Friday, November 30, 2012

Some thoughts about “race” in the race to be Mayor…

The dust has barely settled from the 2012 election season and St. Louis city is already gearing up for another hotly contested bid for political power.  Mayor Francis Slay will face St. Louis Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed in the 2013 primary. Former Alderman Jimmie Matthews is also running.


Let the games begin!

Longtime readers know that I rarely write about city politics. I’m making an exception because my last nerve is already being worked.

I caught the news coverage of candidates filing to run for Mayor and was struck by a comment made by the incumbent, Mayor Slay.
"I am concerned that my opponent will play the race card and otherwise be divisive in this campaign," Slay said. "I never have and I won't be involved in that kind of effort."
Mayor Slay is white.

Alderman Reed is black.

And yes, water is still wet.

Shall we?

Nothing works my nerve like someone injecting race into politics through use of the term “race card”.

I can’t stand it…hate it…wish it go away and take the foundation of dismissing racism it rests on with it.

St. Louis is a city with a long history of racial tension. I love this city, but it is what it is…and trying to ignore reality is a big part of why that reality hasn’t changed. 

Now, you know and I know that you know that I know there isn’t any way in hell this campaign is going to go forth without race being an issue.  Mayor Slay basically guaranteed that race would be front and center with his nifty little passive aggressive “race card” comment.

The goal of most “race card” comments is to box a person of color into a corner…get them to either not address race at all or to address it defensively which tends to turn off white voters who fear black politicians are incapable of representing anyone other than black people.

I’m betting some minion weighed the risk of turning off black voters by implying that we respond like dogs to a whistle when any candidate of color throws down the mythical “race card” and decided Slay’s campaign could take the percentage hit.

Mayor Slay might as well have announced “in case you missed it, Lewis Reed is black…blackety, black, BLACK!” dropped the mic and then skipped back to his office.

And that takes me back to St. Louis city and our long history of racial tension.

Slay’s comment actually acknowledges that history…his bait about the “race card” requires the existence of racial tension or it wouldn’t make a lick of sense.

I suppose manipulating the electorate based on racial tension is far easier than being a catalyst for change.

Blink.

Anyhoo, I seriously doubt Slay is going to hold office by trying to define the President of the St. Louis Board of Alderman as a mere race candidate.

That dawg ain’t gonna hunt!

Pause…consider…continue.

Or maybe Mayor Slay misspoke.

Could this have been a verbal malfunction?

Maybe he was trying to say that he was concerned his opponent is going to play the “Rex card”!

***rubs hands together***

I’m totally down with a nice multi-month discussion of why so many St. Louis city politicians are BFFs with a fabillionare who wields more power than any one man should and who thinks public schools were designed by the KKK to hold black students back!

Oh wait…my bad…that discussion would require acknowledging and talking about the “money card”.

Sigh.

I do love this city…I do!

Tis out of love that I call bullshit on the “race card” comment and suggest all candidates for Mayor talk about the serious issues on the table and in need of discussing.

We can’t let Kansas City’s most recent mayoral race show us up, now can we?

***cue crickets***

Chess anyone?

6 comments:

Hattie said...

Somebody used the race card argument on me because I am presumably a bleeding heart liberal. Somebody I no longer talk to. I'm an old white woman. It's just nuts,isn't it.

Jeffrey Ricker said...

Ah, Francis the talking mule. Or is that talking ass?

Clarence Royce said...

There are more POC in St. Louis than non-POC. Alienating these (potential) voters doesn't help your cause.

But how do you engage in public discourse on race during a mayoral campaign without people shouting at each other and white people making excuses? Or engage in public discourse on race anywhere, at any time? White folks love to complain about the race card, but never stop to think about other people. Period. Almost all of the concerns come from a place of ME ME ME ME OFFENDED ME ME ME ME. Maybe other people know what they're talking about. And white people, ignorant though they may be, always feel the need to talk the longest and loudest. They get offended by the truth and don't listen.

Beyond The Political Spectrum said...

The only difference between black politicians using race and white politicians using race in politics is that white politicians are better at acting indignant when accusations start to fly!
Beyond-Dollars-&-Sense!

dante. said...

First off, let me tell you how happy I am to see that you are still writing. Prior to my most recent deployment, I believe you were facing some pretty serious health matters. I just returned from Afghanistan, and this is my first time on your blog in a while. So, so, so glad to know that your voice is still out there in the universe.

Pertaining to your topic, it simply must be the season for race politics and randomness.

I just came across an article yesterday that highlighted one young student's push for white student unions. He feels that white culture is in dying out and that it whites, especially males, are discriminated against in our country.

Had to write a response: http://thelionshistorian.com/in-response-to-the-call-for-white-student-unions/

Pamela Merritt said...

Dante, welcome home! And yes, tis the season...and ain't that a shame.