The End of Black Politics As We Knew It: Will Atlanta's Next Mayor Be White? Should We Even Care?

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

36 years of black Atlanta mayors have given birth to a thriving and empowered class of black managers, attorneys and contractors. But even after moving tens of thousands of poor blacks who once lived in public housing to areas beyond the city limits, fully one third of black Atlanta remains below the poverty level, making Atlanta number 5 in black poverty among the 40 largest US cities, according to current US Census data. So have the generation of black mayors and the crew that brought them in really done African Americans that much good?

The End of Black Politics As We Knew It: Will Atlanta's Next Mayor Be White? Should We Even Care?

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The unfortunate answers are maybe, and maybe not.

The 1973 election of Maynard Jackson was supposed to be a great victory, among the first tangible fruits of the fifties and sixties Freedom Movement. The days of marching and striking and demonstrating and boycotting and defying unjust laws, black leaders told anybody who would listen, were over. It was time for those among us who were prepared by virtue of their educations, resumés, good suits and connections, to move into the corporate boardrooms that were now ready to accept them, and the political offices they could now be voted into. The mass movement which opened up those doors was disbanded and sent home. Collective action was to be a thing of the past, except for voting and patronizing black businesses.

Guaranteeing the prosperity of the black business class and the black elite, so the gospel went, was the indispensable key to the uplift of entire black communities. Because he assumed office at the beginning of Atlanta's mega-airport construction project, Maynard Jackson was in a better position to prove this theory of black economic uplift than the first generation of black mayors in places like Newark or Gary or Cleveland. Jackson retained a visionary purchasing exec who skillfully leveraged mayoral power to spawn more than twenty new black millionaires in the first few years of his administration and lay the foundation for the thriving and empowered class of black contractors and professionals who dominate Atlanta's political life today.

After 36 years, the results of this experiment are in. It's a failure. Census data on black poverty rates in the 40 largest US cities reveal that the strategies of boosting black businesses, electing black officials, and locking in the prosperity of the black elite have done all those things without lifting black Atlanta any further out of poverty than cities like hard-hit Detroit or Chicago, which hasn't seen a black mayor since the eighties, and both of which have lower densities of black businesses than Atlanta. In 2008 33.6% of black Atlanta was below the federal poverty rate, a higher number than Philadelphia or Columbus, higher than Houston or Memphis, or Kansas City or even Detroit. Nationally, Atlanta ranks number 5 in black poverty behind Milwaukee, Cleveland, Long Beach and Portland.

Atlanta has this alarming rate of black poverty despite fifteen years of one of the nation's most aggressive efforts to bulldoze and clear lower income black neighborhoods. Early this year Atlanta became one of the nation's first cities to entirely eliminate its stock of public housing. While some former public housing residents remain inside the city limits, most observers believe multiple tens of thousands have been driven to the suburbs. In a pattern repeated across the country, states and cities are refusing to gather stats on the exact numbers of these mostly black urban refugees. Georgia Tech political science professors, Black Agenda Report has been told, who tried to track exact local numbers have been actively blocked by officials of the Atlanta Housing Authority.

Atlanta does however, lead the nation in two key indexes of poverty. At 7.8% the percentage of white Atlanta below the poverty level is the lowest of the 40 largest US cities, and the disparity between white and black poverty levels, at 4.3 to 1 is the greatest of the forty largest US cities. It seems that 36 years of rule by African American mayors representing the black business class have been great for white Atlanta, but not so good for African Americans.

