Ernest Flagler-Mitchell Needs to Resign

close up of letter of resignation with a pen

Ernest Flagler-Mitchell Needs to Resign

Two phrases that stuck with me the most from a summer of marches and protests:

  • All Black Lives Matter
  • We throw no one under the bus.

I felt these in my heart and soul. It is important to not dismiss anyone in our fight for equality, no matter what. And this is why Ernest Flagler-Mitchell should step down as local NAACP chapter president and Monroe County legislator.

He admitted to sending a lewd self-image to a 19-year-old woman. He claimed that the allegations, of him sending a lewd picture to the woman, are tantamount to extortion. He claimed that it was accidental. Some can speculate and deliberate over whether it was accidental or deliberate, but the claim of extortion is a bit much. And the fact is that he sent a lewd picture to a woman to whom he gave his phone number. Accident or not, an elected official should have the basic knowledge of his own phone to be sure he is sending a message to a designated recipient. If he can’t manage his own phone, I am a little bit worried about his professional acumen. This isn’t an autocorrect mistake. It is a whole picture, sent to someone who trusted him as a county official, after she experienced a tragedy.

“He sent a lewd picture to a woman to whom he gave his phone number”

I am well aware of the things at stake. Flagler-Mitchell is a Democratic legislator in a majority Republican legislature. The Republican chief of staff is all too eager to investigate the allegation. This may look bad for the local party’s integrity, but Republicans truly have no moral high ground here, as they spent the last four years backing a president who not only has multiple sexual assault allegations (including an ex-wife), but also bragged about sexually assaulting and harassing women. This is also a blow to the diversity of the county legislature, as a diverse government is statistically a more fair one. However, diversity at the expense of the safety of those it is supposed to serve is not worth it. The main thing about diversity is that the people in position must also be qualified. Sending an unsolicited lewd picture to a constituent is quite disqualifying.

This situation involves a Black man and a Black woman. Too many times we have bent over backwards to protect Black men in power at the expense of Black women’s safety. This is why R. Kelly was able to have a successful 25-year career when it was an open secret that he sexually assaulted young/underage girls, so much so that he briefly married his underage protégé. Most of the girls he preyed upon were Black, though, so folks let it slide and blamed the girls for being “fast”. Bill Cosby got away with drugging and assaulting women for over 40 years, but it wasn’t until white women came forward that courts took his claims seriously, and even then, it took about 15 years to do something. For too long, we claim that we are for all Black Lives, that we would never throw them under the bus, but when things get contentious, we throw Black women under the  bus in a heartbeat. We cannot do that this time.

I side-eye his claim of extortion, as the woman who came forward has absolutely nothing to gain from going public. She is opening herself to ridicule, slut-shaming, and threats on her life. If there is so much as a picture of her naked as a toddler in a bathtub, it will be used against her. Still, she was brave enough to come forward. She deserves all of our respect for that. The call for Flagler-Mitchell to resign is not throwing him under the bus. It is holding him accountable for his actions. Right is right, not a political affinity. He harmed someone, possibly more, with his irresponsibility. Perhaps the legislature is not where his talents belong right now, at least not until he learns from his mistake/aggression. No one is throwing him under the bus by suggesting he resign. We are stopping the bus so that he can so the right thing by the Black woman he hurt and by the community. 

About Chris Thompson

(he/his/him) Chris Thompson is an engineer, writer, comedian, and activist who made Rochester, New York his home in 2008. In addition to his role as Contributor for 540Blog he currently writes and regularly posts on his own on Instagram and Twitter at @ChronsOfNon. Chris is also a regular contributor for Rochester City Newspaper. His blog is http://www.chroniclesofnonesense.com

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