (not all). "YET". In case you don't understand what I mean by this, these are two KEY words used in my sentence about (loosely) agreeing with you. I could see your view initially but as I read on, I soon realized you were simply an individual with too much time on your hands BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH

And before YOU assume anything, I DO NOT eat McDonalds. Sorry. "What is wrong" with minimum wage at a fast food restaurant? Absolutely nothing is wrong. The FACT is that the starting rate for most new hires at a fast food establishment is MINIMUM WAGE (all caps again, so you won't have a hard time COPYING and PASTING in to google)

Ooh "fallacy". Big ups to the teachers back in '87. By the way, I purposely typed "class of '01" without using the word "the" because if I was speaking that is exactly how it would have come out. Not because I don't know any better, but bc I'm human and I turn my default spell/grammar check off every once in a while as I live a little (you should try it).

Can you explain what you mean by "educated"? I would say the "scum-bucket" writer/attorney Scott Colom is educated, wouldn't you?
So, can you "praise" him a little and GET a life, or SAVE a life? And since you like to analyze EVERYTHING...here's an assignment-Answer this question: If "poor behavior and bad decisions" are not a reflection of poverty, what EXACTLY is?

One more thing since you are SO very critical--In my first post I said "minimal wage" opposed to saying minimum. Excuse me.

 

Article Comment dz commented at 1/21/2011 10:28:00 AM:

Zenreaper- You've commented that you'd like to see the black community praising those who are making good decisions, staying away from drugs, and doing what is right. Well that seems to be to be exactly what Scott is doing here. He's talking about two guys who have had past issues and have learned how to bounce back and start fresh. We all make mistakes and fall short. None of us are perfect. To highlight two men who have gone to hell and successfully come back from it is EXACTLY the way to motivate those who have found themselves at the bottom and are struggling to get back up. Putting business sense to work at a real company instead of selling drugs. Learning how to live in the real world instead of an altered reality. I think it's a worthwhile point, and I think you are missing it.

 

Article Comment gogetum commented at 1/21/2011 10:52:00 AM:

Surely you can be more inventive than what you call yourself. Charles Barkley would say, shut up "knuckle head" and sit you behind down!
Sad to say, Mr. Colom, but,
Now a days when you see a couple coming to your door with rakes in their hands it's hard to tell if they want a job or want to rob you. I've heard that if they find no one home , one of them will start raking the front yard while the other goes to the back of your house and breaks in to take all your goodies. So it's best to just call the police and take no chances.

 

Article Comment arjun.kaul commented at 1/21/2011 12:34:00 PM:

Hello all. My comment is directed to zenreaper. As you can see, I have no need to hide my name or identity. I'm sorry that you feel so negatively towards the black race. I also think it's very unfortunate that you feel the need to call these Leondra and Omar SCUM. Have you ever met them?

Furthermore, this is an opinion column where writers write about their opinions and therefore their own personal stories and experiences. So, what do you propose Scott should write about? It's always easy to point out what you don't like and to criticize, but your words are not constructive at all, especially under the guise of a username that cannot be linked directly to your actual person.

Also, advertisement would include business hours and a contact number as you so intelligently pointed out. This article clearly lists neither of those things. And, just for the record, Crosscurrent Realty DOES pay for advertisement in the Dispatch.

I applaud Scott's effort to do something positive on behalf of his community and two people who are truly trying their best. As another commenter pointed out, it's hard to tell when two people show up at your door with rakes whether they are honest workers or want to rob you. These are two individuals who actually ARE honest. Being a realty manager, I have had the same experiences and sympathize with that sentiment. I just think it's a shame that people like zenreaper feel the need to throw negativity at people who are trying to something positive.

Zenreaper, if you're mad that Scott isn't writing about you, why not just come out of the dark, take your mask off, introduce yourself in a positive manner and talk about some of the things that you'd like to see Scott write about. I'm sure if you have anything valuable and of interest, he'd gladly take the opportunity to sit down and talk about it.

Overall, I just want to say to the community at large, hateful actions and words not only degrade the object of your hatred, but also the hater. Zenreaper is clearly an intelligent person, instead of spewing hatred back at him or her, let's try to bring this friend into the light and use this person's intelligence to uplift the community instead of bashing the first person who TRIES to do something positive.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

 

Article Comment sityoassdown commented at 1/21/2011 2:09:00 PM:

I understand some are sensitive to the word "ass", thus causing much of my post to be disregarded or misunderstood. In now way am I trying to stir hate. If not for the borderline evil message left by Zenreaper, I probably would not have even commented on this article. To sum things up- no amount of Fairfield Inn's and TJ Maxx's can erase hatred and ignorance. It is time for the friendly city to live up to the name. I signed on as sityoassdown in honor of all the young and hopeful omars and leondraes who look around only to find dumbass (oops there's that word) disconnected people ready to use their voice. Thank you Scott for this article. It will make a difference
also, I will be changing my name for future posts

 

