OUT & ABOUT: Should Black Voters Support Black Candidates?

Filed under: Columns,Featured News,Opinion,Politics |

by Denise Clay

Should Black voters support Black candidates?

Blacks voting... for other Blacks?

Blacks voting… for other Blacks?

Now that I’ve written that sentence, I look at it and it seems like a question with an obvious answer for someone like me, seeing as I’m a Black woman and all.
But it’s a question that woke me up bright and early on Tuesday morning as I listened to “Wake Up With WURD with Solomon Jones”.

You see, a group of Black politicians from the Northwest section of the city, folks with big names like State Reps. Dwight Evans and Cherelle Parker, and City Councilwomen Cindy Bass and Marian Tasco, decided on Monday to endorse former City Councilman Jim Kenney for Mayor.

As for Councilwoman Tasco, I had a vibe that this was something she might do. When Kenney resigned from Council to run for Mayor, her goodbye speech to him was one of the most heartfelt. I told a couple of reporter friends not to be surprised if Tasco threw her support, and by extension the support of the 50th Ward, behind her former colleague.
But that said, I had started to hear grumblings about this particular endorsement on Sunday as friends of mine posted a video from 6ABC’s “Inside Edition” to their Facebook pages that featured prominent politico George Burrell chastising the folks in the Northwest for making this endorsement.

“I’m sure people like Bill Gray and David Richardson who helped get these Black elected officials a seat at the table are turning over in their graves because they’re voluntarily giving up their seat at that table,” he said.

I also made it a point to ask State Sen. Anthony Williams, whom I’m supposing Burrell (and most of the folks on my Facebook page that got mad about this) would have rather seen this group endorse, what he thought about it when I saw him at the NBC-10/Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce debate.

“It’s all politics,” Williams said. “When my dad [the late Hardy Williams] ran for Mayor, he didn’t get the total support of all African Americans.”

Besides, Williams said, he’s gotten support from groups in the Northeast and in other places where you wouldn’t expect, something no one has done a story like the articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News on the Northwest endorsement about.
Williams has a point here. The fact folks from strongholds you’d commonly associate with candidates like Kenney and former District Attorney Lynne Abraham (get well soon!) have thrown their support behind Williams is indeed news. Nationwide election statistics show whites are less likely to throw their support behind Blacks than the other way around. So if we’re looking at this from a position of how rare it is, and the key part of the word “news” is “new”, there should have been substantial coverage of these endorsements for Williams.
But this particular endorsement got so much coverage because (a) the group of people isn’t a bunch of ham-and-eggers and (b) Philadelphia is a majority-minority city that looks at a great many things through a racial prism.

But let’s get back to the first question I posed, because it’s important. Should Black people support Black candidates?

On the one hand, yes. If we don’t support our own, how can we expect anyone else to? That’s just plain and simple logic.

But on the other hand, if we look at the question on its face, we’re asking to have it thrown right back at us.

And let’s keep it real here. We’ve had three Black mayors. Three of the last four City Council Presidents have been Black. Most of City Council is Black as is most of the Philadelphia delegation to the Pennsylvania legislature. We’re represented at the table that George Burrell alluded to.

But when we look at what’s been done with that access, well, the record is mixed. While we’ve become known as a city that can throw great concerts and are impressive enough to welcome Pope Francis this fall, we also have a 30% poverty rate. We’ve watched as folks chose gentrification over affordable housing.

And I’m not even going to get into how the Black Neros in the Pennsylvania delegation picked up their fiddles and watched as the School District of Philadelphia burned to the ground; an injury to which they then added insult by handing the district’s remains to the group of sociopathic 4-year-olds in Harrisburg that currently controls it and likes to throw it into a septic tank just for fun.

Sure, Black people should support Black candidates.

But it’s also about time that we started to live by the following motto: We have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies; only permanent interests.
And if you don’t take care of these interests, you’re gone … no matter what color you are.

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One Response to OUT & ABOUT: Should Black Voters Support Black Candidates?

  1. In the Mayor’s race there are three Black candidates. We cannot support all of them so it makes the story line for this article a moot point.

    I like the way it ended with a reference to permanent interests, though. We have had a black Mayor for years. Black police and fire commissioners also. Our city has become more diverse and we do not need to wait until we are a minority to assess who really represents our best interests, regardless of color.

    Michael E. Bell
    April 15, 2015 at 3:03 pm

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