Thursday, 10 March 2011 19:41

Bobby Jindal Doing The White Thing In Louisiana

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Stephen Sabludowsky--Publisher of Bayoubuzz.comHow does the first Indian Governor--who also seems to possess high-national political ambitions by virtue of appearing on popular talk shows and by writing a self-promotional book-- suddenly become cast as being racially-insensitive towards minorities and particularly African Americans?

This is the question that some are now asking as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal appears to have “seen the light” after his journey in “going white”.

White, as in selecting only Caucasian men for the Louisiana Board of Regents—all but one being major contributors to his election campaigns, mind you.

White, as in not appointing any African Americans in his inner circle with very few of them in his outer ring and very few black faces in the high-position halls of state government.

White, as in wanting to reform the university system in this state, an institution that is in dire need of reforming but the first and only major act in doing so is going after Southern University in New Orleans without giving any high-profile attention to other Louisiana universities and colleges.

It is not as if there are no competent blacks in the state who have the skillsets to do a darn good job in government, but for some reason, the Governor has not sought to make nice with a community making over 30 percent of Louisiana’s population.

How could Governor Jindal, a product of minority status —even to the extent of changing his first name and his religion—overlook a dominant force and culture in the state and nation? 

When the Governor said he would be looking for the “best and the brightest”, is it possible that case after case Jindal could not find a fair number of best African Americans and bright blacks to serve Louisiana?

Based upon his track record, is it possible that not enough blacks wanting to serve his administration failed to contribute ahead of time to his campaign or perhaps to the Jindal Foundation?

Something, surely is amiss at the mansion.

So skewed that the Governor, within days after news broke questioning his ethics in Foundation Gate, suddenly, an announcement is made that the longest-ranking member of the Board of Regents decided to resign.  Roland Toups has served the community well and heads a leading company in the state, Turner Industries.  However, Turner also is being sued on the basis of racism and some political minds believe he was the logical person to go once the criticism against the governor had gotten hot.

Then, days afterwards, the Governor announced that he was appointing an African American to the Louisiana Board of Regents, but only after his Chief of Staff indicated that race was the issue in the Roland Toups departure from the Regents.            

Now the political world in Louisiana can only speculate whether a lawsuit filed by Cleo Fields, intending to stop the Regents’ study to merge SUNO and UNO was a major reason for the Toups incident—so close in hours to the national embarrassment of the foundation exposure.

Now the political world is wondering if the new Regent, a heart surgeon, was picked because of his financial abilities and because of his possible willingness to carry the Governor’s water.

How could “these slights” happen to a Governor, so bright, so amiable and so talented that he is being mentioned as the next Ronald Reagan and a possible Presidential contender?

After all, Louisiana surely is not Mississippi the home of Trent Lott and Governor Haley Barbour.

No, Louisiana is Louisiana and Governor Jindal is simply going to have to clean up this dirty mess.

The last thing the Governor will want is a black mark against him in the national political community to suggest he is racially biased, not a racist, but a high elected official who appears biased in favor of one race over another when it comes to governing.

The last thing Jindal wants is to have sharp racial division at the very time that the legislature is reshaping the political map in the emotionally-charged process called redistricting.

The last thing Jindal wants is to carry the reputation of being racially insensitive when it comes to legislative matters such as major surgery on the budget cutting education, healthcare and other social programs.

Governor Jindal will need the support of black legislators on key votes this spring.

In fairness, I truly doubt that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has a racist bone in his body.   I do believe he is well-intended and caring.

Yet, the Toups retreat is clear evidence that even Jindal understands that he has made some major political blunders in creating what appears to be a “rich white man’s government” during his first years as governor which looks bad for the state and indeed, for his future job resume.

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