Monday, January 4, 2010

What Does It Mean When The Leading Black Candidate Drops Out

State Senator Ed Murray dropped out of the race for mayor of New Orleans. In his statement he cited financial reasons as well as not wanting to divide the city by race in a runoff against Mitch Landrieu. That's a little interesting because despite all the loses after Katrina New Orleans is still 60% African American. An election that split on race should have benefited someone like Senator Murray. I believe that if he was sure he could win the financial sacrifice would have been worth it. I think he's dropping out because he's not certain that enough African American voters are going to come out during the election to offset the black vote Mitch Landrieu is going to get. That's a legitimate concern. I understand why Mitch Landrieu waited awhile before he decided to run. He and his camp see the same thing I am seeing. The old black political power structure is dead and the new generation hasn't gained enough ground to challenge him. We may not need a runoff for this election. It could be a Landrieu landslide. There was a time not too long ago where all a man like Ed Murray had to do was stand up there and not embarrass himself to get elected. He can't do that now because the black voting base in the city has no energy and no passion for politics. It's not Senator Murray's fault. He just ran for mayor at a bad time.

It doesn't take a political science major to figure this out. All you need to do is pay attention to the last 30 years of this city's history. I like James Perry, Nadine Ramsey and Troy Henry. They are all young and new enough to the political scene in this city to build a foundation and get their names out there and make a difference if that's what they want to do. The problem they are having this year is that they are trying to energize a base that has little confidence and hope in their political leaders and that's a hard thing to fix in the short time of this election cycle. If they were going to do this effectively enough to win they should have started last year going door to door and explaining themselves to the folks in the neighborhoods. Win or lose they should still start doing that now and continue throughout the next few years because the people need to have their faith restored. They lost it a long time ago because even though we had the power to elect men and women from our own community, we failed to create a better quality of life for the most struggling part of the community killing our progress and sucking the support for political leaders out of this city. Sure a lot more black people made money from contracts and high profile positions in the last three decades but most of those people were already connected and in position to have that kind of success.

We never changed the mind state that made people think that you had to know someone to get ahead and it was almost impossible to do well if you didn't. That's why so many people we know hit the road for other cities and never came back. The people that did stay and try everyday to make things work are aggravated because we know what we don't have and get reminded of it everyday. It's pretty obvious. Just look at our schools for instance. A few weeks ago I was driving with my girl and we passed the old Fannie C. Williams school site. I looked over and saw those trailers and flipped out. "How in the hell it's been four years since the storm and those babies are still going to school in damn trailers?" Now I know the state took over the schools after the storm but it's not like when the brothers and sisters were running it before the storm they were top of the line. This is why no matter how valid the case is for local control of the school system you don't see thousands of parents down there fussing about it. They have already suffered themselves through poor local leadership. This is why the leading black candidate in the mayor's race can drop out from the weight of a candidate that's already been beaten more than once for the mayor's office and whose campaign has been on cruise control since he announced. That's why when people announce new things or bring up new issues dealing with the city no one gets excited or pays attention. Morale for the political process is low and no matter how many positive things are going on in some one's life in this city they don't contribute any of it to political leadership unless they roll in that circle. If the little of what we have was gained through our own perseverance and hard work, why does it matter who is in charge? The disenchanted working and middle class are the key to the future of this city. They don't much attention from the media but there are more of us here than anyone else. They are the ones that stayed in other places with better schools and job opportunities after the storm. They are the ones most likely to get frustrated with how things are now and leave for greener pastures. They are the reason Ed Murray dropped out of the race because they are not coming out to vote just because some one's black. The only way it would have happened is if he would have turned Mitch Landrieu into a KKK member and scared everyone during the runoff and that wouldn't have helped the city. Other than a person running for president the power of that symbolism is gone. Who cares if a few rich black people get richer because a black person has the power to give them contracts if 300,000 other folks are grinding everyday to survive. If deciding who gets the big money at the top is the only difference in our situation then it doesn't matter who the mayor is to regular people. It's time for a new effective approach.


Leigh C. said...

I like Perry a great deal, but I think he's unfortunately reaching out the most to the people who don't live here in order to shore up his fundraising. Kinda sad that that's what he has to do.

K. said...

It's hard to imagine a tougher job in politics -- outside of POTUS -- than mayor of New Orleans. There's so much to and so few resources. It's even tougher when so much of the public is understandably discouraged.


cliff , i think this year will be our city's rebirth.

i also think it will be a slow and painful birth with lots of tears of joy for our suffering.

happy new years to you and your's sir.