Article Comment slscatchings commented at 1/21/2011 3:01:00 PM:

Okay, for starters I want to applaud Mr. Scott Colom on all of his efforts to shed light on the positive aspects of not only the "Black Community" but also on the city of Columbus period. I was born and raised in the city of Columbus and although I have decided to venture a little ways down the road I still find myself checking in on current events be it by word of mouth or via the Commercial Dispatch, The Columbus Packet, or even Facebook. With that being said so many times I find myself disappointed with the fact that the crime rate for such a small town is "through the roof". This crime rate not only shows evidence of the lack of guidance in the "Black Community" but the "White Community" as well. Regardless of race, although it is very prevalent in the minds of most natives, we need positive light shown on positive things. And for those in our community, who have made bad decisions, be them big or small, and have decided to turn your lives around I COMMEND you. You should be seen as role models for those who feel as though they have no other place to turn. Black or white we have to gain control of our youth.
@ Zenreaper, you are obviously, very ignorant to facts. Sweetheart, have you not observed the crime rates in not only the city of Columbus, the state of Mississippi, but the US period. Please believe the fact that more light may be shed on the "Black Community" but the "White Community" is just as full of drug dealers, poverty, and crime.

Congrats Leondra and Omar!

 

Article Comment hope commented at 1/22/2011 9:26:00 AM:

@gogetum;if they came to your door wearing a football uniform or a basketball uniform, what would you think?

 

Article Comment assistantda commented at 1/22/2011 2:59:00 PM:

I'm currently a prosecutor and have dealt with many individuals who have committed crimes of possession and dealing illegal substances. One of the saddest thing for me and I believe detrimental problems for our communities is recidivism of these indivduals. Earnest people, who have committed a crime but paid their debt to society, often have the hardest times finding employment despite great effort. To the extent possible communities need to stop writing off people with criminal records. If we do not do this we not only doom them to continuing in their criminal ways, but we also do a disservice to our own community. As a christian and a prosecutor I know forgiveness and second chances are vital. I applaud Scott for highlighting these individuals, I hope other ex-cons take encouragement from their story. It would be nice if Columbus offered them similar encouragement, but at the least the basic respect due human beings. My prayers and hope are with them that they stay away from further criminal behavior; not only for their sake but for the sake and safety of Columbus.

 

Article Comment walter commented at 1/22/2011 8:34:00 PM:

Sometimes, even over the objections of persons whose opinions one truly value, one is obligated to take a stand:

The article by Colom is excellent in every way! Particularly in the manner in which it infuse hope and a sense of compassion and understanding for those entrapped by a disease that is perpetuated by those who are in control and wish to use illicit and other drugs as a tool to cripple a large segment of a a people. A people who those in control actually fear and work feverishly, day in and day out, to develop even better ways of controlling those whom they feel most threaten by. If not, why did they pass a law that was more lenient for some than others, especially since all users were guilty of indulging in behaviour that required the same basic substance or ingredients?

Ther is no earthly reason why this nation shouldn't pass a law immediately removing the stigma attached to those specifically targeted. arrested and made felons, based upon a law that is unconstitutional on its face. If one person is convicted, because of race and/or class andanother is set free because of membership in another race or class and it happens repeatedly, then the conviction of the former and not the latter makes the conviction unjust and inhumane.

In the city of Columbus, a certain individual who is no longer with us, reportedly, was chauffered home by a chief of police, in a city owned cruiser, while the former was drugged out of his mind and in possession of untold amount of cocaine. In the world of uisers, at that time, it was common-knowledge that it was done and it was done more than a few time!

It is time to end the cruel, racist practice. When some folks are arrested, the emphasis is on the drugs' criminality; in the case of other folks, the emphasis is on the disease aspect. A law and practice with such duality of outcome is inherently unfair. If it is clearly more unfair to one race or class, than another, then it is violative of the constitutional mandate of equal protection. If it is unequally enforced it is unconstitutional; if the judgement and sentence is unequally applied, then it is unconstitutional!

Look at the prisons and jails, especially in Mississippi. Does anyone in the their right mind thinks for amoment that only young blacks, or African Americans are users of controlled substance? If not, do you think for a moment that Blacks use it to the degree and in the proportion to whites as their percentage of the prison population would seem to indicate? I dare anyone to look at the the sheer numbers and find anything else but race and class as the reason for the great disparity in the prison population. Disparity i arrest, disparity in charges/indictment, disparity in judgments, and disparity in sentences! It is unfair and unconstitutional!

Colom, please continue to write and express yourself. A poor, besieged people needs your insight and your courage and your words of encouragement! The proof that you're right and doing something good is manifested by the attack upon you from the very first person to comment. Ignore him or her....

