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By: Roy Douglas Malonson, Publisher of African-American News & Issues & Author of column series We MUST Understand

            Maya Angelou once conveyed an encouraging thought, when she said, “Develop enough courage so that you can stand up for yourself and then stand up for somebody else.” Years ago, when I was growing up in Acres Home, I had to learn very quickly that I needed to have enough courage to stand up for myself. Because if I didn’t people would run all over me and at many points in my life, back then – they did. However, as I continued to mature, I also developed the mindset that I wouldn’t allow anybody to run over me and those I love, especially my own people. I came to the realization that when people choose to disrespect members of the African-American community on a wide scale and especially in mainstream media; it is really a reflection and indication of how they view, generalize and feel about members of our race as a whole.

Darian Ward

I thought on these things in regards to the recent uncovering of the actions performed by the Press Secretary for the City of Houston, Darian Ward; as well as the disciplinarian solutions that she was faced with. Recently, the Houston Chronicle featured an article entitled, “Emails show Turner aide repeatedly used city resources for personal business”. The first statement in the report states, “Mayor Sylvester Turner’s press secretary used Houston’s publicly-funded television station to promote contestants in a reality show she was developing as one of many private business ventures, emails show, part of her sustained use of public office to further her personal interests.”

The story goes into much detail regarding the amount of pages of emails and conversations that Ward used at the city’s expense. It claims she, “pitched several reality series to television networks”; “routinely leveraged her public title and the access it afforded to boost her private interests” and “leveraged her position for the benefit of charities she supported”, while serving as press secretary. Although Mayor Turner suspended Ward for two weeks without pay, the article criticized the mayor for having, “brushed off critiques of Ward’s behavior”.

Sylvester Turner newly elected Mayor of the City of Houston photographed at City Hall December 15 2015. (photo by Richard Carson)
Photos provided for “Editorial Use” only for editorial, factual, educational, news, informational and/or historical purposes, including in order to depict persons, places or event of public interest. All other usage rights reserved.

Mayor Turner’s response according to the Chronicle was,

“She’s done her job extremely well since I’ve been here, over and above.” He further said, “I have no question with regard to her work performance.” Undoubtedly, the mayor’s response was not the intended one that the writers desired to hear, so they kept fishing. Amidst reporting the comments of others, former Mayor Annise Parker, raised from the dead to put her two cents in. The article informs that Ward was originally the press secretary of the former mayor, since 2014 and Mayor Turner kept her on, once he was elected to office.


Former Houston Mayor
Annise Parker

Apparently, the naïve former mayor was unaware of the misconduct during her tenure, but that did not stop her from offering her opinion on the subject. The feature records her as saying, “As far as I’m concerned, that’s a fireable offense.” It also states that she said, “The work I was aware that she was doing was acceptable, which is why she kept her job, but this is unacceptable.”

According to the evidence presented suggests that the original offenses were initiated during Parker’s term as a mayor. The way I see it, she had her damn chance to rectify the situation and didn’t do a damn thing about it. So if she didn’t catch it when it actually happened on her watch, then why in the hell should her opinion be taken into consideration? It’s always easy to sit back and comment on what you would or wouldn’t do; or how you would handle a situation so much differently from the person who is responsible for it, when you are a spectator.

We MUST Understand that there will forever be something about this Blackness that is seriously misunderstood. It is a proven fact that the Black race MUST work twice as hard as everybody else just to get ahead. By no means am I attempting to justify this situation. However, African-American News & Issues is and always has been the watchman on the wall for our people and I am just used to telling it like it is.

Therefore, I have to say that reading the comments made by former Mayor Parker reminds me of the many challenges that Black folks in high level positions face. American citizens have literally just witnessed the nation being governed by the first “acknowledged” African-American president, who left a legacy of positive influence on the country. Although many searched high and low to find some egregious acts to entrap him up in, the only true crime that he was ever guilty of while serving as POTUS, was being Black in America.

Rebecca Elliott
Mike Morris
Ted Oberg

Furthermore, it appears that the Houston Chronicle must be mighty hard up for stories, if all they can do is commission their writers, Rebecca Elliott and Mike Morris to go wake up the dead. From the looks of things, it appears that the Chronicle is grasping for straws, trying to build and present a case for circulation. As far as that’s concerned, ABC13’s Ted Oberg isn’t too far behind either.