Governor Davis: a fantasy in black and white

Standard

Congressman Artur Davis, Mrs. Peggy Wallace Kennedy

Artur Davis is a facinating politician in many respects. The power of his intellect and sharp political skills set him apart from most pol’s.  The sky should be the limit for Artur.  In Alabama, congress is the limit for Artur.  If not for the Voting Rights Act, he would not be a member of congress from Alabama.

In America, it should be a no brainer that any child born anywhere should be able to reach for the highest political rung in state government and not be deterred, discouraged or attacked on the basis of race. Unfortunately, that is not the America we live in despite the fantasies of some whites that we live in a post-racial utopia.  It does not matter how many blackfolks buy into the white fantasy that Artur can win this year.  It isn’t true. This diary seeks to explore the reasons for this bitter reality.

A black man might be president,  but he would not be if America was a cultural mirror of the state of Alabama.  Only one in ten white voters, according to NBC political director Chuck Todd, voted for Barack Obama.  Extreme racial polarization is a fact of life in the Deep South that smart people can’t get around.

The President of the United States is a biracial man of color who is the product of an interracial marriage. He was raised almost exclusively by his white kinfolks. Most rural whites in the Deep South cannot process these facts and are profoundly threatened by his presidency.

They displace their discomfort with his race by questioning his citizenship and asking to see his birth certificate.  They are willing to question his professed and demonstrated Christian faith and believe any smear about him being a Muslim terrorist because the father he never knew was a Muslim.   They then voted for a Republican Senator universally known to have been born outside the continental United States in the Panama Canal Zone because “at least he is American,” which is nothing more than a euphemism for being White.

The President of the United States is the most nonthreatening black politician in American history. He is decidedly centrist in word and deed to the chagrin of most of us on the progressive left.  To most rural whites, though, he is a Socialist, Marxist, Communist Antichrist hell bent on creating a segregated, racist society in which only non-whites rule and whites are subjugated. That is a nifty piece of racist projection most psychologists would love to get their hands on and take apart.

Because of this ridiculous racial paranoia, there will be no ability to see a similar black man any differently.

Congressman Artur Davis and President Barack Obama

Race is still a bar to achievement and advancement in the United States in some fields of endeavor. Our inability to talk about race or be honest  about our racial fears is part and parcel of the infrastructure, which reinforces the bar to achievement and advancement.

Alabama is stuck in both a time warp and in a black hole of its own making with regard to race. There can be no change unless people are willing to smash the taboo of cross racial cooperation.

Meaningful cross racial dialogue and genuine fellowship is rare anywhere in the Deep South but more likely to occur in urban areas with a large University presence. On the other hand, if folks live in larger communities, they are still largely segregated. Nobody wants to go to school with us or live in our neighborhoods. If we are fortunate enough to live in communities where both white and black do go to school together, the interaction is largely superficial.

When time comes to choose a college, the choices are still segregated. We live separate lives and pretend that it is normal. It isn’t. We (blackfolks) are usually the ones that have to stick our necks out to make change.  It is rarely the other way around.

I think it is wonderful that most of the people on this board look favorably on Artur Davis and the egalitarian ideal his candidacy represents, but the hard work and foundation for an eventual win by a black candidate for Governor has not been done in any state of the Deep South–Georgia included.  Anybody who believes he can win in this backwards and hostile cultural environment is deluding themselves.

Nobody in the grip of a rural Tea Bagger’s poisonous racial paranoia is capable of building community with the blackfolks they see everyday that mirror them in every demographic respect.

They might know your people, might have known your extended kinfolk back to the Civil War, but it still don’t mean that they’ll vote for your daddy to become the first black sheriff. I have a hard time understanding why Artur has to come along like a Negro in a buddy movie and be their black friend when most rural whites have only superficial relationships with the blackfolks they see everyday.  There is no sense of community where stereotypically everybody knows and is kin to everybody. Ultimately, this is why Artur cannot be elected Governor this year.

