Acting Mayor Kim Janey failed to secure victory in Tuesday’s preliminary elections on the wings of so-called power. But that’s nothing to be ashamed of – she always comes out a winner. His contributions over the past five months have been substantial and have laid a solid foundation upon which the next mayor can build.
As the city’s first black mayor, her historic tour has already opened the door more widely to the two remaining candidates, Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi-George. And she could turn out to be the queen maker in the general election.
Sadly, many in Boston’s African American community think Boston can’t congratulate themselves just because we’ll have a woman of color in the corner office. Unfortunately, for the African American community, it is always a step forward, two steps back when it comes to empowerment – electoral or otherwise. Sadder still, we are often complicit in our own undermining.
For a black candidate who was also not in the top two, relentlessly sniping his black rival throughout the campaign ensured no victory for either. For too long there has been a practice of “divide and conquer” by diluting the black vote until it is almost negligible. Some call it political tactics. I call this a surefire way to bypass our progress.
Take the 2013 mayoral race. Charlotte Golar Richie lost in the final by just 3,800 votes. She started out with no money and faced a union attack rallying to support a candidate. All she had was an excellent public service record and her local African-American base. When people talked about consolidating efforts around a person of color, people were accused of blocking democracy. Taurus. I call it a sound political strategy.
This year the Wakanda II movement, an initiative led by former State Senator Dianne Wilkerson to unite the black vote around a single candidate, took its inspiration primarily from the Irish playbook on empowerment. But Wakanda II was criticized by people outside of our community who thought they should be the ones choosing our black rulers. God forbid that we choose them for ourselves. And look at the consequences. The two black women in the race ended up with around 19% each in a disastrous election day tally. We need to ask for a recount of all the ballots.
I can’t help but think that in this year after the death of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, Breonna Taylor, etc., it’s so sad that there isn’t a single African American woman. in the final race, not even the one already in the seat and doing the job.
Equality cannot be whitewashed if you will by putting all “colored people” in the same bag or assuming we all think the same. We don’t.
There is a very different relationship Boston has with the African American community than any other “person of color.”
For many in the black community, this election remains a story of divisive rule and takes some of the shine off a historic occasion.
Joyce Ferriabough Bolling is a media and political strategist and communications specialist.