rank Top 40 US cities by population, not including suburbs, arranged by black poverty rate. percentage of blacks below poverty line percentage of whites below poverty line ratio of black to white poverty
1 Milwaukee, Wis. 37.1% 14.2% 2.61
2 Cleveland, Ohio 36.8% 19.4% 1.9
3 Long Beach, Calif. 36.8% 19.4% 1.9
4 Portland, Ore. 36.1% 14.0% 2.58
5 Atlanta, Ga. 33.6% 7.8% 4.31
6 Fresno, Calif. 33.4% 17.8% 1.88
7 Chicago, Ill. 32% 10.9% 2.94
8 Detroit, Mich. 32.8% 31.8% 1.03
9 Columbus, Ohio 32.3% 15.4% 2.1
10 Philadelphia, Pa. 31% 15.0% 2.07
11 Kansas City, Mo. 31% 10.5% 2.95
12 Memphis, Tenn. 31.5% 10.2% 3.09
13 Seattle, Wash. 31.4% 9.7% 3.24
14 Oklahoma City, Okla. 29.7% 13.0% 2.28
15 Houston, Tex. 29.7% 17.9% 1.66
16 Austin, Tex. 28.8% 13.7% 2.1
17 Dallas, Tex. 28.8% 17.6% 1.64
18 San Francisco, Calif. 28.7% 9.4% 3.05
19 New Orleans, La. 28.2% 11.1% 2.54
20 Albuquerque, N.M. 27.4% 12.6% 2.17
21 Boston, Mass. 26% 14.4% 1.81
22 Nashville-Davidson, Tenn.2 26.8% 10.6% 2.53
23 Denver, Colo. 26.8% 16.3% 1.64
24 Fort Worth, Tex. 26.7% 14.8% 1.8
25 Sacramento, Calif. 26.2% 12.5% 2.1
26 Phoenix, Ariz. 25.9% 15.7% 1.65
27 Washington, DC 25.4% 9.1% 2.79
28 Los Angeles, Calif. 24.9% 15.8% 1.58
29 Baltimore, Md. 24.5% 13.6% 1.8
30 Indianapolis, Ind. 24.4% 11.9% 2.05
31 San Diego, Calif. 23.8% 11.5% 2.07
32 Tucson, Ariz. 23.6% 15.5% 1.52
33 San Antonio, Tex. 23.5% 16.0% 1.47
34 Las Vegas, Nev. 23.1% 9.4% 2.46
35 Jacksonville, Fla. 22.8% 8.2% 2.78
36 New York, N.Y. 21.7% 13.4% 1.62
37 Charlotte, N.C. 20.6% 7.5% 2.75
38 El Paso, Tex. 17.3% 27.4% 0.63
39 San Jose, Calif. 13.1% 9.2% 1.42
40 Louisville-Jefferson County, Ky.1 not available not available  

None of this is exactly a secret. Early voting in Atlanta began more than a week ago, and has remained at all time low levels. Despite the howls of anguish from parts of Atlanta's black elite over the possibility of a white mayor, Atlanta's black voters seem to have a hard time caring who wins this election. Businessman Aaron Turpeau, a longtime member of Atlanta's black elite, an early backer of Maynard Jackson and co-convenor of the Atlanta Black Leadership Forum, along with Rev. Joseph Lowery, commissioned a paper on whether it was even possible to galvanize support around an African American mayoral candidate, given what the paper admitted was widespread black disenchantment with the city's black political establishment. The paper concluded that Lisa Borders was the African American candidate with the best chance of winning, being endorsed by a large number of the city's old line black pastors and having received the most money from developers and other downtown interests of any black mayoral candidate. It recommended that the organization find a way to rally black support around her.

The campaign of Kasim Reed, the next ranking black candidate in the polls obtained the memo and made it public, hoping to damage Borders.  White commentators denounced it as “racist” for even hinting there could or ought to be such a thing as a “black agenda,” however that might be defined.  Black mayoral hopeful Lisa Borders joined in calling the memo and Turpeau's group as “racist,” pointedly returning his campaign contribution. But Lisa Borders, as well as the next leading mayoral candidate Kasim Reed, are equally complete products of the Jackson-Young-Campbell-Franklin schools of political influence and elite black power.

Borders comes from the family of a historic black Atlanta preacher of Daddy King's generation, the Rev. William Borders. Kasim Reed was Shirley Franklin’s campaign manager, a “civil rights” and employment lawyer for the corporate violators of civil and employment rights and a state senator the last six years. After voting to approve hundreds of new and renewed contracts to privatize agencies of state government, Kasim Reed discovered he wasn't a fan of privatization after all, just in time to get the Atlanta Labor Council's endorsement. Borders, like Bill Campbell and Shirley Franklin before her remains an enthusiastic privatizer. The white candidate Mary Norwood professes to be neutral on the subject.

