Arkansas Times

'Monkeys don't eat tamales'

Posted by Max Brantley on Sun, Apr 10, 2011 at 7:23 AM

NO TAMALES: Stand closed by protest.
  • NO TAMALES: Stand closed by protest.

Helena-West Helena Alderman Joe St. Columbia apparently had to shut down his Pasquale's tamale stand Saturday because of a demonstration about e-mail he's forwarded that many have characterized as racist. One, linking to a news account of the city's financial troubles, included a comment, "This is what happens when you put Monkeys in to run the zoo." That inspired a protest sign Saturday from which I took my headline.

St. Columbia is white. He's been defended by Mayor Arnell Willis, who is black. St. Columbia has disavowed racial animosity and said he attends a church led by a black preacher.

The Inside Scoop blog provides in-depth coverage of the tamale war.

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Helena councilman does it again

Posted by Max Brantley on Thu, Apr 7, 2011 at 12:21 PM

I tried to ignore it when Helena-West Helena Council member Joe St. Columbia seemed to refer to black city officials as monkeys running the zoo. Dipping a toe into Helena racial strife is to quickly be submerged in muck. Mayor Arnell Willis, who is black, defended St. Columbia, by the way. Now Joe is back with another jolt of racial ignorance — an urban myth email, complete with photo, of a young black family supposedly getting rich by gaming the Illinois foster parent system. As a reader notes, you don't have to look hard to find debunking info.

Blue Arkansas rounds it all up.

What's needed, I think, is George Fisher, who might put a banana in the mitt of Joe St. Columbia. And some pity for residents of this place that time forgot.

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