Dr. King spoke of a desire to “..foster and create the ‘beloved community’ in America where brotherhood is a reality…Our ultimate goal is genuine intergroup and interpersonal living–integration.” That does not exist in Alabama or anywhere in the Deep South.  It doesn’t even exist up north but most of the time northerners are not so blinded by race that they will vote against politicians of color they are philosophically compatible with because they are not white.

We are still living separate lives despite dramatically less racial polarization in the north. The South is less physically segregated than the North but it is more functionally segregated on the ground.  This has to change.  Only hard work done by committed blacks and whites will change it.  Most of the onus is on whites though, and becuase it is I doubt seriously that it will happen anytime before I turn 50 in 2021.

Richardson withdraws, historic opportunity at hand

Standard

obama-richardson

News broke this afternoon that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Commerce, has withdrawn his nomination over questions regarding a federal investigation of the state’s $1.5 million dollar financial services contract with a Beverly Hills, California firm, CDR, who’s CEO, David Rubin, donated $110,000 to political committee’s affiliated with Governor Richardson.

 

I am heartsick because I’ve always felt that Richardson’s presence in the cabinet essential to Obama’s success. Nevertheless, as my grandma is fond of saying, “one monkey don’t stop no show.” The vacancy represents an opportunity to do something no president has done and after the Warren fiasco a few weeks back, I’ve come to feel pretty strongly that Barack Obama needs to appoint a “gay American,” as former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevy put it, to the cabinet of the United States.

 

When you stop and think about it this is a barrier that Bill Clinton should have shattered years ago, and one Al Gore probably would have if the ignorant tumbleweed that is George W. Bush hadn’t tripped him up. Clinton, after the broken promise of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” attempted to buy off the LGBT community with the appointments of James Hormel as ambassador to Luxemburg and Roberta Achtenberg as Deputy Secretary of HUD. The public break with activist David Mixner, a leading LGBT fundraiser and convention delegate for Clinton, damaged Clinton’s relationship with the LGBT community in a big way.

 

Nothing of that magnitude has occurred in this new Administration, but the hue and cry over Rick Warren’s inaugural invocation channels the white-hot righteous indignation of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Debate, and Bubba’s craven signing of the Defense of Marriage Act, which were straightforward betrayals. Obama hasn’t gone back on his word to the LGBT community on any significant issue, at least not yet. But he’s black, so I suppose there are some activists who feel the need to put Obama, and the rest of his dark skinned brethren, “in our place,” and psychologically project their legitimate anger for the failure of prop 8 on the most convenient scapegoats in America—black people, who don’t even make up 7% of California’s population.

 

Anyway, y’all, after little investigation, I’ve come up with two outstanding people that I think can send an inclusive message to the country and tamp down some of the fires of faux outrage burning in the blogosphere.

 

JARRETT BARRIOS

jarrett-barrios

 

The first person to come to mind is former Massachusetts State Senator Jarrett Barrios, the CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts. As CEO, he oversees a $55 million dollar endowment that focuses on expanding health care access and improved delivery to the uninsured and underinsured. Barrios, a Cuban American originally from Tampa, Florida, served for 8 years in both Houses of the Massachusetts legislature. An honors graduate of Harvard University, Barrios also possess a law degree from Georgetown University.

 

In the legislature he made Health Care access and delivery his signature issue and authored legislation requiring Massachusetts hospitals to provide interpreters to non-English speakers. In addition, he authored legislation protecting consumers from unscrupulous predatory lenders and required that lenders abide by Massachusetts laws requiring community reinvestment and he pushed for tax credits to subsidize the construction of more affordable housing.

 

A practicing attorney, Barrios has worked for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and for the law firms DLA Piper and Hill & Barlow.

 

Lastly, as you may have already surmised, Jarrett Barrios is a gay man who led the fight in the Massachusetts Senate to preserve marriage rights for same-sex couples. He is married to Doug Hattaway, a democratic strategist and former Hillary Clinton spokesman.

 

The Obama Administration has focused on excellence in its cabinet appointments. I believe that Jarrett Barrios’ academic and professional credentials will stand the test and that he would be an outstanding Secretary of Commerce.