 

Article Comment walter commented at 1/22/2011 9:36:00 PM:

The socalled "war on drugs" has been waged long enough now that we have sufficient data to establish some basic truths:
Despite millions in the jails and prisons, cocaine and other drugs are just as prevalent as before;

Despite all demographics indulging in its use, the percentage of African Americans made felons by arrests, judgements and sentences is vastly greater than their percentage of the population;

The vast majority of African Americans arrested, indicted, tried and sentenced comes at the hands of white officers, prosecutors, juries and judges;

The disproportionality of arrests, indictments, trials, judgments and sentences bewteen one dominant race and another, at the hand of the other race, raises aquestion that by right should be submitted to the International Court of Law in The Hague;

A prolonged practice of discriminationb that leads to the decay of families, communities and cities, ultimately leads to the annihilation of a race;

Do people really have to be physically dead in order for a clear form of genocide to be recognized and a demand made from the international community to perpetrators to cease and desist?;

Statistical evidence is good, germane, sufficient and real; it is not circumstantial; it is both real and relevant and can be offered at trial, when it is as available and subject to examination as are the statistics compiles over three decades of discrimiatory arrests, indictments, trials, convictions, judgments, and sentences have produced/generated for REAL ATTORNEYS to utilize to prove afact, Beyond A shadow of Doubt.

If a law cannot lend itself to non-discriminatory
enforcement/application, then such law is unconstitutional, per se. Has the drugs laws shown at any point since its enactment that it can lend itself to non-discriminatory application? If so, where? When? Are there statistics to prove just the opposite? Are there people able and willing to testify? Why hasn't there been a hearing on a condition that has long since reached epidemic proportions relative to the African American commuity? I'm not talking about a bunch of of socalled super negro lawyers and other socalled prominent negroes discussing it as members of a panel, before young, impressionable college students. Then glad-handing each other, as they rush to pick up appearance fees. I mean some serious, conscious lawyers who are capable to arguing before the Supreme Court or the International Court of Law.

I ask again: What manner of people would remain as silent as lambs, while 25% of their young men are permanently relegated to a second-class citizenship, by laws that they know to be unfairly applied to them? When the 14th Amendment prohibited discrimination based upon color, drug laws were introduced to make blacks second class and thereby circumvent the constitution. Look at the practice and the outcome to see if I'm right! Who gets the jobs and other opportuities. The son and daughters of the sheriff or judge who were most instrumental in imprisoning a black who would have competed against them. If the law has been and is now being fairly applied, I'll take back every word I've written. If not, then, if Black folks have any courage, any self- respect left; if decent white people long for an open and just society, then the time to make right an injustice, based upon selective enforcement of the drug laws, is now.

If the law does not lend itself to equal and fair emforcement, then the law is inherently unfair and unjust. Thus, the law is unconstitutional and all those who persist in the charade are engaged in the single-most miscarriage of justice of our age. As Black History Month approaches, I challenge you to read Dr. Kings speech on drugs. Why is it that it is that speech by him that is the least quoted?

Make a person a felon, because he or she is black, then deprive him or her of rights, is no different from depriving a person outright, simply because he or she is black.

 

Article Comment walter commented at 1/23/2011 12:17:00 AM:

So there can be absolutely no doubt as to my motives, without the necessity of petitioning for expungment (which would only create attorney fees and opportunities for kickback and further corruption)restore all rights and priviliges to individuals convicted of, or who pled to, simple possession charges, and who, at the time of conviction or plea, had not obtained two or more academic degrees.

Finding decent employment, regardless of the length of time one has been sober, if you're classified a felon or convict, is almost impossible, if you're African American and male. That is much, much to great a burden and way to disproportionate to the offense, for young African Americans, poor whites and other minorities to bear, given the increasingly more competitive nature of the world community. America cannot afford to discount so many of her citizens, when the competition between herself, China and India has begun to heat up so dramatically. It is suicide and down-right stupid for the country to be blindly led by assholes who professed to be law abiding and who wrote the drug laws, while committing unbelieveable criminal acts themselves. If the citizens continue to follow the outmoded view of many of the simpletons who posted here, then it does so at its own peril. Young suffers of drug addiction aren't really criminals, yet. Keep enforcing your antiquated laws and doing so in the discriminatory manner in which you have enforced them, and they will become criminals for real. The great impulse is survival. Deprived of opportunities to live decently, within fair and just laws, then they have no alternative but to turn to real crime. By the way, you wrongly perceive that they are powerless. To an extent you are correct. They lack the power to run Columbus or Mississippi; but, they have more than enough power to keep Columbus and Mississippi from running. If you recall elementary laws of physics and math, you know that albeit negative, it is power, nevertheless. As power, it is consequential. By the way, don't get angry with the messenger. Deal with the facts, the truths. They are there for all to see, analyze and debate for yourselves.

For me it is no longer relevant or material. But for young people who still must make there way in society, you owe them a change of direction. if they're already crippled by the disease, it is cruel to burden them even more by classifying them as felons. There are people in prison in Mississippi for possessing less than 50$ worth of REAL cocaine and they're sentenced to 20 and 30 years! Who, in their right mind finds such a situation just? Who, in their right mind, think it is fair? Who damaged society more, addicts on 20th Streets or the ones on Wall Street? yet, how many on wall Street even worried one single second about doing time? Why should they? Justice isn't cheap and they had so much of your money and other peoples' money, they didn't and don't worry about a thing...

