The Outlaw Phillip Bailey

I like outlaws. Not the commonly encountered criminals — drug dealers, thieves, murderers, most politicians and many preachers. I like outlaws who run afoul of the norm and actually stand for something. My former mentee Phillip Bailey has become such a man. I say “former” mentee because I now consider him an equal.

By now, readers of LEO Weekly know Phillip has left to become the political editor for WFPL, our local NPR affiliate. It is a loss for LEO, a gain for WFPL, and the next step in what I believe will become the Pulitzer Prize-winning career of young Bailey.

Recently, Phillip has come under fire in a small segment of Louisville’s black community because of a solid piece of investigative journalism on Councilwoman Judy Green. As a result, Bailey has been called “scum” and told that “black people here (in Louisville) don’t trust” him. Scum? Untrustworthy? Exactly what evil thing has Bailey done to merit such attacks? First of all, we have to be careful when we talk about which black people think young Bailey is a contemptible ne’er-do-well.

Let me be clear: Most people are disinterested in and, shall we nicely say, not conversant on matters historical, political or intellectual. These anti-intellectuals are everywhere from every race. Remember, we live in a country where Kim Kardashian is considered talented and Sarah Palin smart. A percentage of Americans thought Al Gore was “too smart” to be president and elected George W. Bush — twice. Locally, the people in this category don’t know Phillip Bailey the writer from Philip Bailey the singer. Most of them don’t actually read. So, they aren’t upset.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are people who do keep up with local, national and international events and thirst for serious thought, truth, political change and decency. I sincerely believe most LEO readers fall into this category — that’s why I continue to write for this publication. They aren’t mad at Bailey either. These people welcome men like him and see them as the makers of a new and brighter future.

So who’s mad? I’ll tell you. A few nativistic, short-sighted members of Louisville’s black old guard and their younger human parrots are upset. These types like the status quo simply because it benefits them in one way or another. They are in positions of influence, not because of ability or inventiveness, but largely by virtue of who they know or the fact that they’ve simply been around Louisville forever. The younger people in their orbits are the typical sorts — uncreative, conformist, untalented lackeys who go along to get along without question just to get ahead. In this way, retrograde people and systems replicate themselves. This is not good, but it’s the norm in certain circles.

Phillip Bailey has simply rejected sucking up to this ideologically incestuous, parochial segment of our fair city. Thus, he has become an outlaw — and a good one. Be clear, despite their protestations to the contrary, members of this particular clique care little to nothing for talented young thinkers. In fact, they fear and will demonize them as soon as they figure out they cannot control them. Bailey would be well served to never pay attention to criticism from these characters. They are not worthy. They cannot derail him. He is not one of those sad souls living by the adage “fake it till you make it.” He doesn’t have to fake it. He’s the real deal, so he doesn’t have to fear them.

I really don’t know what Councilwoman Judy Green has or hasn’t done right or wrong. Hopefully, she’s been on the level. I have no ill will toward her. She has always struck me as a nice lady. But that’s not the point. A few locals are bitter with Phillip because he dares to ask questions. He dares to think for himself. He dares to look the old guard in the eye and say, “I’m actually intelligent. I have a brain and will use it. You will not intimidate or limit me. I will make my own way without your endorsement. I will not bow to you!”

So, yes, young Master Bailey — I brand you an OUTLAW! Wear the title proudly, my friend. May you continue to have no fear, stay strong, stand on truth, do justice, and do not leave the people in the hands of fools. Good luck at WFPL.