Atlanta Progressive News, which has been the only source of ongoing news of the city's attempt to drive public housing residents, the homeless and the poor out of town, has endorsed Mary Norwood. Norwood has raised more cash than anybody in the race, and is said to be holding it for massive media buys in the final two weeks in an effort to win without a runoff. But even in a runoff election, with one white and one black candidate, and virtually all of white Atlanta behind Mary Norwood extending Atlanta's 36 year run of black mayors is an uncertain prospect at best. And it leads to an uncomfortable question: why bother?

As we put back in a 2006 Black Commentator article titled “Failure of the Black Misleadership Class

The cohort of black business people and politicians who pass for African American leadership is at an impasse, and so is the rest of black America.  Our leaders have failed to produce economic development models for inner cities and poor black enclaves that benefit the people who live there now.

Not only is the black leadership class unable to create jobs at living wages for the hundreds of thousands of black families that desperately need them, they can't even describe to the rest of America how such a thing might be done.  The black leadership class dares not acknowledge the acute shortage of low and moderate income housing, or publicly question programs like HOPE VI which exacerbate that shortage.  The black leadership class have proven powerless to prevent the nationwide imposition of separate and grossly unequal education, the disastrous application of high-stakes testing and the use of "No Child Left Behind" to discredit and defund public education.  African American business and political leaders even lack the political imagination to rally their constituencies against the growth of a racially selective crime control and prison industry that has criminalized an entire generation of black youth, with far-reaching economic and social consequences.

We think Aaron Turpeau and the authors of the memo were right about a few things.  An African American community, with different circumstances of law, economics and life exists in Atlanta and there is nothing wrong with members of that community seeking to act together in their own interests.  We would disagree with Brother Turpeau about what those interests are and what shape that action ought to take. 

The people at Atlanta Progressive News, in their endorsement of Norwood and denunciations of the policies of the Franklin and previous city administrations also make a lot of sense when they show how deeply implicated in those policies Borders and Reed are.  But if Mary Norwood ever stood up for Grady Hospital, for poor residents uprooted by BeltLine gentrification, or against privatization in the public schools or the hundred other places it's being negotiated, we'd have read about it in APN.  We didn't.  So Mary Norwood may be a foe of Reed and Borders, but that does not make her a friend of Atlanta's poor and near-poor, who remain, after 36 years of rule by the black business class, mostly black. 

It seems that Atlanta's black elite, like the black business class nationwide, have no solutions for the problems facing the black masses. Though they are unable and/or unwilling to stop gentrification or privatization they know very well how to profit from these trends. A generation of their leadership has left the black poor poorer and more numerous than ever. Atlanta as the Black Mecca is over and so are black politics as we knew them. 

A new black agenda based on the collective interests of a broader segment of the African American community must soon take the place of black business class political domination, along with some new forms of concerted, collective action to press that agenda home. 

Bruce A. Dixon lives in metro Atlanta and is managing editor at Black Agenda Report.  He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)


Black Politics

I do not believe that Black elites in leadership positions, whether here in USA or back in the continent of African, are in these positions to better the lives of the 99.9% of the communities they come from  or pretend to serve. These elites have alliances with the outside groups merely to take care of themselves, their immediate families and friends using the less fortunate Africans with no access to the power brokers.
Recently, I was appalled to learn that Travis Smiley, a man who appears to be sympathetic to the progress of blacks in this country, was involved in schemes to lead many of those hard working African Americans with the desire to achieve the American dreams of homeownership or college education right into the hands of predatory lenders of mortgages and college loans, thus killing their dreams.
 I also learned that Gabon, one of African countries that is very rich in the exportation oil to the west, is importing all it food products from France, USA or other European countries and actually owes these countries colossal debts that had to be forgiven.
The late president Bongo, who died a few months ago, had most of his personal assets and investments worth millions hidden in these same countries that are looting Gabon's resources. Bongo was in power for 42 years. Both he and his official wife (45 years old) died in hospitals in Spain and Morocco respectively. The elites have their healthcare problems taken care of abroad because there are no suitable hospitals in Gabon that can take care of anybody in Gabon. There are no passable roads other than about 5km of some paved highway. One can only imagine what an average Joe in Gabon is going through. After his death, the French armed forces. which have  been loyal to this family,  installed his 50-year old son to the "throne”! The stability that France and other western countries doing business in Gabon cannot be trusted to anyone else, God forbids if this new person is popular elected by the people. The Bongos have been loyal to supporters the western countries. This trend is found all over Sub-Saharan Africa which has never been under any communist influence! The citizens being governed are doomed due to alliances the African ruling elites have with their comrades in the west.
Most African countries became "independent" in the 60's, just around the time African Americans were matching and dying for their rights here in America. Somewhere along these treacherous roads, a few elites consciously decided to take those strategic "openings" advanced by the oppressors and have conveniently taken care of themselves using those very tactics the whole community fought against. They have also left 99.9% of their people behind. Today, the exploitation of African poor is done through the alliances  these African elites have formed with the very people who are building jails designed to warehouse the poor in their communities! In African, the proxy warriosrs are engaged in genocide, creation of massive slum cities or displacement of citizens to filthy refugee camps where they are fed by UN WORLD FOOD Programs!


