Smile Politely

More shawarma, less accusations of racism and clickbait, please

It’s been an interesting week

Between the whole Chief debacle in Tuscola and the Unit 4 School Board meeting, it just feels like one of those moments to take a break from some of this nonsense.

After all, School Board president and State Senate hopeful, Laurie Bonnett, stated that she wants to actually lower the price tag of the project, and include Dr. Howard in the plan.

Admittedly, and without remorse, I am a member of the now-somewhat-maligned REWIND group, which admittedly, has a name that is the easiest kind of target. 

That said, and despite the fact that the group is comprised of, well, white people, I can state with some definitive clarity that despite some insinuations, this isn’t an organization that seeks to further disenfranchise the African-American population in Champaign-Urbana.



Here are some facts:

  1. Kerris Lee and Jamar Brown both sit on the Unit 4 school board. They are both African American males. They are both highly decent people. 
  2. Both of them supported and approved the referendum that was voted down in November and have also made it clear that they intend to put it back up in April. The referendum would have the new Central built on undeveloped farm land in the northern most part of Champaign. 
  3. The members of REWIND have one particular goal, and that is to find an appropriate in-fill location for the new Central. We do not consider the Interstate Dr. part of the historical “North Side” of town. It’s not. It’s where the mall is. 
  4. There are a lot of different folks that have been at these REWIND meetings, with varying political opinions about this, that, or the other.

As such — I don’t agree with lots of the people that are at these meetings about a whole host of issues. And they don’t agree with me, either. 

I don’t like it when anyone posts something on social media that calls the President an illegal alien, or a communist, and worse, when someone suggests that we should sterilize the poor, and administer a eugenics program to rid ourselves of that “problem.”

Just the same, they don’t like it when I suggest that George W. Bush is a war criminal (he is), or if I write a sentence like this one: the wealthy who complain about their taxes sound like assholes (they do). 

But that doesn’t make anyone an out and out racist, nor does it color the organization as such either. It makes us different from one another — but not necessarily hateful. 

Take my word for it, or don’t, but Jon Rector, who has stepped down as co-chair of REWIND, is simply not a racist. He just isn’t. 

And Aaron Ammons, husband of Carol, who suggested that the organization is potentially fighting against progress in the north end of town, is not evil or a “reverse racist” or “moronic” or any of the other names I have seen him called in social media as of late.

These are all decent people with strong opinions, and all of them have enough courage to stand up and say something. I, for one, can accept that.

I guess I just feel like I want to pull back for a moment and remind those that have an interest —  myself included — that, in the end, I am confident that we all share a common goal. We want better schools. We want a particular location. We want efficiency. We want to be exceptional.

It’s not always this way. Oftentimes, our opposition wants something entirely and completely different. And that allows us this moment to come together.

Personally, I’d take Dodds right now over that location on Interstate Dr.

It’s not as ideal as Spalding, which is tailor made, in my opinion, for a solution despite the short-sightedness of the Board and its “consultant’s” “findings.”

But Dodds would hold tremendous possibilities from an educational perspective. Perhaps the Park Board needs to reconsider what this community would go for, as opposed to what they and only they want? 

Dodds is the compromise here.

As a community, if we can’t get that done, we all lose. 

We must eat often to keep this place open

We have but one place in town to get a true shawarma sando.

That should tell you something about the cultural make-up of this community, but regardless, I’m such a huge fan of Layalina, that I am feeling like I need to write about it now.

Now in its second location (the first burned two years back, where Mas Amigos er… Piefull Delight used to be down the street on Springfield), I’d argue that this joint serves up some of the best food in town, and it’s not even really a contest all that often.

To wit: the lunch special — which is far too cheap at the moment — for $5.99.

A kabob: chicken (swish tawook), lamb, beef, or kufta (which is a ground beef and spice mixture, like a meatball, but elongated) with a serving of rice, a serving of Jerusalem salad (as I know it), and a big schmear of hummus with a pool of olive oil and paprika resting atop.

Pita bread, served warm.

You have to eat it. It’s the best thing to eat. And it shouldn’t cost $5.99. It should cost more than that. And you should eat it regardless of what it costs. 

For dessert, house made baklava or some crazy-ass red thing that tastes like custard and whatever. I dunno, man. It’s damned good.

This restaurant sits in the old Minneci’s. The decor hasn’t changed much. Outside of a few here and theres, and a declaration of Islam and its tenets being the principles upon which the business is run — it kind of looks like… Minneci’s.

And that’s fine with me. More than fine. I encourage you to eat there. Go for dinner in a group, and gorge on a platter that consists of the chicken, beef, lamb, kufta, and quails, with all the sides, and falafel — the best of its kind anywhere in this part of the state of Illinois.

Eat there. Because damnit, we want it to stick around, you know? It just has to. 

This is where I tell someone at the News-Gazette to shove it up their ass

Speaking from bitter experience, there’s likely almost nothing more degrading and humiliating than having been arrested, processed, fingerprinted, and temporarily, jailed.

It’s agonizing. It’s one of the more sobering moments of your life, if you are unlucky or stupid enough to have to go through it.

But, there’s something refreshing about it as well; something monumental even. For those that deserve to be there, it’s a chance to get right. A chance to be new. Frequently, the crime wasn’t violent.

But more importantly, sometimes, the victim isn’t even guilty of the charge. The person arrested is sitting there, dumbfounded, wondering how in the hell this could happen to them? What did they do? Nothing!

They’ve been wrongfully accused. 

So to that last point, whoever it was at the News-Gazette that decided that it would be a good idea to place Google ads next to the images and listed charges of non-convicted recent arrests in Champaign County, can go to straight to hell.

I am serious. You are a horrible person. And if it’s a group of you, you are horrible people.

I don’t care if there is a disclaimer in fine print at the bottom of the page explaining that they are presumed innocent. And I am not hyper-linking it because frankly, we shouldn’t be looking at this.

The News-Gazette is trying to profit from your neighbor’s lowest moment, and whoever is responsible for that is a bad person.

I understand clickbait. This article might qualify as such, by someone’s standards. I can accept that, as well. But there’s a line somewhere, and they’ve crossed it with this one as far as I am concerned.

“Brought to you by The News-Gazette?” Like it’s a damned Awards show or Dancing with the Stars or a football game?

Fuck’s the matter with you people?

I only hope your child isn’t wrongfully arrested at some point and then has to explain to your grandchildren about that sort of thing.

So, I challenge the News-Gazette to remove this ugly advertising mechanism from its website immediately.

Sadly, I’d bet John Foreman’s lunch and dinner that it will remain for good.

Related Articles