 

Article Comment zenreaper commented at 1/23/2011 7:56:00 AM:

Gee, lots of interesting comments to respond to, let's see if I can get them all in one response. First, and foremost, I have no ill will towards ANYONE, regardless of race. Of course, to criticize ANY actions or words of a black person makes me a racist, right? So if a black person criticizes ANY words of a white person, are THEY a racist as well? Of course not, because they have that right. My criticism of the writers opinions are just that, my opinions. As for whom I "actually" am, well, your responses here have made it clear. If my true identity were revealed, it would negatively impact my wife, my child and I. Because as white people, we aren't ALLOWED to criticize anyone, without being labeled a racist.

As for the prosecutor who wishes we could give MORE second chances to those who have run afoul of the law, how about the FIRST chances for those who haven't? How about the job for the kid who HASN'T tried selling drugs or robbing a store? Nope, got to take care of the criminals FIRST. Sorry, I have all kinds of respect for people who turn their lives around, but MUCH more respect for those who didn't HAVE to turn them around, because they kept on the straight and narrow from the start.

And walter, well, I got no advice for you. Is the system perfect? Nope. Are people convicted because of race? Yep. Does that mean black men have no choice? NO. No one forces anyone to be a drug dealer; it is a choice they make, black or white.

 

Article Comment walter commented at 1/23/2011 3:26:00 PM:

In a "Christian Nation" we believe, those of us who are True Believers, that none, among the living is perfect. Thus, Our Father, Who Art in Heaven, sent to live among us, His Only Begotten Son. He came, lived, and died on An Ole Rugged Cross, for the sins of man. We believe that. And, unless you're not among the majority of Americans, who do believe that to be the gossip, I'll forgive you for your arrogance and cold-bloodiness. Jesus died in order that imperfect beings be afforded second chances.

As you acknowledge: "Nope." The system is not perfect. To provide for that basic fact, wise men included within the justice system a provision whereby people (blacks, whites, reds, browns, yellows, rich or poor) it is presumed that an individual, any individual, regardless of innocence or guilt, of the offense charged, is able to be rehabilitated.

The choice for African American people was taken from them the day their foreparents were brought onto these shores in shackles and chains; when their mothers were forcefully taken and violated, sometimes in front of their children, husbands or beaus; when years of Jim Crow insisted that Blacks had no right of which whites were ever duty-bound to respect; when little black boys and little black girls were forced to walk (often in rain and snow) miles to school, while little white boys and little white girls rode past them in heated buses, which were paid for by the parents of the little black boys and little black girls' parents helped pay for; when the Susan Smiths of the world knew and know that most, if not all suspicion of their culpability for heineous crimes could be diverted by merely accusing a black man, any black man; and when not a single Southern state gave a popular man of color a majority for the office of President. Go figure, *&%$!!

 

Article Comment zenreaper commented at 1/24/2011 5:14:00 AM:

Well, walter, as an atheist, I realize that your "story" and your "bible" are just as false as the THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of "religions" that came before yours. A story made up to explain things that we do not yet understand. As for your comment, "And, unless you're not among the majority of Americans, who do believe that to be the gossip, I'll forgive you for your arrogance and cold-bloodiness.", I don;t really think that is very CHRISTIAN of you, now is it? By doing so, you are JUDGING me, which your book says is wrong.

As for the second paragraph, yeah, there were slaves. Slavery existed (of course many of the slave "dealers" on the African shores were AFRICAN, but lets not let facts get in the way). It was horrible. It was ENDED. It was ended a LONG time ago. And yes, there was discrimination. Laws were passed. No more laws need to be passed, hearts need to be changed. That happens with the children. Things are getting better. We have a black President.

The problem with your excuse was that I was not TALKING about recognizing WHITE non-offenders over BLACK offenders, I was talking about recognizing BLACK non-offenders (who are the LARGE majority) over BLACK offenders. You preach your mantra about how it USED to be, but look at how it IS right now. Imagine you are a LAW ABIDING black teenager. You can't find a JOB, because no one will hire you. Is it because you are BLACK, or is it because the media promotes, and the black community leaders DEFEND, the THUGS and GANGSTERS that make up a MINORITY of the race? I think we BOTH know the answer.

So move past slavery, you WEREN'T one, move past civil rights issues, cause if you are old enough to remember it, you KNOW things are FAR better now, and start taking responsibility for your OWN actions.