As I have said many times, when one compares them to other places in Asia for example, it is obvious that, in spite of rhetoric to the contrary, neither Black America, nor Sub Saharan Africa was ever actually decolonized. While Whites no longer run things in Asia, they never left Africa, and in 2010, no so-called Black leader either in Africa or in the Americas or elsewhere stays in power unless Whites and White interests are taken care of first. White supremacy is alive and well.

Great Discussion, but Disappointing Facts

This is a great (if disappointing) report on the effect of electing Blacks to leadership positions locally as a strategy for lifting Black masses out of poverty.  The Black mecca of Atlanta is also among the five worst cities in the country in terms of Blacks living beneath the poverty line?
I've been amazed at the level of police brutality and killings of Blacks in and around Atlanta, in spite of all of the Black leadership and supposed Black political power there.  Apparently someone didn't get the memo that as Blacks gain political power, police are supposed to stop using us for target practice.
The comparison made by another commentor between US Black elites and Black elites in Africa, who rule for the ruling class while forgetting and repressing other Blacks, as in analogy worth looking at.
(I, too, was surprised that among Tavis Smiley's activities was the sale to Black America of sub-prime mortgages with outrageous terms that stripped billions of dollars of Black capital from our best investment - our houses.
Smiley could have done much more for Black America by studying the eventual effects of those sub-prime mortgages and warning us against them than by convening high profile Blacks for a once-a-year photo-opportunity at his "Black America" forums.  Had we only known at the time, those forums could have focused on opposing subprime mortgages that Smiley was selling.)

Missing some information

I know for a fact that you are overlooking several factors in your analysis and in doing so painting an inaccurate picture.
1) size matters - the city of Atlanta is surprisingly small and equally limited in population comprising 15-20% of the Metropolitan population. An overwhelming number of the African-american middle class live outside the city of atlanta which is much harder to accomplish with cities like Philadelphia, Detriot, Milwaukee, and Cleveland. Additionally, the removal of public housing was accompanied by increasing mixed income and subsidized units so many of the "poor" didn't go anywhere. If you compare the emmigration of middle - upper income African-Americans with the emmigration of poor African-Americans then you will notice a greater proportionate value leaving with the wealthier groups.
2) why - Assuming that elected leadership is responsible for alleviating poverty is similar to assuming the Ten Commandments erased sinfulness. A mayor and other leaders can only make way. And Atlanta has plenty of ways for Black residents to advance and grow (education, arts, politics, religion, entertainment, etc) while other cities have encased African-Americans in dead end no growth situations forcing the mediocre to gradually sift to the bottom. Atlanta has allowed those with the initiative to grow and succeed. Unfortunately, some people don't stress education, moral conduct, and financial maturity so they or their children easily succomb to the factors which entrap people into poverty. No mayor, city councilman, or President can make you learn, obey the law, and practice sound financial judgement.

If elected political

If elected political leadership's purpose is not to serve and uplift the people, what is its purpose, pray tell?

