FYI, I understand that the Observer editor had to do a lot of taming down of the mayor's letter before it could be published. - Bett
RE: Deerfield politics: Are you serious?
The Observer newspaper edition for April 17, 2014 included a Letter to the Editor by our Mayor.
In that letter, she referenced me, the District 2 Commissioner. She starts her letter: “…I am fair game [for any comments about bigotry] but my late husband, Dr. Robb, is not…” by implying that I made some kind of bigoted statements about her late husband in regard to separate waiting rooms for blacks and whites, which were a part of their operating policy.
“…Where was the commissioner in 1958, when we purchased the practice from Dr. Schmidt and were told that there had to be a white and black waiting room? We were from Philadelphia and were stunned at the requirement…”
For the record, I have never made any statements about her or her husband as it relates to their past practices.
I didn’t go through the community, leading some sort of a charge against the Robb practice for what was policy in the ‘50s and ‘60s — though, I personally abhor the thought and implementation of such policies.
I have my personal feeling about those practices and only in private conversations did I express my point of view.
I purposely tried to stay out of this conversation and focus on the future, and, as difficult as it was, close the door to the past, but you [the Mayor] chose to open up this can of worms.
Since it is your desire to have this conversation in the open and since you went to the newspaper about me, then let’s talk.
You certainly have picked the right person to engage. I didn’t go out trying to provoke hatred or open old wounds about the humiliation and denigration of black people who had to suffer the indignity of being served at the BACK DOOR by your medical practice.
Where was I, Mayor, in 1958?
To answer your question I was a little boy in the great USA enduring racist practices similar to what was happening in Deerfield Beach.
The Mayor states that at the purchase of the practice, they were told that there had to be separate waiting rooms. Purchase, when used as a noun, means – the acquisition of something for payment.
You owned the practice, what followed from there was your own heart, your morals and personal preferences. Don’t blame Dr. Schmidt for this policy.
The Mayor says that they were stunned. Not stunned enough NOT to establish a practice built on racism. In what direction was your moral compass pointing Mayor? Obviously in the opposite direction of Dr. King and the locals in Deerfield Beach who believe, as did Dr. King, that all of God’s children should be treated with dignity and respect.
Why didn’t you just say, “We will not build a practice that doesn’t honor all human beings equally?” You could have made that choice but, instead, you chose what was popular in 1958. In making that decision, you chose protocol that was tremendously painful and shameful to a people, to a community and to God who loves all. And all are equal in his sight.
Mayor, after the 3rd or 4th year of the policy implementation, were you still blaming Dr. Schmidt? Your support of this unjust policy will be remembered forever.
The Mayor furthers states: “The Afro- American community that the commissioner is supposed to serve would testify that Dr. Robb took loving care OF THEM.” Mayor please tell me, who are “THEM?”
I serve my district and proudly, but not to be compared to how you served The African-American community in the 1950s and ‘60s.
Are you serious? In your statements, you rewarded your policies and practices on the neck of those who were harnessed with the yoke of oppression; a punishment and constant reminder that blacks were not the same as everyone else.
The African American Community at that time had no other choice but to endure.
Don’t ever mistake that because the black community came to you for medical treatment, it was a ringing endorsement of this humiliating policy.
Wounds of the past carry with it scar tissue. Scar tissue is a reminder of a past injury, whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual. Scratch the wound of our past and it will surely again bleed injustice.
Many whites during that era did not embrace the policies of exclusion and instead fought injustice and intolerance. I’m sorry, Mayor, that you were not one of those people. You cannot EVER justify racism.
Mayor, simply apologize to the African-American community and the city for what you did and the practice you supported. Unless, you believe you did nothing wrong, so therefore no apology is needed. To simply say, “I’m sorry,” would go a long way in alleviating pain, it’s not a leviathan. I am saddened by your recent letter, but it could not go unanswered.
Now that we both have had our say, I will pray that we can move forward and work together for the good of this community.
Mayor, we are obligated to do the business of the people in an open and positive atmosphere.
It is time for us to get busy and to get some things done on behalf of the residents. I am willing, Mayor, are you?
Lastly Mayor, we are not referred to as The Afro -American Community, we are the African -American Community. What a great day it will be in the United States when the reference will just be American.