 

Article Comment sityoassdown commented at 1/24/2011 11:07:00 AM:

I know I was supposed to get a new username but haven't had time. Thank you zenreaper for confirmation that absolutely nothing has changed..and NO I wasn't a slave...but no I will not let go of the challenges,pain,and suffering my people have faced. Maybe the people you are mistaking for thugs and gangsters are the new leaders of our community. THIS PORTION IS NOT FOR THE ZENREAPERS OF THE WORLD: It is time for us as black ppl to come together on one accord and redefine our place in society. It is disgusting to me for the same society classifying my people as thugs to use their measure to gauge whether or not the struggle is over. Remember when I said there were things about this article i didn't like...it wasn't necessarily that i didn't like it. I simply believe we need to "stay at home" with our wounds until they are healed because there are plenty of dispatch readers who misunderstand our feat and are always ready to throw salt on our open wounds. Let's heal from the inside out. I'm really sick of this bull

 

Article Comment arjun.kaul commented at 1/24/2011 12:27:00 PM:

Dear zenreaper,

In your last post, you said, "If my true identity were revealed, it would negatively impact my wife, my child and I. Because as white people, we aren't ALLOWED to criticize anyone, without being labeled a racist."

What do you think is worse: Being a white person and being labeled a racist? Or being Leondra and/or Omar and being called SCUM and people writing about you saying that you don't deserve a second chance, and actually having to deal with that reality? I for one, would much rather be CALLED a racist, than not actually have a way to make any money because of mistakes I committed in my past. You ARE NOT the victim here sir.

You made a point that you'd rather hire someone who has always kept his life on the straight and narrow the whole time, yet I don't see anyone who has disagreed with that point. This article in no way advocates hiring Leondra and Omar INSTEAD of people who have never made mistakes. This column is simply recognizing that these two individuals are doing their best to break a cycle of ignorance that has plagued them and their peers and that the writer of the column feels that they ARE showing that they DO deserve a second chance, and that there are other people like them.

I don't think any of the commenters has called you a racist, sir. I do respect your need and right for privacy, and if you don't want to reveal your identity, then of course you have that right, as you are currently exercising it.

I think your overall tone in your comments went from attacking the writer of the column as someone who YOU feel is clearly not on your intellectual level, to a defensive tone where you are portraying yourself as a victim.

It seems that while you are responding to other posts directly, the only response you've made to mine is a change in tone. So I ask you again sir, what do you propose be done? More specifically, what should Leondra and Omar do? Should they just say, "Well, Mr. zenreaper has determined that we're SCUM, and we don't deserve a second chance, let's just do nothing and live off food stamps and welfare.." I have a sneaky suspicion that your heart and mind does not have much tolerance for those who choose that route either..

The simple question is this: Do they deserve a second chance?

I know you prefer people who have never made a mistake before in life (even though this is clearly an ideal - perhaps you've been very protected and sheltered from the real world because EVERYONE makes mistakes, including both you and I) but for those of us who are dealing with the real world and are concerned with making it a better place not only for my children, but for yours too, how do we tackle this problem? There ARE people who have made mistakes before. What should we do for those people?

I am very keenly awaiting your response.

I am enjoying the productive parts of this dialogue and I hope everyone else is too. For those who are personally offended by comments made here, I urge you to know that nothing here is personal as none (other than Scott and myself) of us have our identities revealed here. This is a great chance for us to talk to people that we might not get a chance to talk to otherwise. The beauty in this is that we do have a chance to establish a dialogue between people who might not EVER speak to each other, even in a small town like Columbus. And to zenreaper, I hope you do not feel as if I am attacking you. I genuinely am interested in finding a solution that can satisfy and benefit everyone. I don't think I can do this without you and your willingness to share your viewpoints and feelings.

Thanks all,

Arjun

 

Article Comment walter commented at 1/24/2011 3:01:00 PM:

Belief in or even total rejection of the Bible, aside, examine the mound of data that has already been complied after 3 decades of "The War on Drugs." The answer to the question: Do past conditions and status impact current ones is so obvious, none but the most dense would venture to argue the negative! The question that is most germane is this: How long does it takes for the effects of past conditions to cease having significant impact on current conditions of those who are the offsprings of persons negatively impacted in the past? What if the impact from the original negative conditions are/were excerbated by Jim Crow and even more subtle discriminatory acts and practices targeted against the offsprings themselves? Who is most able to tell when the effect is no longer a problem: The offsprings of those who created the negative conditions or the offsprings of those who were made to suffer through those conditions?

The impact of past conditions is easily measurable by looking at the severity and duration of the past conditions and looking at the steps taken by society to rectify it, minus the resistance to those steps from people in denial about what ACTUALLY occurred in the past. Have Jews forgotten the holocaust and no longer feel that their lives, today, is still severely impacted by it? Have Americans and many others in the world who justifiably support Isreal monetarily and give it preferential treatment, on occasion, forgotten the holocaust? Japaneses placed in Interment Camps received some form of restitution, although quite meager for what they were subjected to. African Americans, Jews and Japaneses have all been victimized because of race or color. African Americans, unlike, the other two, or any other people who also claim to have been victimized because of race, had their culture stripped from them; their conditions persisted for centuries! So, don't try to argue that Blacks, just like Jews and Japaneses, should be able to just as easily open their own businesses and provide for their own families and communities; avoid sedatives that help numb their pain; and, take adavantages of educational opportunities that are available. Neither Jews nor Japaneses, in America, were ever subjected to brutal beatings, and possible death, for even attempting to learn to read and write, as was the case for Blacks.

