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Hometown Democracy leader says she’s sorry for ‘step & fetch it’ e-mail

by George Bennett | June 7th, 2010

Hometown Democracy Chairwoman Lesley Blackner says she didn’t know the phrase “step & fetch it” carried negative racial connotations when she used it in an e-mail to a Volusia County official last month.

Hometown Democracy is behind Amendment 4, a statewide ballot question that would require local governments to get voter approval before making any amendment to a comprehensive land use plan. In a May 13 e-mail to the director of the Volusia Council of Governments, Blackner wrote “I’m only too aware of your step & fetch it for the Chamber of Commerce crowd opposing Amendment 4.”

Both Blackner and the person to whom she addressed the e-mail are white.

The phrase is generally associated with black actor Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry, a Key West native who used the stage name Stepin Fetchit in portraying shuffling, mumbling, servile movie characters in the 1930s and ’40s.

Former South Bay Mayor Clarence Anthony, an Amendment 4 opponent who is black, issued a statement today blasting Blackner for using “a term that is historically synonymous with degrading, racist stereotypes.”

Blackner, 50, said “I’ve used the phrase for years and had no idea anybody thought it had any racial overtones. If Mr. Anthony is offended, I’m sorry….I tell you what, I won’t use that term any more.”

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22 Responses to “Hometown Democracy leader says she’s sorry for ‘step & fetch it’ e-mail”

  1. Straight Facts Says:

    That settles it. I’m voting against Amendment 4. A supposedly smart attorney is unaware of the phrase’s origin? Yeah, right.

  2. JokingRight? Says:

    I’m not buying it either … How do you use a phrase like that without knowing what it means? That doesn’t sound right to me.

  3. Give me a break Says:

    I guess you can take anything and view it though a filtered lens and find something to criticize. If you can’t condemn the message, vilify the messenger.
    In this case, Citizens for Lower Taxes & a Stronger Economy have nothing but exaggeration and fear to try and defeat a constitutional amendment that will give Florida residents a seat at the table in deciding land use issues that impact their property taxes and quality of life.
    No matter what words are used, it doesn’t negate the fact that the director of the Volusia Council of Governments is a pawn for the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Home Builders Association and all of the big business interests behind Citizens for Lower taxes & a Stronger Economy who don’t want you to have a say in how your own communities grow.

  4. Clive Says:

    Give me a break – you have no idea what you are asking for. Amendment 4 will bring florida to its knees…a seat at the table equates to thousands of uninformed people randomly checking boxes on major land use issues with terrible affects on the Floridas economy.

  5. Give me a break Says:

    The last time I checked, the only amendments voters will have to consider are those already approved by their local officials – officials whose past decisions are responsible for the dire economic straits we are in today. We have a housing glut, our property taxes are going up and our property values are declining. I think most people have a pretty good idea on what projects will enhance or detract from their quality of life. Since we have to pay for development, we should have the right to say yes it’s worth it, or no it’s not at the ballot box.

  6. whasup Says:

    I guess only liberals are allowed to get away with using racist terminology by pleading ignorance.

    Well, we knew Blackner is an idiot, but we didn’t know she was that ignorant.

  7. Give me a break Says:

    wasup: I guess you know the origins of the term liberal…
    Liberalism (from the Latin liberalis, “of freedom”[1]) is the belief in the importance of liberty and equality.[2][3] Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but most liberals support such fundamental ideas as constitutions, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights, free trade, secularism, and the market economy. These ideas are often accepted even among political groups that do not openly profess a liberal ideological orientation. Liberalism encompasses several intellectual trends and traditions, but the dominant variants are classical liberalism, which became popular in the 18th century, and social liberalism, which became popular in the 20th century.

    Liberalism first became a powerful force in the Age of Enlightenment, rejecting several foundational assumptions that dominated most earlier theories of government, such as hereditary status, established religion, absolute monarchy, and the Divine Right of Kings. The early liberal thinker John Locke, who is often credited for the creation of liberalism as a distinct philosophical tradition, employed the concept of natural rights and the social contract to argue that the rule of law should replace absolutism in government, that rulers were subject to the consent of the governed, and that private individuals had a fundamental right to life, liberty, and property.

    Or, maybe you didn’t. Better be careful slinging terms like that around…

  8. Jan Says:

    What a bunch of bull. It seems you can’t say anything in this country without somebody claiming to be offended.

    A guy like Thrasher, bought and paid for by special interest, can write misleading letters full of lies — but that’s correct — right?

    You may have read today in the Orlando Sentinel the article about Meeks. I guess that’s politics as usual?

    It’s time to forget about politically correct. We have been sold under this headline long enough!

  9. doorworker Says:

    So the phrase has origins in a negative stereotype of servile obedience to illegitimate power?

    Sounds like a pretty good choice of words to me. Bullseye.

    The question that comes to my mind is–given the statistical evidence for environmental racism (as just one major example) in social science literature–why would a black (ex-)politician work so zealously against his constituents’ interests in attacking Hometown Democracy? Because, give me a break: the umbrage on Anthony’s part is about sliming Blackner; neither her email insult nor her political activism have any racial axe to grind.