Of course I did not include the burbs in my comparison, so as not to compare apples with bales of wire, or anything like that.  I compared central cities with central cities, since after all the article was about the mayoral office in Atlanta.  And if huge numbers of the African American people that black rule in Atlanta made wealthy and prosperous beat it to the burbs, then that kind of proves my point too, doesn't it?

Furthermore your assertion that

"...some people don't stress education, moral conduct, and financial maturity so they or their children easily succomb to the factors which entrap people into poverty. No mayor, city councilman, or President can make you learn, obey the law, and practice sound financial judgement...."

seems to say that it's the poor's fauilt that they are poor, and since there are more of them relative to whites in Atlanta, that maybe black people in Atlanta are uniquely stoopid or lazy or undeserving compared to other cities where the black poverty rate is lower.  That's just plain silly and wrong.

Finally it is pretty much incontrovertible that former project residents make up almost none of the people who are alloted the scare low-income slots in the supposed mixed income developments which are built on the ruins of their dispersed communities.  Housing authorities in Atlanta, Chicago, Tampa, Kansas City, and elsewhere have all decided quite consciously NOT to try to find out where project residents land after the projects are vacated, because the answer would be politically embarrassing.  HUD isn't looking either; they don't want to know.  You are either lying or repeating the lies of others.

Get out of the way!

Obama and his disciples and those who swear by his Kool-Aid, have been unleashed to assault our sensibilities and understanding of the political economy of poverty, social class and colonialism. According to these charlatans, poor people have no one to blame but themselves for not partaking of the milk and honey that abounds throughout the land. Africans on the continent are being accused of not being aware that colonialism and imperialism have nothing to do with their suffering. They are told that their exploitation is self-inflicted, their oppression imaginary and that their future is in their hands, as in working even harder!

What I find appalling is the acceptance of this bullshit by the African people who continue to hope that Obama is one of them and that he knows what's good for them, where it is (in their hands!) and how to retrieve it!. These people, who are always hungry or diseased are being urged to work hard and stop being lazy! The reason for their failing economies is not capitalism and theft of their resources. No, it is their indolence, lack of education and sheer bad luck that are to blame! They should not expect anything from their leaders. Their leaders are their guides the same way a GPS unit works! In Atlanta, they are being accused, yet again, of lacking the drive to succeed in life and are urged to pull themselves out of their predicament with will power and prayer!

The mega-corporations, oligarchs and elites of Atlanta are supposed to be different from the rest of us. The corporations are supposed to be our friends. The oligarchs and the black elites are modeling success the same way Tyra Banks models skirts and undergarments, so say the charlatans and buffoons who have no clue what is going on around them but have the nerve to lecture to us while pretending that they and Obama know what's good for us and that the sooner we grasp the realities of our self-inflicted condition, the better! I want to remind all these Judases and followers of the fraud that is Barack that their ignorance is self-inflicted. Our existence, our neighbohoods, our communities are the laboratories and universities that teach us about what it will take for us to reclaim our humanity, dignity and destiny from the snakes, sons and daughters of the enemies of humankind the world over. I urge all you ignoramuses to join us in the laboratory of life. You have nothing to lose but your slave mentality, stupidity and feeble-mindedness....

You won't see or hear about this in Essence and Ebony

Atlanta homeless shelters strain under economic crisis
By Naomi Spencer
23 October 2009
As the economic crisis deepens, Atlanta, Georgia, emergency providers are straining to accommodate more than 7,000 homeless people, including many newly homeless families.
Along with rising unemployment and a growing number of home foreclosures across the US, the homeless population is swelling far beyond the capacity of emergency facilities. Urban centers have felt the impact most sharply, with service organizations facing budget cuts at the same time that thousands are thrust into poverty and foreclosure.
According to an October 12 report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta’s Salvation Army cannot open a nearly completed homeless shelter for families because of a lack of funds. Similarly, the city’s Midtown Assistance Center, an agency providing emergency financial assistance, announced in August that it had spent twice its monthly $24,000 budget on aid in the month of July. The agency assists employed workers and those in job training who do not receive public assistance.
Another area service provider, MUST Ministries, reported that it aided 29,000 people last year, and requests for assistance are up 25 percent this year. Annette Lee, MUST Ministries’ resource development coordinator, commented to the Journal-Constitution of September 29: “It’s no longer just hourly wage workers. These are professionals—from bankers to people with masters and PhD’s…. We are seeing more and more people who are above the poverty line.”
The last sentence should be a warning:  "Don't get it twisted," poverty and destitution ain't all about hard worK and education, and who's "living right."  African Americans still deal with last hired first fired, still deal with "office politics," or the inability to "network," still deal with health care disparities, continue to be imprisoned for crimes whites receive probation for, still deal with redlining and racially biased lending practices which has stolen Black wealth and destablized Black neighborhoods, still deal with environmental factors,-- lead or arsenic,-- that actually damages the brain and health, and impedes one's ability to learn.  I could go one but you should get the point.
In this recession it has dawned upon even white folks who never imagined losing their home and job that hard work, education, "doing the right thing," all that jazz don't mean shit in many instances at the end of the day.