If you cannot believe in the Bible, as the gossip, then believe in recorded history. Do not permanently relegate a people to second class citizenship by making them felons for life, then treating them accordingly, when we know that people are impacted by events from their past; when we know, that except for Zenreaper, his wife, their children and their friends, everybody else in the entire world has lived an imperfect life and that whether He lived, as The Bible teaches us He did or not, His teachings, whether you consider it myth or real, of forgivenesss and second-chances, as a way of life, is the best course for humanity.

This is where race comes into play: Most instruments of society that deals with crime and punishment are in the hands of whites; the disproportionate number of those deemed criminals and punished by them are blacks. Neither whites, nor blacks can escape our pasts or the pasts of our foreparents. We must accept that as a given and develop more creative, fair, balanced and just laws to address what the American Medical Association, as a body, has consistently classified as a disease. Everybody who drinks alcohol isn't an alcoholic. All people who drink are not classified as alcoholics. News flash: Contrary to popular stories, everyone who indulges in smoking weed are not addicts. By basing felony laws upon what are essentially human vices and then putting it in the hands of one race, moreso than another, to decide when to act upon the laws and against whom the laws should be applied, gives the ones with the greatest power to decide when to apply the laws the power to control and, in time, totally castrate those lacking the power to decide when the laws applies. Thus, we have 25% of African American males under the control of criminal justice system; we have 25% of African American males fighting against zenreapers of the world seeking second chances; we have 25% of African American males who zenreaper's wife, children and friend will never have to compete against for housing, educational or employment opportunities, or for the affection of companionship that they desire. Isn't that exactly what slavery did and Jim Crow: eliminated competition so that whites were assured unfair advantages?

Is the crime in doing the deed, or simply in being arrested and charged? Does race play a part in determining who will be arrested, and then ultimately charged, tried and convicted? If the crime is the deed, then the last three Presidents of the United States are all criminals, aren't they? And more lawyers, businessmen and women, judges and D.A.'s than you'll ever know! From Jackson to Memphis to Columbus and all over the coast and The Delta!

This is 2011! It is time to repeal all drug laws and enact laws that take into consideration the truth about our society, in respect to race and class and the findings of the A.M.A. If not, we're building a growing segment of our society who will have no other choice, since they're felons and not entitled to a second chance, as zen believes, who will be forced to prey upon the rest of us "Perfect people" and use any means necessary to survive and live meaningful lives. WE will have neither the manpower nor the resources required to stop them, when they realize just how permanent their status as felons is and the degree to which it cripples them and their offsprings, for life. The 9/11 act was carried out by a handful of individuals, who felt powerless to defend themselves from what they perceived to be a more powerful force. Despite the unfortunate and dastardly act, it provides lessons that we fail to heed at our own peril. Injustice is so foul, anyone the victim of it knows it in an instance and if they know that race and class are the primary reasons for their suffering, based upon mounds of data, 25% of the young males of a people will one day act...

 

Article Comment zenreaper commented at 1/25/2011 12:26:00 PM:

To arjun:

First of all, they did not make a "mistake". Its not like they said, "Oops, we accidentally sold DRUGS..." They made a CHOICE, and a BAD CHOICE, and they did so NOT because they had no OTHER choice, but because it was the EASY choice (much harder to work a regular job and work your way up the ladder). And as for calling them SCUM, well, they were DRUG DEALERS. Sorry if you feel that the CONSEQUENCE of being called SCUM should not come with the CHOICE to ACT like scum. That is the MAJOR problem, everyone wants the CHOICE, no one wants the CONSEQUENCES.

To walter: Stop WHINING. African Amercians GOT their reparations, in the form of quotas and affirmative action programs. And what was the result? Multiple generations of people that DEMAND equality, yet do not think they have the means to do so. If a black man was found to be with drugs, he is GUITY. To give a lighter sentence as "payback" does the black race disservice, as well as empower the white folks who want to point OUT how bad "them blacks" are. See, you ASSUME I am white, and not black, because I am calling for the empowerment of black people as a whole, by REMOVING the yoke of help from the white race, and trying to help them see that until THEY see THEMSELVES as equal, no one else will either.

Why you would see a person calling for empowering a people as being "against" them, says far more about you than I.

