Governor Davis: a fantasy in black and white


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.

27 thoughts on “Governor Davis: a fantasy in black and white

    • I cross posted this piece first on the progressive blog Left in Alabama and damn near started a riot. Let’s just say some feelings got hurt. One guy acted as if I was personally calling him out. I wasn’t. I’ve never met him. You and I both know I am fully capable of using both barrels to call folk out. I hold back nothing. I was more polite over there than I will ever be over here. It took awhile, but we finally had a fruitful discussion and some of the brothas and sistahs over there backed me up.

  1. I luv you, SB.


    this is so on point. I’m glad you broke it down like this, but really all you had to say is:


    you broke Alabama down so profoundly, there’s nothing else left to say.

    And, yes, his candidacy is a delusion. I don’t look too favorably on his running, but I haven’t had this made clear to me – does he have to resign the Congressional seat to run for Governor?

    and, you see he got married quick and who he married, don’t you?

    • rikyrah,

      Thanks for the love, girl. I always need it. As to your question about him resigning to run. No, he can stay in the House while running, his term expires at the end of the year. The brotha talks a good game and says the right things, however, it will never happen. 10% of whites voted for Obama. I just can’t get past that number.

    • Blue Dogs

      Rikyrah, Davis is facing the same problems Harold Ford, Jr., faced in TN back in 2006, when you think you’re gonna win statewide office, some white folks just aren’t ever gonna vote for you-period.

      Davis can throw Obama under the bus the entire campaign and still won’t win.

      I heard that Lieutenant Governor Jim Folsom, Jr., (D) wants Davis to lose in November, so that he can get the governorship himself in 2014.

  2. I have to give it up to you, you gave an interesting perspective on Alabama. It will be an uphill battle, but he will have a better chance in 2014.

  3. Guns3000

    This is a perfect example how we limit one another. These type of people said the same thing about Barak two years ago. Kill all that noise. Run Davis Run and if I was a resident of Alabama I would vote for him. The odds are stacked against him but he can still try.

  4. Guns3000,

    When Obama gave his speech at the Democratic convention in 2004 a lot of people speculated that he could be the first black President of the United States. I have not heard similar ruminations about a black governor of Alabama. If I lived in Alabama I would vote for Davis. But he has no shot of winning. Those folks are still licking their wounds over the Civil War (or, as they call it, “The War of Northern Aggression”.) White people in the Deep South simply won’t vote for a black candidate. Skep’s analysis is spot on.

    But to your point, I hope I am wrong. But I’m not.

  5. Blue Dogs

    Guns3000, Davis will likely be the Democratic nominee in June’s upcoming primary, but if the GOP nominates Bradley Byrne… Davis is finished in the general. The ONLY chance Davis has of taking the oath of office as the Land of Dixie’s 53rd chief executive on January 17, 2011 is if the Republicans get stupid and nominate former AL Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore (R), who the GOP secretly HATES.

    Moore ran for governor before in 2006 and got his ass handed to him in the primary by Governor Bob Riley.

    Can you tell Skeptical Brotha to post about the Texas governor’s race because it’s looking more LIKELY incumbent Governor Rick Perry (R) is going to be the GOP nominee and facing off against former Houston Mayor Bill White (D).

    • Blue Dogs,

      I have a running bet that Kay Bailey Hutchison will lose to Rick Perry and a co-worker took me up on that. There is no dog in that hunt for me. There is no African American running and I generally look to examine races of concern where someone of color is running and what that means for the black community.

      • Burroughston Broch

        So then, you generally ignore a race where no one of color is running, and leave the black community to figure out what the race means for them. That covers a large percentage of races. Isn’t that a bit short sighted?

      • Burroughston Broch,

        Nobody needs me to explain anything to them about the Texas Gubernatorial race. There is only one alternative. We both know who that is and he doesn’t have an R behind his name.

      • Burroughston Broch

        I wasn’t referring to the Texas gubernatorial race, but instead to the your statement in general. It seems short sighted to me.

