2001-08-25 / Columnists

From the G-Man by Gary G. Toms

Hey people! It was not my intention to actually talk about this because I never wanted it to seem that I was tooting my own horn or bragging. I really would have preferred to keep things quiet and simply continue being The G-man, a controversial, kick-ass columnist. However, a situation has developed that causes me to abandon this way of thinking.

Some of you may already be aware of the fact that I have acquired the position of Associate Editor for this publication. Actually, it happened a few months ago, but I saw no reason to broadcast it to you folks because there were so many important issues that needed real attention. So that’s where I placed all of the focus.

Although I did choose to downplay my role, this does not mean that I take the position lightly. I know that there is a certain degree of honor, power and prestige that comes with being the Associate Editor of the third oldest newspaper in New York City, right behind the New York Post and New York Times.

Many who are aware of my promotion, both African-American and Caucasian, have been very quick to note that I have made history. They point out that I am the very first African-American editor in the publication’s 108-year existence. Given the history and image of this paper during that 108-year period, especially in the Black community, this was a monumental step taken by Susan Locke, widow of the late publisher Leon Locke, Sandford Bernstein, General Manager and Howard Schwach, my managing editor. I do not take this role lightly.

The most outstanding thing about this blessing, and some would call it a curse, is the fact that young Black and minority boys and girls, teens, men and women, that are living in the projects, who have followed my column from day one, will look at what has happened to me and realize that they too can achieve. Through the universe and The Creator all things are possible.

Let’s be real, okay. There are those who will definitely have a problem with a Black man being one step away from the managing editor position because a Black man with a little power can be a dangerous thing, at least in their small and shallow minds. Hell, there will probably even be some upset Black folks! Yes, believe it or not, I even piss off a few of my own kind, but screw’em! The point is I intend to keep doing what I’ve been doing for the last five years until someone shows me the door.

Now, let me tell you what made me break my silence about this achievement. As noted in the "Bag of Mail" in this week’s issue, Congressman Gregory Meeks and some of his staffers conducted a town hall meeting last week. While an agenda was firmly in place for the evening, he took the opportunity to (expletive) on The WAVE by saying he did not believe everything he read in the newspapers, especially The WAVE. Brother, you should not have gone there.

I do realize that the paper may not have written many positive pieces about you in the past, but Greg, that has nothing to do with me or any of the new players involved at the paper. Whatever grievances you may have had with former staffers should be left in the past, and you should not be shooting off your mouth making generalized statements about this paper. That goes for you and your staff.

So far, the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to have been Ed Williams and your Press Secretaries, Candice Sandy and Mike McKay. You have never made any attempt to reach out to me, and I think at this juncture of our careers that is just plain bull….!

I have recently spoken to Ed Williams, your community liaison, and I pleaded with him to tell you that we are trying to take the paper in a new and positive direction, more so now than ever before. I told him I wanted us to be able to dialogue and take advantage of this blessing I have been provided with. Greg, my phone isn’t ringing!! What’s the deal, yo?

I’m getting the Fannie Lou Hamer complex. I’m getting sick and tired of being sick and tired. You have ignored me for far too long as a columnist, but you will not ignore me as a Black editor, writing about Black issues in the Black community. Not as a Black Congressman you won’t!

I don’t care if you hate the paper. With the positions of power that we have, we can do so much for our communities to make them better. This doesn’t just apply to Meeks, but to Cummings and everybody else, who’s Black, that has a problem with this paper. You can’t solve a conflict by poking out your lip and bitching about the fact you got negative press. I’m telling each of you…just bring it! I will listen. "The Schwachmeister" will listen. Susan Locke will listen. Just bring it! That’s the only way we can fix things and help the people in the poorer sections of Rockaway. Oh, just so the West end doesn’t feel shut out, that invitation is extended to the "pollies" on that end as well. This is a publication representing all people of the Rockaway community.

I will conclude by saying that anyone who feels the need to continually bash The WAVE, for whatever reason, should pause for a moment and realize that any attack on the publication is tantamount to spitting on the grave of Leon Locke, who gave his heart and soul to this publication. As the newly appointed Associate Editor, I must fight to uphold the paper’s honor and his memory, and I can take one hell of a punch.

We are doing the best that we can here, and we do not and will not always get it right, but we’re the only game in town folks. This position won’t make me a rich man, so I’m definitely not here for the money. The fact of the matter is the staff is busting their hump to get the paper out each week because we love the community.

It’s a new day. There’s a new publisher. There’s a new editorial staff and some fresh new ideas that we will be working on in an attempt to be a better paper. If you find that hard to believe, just come on in and talk to us. That goes for you as well Lew Simon. I promise to keep Howie on a leash.

See you next week!

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