 

Article Comment arjun.kaul commented at 1/25/2011 5:56:00 PM:

zenreaper:

We can argue about opinions all day long if you'd like, as that's what I've decided to take part in this process. However, you are arguing facts, which is ridiculous and shows your complete lack of understanding at not only the topics at hand, but also just the general workings of debate and overall sensible behavior. According to Merriam-Webster, which for MOST people, maybe not you zenreaper, is a reputable and reliable source, a "mistake" is defined as:

1
: a wrong judgment : misunderstanding
2
: a wrong action or statement proceeding from faulty judgment, inadequate knowledge, or inattention

You can check that here:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mistake?show=1&t=1295998167

BOTH of these definitions are accurate and I can use this word to mean either of these definitions and be accurate.

Moving forward, in your most recent statement, it seems you seem to have confused your OWN judgments and opinions with facts:

"Sorry if you feel that the CONSEQUENCE of being called SCUM should not come with the CHOICE to ACT like scum."

You've simply repeated your opinion in the form of a factual statement. Who are you to say that these people are scum? Please cite some reputable source that shows these words to be factual and not simply the opinion of a confused and immature little boy who wants to say big and tough words but doesn't have the courage to back anything up.

zenreaper, I've done everything I can to engage you in a productive dialogue, but it's become clear that you have no intention of doing that. You just want to throw stones at people from the protection of a hill. (In case you misunderstood, that's a metaphor. What I mean is that you're making bold statements against people from a fake name.) Since that's the case, I'm going to go ahead and say it: zenreaper, you're a coward. Everyone who reads these posts can see that.

You were the first person to bring up race and called Scott a disgrace to his race. Then you insinuated that you were white and that white people can't say anything without being called racists. Now, you're trying to insinuate that you're not white. You can't stick to anything you say. Coward.

Furthermore, you never even answered my question. You got defensive again. You still have not provided a reasonable answer as to what should be done about this problem. All you've done is continually insult anyone who disagrees with you. Coward.

Every time you post a hateful comment, I will be there to respond and show everyone how foolish you truly are: A Coward.

AND LASTLY, PUTTING THINGS IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS DOESN'T MAKE YOUR POINTS MORE ACCURATE. IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'VE BEEN WATCHING TOO MUCH FOX NEWS WHERE YOUR IDOLS JUST SCREAM LOUDER TO MAKE POINTS THAT SHOW NO INTELLIGENCE BUT RATHER FEAR AND LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY. SCREAMING LOUDER OR TYPING IN ALL CAPS DOES NOT INCREASE THE VALIDITY OF ANY MORE OF YOUR POINTS.

My suggestion is you cease your commentary. If you persist, I will gladly destroy all your comments as I have been in this one. I hope one day you can grow up and mature and realize that fairness and equality breeds a higher morality and better society for us all. One day we might be able to live side by side if you stopped being so scared. Coward.

 

Article Comment sityoassdown commented at 1/25/2011 11:40:00 PM:

After much thought...I'm sticking with my name :)..
and like I said before, I don't really want to get into deep expressions of my beliefs just yet..but I just thought I'd add this: Do you guys want to see another example of Columbus, MS at its finest? Ok...once upon a time there was a city where ALL little boys and girls had a CHOICE and VOICE. There was even a newspaper that let the coloreds write articles (no offense, Mr. Colom) This same newspaper was so kind as to honor the mayor of the city by recognizing a story featuring him as one of the most memorable stories of 2010 (interesting choice in photograph. like "slavery", some things should be left in the past. This article could have certainly been a no-go especially since there were only TWO memorable stories for the year!!). Now, let's just say this same newspaper were to ALLOW free expression by having opinion columns written by locals. These columns can be read by many all over the world. ANYBODY. MANY TIMES. You can read the article over and over and see any comments made (through a dimmed screen)...BUT if you want to comment and be HEARD, you MUST PAY a fee and subscribe (once you've exceeded the max amount of free views). Due to my strong interest in this column and other articles, I have exceeded my limit on one of my computers and my cell phone. In a moment of scum-thuggery (you like that don't you, zen?), I had an aha moment. Go to another computer for one last post (oh my gosh, I'm stealing, beating the system, and going back for more...off with my damn head :-0). There is SO much being left unsaid here because there are SO many people who can see what's going on with this post BUT CAN'T GET THROUGH TO SAY ANYTHING (COLUMBUS,MS in a nutshell). In the same manner that I appreciate and recognize (not much) the CHOICES available to EVERYONE in Columbus, I appreciate and recognize (not much) the chance to be heard here.
Dear Dispatch,
Open these boards up!!! You won't lose any money. You got enough people to subscribe with that last "Special" you guys had :)

 

Article Comment sityoassdown commented at 1/26/2011 12:07:00 AM:

Mr. Kaul,
Wow! Columbus needs more people like you. People who are trying to handle business and live life here but are not afraid to stand FIRM for something (no matter what it is). Amazingly fresh to see you put the fire to Zen without wearing a mask. I wish I could let my identity be known right now but Columbus is the type of place where they may throw a crack rock in your car and call the police if they see you as a threat to the nonexistent safety net of same ol' same ol'...happens ALL the time..then after I'm locked away Zen and his wife and kids will be free to continue racist, or not. (Racist. Or, not. I am not calling anyone a racist) I guess it's just the way to survive in Mississippi.

