Clark, NJ needs a black mayor in the worst way (Opinion)
As if the news about the racist behavior of Mayor Sal Bonaccorso weren’t already enough. NJ.com’s bombshell about the town having a history of secret payouts over officials’ bad behavior was an eye-opener.
Sal Bonaccorso was of course secretly recorded by a whistleblower. Those recordings had the mayor frequently and freely using terms like "shines" for black people and also the N-word. Taxpayers footed the bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars to the whistleblower for keeping the whole thing quiet.
Now it’s come out, according to NJ.com, that the municipality, long-regarded as a racist town that had a reputation of trying to keep black people from living there, has paid off other people who had other secret recordings of other racist and similar bad behavior.
Enough is enough.
I lived there briefly as a kid. Just one year. The last year my parents were together. I had grown up in Rahway, which borders Clark. But it might as well have been a different universe.
My first day in the new district’s school system was shocking. I had never before gone to a school where there were no black students. It seemed completely abnormal to me. I noticed it on day one.
There was always an air about Clark. A superiority. My parents only rented a home there and the house was not in disrepair by any means whatsoever. But it could have used a new exterior paint job. Not flaking off. Not an eyesore. Just not the nicest on the block. But the landlord wouldn’t do it. My father even asked if they bought the paint could the landlord give permission for them to do it themselves. They were denied.
I heard rumors as a child that black families were purposely not sold homes there. You could feel it.
But what happened next said a lot about the superiority of the town. Knowing nothing about us, the neighborhood started a petition telling us basically we were bad homeowners and were dragging down the area, and they pushed the demand that we paint the home. Keep in mind our total time spent living in Clark was 12 months. This petition was delivered to our door within three months of being there. Again, knowing nothing about us.
What a welcome to the neighborhood.
Which is my point. Clark, often called ClarKKK, never felt welcoming. And we were white.
Black families say they’ve known for decades to avoid Clark. Avoid living in it or even just driving through it. I heard rumors as a child that black families were purposely not sold homes there. You could feel it. Not everyone in Clark is a bad person. Not by any means. But you could feel the racism in the town. You could feel the attitude. You would hear the grumbles from certain racist adults as a kid living there.
So the Mayor Bonaccorso story didn’t shock me when it came out. And this latest news coming from the town about other secret recordings and other payoffs makes me think one thing. This town needs to elect a black mayor as soon as possible.
For me to say that is noteworthy. Because I have never bought into the business of fixing problems with race. I think affirmative action went way too far. I think the old practice of weighting college applications in favor of minorities was wrong. I always felt the best person for the job should have the job and race should not be looked at.
But you know what else has gone way too far?
The racism in Clark.
And if the majority of people living in that town would re-elect a racist like Sal Bonaccorso over a qualified black candidate then it says everything you need to know about Clark, NJ.
So come on, Clark. Show me I’m wrong. Show me you’re not a racist town. Elect a black candidate if you have the opportunity.
Oh, what’s that? Shut up with my opinion because I don’t live there now?
That’s right. You never did like "outsiders," did ya?
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.
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