It always embarrasses and amazes me at the same time. The narrative is becoming all too familiar. Young African- American political protigies embroiled in scandal. Some appear to be egomaniacal victims of their own largess. Others just make bad judgements under "the illusion of inclusion". No matter what their dalliances are attributed to their falls from grace are swift, and their short comings reverberate across the national and political landscape. In most cases they receive harsh punishment for their malfeasance, and are rarely allowed to rise again once they have fallen.
Back in April 2002, just 4 months into his term it had been widely reported that Kwame Kilpatrick, then mayor of Detroit, known as the hip- hop mayor because of his flash, swagger, and huge diamond stud earring, hosted a wild party in the Mayors mansion which included a stripper. Around this same time one of his bodyguards, Harold Nelthorpe reported that the Mayor's personal Police Force was running amuck, crashing cars and racking up overtime.
These allegations prompted an investigation lead by Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown. But two weeks into the investigation Brown was fired. A month later both Brown and Nelthorpe filed a "whistle blower" lawsuit against Kilpatrick and the city, which went to trial in the summer of 2007. Kilpatrick who is married with children, also faced charges of having an illicit affair with his Chief of Staff, Christine Beatty. The two swore under oath that they were not having an affair and did not fire Brown. A jury found Kilpatrick and the city liable and ordered the city to pay 9 million of Detroit tax payer dollars.
In January of 2008, the then 37 year old Kilpatrick had started his 2nd term as mayor, when the Detroit Free Press published text messages between Kilpatrick and Beatty which indicated that they were in fact having and affair.
"I've been dreaming all day about having you all to myself for three days," Kilpatrick texted on his city issued pager.
"Relaxing, laughing, talking, sleeping and making love."
In Detroit there was widespread outrage. Kilpatrick was called a disgrace, and a habitual liar amid calls for his resignation. Municipal employees in Detroit even protested in front of city hall asking him to resign.
In February of 2008 Christine Beatty resigned. She also left Wayne State Law School where she was studying for her Juris Doctor degree.
An investigation led to charges being filed against Beatty, and Kilpatrick in March of 2008. On September 4, 2008 Kilpatrick pled guilty to obstruction of justice, and no contest to assault on a police officer who was trying to serve a sopena to a family friend. As part of his plea deal he was ordered to step down as mayor, pay 1,000,000 in restitution to the city of Detroit, and serve 120 days in jail. He was also forced to surrender his law license. He lost his state pension, and has to do 5 years probation upon being released.
But in April of 2010 a Michigan judge ruled that Kilpatrick violated his probation by not fully disclosing his assets as required as a part of his plea deal. He was then sentenced to 5 years in prison but was released in 2011 after just 14 months, and was placed on parole for 5 years. However, he still faces Federal charges related to his time as Mayor of Detroit. These charges include, racketeering, bribery, extortion, and filing false tax returns.
Kwame Kilpatrick is a classic example of what happens when prominent African- American's fall for the illusion of inclusion. They reach a certain status, attain a certain level of fame and success and they believe that they are untouchable. They start to think that the level of their achievements dwarf all prejudice, and racism. Many live in their own color blind bubble until somebody comes along, bursts it, and brings them back down to earth. The fact of the matter is, there always has and always will be a double standard. One for African-Americans and one for the rest of America. For every Elliot Spitzer who is able to rise from the ashes of his disgrace, there is a Kwame Kilpatrick whose legacy is forever tarnished albeit by his own hand. The illusion of inclusion means that an individual chooses to believe that they are included in an elite group which always them to indulge their every desire because their station in life has allowed them to open doors that few can enter. This is the illusion. What many come to find is that the powers that be take any deviation from perfection as a sign of personal betrayal because they have, in their minds, allowed you to walk through that door. I am continually shocked by Black men like Kilpatrick who become successful and still have no clue as to how to play the game. Being Black in any position of power means that you simply cannot have a fatal flaw because there is always someone near by wondering who you think you are. The real issue is, guy's like Kilpatrick forget who they are. If they had a better memory perhaps they wouldn't send text messages to their mistress's on their city issued pagers.