Blacks may no longer feel

Blacks may no longer feel obligated to elect a black mayor. Atlanta has a young generation of blacks - not native to Atlanta - who don't necessarily see that as something that has to happen. They may be staking their vote on matters more critical than race. Money matters.


As long as the candidate is not a racist we should not care if any office holder is white, black, Hispanic or even green for that matter. Racism comes from all races and the sooner the world stamps it out the better. SAUCE


Good luck! Until and unless White Westerners stop benefitting from it, racism in its modern form will probably end on exactly the same day when humans cease to practice or to accept war, disease, murder and poverty. While racism may occur among members of all races, the reality is that its most virulent and "successful" form, White supremacy was designed and imposed by White Westerners about 500 years ago to justify their global expansion/aggression. It still remains one of the most widespread and destructive ideologies on this planet. All racism is not equal. White racism operates with a great deal of impunity. White racism is backed by trigger happy cops, a media which agrees with it, (or at least mkes excuses for it) nuclear weapons, and by the World Bank. Where is the corresponding infrastrucure which Blacks or others can use to oppress Whites? Another cop-out is that alot of what modern Whites call racism by nonwhites are actually rational group responses by Blacks, Chinese, and others to the behavior of their racist systems behavior. If all racists and all racism is equal, please prove it by providing with a list all of the nations and cultures around the world in which whites have been systematically oppressed by non-whites in exactly the same way and to exactly the same degree as they have done to others all over the world since 1492.

Black Mayors Have Been Bad Will Mary Norwood Be Good

When Atlantans walk into the voting booth on November 3rd the question on the ballot will be "Have Black mayors been good for Black people in Atlanta? Possible Answers, Yes or Mary Norwood."
At least that is what one would think based on the conversation coming out of Black mouths. I'm not calling yall stupid but I don't get it. If you wanna become an activist and change the political culture of Atlanta, do that.
But don't rationalize voting for a white woman from Buckhead because Bill Campbell was a thief. This isn't logical. It's just ever-so-slightly more sophisticated coonery.

If those are your only 2 possible answers...

then the game is already lost for the next four years.  It's a choice without a chance. 

Surely you are not suggesting that this article rationalizes a vote for Norwood.  It's hard to understand how you could reach that conclusion. 

My intention here was to point out the failure of our black business class to produce, promote or enable any kind of black leadership that tackled the concrete problems of black people.  That's it and that's all.  Here is what we said about Norwood...

"...if Mary Norwood ever stood up for Grady Hospital, for poor residents uprooted by BeltLine gentrification, or against privatization in the public schools or the hundred other places it's being negotiated, we'd have read about it in APN.  We didn't.  So Mary Norwood may be a foe of Reed and Borders, but that does not make her a friend of Atlanta's poor and near-poor, who remain, after 36 years of rule by the black business class, mostly black....

Whoever is justifiying a vote for Norwood, it ain't us.  We're saying that black Atlanta is saddled with what looks like a meaningless choice here, and laying the fault for that at the feet of our existing black business class.

