The first time I ate stewed tomatoes, I gagged. My body found the taste so repulsive that reflexes kicked in to expel the substance that created such a revolting experience. A generation later, after I had developed not only a tolerance for stewed tomatoes but a genuine like for all things consisting of the delicious red plant, I found my two sons emptying the contents of a ketchup bottle on their french fries. An argument began over who was being unfair in the distribution of the condiment and eventually the responsibility fell to me to settle the dispute.
“So, you both like ketchup, is that agreed?” I asked.
Both children nodded their heads, yes.
“Do either of you like tomatoes? I asked.
Both children shook their heads, no.
“Do either of you like vinegar? I asked.
Both children shook their heads, no, more violently than before.
“Well, let’s see,” I said as I lifted the bottle of ketchup to my eyes, turning it around so I could inspect the label that listed the ingredients.
“Says right here that ketchup is mostly tomatoes and vinegar,” I stated.
Joseph couldn’t read yet, but his older brother, Danny, took the bottle and looked at it for himself. Convinced by the expression on Danny’s face, Joseph pushed the plate of fries away in disgust.
“Guess you won’t be needing this to argue over,” I said as I took the bottle from Danny and put it away.
I went in the other room and before the fries had gotten cold, both boys had gotten over the knowledge that they loved consuming a product that consisted of ingredients that they detested.
Council members, city staff, and many city residents are beginning to come around to the same way of thinking about reverting the City of Martinsville to a Town. Council has committed the $60,000 to conduct another mandated study on the matter. Considering the City’s dire financial straits, it may be safe to assume a vote to spend more money on a study is a vote for reversion. If that’s the case, then every Council member is on board now.
The issue at hand that concerns Councilwoman Jennifer Bowles and Councilman Chad Martin is something called the “dilution of the vote.” According to the 2000 census, 55 percent of the City’s population is white and 43 percent is African American. As African Americans, they contend African Americans have a better opportunity of electing their own when there are five positions on Council as opposed to one Town representative on the Henry County Board of Supervisors.
This, of course, makes the assumption that black people only vote for black people and white people only vote for white people. As a lifelong resident of the City of Martinsville, and as a white, or European American, I can say with complete conviction I don’t care what color my representative is. I don’t care what gender my representative is. But I care plenty for anyone who sits in an at-large seat with the responsibility of representing all citizens and displays favor to people of any particular color.
This country has one President. All of the country’s votes become diluted into the election of this one person. Thank God we have evolved to the point where we can say that person can be either black or white. As if it really matters, the person representing the Town of Martinsville would be a dilution of the votes of the Town. Sometimes that person would be black, sometimes white, but pray they will always be Martinsvillians first with the interest of fairly representing everyone.