Clancy DuBos said...

Cliff, as usual, you nailed it. The truth, like recovery, can be painful. Thanks for sharing the painful truth.

G Bitch said...

Excellent, Cliff. I almost cheered at "Who cares if a few rich black people get richer because a black person has the power to give them contracts if 300,000 other folks are grinding everyday to survive. If deciding who gets the big money at the top is the only difference in our situation then it doesn't matter who the mayor is to regular people. It's time for a new effective approach."

It's noy people want to be disengaged but that disengagement hurts less at this point.

Editilla~New Orleans Ladder said...

Dayum, sorry I didn't jump on this post day of, getting colder than fck ya'now busy wit'it. So we hung you on Wednesday's Ladder beneath James Gill and above James Perry.

Really though, I hope you write a book sometime sooner than later.

Lemme toll'ya now that I am prone to say things sometimes about race that reflect not only my upbringing in the MS Delta, where politics is a Genteel Contact Sport much like Badminton with live grenade birdies, but also hopefully a certain ascension from that nuptial bed of love and grief. In short, don'get pissed at me when I say I think James Perry is playing the Racial 3 Card Monte with his Huffington Post recently.

Even before 8/29/05 I had wiped my slate considerably and added as much color to the pallet as one can immersed in New Orleans, but that flood did something wholly unexpected to me and my view of race, black folks, white folks and Americans in general. I'm not speaking for ANYONE else here. That searing crucifixion of our city peeled away any sense of taste and timing that I had developed for American Culture to reveal a truly dark side, a cold viciousness that crossed all lines. Within such a scene of Kafkatrina Nightmare in the Valley of the Reaper's Shadow, Black People were Not one of my worries. Armed White Professionals were the thing that really scared me, and meth-heads. Armed White Professionals, pretty much I guess like the ones running the country at the time.

I'm jus'sayin, my experience during a time of complete civil breakdown leads me to trust Black folks to keep it together if there is even an unraveling thread of hope.
White folks get a little jumpy when shit doesn't work.
America is a strange place, mon. We invented the Amplifier.
But now, post Escape from New Orleans I find our current and future leadership cheating at the racial card game, oblivious about the one thing that I think helps define the survival of New Orleanians in this century, to wit: the Federal Flood of '05.
A rising tide floats all houses is all I'm saying, and that the Reaper don't give a damn about the color of the grain. Never has never will.

Thank you

Editilla~New Orleans Ladder said...

since it now appears that Troy Henry will attempt to trump Perry in this Card Game, I moved this post on over to Thursday's Ladder.
Clancy's right.
You nailed it like a rotten coffin.

Anonymous said...

Yikes! Clancy- this guy really sticks it to you though.

Anyone else here's thoughts on this

mominem said...

Great Post.

that little library lady said...

It has seemed to me for most of the 16 years I have lived in New Orleans that the black people of New Orleans are the most patient and dis-regarded people in America.

They have been betrayed by Republicans and Democrats, Feds and State Officials, Local Officials, Educators, Ministers, Priests, The Left, the Right, Businesspeople, non-profits, carpetbaggers, and their life-long white neighbors. They've been betrayed by corruption, crime, drugs, and gloriously inept law enforcement.

I salute the human potential in New Orleans.

I was very impressed by what Perry had to say about Murray's decision to drop out. I think that some of our discussion of race and the Mayoral election might be very healthy indeed. People might have to be honest and courageous for once.

Beauty Jackson said...

I like Perry. You know this. But, I must agree with another commenter stated that he unfortunately is in the position of going to "outsiders" for fund-raising purposes. Originally, I thought, "Cool, other people need to be invested and interested in this city. They come here for their conventions and celebrations. They come here for our Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest. Put some work in." But a wise man told me that this really needs to be left to people who grew up shopping at the Plaza. I initially bucked at that, but New Orleans does need local fervor.

But New Orleans IS a "my cousin 'nem" town. Katrina, in all her fury, brought some of those issues to light, but people have come to accept it, so there's not enough really being done about it, primarily due to the reasons you mentioned in your blog.

I love my home. I miss my home. I miss my family and my friends. But I'm also a mother, and when I look at the way my children are thriving here (in a city with one of the best public school systems in the country), it makes me sad that I can't even say with 50% certainty that they would have thrived in this manner in the place nearest and dearest to my heart.

I plan on posting this on my FB and my blog; then maybe someone will see this and post it on their FB and blog, and so on. Eventually, the people who need to see it WILL.

Dare I see a revolution on the horizon?

Anonymous said...

"and their life-long white neighbors."


