It’s pretty rare we run long-winded letters in de Chatterbox. But reading this one made my dentures fly across de room. Once again, somebody got all in their feelings about our observations–but this time about a beloved community leader, who recently announced out of the sky blue that she was movin’ on from a high profile job. You know people can have all de education in the world, but that’ don’t mean dey be smart. Do President Trump got folks so shook up dey don’t know news from gossip from humor from facts from fiction? We guess so, but we digress. Check out what my publisher put in my mailbox.
Dear Mrs. Leavell:
“I write to you to express my extreme disappointment in a recent blurb that appeared in the online edition about Shari Runner, former President & CEO of the Chicago League. Honestly, I am not very familiar with the Crusader as I live in Baltimore. A colleague (who happens to be a white male that I worked with when Clark Burris was making sure Black bankers got their fair share of City of Chicago’s municipal finance deals), forwarded me the content of the article and asked if it was an insult to be a light skinned leader. I was so livid that I spent ½ hour searching the net for the original source.
I got something that looked more like a reality TV script instead of important information that the Black community in Chicago which is literally dying needs. I am not sure who wrote the “blurb” but the racism and sexism was glaring to me. Instead of focusing on some of the important issues that Shari has been working on around the clock during her tenure at CUL and before as a child of Dr. Charles and Dorothy Runner, the piece focused on her “light skin”; resemblance to Linda Johnson and shoulderless ball gowns. Really????
I have spent a large part of my life on the East Coast advocating, at times defending, Chicago as worthy of the legacy it has nationally. We had a Black Congressman (Dawson); elected a game changer Black Mayor (Harold Washington); sent the first Black female to the U.S. Senate (Carol Mosley Braun); which laid the foundation for Senator Barack Obama who became the 44th U.S. President.
“A lot of the political advances in Chicago were supported by the iconic Black businesses (Jet/Ebony, Johnson Products, Softsheen, Supreme Life Insurance and social service organizations like the Chicago Urban League, PUSH, the Boys and Girls Clubs and faith based congregations from Trinity, Apostolic, Fellowship, Black Muslims). Shari joined CUL at a critical time. In the rise of the Black Lives Matters [sic] movement, many were questioning the relevance of historical black organizations like the Urban League, NAACP, PUSH, etc. Shari was answering that question in a thoughtful, inclusive, and forward thinking way as evidenced by the Bryan Stevenson event.
“So I am just asking you… to check yourself and your team. Black media will never survive if it only focuses on the small things. The “fake news” is looking for opportunities to prevent folks from knowing the truth. I was recently at the National Museum in the Emmet [sic] Till room. Although sad, I took pride in knowing that it was the Black media in Chicago that got the real story out. Give us some real news. We need it.
In closing, I don’t want to dignify some of the “blackface” comments but let me just say, even Stevie Wonder can see 1) that Shari is not light skinned; 2) that all Black powerful women don’t look alike and 3) Chicago is in trouble.”
Pamela K. Anderson
Hello Sister Anderson,
Chile’ I thought you’d never stop yappin’ on and on and on about the good old days when Negroes in Chicago had some power and influence. We are officially in de bad old days – and if we don’t laugh about it sometimes, we surely gone explode. We also be so sorry dat a white man made you cry. While we applaud him for having the common sense to read the Black Press, we also hope you punched him dead in his face for askin’ you something so dumb lak dat. How dare he ask you if being high yella was an insult. It is if you out here passin.’ And its a slap in the face if Shari Runner was really the color of Wesley Snipes and then we called her light skin. Then you’d be on to something.
Instead of being mad as a junk yard hound about us pointing out her love of sleeveless ballroom gowns and her resemblance of Linda Johnson Rice (now, you know they look alike), you ought to be writing your diatribe at the Chicago Urban League board, who allegedly refused to renew Dr. Runner’s contract–after years of bringing in the cash to the League. Ask de questions! Why is she gone?
People out here meddlin’ and sayin’ that the outgoing coconut colored president drew the ire of some power-ups because she dared to snap out of the bougie thought bubble and ask some pertinent questions. We know they ain’t let her go because she had Babyface’s tired behind singing all those slow jams at the last Golden Dinner – putting half of the geriatric crowd to sleep with all those songs that all sound the same. That rainbow colored Board of Directors over there got a combined net worth of probably $5 billion. With all dat money, Shari shouldn’t had to go out and hustle up de cash in de first place.