      • Burroughston Broch,

        It is not physically possible to render an opinion on every race that may be of concern to the black community. I’m just one little black boy out here by myself. The races I choose to cover are usually significant and highlight something I wish to discuss. I’ll be doing the Memphis Congressional, the Alabama Gubernatorial, the NY Senate race if Harold runs. There were some others but they either dropped off my list or haven’t materialized. If Hansen Clarke runs against Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, I’ll endorse him and write extensively on that.

  6. To Skeptical Brotha;
    You ever heard of the saying if you throw a rock at a pen full of pigs the one that hollers is the one that was hit? Well, that’s why you damn near started a riot at Left in Alabama.

    To Rikayah;

    Yes I see Davis got married quick, but I don’t see who he married, please clarify.

    To Blue Dogs;

    Not only has Davis thrown Obama under the bus, he’s thrown black people under the bus, namely his own constituents when he voted aganist the health care reform bill and the hate crimes bill. That goes a long way in Alabama, the reddest of the red states. The election of J.C. Watts in Oklahoma proves white folks will vote for black folks who throw other black folks under the bus.

    For Guns 3000;

    I live in Alabama and I don’t plan to vote for Davis in the primary because he’s pandered to the voters who might vote for him at the expense of voters who would have voted for him had ne not thrown them under the bus. However, if he wins the democratic primary I will vote for him in the general, because he’s better than the gop alternative.

    • Redeye,

      I might go back over to Left in Alabama from time to time, but it won’t be for the purpose of discussion. We are largely talking to ourselves and nobody else. It is called the silent treatment. You can only talk to people who want to listen and they have made it plain that they are not listening. Truth telling is generally unappreciated and overrated.

      • Gayla

        Gee, did you really feel like you were getting the silent treatment? I personally thought you generated a great discussion with an exchange if ideas…people with different perspectives listening and talking to each other. I’m really sorry you feel that no one heard you.
        Yeah, I live in Alabama. But my Daddy was career Air Force and we lived all over the country. I saw racism in each state we lived in and it was just as vile in North Dakota or Maryland or Florida or Illinois, etc. as it is here. And there are Alabamians who are just as progressive and just as interested in acceptance of all as there are in other state in the Union. It’s a shame to paint us all with the same broad brush and it’s really diminishing.
        I didn’t vote and campaign for Barack Obama becauce he’s an African-American. I voted for him because I felt/feel he’s the smartest, most intelligent, most capable, and most trustworthy man for a very tough job. I feel the same way about Artur Davis.

      • Gayla,

        First, I posted a second diary and hardly anybody responded, that why I felt that I got the silent treatment. Second, I made it explicit that I was not calling anybody out at LIA. Third, I think that what I said hit too close to home for some folk at LIA. While most folk are Democrats in good standing, I doubt whether that is true for the friends and family of the average white voter in Alabama. I ran across a quotation in a book by Senator Shelby that said something to the effect of when he switched parties, he was basically the last one in the whole Shelby family to have done so.

  7. Skeptical Brotha, I assume you’re talking about former Houston Mayor Bill White (D), who will give Perry a difficult time in the November general election, where Independents are going to decide the TX governor’s race. Sadly, Perry is likely back in the Texas Governor’s Mansion for 4 more years until January 20, 2015.

  8. Here’s the problem for White in Texas:

    1. No Democrat has been elected to the Texas Governor’s Mansion since 1990.

    2. Texas is still a Republican state, they control pretty much everything including 29 statewide offices (Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals).

    3. Obama got his clock cleaned there by McCain and only carried 29 out of 254 counties.

    4. No TX Democrat has been elected to statewide office since 1994.

    5. With anti-Democratic sentiment rising, it’s gonna uphill for White to overcome this.

    PS: In a GOP year, Perry will be back in the governor’s mansion because of the weak voting turnout.

    • Blue Dogs,

      I’m a political junkie. I know all of that trivia with the exception of how many counties Obama carried, but Perry’s general election numbers are weak. There is a chance for White to win.

  9. hiibridgirl

    I am a lifelong resident of Alabama.I voted for Barracks Obama because he was the best candidate. I was in support of Artur Davis until I researched his voting history and came to the conclusion that the African American community he was elected to represent was indeed thrown under the bus. He will not receive my vote and I hope others will research and come to the same conclusion.Great article!

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