Sunday brought a whipsaw of emotions. The estimable Siobahn McAndrew’s front-page story in the Reno Gazette-Journal exposed endemic racism in Lyon County. And I lost a friend.
The Barbwire as usual spared every expense in breaking the Yerington story first on Oct. 18 with three followups since. The RGJ sent Ms. McAndrew to old Pizen Switch to interview the family and local officials.
The most chilling aspect echoed the Washoe County School District’s “how dare you?!” reaction to racism at Shaw Middle School in 2012. Did art classes teach spray-painting “KKK” on black kids’ lockers and drawing crosses in the street in front of their house? Just kids having fun.
At least Shaw got locked down after some student threatened to shoot up the place a few weeks ago. In Sparks, arrest. In Yerington, pats on the head.
Yerington Police Chief Buford T. Justice dismissed it all as just kids being kids, then wrapped himself in the First Amendment.
“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” Dr. Samuel Johnson opined a couple of centuries ago. Nothing’s changed.
Disgracing Assembly Speaker Emeritus Joe Dini’s memory, his son, Yerington Mayor George Dini, tossed it off as just part of his friendly little town’s touristy ambience. Just kids having fun.
Maybe the Klan will book a convention.
The children of present and former Lyon/Yerington law enforcement officers have made overt threats to shoot blacks. Attorney General Adam Laxalt sent investigators last week because Yerington PD illegally shredded police reports about racist incidents. They have to protect their kids, fergawdsakes.
Like the worldwide cascade of sexual harassment and rape revelations, perhaps this will finally start cleansing Nevada of its Mississippi West hangover.
One Sparks resident with a biracial grand-daughter told me of her anger at what the kid daily endures. Grandma especially bristles when people assert that we live in a “post-racial” era. Black people see the world differently because they are treated differently.
Unnoticed in public comment before the Washoe County School District Trustees last month were complaints from the daughter of a Reno cop decrying racial bias at Sparks’ Reed High.
The morally obtuse principal of Yerington High sarcastically defended his school’s lily-white wall of notable graduates by telling McAndrew “last year, we nominated someone of Italian descent. Does that count?”
Hell no. My family went through persecution like any other immigrant group (see “Kate Smith and Lady Gaga,” Tribune Feb. 14) but are no longer on the bottom of the barrel.
Future President Theodore Roosevelt once stated that he thought an 1891 mass-lynching of Italians in New Orleans was “a rather good thing.”
A wise man once opined that “the Lord created the world, mankind built the cities and the devil thunk up the small town.”
What kind of community does Nevada want to become?
DARRYL FEEMSTER, 1952-2017. Senior citizen and youth advocate Darryl Feemster, 55, died Sunday at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center. He never regained consciousness after a stroke.
A Reno native, he was a longtime member of the Reno-Sparks NAACP and currently served on its executive committee.
Patricia Gallimore, President of NAACP Reno-Sparks Branch No. 1112, said “the Feemster family has been the branch’s bedrock for decades. We will honor Darryl Feemster by building on his impressive achievements and using his legacy as a blueprint to guide us moving forward.”
Finding a location large enough for a memorial service is currently just one of the Feemster family’s tasks as they plod through the numb slog of mourning my friend Darryl.
HAPPY THANKSGIBLETING TO YOU AND YOURS.
Be well. Raise hell. Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Barbano is a 49-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and SenJoeNeal.org and first vice-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail <email@example.com> Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.