LETTERS: Voters need to move past divisions of black and white

As we peer into the current demographics of Rockdale County, it is more than evident that the population is taking on a new complexion by the emergence of more blacks and Hispanics in the county. This complexion is accompanied by an increase in the political divide between the Republican and Democratic parties. Many people, both black and white, who are comfortable with self, will embrace this change with graciousness, while others, who feel a sense of entitlement, will regard this change with a level of disdainfulness.

The differences between the white and black communities are not that far apart. In fact, there are those in both communities that believe in the importance of Christianity, education, strong family values and maintaining one's property, protecting both the Second and Fourth Amendments, as well as strengthening the health of the neighborhood in which they live. The vast majority of black people are extremely conservative in their thinking, just like their white counterparts. However, the apparent division clearly appears in their voting.

Traditionally, most blacks in the county and nationwide vote for Democratic candidates. It is difficult for most black people to fathom registering as a Republican when they constantly hear the vitriol toward the poor, the gay community, the Arab community and sometimes even the black community. There are white members of the Democratic Party that demonstrate the same vitriol toward the aforementioned communities as well. However, they are not demonized or held to the same standards as white Republicans when they display such vitriol.

So why are black people more apt to be Democrats than Republicans in this day and age? For many, it is traditional. For others, it is a sense of comfort in believing that in most cases, the candidate will stand up for those that are less fortunate and in need of services. Middle-class and upper-class blacks have similar attachments, but are willing to look more at an individual and their platform before selecting a candidate. In essence, black people are no more monolithic in their voting than any other ethnic group.

At the risk of being presumptuous, in Rockdale County the vast majority of whites vote Republican. Now why are some white people more apt to be Republicans than Democrats? For the most part, Republicans believe in less government, lower taxes (but higher taxes for the rich), self-sufficiency, pro-life (but support of the death penalty) and personal freedom are just some of the signature issues germane to the Republican Party platform. Additionally, many white people believe that blacks and the Democrats depend more on government programs than being self-sufficient. Unfortunately, there is some truth to that thinking. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "He who is behind in a race must forever remain behind or run faster than the one in front." I also cannot help but to recall things my lovely mother said to me: "Work hard and depend on no one but you," and she would also say, "Own your own."

I do not allow myself to get caught up in racial issues. In the 50 years that I've been on Earth, I have seen some horrible white people and I have seen some horrible black people. However, it is imperative that we get beyond this dumb black and white thing that continues to choke and separate us.

Our county is hemorrhaging, and we all must contribute to either resuscitate it or attend the funeral to later talk about what was once a gorgeous place to live. I refuse to let that happen to my family and my neighborhood. What about you?

How does all this tie into the health of Rockdale County? The jury is yet to return a verdict to that question. But there is a question that voters must answer this November. Who will be the next Post 2 county commissioner of Rockdale County? I have looked at both candidates very closely and I do not know about you, but I have found Commissioner JanNice Van Ness to be a person of strong character, a person with exceptional integrity, an excellent steward of the taxpayers' money and more importantly, a person that cares a great deal about strengthening the county. As a result of her attentiveness to what matters most to taxpayers, I encourage members of the Democratic Party and members of the black community to join me in endorsing JaNice Van Ness for county commissioner.

-- Brian Jenkins