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Proviso Probe

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Danny Davis won't buy a car from Whites, Latinos or Asians

In this entry I will discuss what I observed about the racial politics of the candidate forum for the Black Democrats running for President of the Cook County Board. (Part 1, Part 2, Progress Illinois (Adam Doster) and Laura Washington (Sun-Times & Washington Report)).

First, I'm baffled that the media outlets that seem to relish in finding fault with current President Todd Stroger (Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times) didn't cover the event as news. Washington's coverage was an opinion piece. As far as I can tell, Chicago Defender and the other media outlets didn't cover it either. Cook County Board President is a first-tier race. It's a bunch of money, jobs and power. Why wouldn't media outlets send reporters? Seriously. According to Google Maps it's 4.3 miles by car, about eight minutes from the Tribune Building. Do the major media outlets think Malcolm X College has a “no White people allowed” rule?

Stroger's appeals for support because he's a Black man were the most in-your face.
In his concluding remarks Stroger said, “We let the major papers tear our leaders down.” He then told of shaking the hand of a Black boy at the Bud Billiken Day parade. Stroger said the boy could see, “This Black man is doing something powerful!... This is about Black people and how we are perceived.”

Stroger never called the Sun-Times or the Chicago Tribune the “White” media, but it seemed pretty strongly implied.

Dorothy Brown and Toni Preckwinkle both made appeals that on substance that would have been substantially the same in front of non-Black audiences. Brown emphasized her credentials and her success in getting $187 million out of the Illinois General Assembly. Preckwinkle emphasized her plan and generally being organized in how she presented her ideas. Preckwinkle explained what she has accomplished as alderman, but didn't come back to it. If Preckwinkle did emphasize one thing about her history it was her recognition by groups like IVI-IPO for her independence.

Stylistically, Brown and Preckwinkle differed. Brown's supporters were quite vocal. They were both loud partisans for her and willing to heckle Stroger. Brown's speaking style was also loud, indignant and in-your-face.

One of Laura Washington's commenters wrote the following of Preckwinkle.
Toni’s style definitely puts her at a disadvantage in this race. She’s trying to be the Barack Obama of Cook County. Obama’s style is why he lost to Bobby Rush in the congressional race in which they squared off. Back then, urban blacks could not relate to him, and this is part of Toni’s problem. In using “urban” I’m being polite, as there is another term that better describes the types of blacks who cheered on their candidates at Malcom X. To a lot of urban blacks Toni and Barack are “bougie.” Though, very few urban blacks would say this about barack today openly for fear of reprisals. Toni plays better with certain types of black people—they tend to be college educated and professional and want the blacks who represent them to be of the Harold Washington style.

And, instead of channeling Barack Obama, Toni needs to channel Harold Washington–before it’s too late (LOL!)!!!!!!!!!!

I disagree that Preckwinkle is trying to be Obama. I think her performance at Malcolm X was a natural continuation of her speaking style going back 20 years. (Perhaps as a new politician Obama imitated Preckwinkle. If you were an educated, light-skinned Black person looking to imitate someone successful in the Hyde Park area, who would you imitate?)

The issue of Black candidates splitting the Black vote was hammered home over and over. Cliff Kelley, the moderator, told the audience that Martin Luther King III (in Chicago to promote Olympics) said that Atlanta might elect a White mayor because four Black candidates were running. Davis referred to the split between Eugene Sawyer and Tim Evans. Davis mentioned that seven COGIC bishops were negotiating behind the scenes to get support for one Black candidate.

Danny K. Davis made one remark that I considered a bombshell. Cliff Kelley, the WVON moderator, asked about affirmative action in contracting. (Somebody from the audience shouted about companies fraudulently getting business because they have bogus owners to make them eligible for women and minority set asides. This issue wasn't addressed by any candidates.)

Kelley complained that government work in his neighborhood isn't being done by people who look like him and then asked, “How will you assure minority contracting?”

Preckwinkle gave a detailed answer of how she, aligned with other alderman including “Ike” Carothers, pushed to get set asides for minority and women owned businesses, as part of the negotiations with the International Olympic Committee.

