North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Opinion

April 11, 2013

Editorial: Only Birmingham can play the race card over an automobile race

AN NJN EDITORIAL — If there’s a way to inject the issue of race into any seemingly unrelated matter, you can bet your bottom dollar that a politician in these parts will figure out a way to do it.

Birmingham city councilman Stephen Hoyt did the dishonors this time around, as race became the topic of a race, as it were.

In the council’s discussion over whether the city should continue to provide a $300,000 annual subsidy for the Honda IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park, Hoyt made an astonishing statement — at least for this day and age: “I have seen nobody that looks like me making decisions at Barber motor sports. None. Zero. The buses that I’ve seen don’t come from Birmingham. They are from Hoover and other areas.”

In other words, most of the people who attend are not African-American like Hoyt, so why help the race organizers?

Put aside for the moment the nuclear explosion that would take place if a white politician  made such a racist statement. Let’s look at how truly inane the remarks are — that an event is not worthy of support because it attracts a crowd that isn’t mainly black.

It’s funny, but the cash registers don’t check the race of the purchaser. The only color that businesses care about is green — on the starting flag or on the money.

After such a pronouncement, we could understand if the IndyCar series simply told Birmingham to take a flying leap, and moved its race date to a more welcoming site. Thankfully they did not, and the contract for the race has been extended until 2016.

If Hoyt had objected to the subsidy on purely financial grounds — times are tough, and the city needs to conserve money — we might agree. The race drew record crowds, and can probably stand on its own without the city’s money.

But Hoyt didn’t, and Birmingham is cast yet again as the city where racism lives forever.

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