    Classism within the black community isn’t exactly an unheard-of phenom.

  10. Give me a break Says:

    This will explain it for you doorworker:

    Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy, Inc.

    Type: Political Committee
    Status: Active
    Address: 610 South Boulevard
    Tampa, FL 33606

    Phone: (813)254-3369

    Chairperson: Clarence Anthony
    Floridians for Smarter Growth, Inc.

    Type: Political Committee
    Status: Active
    Address: 610 South Boulevard
    Tampa, FL 33606

    Phone: (813)254-3369

    Chairperson: Clarence Anthony
    Post Office Box 532018
    Orlando, 32853

  11. lynn-a Says:

    hahah, you politicians simply slay the heck out of me. You ARE the reason or at least one of the BIG reasons, why there is even an Amendment 4. Stepin Fetchit buddy– and get a good argument against the people’s right to vote on all the lousy decisions you have made along with all your develoepr buddies.

  12. ross burnaman Says:

    Ironic that the Palm Beach Post wants to “avoid comments that are obscene, hateful, racist or otherwise inappropriate” and yet Sir George writes a story about an allegedly racist email. Yet when the anti-4 crowd praises the slave-owning “Founding Fathers” as if they were immortals but nobody says boo. Pathetic.

  13. Me Says:

    People are so sensitive. Shoot, I’m white and I tell people I’m not a “step and fetchit”. Degradation applies to any color and is committed by many colors. Treat people with respect and they will not have to seem to be “step and fetchit’s”. Get real, people, and learn your history.

  14. Steve Rosen Says:

    It had to happen, the detractors of Amendment 4 finally found the “racial card” to use. Seems this is the generic attack button for everyone these days.
    Amendment Four speaks for itself if you bother to read it. Ms Blackner’s comments, unfortunately for detractors, were not written into the amendment so, as the left frequently says, “get over it”. Some people just love to hate. Amendment 4 is needed. Remember the State Comprehensive Land Use Plan that maps out millions of homes to be built with NO further vote.

    Remarks stating a NO vote because of something someone said were probably made by opponents attempting to dissuade voters. Nice try. Had Amendment 4 been in place years go, the shotgun development pattern of buy cheap ag land, then go get a comp plan change so you can build instead of buy land already planned for your project means forget about decent public transportation. No way to do it like Northern cities where it was properly planned.

    Also, development never pays for itself in services required to support it.
    Now that Crist and the Legislature have said cities and counties must pay for roads not developers, and now that the DCA is virtually stripped out, everyone is going to forget the facts and focus on some out of context remark to go Ah-haa and vote no? Hey, whatever makes you feel good. fortunately, Mason Dixon polls show this would pass today anyway.

    Logic prevails over radical distraction once again.

  15. Steve Rosen Says:

    Gee, why don’t the racial accusers use their names on this forum? What are they afraid of?

  16. jeff Hill Says:

    When people have no argument, and in this case the Chamber of Commerce and develoeprs, they resort to using the “race” card. Personally, I never heard of the expression. Are we to go around worrying about expressions now? Bull. Get to the issue and that is corruption throughout our State that has lead us to where we are. Vote YES. The South Bay Mayor must be an overly sensistive fool. This is so stupid I wonder why we’re even commenting on it.

  17. DNC Says:

    This just demonstrates how out-of-touch Blackner is. She is comfortable in her Palm Beach mansion dictating to us peasants what’s good for us.

  18. Barbara Davis Says:

    To Clive: the irony of your comment is that the “uninformed people randomly checking boxes” elected the officials who you want to make decisions rather than the citizenry. BTW, I am an attorney and have never heard the phrase “step and fetch it” until now. Apparently, I am just another “uninformed” person. You know the Amendment 4 opponents are desperate when they stoop to desperate personal attacks. Oldest trick in the book — if you have no merit to your argument, distract with personal attacks.
    P.S. I am expecting an attorney joke in reply rather than comment on the merits.

  19. Me Says:

    FL really can be such a dumb state…and dumb because “step and fetchit’s” were actually real, not just characters created for entertainment, b/c during years of oppression black people had to act that way towards white people so as not to be real people with ideas, thoughts, personalities, dreams and desires, therefore, acting “out of their place.” Again, it would be good for blacks and whites to learn the truths of our communal history. I mean, in reality, things have loosened up quite a bit seeing as the leader of the free world is a black man. Stop being so hateful and ignorant, people.

  20. Sandra Walters Says:

    I’m beginning to realize just how desperate and unhinged these special interest people are — the ones who say Amendment Four is “mob rule,” for instance.
    We will show you “mob rule,” my friends. At the ballot box in November when we, the people, finally get a seat at the table.

  21. jme Says:

    I highly doubt that anyone actually wants to waste their time voting on each and every decision made by politicians. But hey, if that’s what we have to do to take back the voice of the nation, I am glad people are willing to do it. I find it very ironic that the anti 4 group is for less taxes, I wonder why they do not see the hypocrisy? I for one would love a say in what my tax money does or does not go to.

  22. jim thatcher Says:

    if someone doesn’t pay taxes should they be allowed to vote for property rights?

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