Rooster Do Come Home To Roost

I'm a former resident of the ATL Metro area so it's not surprising to read Mr. Dixon's article about how the Black political and financial elite have not only failed their core constituency but in the process made themselves irrelevant.  I lived in that area for twelve years and I saw how the so-called urban development in the city has moved the rank and file Black masses out of the city.  Homes in areas like East Lake Meadows and Bankhead were sold very cheaply to young, mostly White professionals with the funds to upgrade their homes that residents who lived in the areas did not have.  These upgrades led to higher property taxes that the older residents couldn't keep up with and forced them just like the public housing residents to give up their homes and leave.
This was done with the tacit approval of the Black in color only Atlanta city hall and now that the Black heart of ATL has been hollowed out these representatives of the Black elite are realizing that White flight in reverse will not allow them to keep their positions because these incoming Whites don't trust them and never will.  No matter how many Gay Pride parades in which they march.
The only difference between what's happening in Atlanta and what happened in New Orleans is a hurricane but the results are just as tragic.

Abdicating Black Agenda = Abdicating Working Class/Poor

Tony Brown will never be confused as a liberal or "race-man" but something he wrote about years ago proved to be profound.  His critique, as I understood it, was that race and class were symbiotic.  So, for example, Brown advocated class-based affirmative action vs. race-based affirmation action. Conversely, Brown argued that the problems affecting Black people would gravitate into problems affecting White people.  On this point he's been prophetic.
As an Iowan I have seen how the crack epidemic was usurped by a  meth epidemic for Whites.  The racial disparities came along in how the epidemics were treated.  So we get MOMs (Moms on Meth) programs for white rural woman, but no similar marshalling of resources for Blacks on crack, be they male or female.  What we continue to get there is more prison sentences.  (Iowa has one of nation's highest incarceration rates for Blacks though one of it's smallest populations.  Junkies get felonies for 3 or 4 rocks, "possession with intent to deliver,"  because the predominantly White juries believe that shit).
When White people start applying the scientific method to their befuddled and contradictory concepts of race they will accept that so-called Black People R US.  There are no genetic differences in "races," scientific and anthropological evidence indicates human origins in Africa, there is no blond-haired blue-eyed Jesus no matter how hard some of you pray for/to him.  To quote Tony Brown:
The theory, that “one drop” of Black blood makes one 100% Black, has frequently been described as rudely ignorant.  Being Black or White are arbitrary social and political designations.

It is altogether possible that a lot of people don’t want the facts to intrude on their preconceived reality.  In this way, myths are unconsciously perpetuated by people, who know better – a form of cognitive dissonance."
 It's the "cognitive dissonance," the refusal to acknowledge basic and scientific truths that when we treat Black people poorly we are treating "ourselves" poorly, and as Tony Brown has predicated thusly, "The problems that affect Blacks that we neglect soon morph into the problems affecting whites."
When Black Politicians or White Ones, for that matter, can confront racism as I have outlined, this false "cognitive dissonance" that a "Black Agenda" is somehow militant, different, unAmerican, so "other" that we should run away from it (if you're Black) or denounce it (if you're White) then America will be better off, until then, stay tuned... it won't be getting any better.
You can never get a sane answer as to how the "Black Agenda" is different than a working class agenda.  Even some phony liberals refer to non-status quo attitudes as Leftist, or radical (like the ignorant shit they put on Rev. Wright).  These same people have no explanation for why White Farmers in Iowa get, per capita, more welfare in government assistance than some single mom on Sec. 8 who happens to be Black.   They have no problems with defense contractors getting no-bid contracts and then stealing the taxpayer blind through fraud or non-performance, they talk about food stamp receipients buying "protein" but say nothing about medical professionals robbing medicare/medicaid of billions.  I bet you in Iowa, with a 3% Black population, you would have to spend hours explaining to the ave. White person that most welfare (be it social or economic assistance) goes to them. (Think about Texas Tim and his rants re:  Acorn who receives a pittance in government grants).
As yourself why that is?  Unless you suffer from cognitive dissonance, you should be able to use the scientific method to arrive at an answer.