 

SUSAN LEAL

leal_susan


 

Because I believe in balance, it is necessary to consider people of both genders and the accomplished Susan Leal, a former businesswoman, health-care executive, Public Utilities Regulator, San Francisco Treasurer and Supervisor, is an even more qualified choice than the first I put forward.

 

Ms. Leal, 59, is a native of San Francisco and a veteran civic leader. She is a first generation daughter of Mexican immigrants and the first Latina to serve on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. While on the board, Ms. Leal co-authored San Francisco’s landmark domestic partners ordinance.

 

An honors graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Leal has degrees in Economics and Law and has an extensive background as a staffer in both the California General Assembly and the U.S. Congress. While in Washington Ms. Leal served as a staff attorney for the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Investigations. Back in California, she served as general counsel to the Assembly Committee on Ways & Means.

 

Elected San Francisco’s Treasurer in 1998, she oversaw a $3 billion dollar portfolio of investments and she was the first treasurer to screen the city’s investments to ensure the city invested with socially responsible companies that respected workers, consumers and the environment.

 

A shrewd and successful businesswoman, Ms. Leal and a few friends created a health care startup that they subsequently took public and later sold at a profit.

 

Finally, Ms. Leal last served the public as a utilities regulator and she tangled with PG&E, the powerful utility made infamous in the movie Erin Brockovich.

 

Ms. Leal would make an excellent Secretary of Commerce, Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or as a Deputy Secretary of Energy or Interior. Both of these individuals are qualified, well-educated, Latino and Gay.  It’s past time that all God’s children are represented in the halls of power.

 

Senator Caroline Kennedy

Standard

GET FILES-FRANCE-US-KENNEDY

I find it ironic and disengenuous that the Hillarycrat detractors of Caroline Kennedy, a New York resident for over four decades, would have the temerity to suggest that the Harvard University educated author, lawyer, and philanthropist lacks the necessary qualifications  to represent New York State in the United States Senate.   Ms. Kennedy has always been a dignified, understated and classy mover and shaker that has used her celebrity,  talent, and money to help other people.   Politically, nobody could beat her under any circumstances.   She can raise the money and would maintain the current number of women in the senate, which is already too few. Where the hell were these people when Hillary decided to accept the phony draft of New Yorkers to run for the Senate in a state she had never lived in?  Caroline Kennedy has been a New Yorker longer than the Queen of Triangulation has been a blond.   I am relieved that she has decided to throw her hat in the ring.   If David Paterson is smart, he’ll appoint Caroline without any more deliberation and secure his re-election at the same time.


			

I Decline

Standard

 

photo by pacific john, flickr

I have been angry for a week now and I have heard from you.  Y’all gave me much to consider and digest.   Wrestling with this has been very, very difficult and gut wrenching.  At times I’ve felt that I just needed to let my anger go, embrace the moment, and savor this history making candidacy for all that its worth.  Conversely, I’ve thought that this brotha is little more than a Democratic and neoliberal version of Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, the doublemint twins of right-wing imperialist deception.    

Appeasing skittish and racially ambivalent whites that deliberately insult the integrity and prophetic vision of the black church doesn’t work for me. Disassociating from Jeremiah Wright by telling a nationally televised audience that you would not have felt comfortable enough in your church of twenty years to stay if your pastor hadn’t retired just doesn’t work for me.   

I want to support this brotha so badly, but I have gone as far as I can.   I can’t do it anymore and feel good about it. I’ve decided to vote uncommitted in the North Carolina Democratic primary in protest. Moreover, as of today, I formally withdraw my support of Barack Obama for the Democratic Nomination for President, my bitter opposition to Senator Clinton notwithstanding, and will leave the Democratic Party to become an Independent.   

In case you were wondering, I have been this way for a number of years and refused to support Bill Clinton because of his lack of candor and respect for the black community on the Death Penalty in 1992.  I actively supported Jerry Brown.   

The vast majority of you will never agree with me, I concede that, but I am a race man through and through and this is about respect.  If a politician doesn’t respect us, they can never really represent us.  It’s just that simple.  I’ve made no decision about the fall.  I’ll let y’all know.  But for today, I decline to support Barack Obama.