You know why I'm angry! I used to be a dreamer!

I volunteered and worked for organizations that served a black constituency reading and feeding black youths because NO ADULT in there life DID.

And there were kids I would rather take home and care for myself than turn over to there Aunt'tea or Hoochie Mamma because I knew, I KNEW!, everything I accomplished that afternoon was ERASED within 15 minutes of being around the adults in their life.

To have black people here HATE the very people who are trying to help them BECAUSE OF THERE SKIN COLOR! FFFFFFFFF UUUUUUUU !!!!!!

I go into a Wendy's or a connivence store to basically live off Snack Food because I MAKE SHIT MONEY HERE and be treated Like SHIT because I'm WHITE !?!

To have people say, "What you gonna do about it White Boy!" "All Ya'lls White People!" "Ya'll White People Dun Know!" When you're trying to help.

But these same people will drink, laugh, and dance with the very people who shoot them, rob them, and get their daughters pregnant at FOURTEEN!

BUT I"M TO BLAME!!!! Because of MY SKIN !?!?!

And don't give me that: Well race was used against so many black people that thats there only weapon. PLEASE! Its not 1869, 1969, or hell 2009 !

I see plenty of black people eating at restaurants I can't afford, driving cars I can't afford, living in houses I can't afford, running for offices I can't afford to run for... and HEY! They Earned IT! If they're a Doctor, or Lawyer, Business Owner... That's great!

BUT WHERE ARE THEY!!!!! HUH ? Their kids go to the same schools these WHITE KIDS go... but how many volunteer? SURE they go on trips up north to volunteer somewhere because they want to get into Harvard or Morehouse and Omega Psi. And if they do volunteer here so many put in the bare minimum.... But I see I SEE how much so many of them don't care about poor blacks, HERE!.

I SEE MORE WHTE PEOPLE CARE! TRULY CARE about the welfare of poor blacks in this city... And forget the BULLSH*T WHITE MANS BURDEN CRAP or ALL YA"LLS DON"T UNDERSTAND...

Well you know what... THERE ARE A LOT,,, A LOT! of White People who Care!

But what do I know.. I'm a part of some Grand Wizard Conspiracy I guess.

I get so tired of this city...

So F U! F U! For doing this to me. I Hate racism... but when Race gets thrown in a person's face for so long.. You're just gonna treat me like a racist, I might as well act like a Racist. And I HATE that Feeling.

And don't give me some "See how it feels. Pay Backs a B*tch!" Cuz Screw That!

If you're going to treat the very people who want to help like that then YOU are only going to be left with people who will ABUSE you.

And you'll only be left with the pimps on St. Claude and the Pimps on St. Charles

K. said...

An anonymous somebody's volunteer experience doesn't go according to his fantasy script and this somehow makes him an expert in race relations.

Beauty Jackson said...

So, am I reading this totally wrong, or did the brave anonymous poster say that us coloreds should be happy that the benevolent white folks would deign to rescue us from our chicken nuggets and hog maws, because without "them," we don't stand a chance?

Wow. Just wow. So you hate racism so much that you can do nothing more than vomit racist ideology at the first opportunity.

By the way, it is NOT less expensive to live off convenience store and fast food. In fact, it's more expensive, but if that's your way of putting yourself on the cross, far be it from me to deny you.

Race IS an issue in New Orleans. Your comment itself is proof of that. Since the black community did not fall down and do obeisance to you in all your great white generosity, "they" don't want help. Did it ever occur to you that the fact that you quite obviously view the inner city African American population as lesser beings could be the reason why you weren't embraced?

FORTUNATELY, any thinking individual of any race knows that you don't speak for the entire white population, any more than those few black souls unfortunate enough to encounter you represent the entire black population.

I can only hope your kind is dying out. And by your kind, I mean idiots.

that little library lady said...

There are dozens of movies and after-school specials where 1 teacher or 1 principal or 1 volunteer changes the life or lives of dozens of people and they all hug and cry and stay friends forever. The fact that being honest and discussing race and being wrong as often you are right is about as far as the average white person might go. Try reading about black history and find out for yourself that black economic strife didn't die out with slavery; didn't die out with Civil Rights; didn't die out with Affirmative Action; didn't die out with Obama. There's been plenty of discrimination in New Orleans, which did less reconciliation between white and black than other major Southern cities. If the lovely white "saviors of New Orleans" want the movie-of-the-week happy ending and turn Republican when they don't get it--that's been happening all along, too. There are plenty of whites who hold out for dignity and equality for everyone in New Orleans--without anybody singing their praises.