Ohio House 29th: Gray (D) Says "It's Not a Black Thing"
Candidate Brent Gray (D-Cincinnati), taking on entrenched incumbent Rep. Louis W. Blessing Jr (R-Cincinnati), asked me to publish the following piece he's written on race in the gubernatorial election. I won't necessarily publish submissions from candidates, but the recent race-inflected flyers distributed in Cuyahoga County by Ken Blackwell (R-Cincinnati) and his detractors makes this seem particularly pertinent:
It's Not a Black Thing: You Need to Understand
As the primary election emerged towards its conclusion, Black radio station ads promoting Ken Blackwell asked for our vote to elect him the next and first African American Governor in the state of Ohio. This message rang out like a stray bullet from a drive by shooting. Terrible analogy you say? Probably. So is the political philosophy of a former democrat turned neocon and extreme right-winged fundamentalist who is far removed from the black community and its concerns.
Following the primary, I engaged a prospective voter in conversation and asked the question: Who do you like for Governor and why? "I'm going to vote for Blackwell because he represents the Black man,â" he said. It became apparent to me that he wasn't aware that Mr. Blackwell opposes affirmative action but supports educational slots for legacies. He wasn't aware that Mr. Blackwell does not support an increase in the minimum wage and calls the constitutional initiative an ill-conceived idea. He wasn't aware that Mr. Blackwell, as co-chair of President Bush's re-election campaign, desecrated his position as Secretary of State by disenfranchising voters in highly populated Black/Democratic precincts across the state during the 2004 election. This blatant act of suppression should have warranted his award of a complimentary imperial grand wizard hood and robe.
Sixteen years of failed leadership, 2 historical tax hikes, corporate welfare, escalating property taxes, scandals and corruption, 1.3 million Ohioans without healthcare, unprecedented job loss, excessively high statewide unemployment rates specifically in the black community, record foreclosure rates and bankruptcies topped off with the lowest governor approval rating in history. I did not just describe an ice cream sundae. These are the issues that warrant your consideration in this upcoming election. It is not the number of scriptures you can quote.
Had enough of the same or is it time for a change?
There is an old adage that reads, don't look at the messenger, listen to the message. My intent is not to marginalize the accomplishments of the candidate. It is to do as Frederick Douglas penned, "agitate, agitate, agitate." We are committed to motivate people to vote in their economic interest versus their "values." It is irresponsible to vote based on divisive frames such as race, class, religious beliefs or sexual orientation. I urge you to champion progressive initiatives that have a positive impact on all of humanity and defend those causes that provoke social change for a better day.
Ask the tough questions like: Will there be economic inclusion or gentrification and exclusion, quality education or disproportionate incarceration, liquor stores or opportunities with open doors? Send a message to the radio stations and throughout the Black community stating that we will not be placated by pigmentation. It is the biased viewpoint of this candidate that rips at the worned fabric of a strained community and annihilates the hope of prosperity that will mend it. If it were true that Mr. Blackwell postulates himself in comparison to the great Martin Luther King, Jr., then he would be familiar with a segment of the "I Have a Dream" speech that reads "they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Mr. Blackwell, the race card wont be played in Ohio's spades game today. You don't have any more tricks and you've been set. Game over!
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