|REYNOLDS: From Congress to incarceration|
Reynolds, who back in 1995 was found guilty of having sex with an underage girl, was sentenced to prison this week on charges he went four years without filing income tax returns.
HIS REACTION TO getting a six-month prison term?
“I’m done with America,” he said, even though he admitted his sentence was far less than the just-over two years of prison time prosecutors sought, and that it is assured he’ll be free before year’s end.
Reynolds says that after he serves his time and is released, he plans to leave this country and live the rest of his life in an African nation. Possibly South Africa, where it turns out one of his daughters has resided for several years.
Reynolds, in talking with reporter-type people following his sentencing at the Dirksen Building federal courthouse, made it clear he thinks he’s the one being victimized – just another black man being constantly hounded by law enforcement and being sent off to prison just because he’s tried to make something of his life aside from menial labor.
NOW I DON’T doubt that there are elements of our society that do seek to keep black people from accomplishing much; or making any success they do achieve as difficult to do so as possible.
There may even be some who are taking a perverse pleasure at the thought that Reynolds – who served two terms in the House of Representatives from Chicago’s far South Side and surrounding suburbs in the early-to-mid-1990s – is now on his third term of incarceration.
But I can’t help but think that most people who heard of Reynolds’ fate on Thursday got their snicker from what they perceive as the man’s awfully-high perception of his self-importance.
Reynolds is “done with America?” I think it’s more accurate to say that America, particularly that segment of the nation that is Chicago, is “done” with Mel. To the point where most of us haven’t thought about him in ages – and may have even been a little shocked to learn the man is still around.
I SUSPECT WE’LL get over the idea of a Mel-less society, particularly since even the people who were supposed to be his strongest supporters were never that thrilled with the man.
Reynolds was a product of the 1992 election cycle that gave us Bill Clinton as president. There also was Gus Savage in Congress, and his oft-outspoken ways that provoked the sensibilities of non-black people (to be honest, he didn’t care what they thought) created a gap for a challenger.
Which was Mel, a Mississippi-born and Chicago-raised man who got a chance to attend Harvard University and also was a Rhodes Scholar.
I remember that many black people were apathetic about Reynolds, largely because of the perception that Mel thought he was better than everybody else. Which created conditions that – when he got into legal troubles – too many were more than willing to laugh at him and enjoy his misery.
AS FAR AS an Africa-residing Reynolds is concerned, my reaction is to wonder which nation would actually accept him. One of Reynolds’ more recent predicaments was an arrest in Zimbabwe – which makes me think that no matter where he goes, he’s going to manage to tick people off and be harassed by the local officials.
Some people just bring out the worst.
Although there may well be one other bit of significance to the Mel Reynolds saga. The man who once had the whole wide world at his grasp will have lost it all and wind up living off of his daughter.
For his sake, he’d better stay on her good side, since he might not have any other friends left.