 

Article Comment zenreaper commented at 1/26/2011 12:13:00 PM:

Arjun, thought you were better than that. I was mistaken.

"1
: a wrong judgment : misunderstanding
2
: a wrong action or statement proceeding from faulty judgment, inadequate knowledge, or inattention"

Oh, so they didn't KNOW drug dealing was illegal? Nope, that couldn't be it. So they had "faulty judgement"? Nope, they decided, with a full understand of the LAW, to break it in order to make money easier. But, of course, when you are attempting to use LOGIC to defend DRUG DEALERS, one cannot expect much more.

"Who are you to say that these people are scum? Please cite some reputable source that shows these words to be factual and not simply the opinion of a confused and immature little boy who wants to say big and tough words but doesn't have the courage to back anything up."

They are criminals who provide POISON to ADDICTS, and make a PROFIT from it. Not my opinion, a FACT. Drug dealers are SCUM. But defend away, and then wonder again what is wrong with society. I guess that they are really, "undocumented pharmacists", right?

"You were the first person to bring up race and called Scott a disgrace to his race."

His statement that DRUG DEALING was a good business decision said that.

"You still have not provided a reasonable answer as to what should be done about this problem. All you've done is continually insult anyone who disagrees with you. Coward."

Really? SO I didn't propose a campaign to spotlight those who have NOT become involved with drugs, or committed illegals acts? Yes I did, that is in my first response. I didn't suggest that ADVERTISING in the OPINION section was not correct? Yes, I did. And I find it interesting that your post, full of insults and name calling, would contain a call out to ME about insulting. Humorous. Not unexpected, as when you have decided to defend drug dealers, you really have a limited arsenal.

"If you persist, I will gladly destroy all your comments as I have been in this one."

Yeah.

I hope one day you can grow up and mature and realize that fairness and equality breeds a higher morality and better society for us all."

And how moral is DEFENDING drug dealers?

"One day we might be able to live side by side if you stopped being so scared. Coward."

Well, maybe we COULD live side by side if people like you would realize that the "us" and "them" is the criminals and the law abiding citizens, and has nothing to do with race. Until then, you keep on defending the criminals, and I will keep on supporting their incarceration.

 

Article Comment arjun.kaul commented at 1/26/2011 5:38:00 PM:

zenreaper,

None of your comments were a direct response to anything I said. You are still skirting around every issue, which once again highlights your cowardice. You STILL have not proposed any sory of solution for people who have made mistakes in the past. I know for a fact you've made many, many, many mistakes, including every even trying to battle with me as you're being destroyed with every word I type. You're also making it clear that you've made mistakes because you're too scared to show your identity. If the world abided by your standards, then you would be in jail for the rest of your life as you seem to believe that no one deserves a second chance.

All you do is sit back and criticize people, with nothing but invalid criticisms. Take your mask off man. Let's just do things your way and talk bad about one another and see how far we get together. I leave you with this one last quote, which resonates and echoes thunderously with your entire life:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

-Theodore Roosevelt

 

Article Comment zenreaper commented at 1/26/2011 6:15:00 PM:

"None of your comments were a direct response to anything I said."

No, they just were not the responses you would like.

"You STILL have not proposed any sory of solution for people who have made mistakes in the past."

There are solutions out there for those people. There are numerous rehab programs, prison to work programs, etc. Is it harder for them than for those that have not made mistakes? Of course, and it SHOULD be.

"I know for a fact you've made many, many, many mistakes, including every even trying to battle with me as you're being destroyed with every word I type."

One word, "syntax", look it up.

"You're also making it clear that you've made mistakes because you're too scared to show your identity."

It is not a fear of facing my mistakes that keeps my identity a secret. It is the knowledge that people like you, who do not want to hear the truth, will attempt to destroy the truth teller before accepting his words. And if you decimate his family in the process, you have no problem with that.

"If the world abided by your standards, then you would be in jail for the rest of your life as you seem to believe that no one deserves a second chance."

You keep repeating this line, in post after post, who are you trying to convince, you or I? I did not say these words. I said that those who haven't NEEDED a second chance deserve more attention and care than those who have. And WITH that second chance should come an acceptence of the wrongs they have committed, and an understanding that society expects them to work HARDER, and to ACCEPT more scrutiny, because of their actions in the past.

"All you do is sit back and criticize people, with nothing but invalid criticisms."

Perception is 100% reality. Other than your personal attacks, I have not stated ONCE that your criticisms or opinions are invalid. Yet you have repeatedly told me that mine are. Isn't this a great country where both your opinions and mine are equally valid in our own minds?

"who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly"

Oh yes, the "daring" act of being a DRUG DEALER. The "worthy cause" of selling POISON in one's own community. I am sure that's what Roosevelt had in mind. The man, "who strives valiantly" to kill his own species with DRUGS.

 

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