Hazel Dukes, Serial Betrayer
I feel badly criticizing a 79-year-old woman (people are going to think I enjoy going after old ladies!), but when Hazel Dukes sells out poor and minority children, staining the reputation of a great organization (or at least a formerly great organization), I won't be silent. Here's some background on her from a column by Stanley Crouch in the NY Daily News 14 years ago, not long after Dukes confessed to stealing $13,201 from a friend who was battling cancer. This is a particularly timely observation: "this betrayal of a friend battling one of the very worst diseases, leukemia, also shows that those on the warpath of ruthless racial combat are just as willing to do the worst things to members of their own groups":
As one who had worked her way up from a maid to the president of the New York State NAACP Conference, she believed in getting her people into good jobs and positions of authority. Unfortunately, Dukes was not subtle and seemed to overestimate how much one can get away with because power has shifted.
Once Dinkins became mayor, Dukes verbally went buck wild, then proceeded to one tarpit of embarrassment after another.
While she maddened a number of people and had to publicly backtrack when she expressed resentment at the fact that Hispanics who "can't even speak English" were taking jobs from Negro men, the real deal is even more expansive. A good number of Negroes with family lines here in America that go back to the 18th and 19th centuries are frequently more than a little annoyed about job competition with immigrants of all languages and colors.
When Dinkins put her in charge of OTB, Dukes did exactly what she wanted to do. One example was firing as many white employees as she thought she could get away with, 27 of whom played the reversal of roles all the way out by filing discrimination suits that have reportedly paddled the city to the tune of more than $2 million. She also spent excessive sums to renovate her office and shower, tried to use race and sex to justify raises she gave six employees, and so on.
But the crime Dukes committed against McLaughlin gives us a portrait of her private world that we might not be able to see so well otherwise. The patterns that come from a sense of entitlement reveal how this woman moved through the worlds of the secular, the religious, the political and even the sorority.
How exactly was the pilfered money used? For floral arrangements, dry cleaning, car services, the Committee for David Dinkins, the Rockland County Alumnae Delta Sigma Theta sorority, the Solebury School Student Bank, the Nassau Democratic County Committee, the Assembly of Prayer Baptist Church.
The money Dukes took from McLaughlin was rarely in large sums, usually below $500, though there was one moment when she walked off with $5,000. As one who earns six figures a year, Dukes could easily have faced her tabs with her own funds. It all comes down to what should be looked upon as sheer trifling of the most obnoxious sort.
But this betrayal of a friend battling one of the very worst diseases, leukemia, also shows that those on the warpath of ruthless racial combat are just as willing to do the worst things to members of their own groups. Ruthlessness is a double-edged sword.
Hazel Dukes, Serial Betrayer
BY STANLEY CROUCH
Sunday, October 19, 1997