Monday, September 08, 2008

Living Down to Expectations

By Natalie Y. Moore (

During his first term, his nicknames in the local media ran the gamut: "Big Diamond," "thug," "pimp," "player," "Kwame Soprano," "Swami," "his thugness," "ghetto," "gangsta," "inept club crawler," "hustler," "Puffy Kilpatrick." Often it was just plain ole Kwame—the reverent title of "Mayor," "Mr. Mayor" or "Mr. Kilpatrick" chucked aside.

Back then, stereotypical characterizations like that made me cringe and embarrassed for my colleagues in the news media. Now, as Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick announced his resignation and heads to jail, all I can do is just shake my head. He is fulfilling a prophecy the media laid out for him long before the indictment, before the jail stint, before he sent enough sordid text messages to his married chief of staff to fill a bookcase full of Zane novels.

Black politicians of the world, especially the upcoming generation of leadership, please, please! Listen closely: Stop letting the media write your script! This was the message in the first chapter of my book, "Deconstructing Tyrone," a profile of Kilpatrick that doubled as a cautionary media tale.