Dear students,

I would like to thank you for taking the time to write me such thoughtful and well-written letters. I appreciate your honesty and your efforts. However, I think it’s important to note that the stings you feel pale in comparison to the stings that African-American families across this town feel regarding this incident.

Believe it or not but they live in a world where racism very much exists. They live in a world where the police routinely stop and frisk their fellow African Americans with no just cause, and I say this because I regularly read the details of Charleston police reports.

They live in a world where state legislators, if not the majority of the white population of South Carolina (including Charleston), still think it’s acceptable to not only allow the Confederate flag to fly on Statehouse grounds but have statues dedicated to former S.C. Gov. “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman, whose armies of Red Shirts murdered black South Carolinians; J. Marion Sims, the so-called father of gynecology who conducted horrible experiments on slaves; and Strom Thurmond, the South’s pre-eminent defender of segregation.

They live in a world where the biggest barbecue chain in the the Midlands, Maurice’s BBQ, offers tracts defending slavery.

They live in a world where the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, Henry McMaster, is a member of a whites-only country club.

They live in a world where one 2012 GOP presidential candidate has a vacation home called Niggerhead Ranch and another referred to Barack Obama as a “food stamp president” and a “Kenyan, anti-colonialist.”

They live in a world where the former most powerful lawmaker in Columbia and the current head of the College of Charleston, Glenn McConnell, not only ran a Confederate memorabilia store but remains a staunch Confederate flag supporter and once posed as a Confederate general with two African American dressed in slave-era garb.

They live in a world where their city leaders refuse to fix flooding issues in their neighborhoods, flooding that is so bad that children have to walk home from school in knee-high dirty water; instead the city engages in beautification projects and renovates the Market.

They live in a world where gentrification is pushing them out of the neighborhoods that they call home.

They live in a world where the state continues to allow mostly black schools to languish.

They live in a world where black men are thrown in jail for non-violent drug crimes in droves while their white counterparts are not.

They live in a world where far too many people act as if racism no longer exists when it’s clear that following the election of Barack Obama in many ways it’s as bad as it has been in decades.

I urge each and every one of you to think about how the parents of Military Magnet and Garrett Academy students feel. I guarantee you that the vast majority of them are hurt in ways that are vastly more painful than what you may feel regarding the firing of Coach Walpole and my column.

As for charges that I have been misinformed, all that I can offer is that my comments are based on what Superintendent Nancy McGinley reported at her press conference regarding the events that led up to Coach Walpole’s removal, in addition to reporting that our own Paul Bowers uncovered. McGinley’s findings came after an extensive investigation of students and coaches and others, and I choose not to believe that McGinley has launched a witch hunt built on lies and half-truths and is honestly trying to address what is a very real concern — that students at the best school in the state engaged in activities that most Americans find racially offensive and shameful.

Thank you for your time.


P.S. I don’t think you all are dumbasses. Just the ones who continue to deny how racially offensive these actions are and dismiss the pain that this incident causes the African American community.