As for you mentioning our great, fine senators Obama (butterscotch) and Braun (caramel colored), you forgot one–Roland, Burris (pecan). How come folks always skip over him? He ain’t exactly chopped liver you know–even though he twice let white folk trick him out of power. Wasn’t no Roland wouldn’t have been no Braun or Obama. You say in the “rise of the Black Lives Matter movement many were questioning the relevance of Black organizations” and then you go on to name the ones you assumed ain’t relevant. And, little one, we don’t know how long you been hanging out in de City of Freddie Gray, but ain’t no Black banks left–except one that somebody is claiming the Koreans really own (instead of the African – very black. but with good teeth).
Did your white coworker tell you to write that too? Because ain’t nobody questioning no relevance of Black organizations except Negroes who think they done made it somehow and don’t need no folk to help ‘em out from time to time. When we joined the Urban League in 1920 it was about something–and later when that light skinned Whitney Young came long, we was happy to go to de meetings and protest white folks racism. Now the Chicago Urban League and its headquarters is all about fancy dinners, seeing who could get in the White House (when Obama was there), grinning with politicians, and issuing a bunch of negative reports about how po’ we be; how uneducated we be; how jailed we be; how sick we be; how frugal we ain’t; and how white folks still don’t like us–because we every shade of Negro. Them death indexes the League calls “reports” make for a lot of donations to help de downtrodden–most of whom are paraded before the masses in pictures in de annual reports.
Urban League ain’t no social service agency and never was. Runner could only do so much after takin’ control of the joint following the retirement of Jim Compton (walnut colored), who in addition to speaking French, also gave a damn about people. After Cheryl Jackson (light skin) and Andrea Zopp (also light skin) went through de place and reorganized it to be a advocacy group for City Hall and the General Assembly, what else was Runner left to do?
And for de record, Stevie Wonder cannot see that Shari Runner is light skinned or any other complexion. He lost his sight as a child, if you recall. If we send this paper to him in Braille would he be insulted at you makin’ light of folks who are vision impaired? You thank he get tired of Negroes saying “even Stevie Wonder (dark skin) can see….” ‘Cause if I was blind, I sho’ would. But we got our big gal bloomers on. We knows you ain’t mean that literally, you was just making a pun right? Like you saying that even Little Stevie “can see” doesn’t mean that suddenly he has physical sight? Like, we ain’t taking this as “real news” you’re breaking here, is we?
And as for “focusing on the small things”–well, we don’t think a big time leader leaving a big time organization is no small thing. We think it mean something and people don’t just up and quit Negro groups for no good reason, now do they? I mean often times, they get run out for messin’ up de money or sleeping with employees and trying to pay them off under de table like somebody whose name we won’t mention.
Shari Runner is a nice light skin leader who looks like Linda Johnson Rice and we is sad to see her leave the Urban League after restoring some measure of hope dat de place wasn’t totally going to hell in a handbasket.
Honey, please grow up and direct your misplaced anger toward those who sent Ms. Runner packing. And, please stay off the crabs, cause yo’ claws be clickin.
THE FIX BE IN
Have Illinois Republicans become so dissatisfied with Bruce “Frankenhead” Rauner that dey put a straw horse in de race to ensure he don’t step foot in Springfield again, unless he’s a tourist? Yes, but you already knew that. But what you ain’t know is a deal supposedly been cut on how to divide up the $40 billion investment in the state that is supposedly in the works, with some of dat money coming from some Koch Brother-related fund. Now we don’t know if its Koch, crack or heroin, but who ever funding this scheme, will send about $100 million to Negroes who keep up dey end of the bargain and ensure that Ragin’ Rauner loses in November. That will be good news to all dem day care workers who lost their incomes after de governor decided to sit on a pool of money while fighting with The Riddler (we mean Mike Madigan) for the entire duration of his term. All of us at the senior home didn’t get new Depends for weeks and we all were a (curse word that rhymes with bitty) mess.