E. Cynic: learned a lot about Iowa. Thanks.

I had a pal, an artist, black disabled woman, in a small town in IL.  I had a pal, artist, white disabled woman, in IA.  (Both have died - one in middle age and one just after becoming a senior citizen.  Both had "eh" health care.)  My pal in IL lived in integrated housing.  I joked that her whole town's population could fit into NYC's Shea Stadium (now Citifield - another topic: sports stadiums robbing people/cities).  I also pointed out that the reason her housing was integrated was probably because there were so few African-Americans in her town.  I live in integrated housing, rental, in NYC and have for 40 years...the real estate industry is working very hard (and succeeding with our pols, notably Bloomberg) to get rid of us who are living in apartments with some controls on rent gauging.  (If someone leaves an apartment that is controlled, be it "rent control" or "rent stabilized", they can go "market" housing = luxury.
   I'm angry at the state of low income housing in the US...
   What's it like where you live?  I was first shocked, then upon reflection, not surprised that Atlanta's public housing has been destroyed.
NYC has been warehousing its empty public housing in hopes of making it middle income co-ops or some such crap.

Was Referrin To Some Of The Commentary; Not The Article

My comment was directed at some of my fellow readers/commenters who take from your article that since Black politicians haven't delivered....they don't say anything, positive or negative about our white politicians. And my initial comment was directed towards that silence and the implication of it.
Concretely, Mary Norwood, the Buckhead Republican running for mayor of Atlanta is the white politician in actual question. The people she works for are worse than those Reed works for. Not to mention what the election of a white mayor will do to embolden white supremacy in Atlanta. These are things we should be thinking about while we criticize corrupt Black politicians. There is a real world out here.


What may have been implicated in the silence you discern is that: There isn't anything postive to say about White or Black politicians.  Indeed that's part of Mr. Dixon's premise. 
The reason that a Mary Norwood is a "viable" candidate is because of the corruption and cronyism of Atlanta's Black Elite, their abject sellout of the poor and working class.  (One of the main reasons BAR caught my attention was an article years ago on Atlanta having the highest infant mortality rate in the US).
Your points are well taken, however, the failure of the Black Elite Business and Political class in Atlanta to improve the lot of the poor and working class is well-documented.  As someone who lived in Stone Mountain/worked in Atlanta for 12 years I can attest to the fact that Atlanta is a hustler's paradise.  That's not all bad inasmuch as it has a entreprenurial spirit not matched by many large Black urban populations, but alas it also has a "get mine," sell-out mentality that is also unparalled.   You can tie church membership and attendance, the big black "cathedrals" to this phenomenon, for example.  Everybody want's to "praise God" albeit with the movers and shakers.
I went to college with Lisa Borders, at the same time that Bill Campbell was attending law school and chasing his future wife, Sharon Tapscott, then a junior.  I can tell you we've gone a long way from those days of Black Consciousness at Duke to Black Sellout.  (And for the record I find little pleasure in Campbell's demise, as self-inflicted as it was).  Add to that, that even most working class blacks understand that politics is ultimately a game of cronyism and "getting mine," that it's about what accrues to the candidate financially or economically, win or lose, then it's easy to see the lack of interest among Atlanta's blacks in who their mayor is going to be, let alone the pigment of their skin.
Think of it this way: the failure of the Black political class is part and parcel, if not centrifugal, to the failure of "liberal" or Democratic Party-based politics.  (This is why white, Panamanians from the Levant are invested in the "Black Agenda.") The White Supremacists in Atlanta don't need any help.  They get plenty from the so-called "liberal" media, from Fox, from Neal Boortz, from Hannity, Limbaugh and the rest of the lot.  But the also get a "pound" (ol school dap) or two from Attorney General's like Thurbert Baker or "privitization" advocates within the Black political elites.  One of the reasons I gave a shit about the Olympics coming to Chicago is because of what I saw when they came to Atlanta.
Sometimes in life, we must take a step back to take two forward, perhaps such is the plight of the disconnect between the Black Agenda and the agenda of the Black Political elite?  Afterall, if its all about who can deliver services, run the buses and pick up the garbage on time, a white girl can do THAT just as good as Shirley Franklin? This is why many blacks supported H. Clinton (until Bill blew the racial dog whistle), they figured she had the connects to get shit done.  But if you are talking about a "Black Agenda," then wtf?  We are better off putting that money and organizational skill to something besides who's going to be the latest boogie Negro in Atlanta's City Hall.
Because boogie Negro or closet White racist, the poor or working class Blacks are f****ed either way.