Stroger told of the minority expo that occurred while he's been President and cited an increase from 25-34% of county contracts with minority owned businesses and an increase of from 10-16% of county contracts with women owned businesses. Stroger also attacked unnamed county officials trying to bypass minority contracting requirements by claiming “emergencies”.

Davis began with a general statement about affirmative action. Then Davis said, “If you ain't African-American don't expect to sell me no car.”

I ran this by some people who are neither Black nor White, people who like Davis, and they were taken aback.

Is Danny Davis really saying he wouldn't buy a car from an Asian or a Latino who lived in his district under any circumstances? Davis has gotten a bunch of votes in his life from people who aren't Black, and raised money from people who aren't Black. Presumably he wants to get voters from non-Blacks for whatever office he's seeking in 2010 (he's preparing for two mutually exclusive races).

What's the message Davis wanted the audience to take away from that statement? I think the message is that Black county employees will get promoted ahead of other county employees. And to the extent Davis influences who gets hired for county jobs, Blacks will get jobs ahead of others to the maximum extent allowed by the law.

There are a number of ways to talk about affirmative action and increasing opportunity for women and people who have historically been excluded. Normally liberals talk about diversity and fairness being for the benefit of everyone. The greater good of opening doors of opportunity justifies the relatively small inconvenience to people who have to wait for another opportunity.

Davis has been in in politics for decades. Even when Davis was an alderman, he didn't represent an all Black ward. There was the Island and the tres chic neighborhood on Race and Midway Park near West Suburban Hospital (where Davis lives). Since getting elected to the Cook County Board in 1990, Davis has had to appeal to a substantial number of voters who were not Black.

Davis knows how to discuss affirmative action delicately. But when asked about affirmative action, Davis reframed the discussion as one where only one salesman is going to get a commission. And Davis is going to give the commission to a Black salesman no matter how good the Latino, Asian, White or Arab salesman performs.

Is Davis losing his mental acuity? Has he always felt this way? Or was he making a cynical pitch for Black votes?

Davis boasted on his high approval ratings in suburban Cook County. It's not going to take a political whiz to take Davis saying he wouldn't buy from someone who isn't Black and create a TV ad that drives Davis' favorables down across Cook County.

Davis lamented the fracture of the Harold Washington coalition (Blacks and progressives). But Davis did his part to fracture the coalition. Progressives participate in the coalition because they want to see quality government services delivered to people who need them without a bunch of money skimmed for patronage and machine politics. What Davis seems to want is for Blacks to get the lion's share of the jobs and then Davis will float a plan to expand government services. If it passes that means more jobs for the Black political class. If it doesn't, Blacks got the jobs that were available. Poor people will just have to wait. After all, Jesus said, we'll always have poor folk.

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4 Comments:

  • Does this mean the Trib and the Sun-Times have no Black reporters who could have been sent to cover the event?

    Ridiculous.

    By OpenID isabinda, at 4:49 PM, September 01, 2009  

  • Carl,

    While Toni has been an independent voice on the city council, her independent record is spotty and inconsistent. How so? She rarely gets press for being known as someone who regularly takes on the mayor. she's not often quoted, as are others e.g., who are strongly identified as non daley rubberstampers.

    also you don't honestly believe that obama copied toni's style, do you? toni is nice, but she's not all that you make her out to be in your praise of her.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:30 AM, September 08, 2009  

  • As a Caucasian former car salesman (new & used), I wish the Honorable Mr. Davis would have set his silk stockinged, Ferragamo shod foot upon my lot some September morn, when my weekly quota was down and my sales manager was giving me that lean and hunger look. He'd have rolled across the apron in an already depreciating, 'Manager Special' towncar with a sucker-40-month-triple-submarine credit package before you could say "Jim Dandy"

    By Blogger IAmACamera, at 10:28 AM, September 10, 2009  

  • Trib and the Sun-Times defiantly have some reporters which they had to send there.

    By Anonymous Autopartsfair, at 5:32 AM, November 02, 2009  

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