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harlem, usa
same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. mjt975@msn.com.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Did Bloomberg Get Re-elected Mayor By Default, Or Was Freddy Not Ready?

A week ago today, less than 40 percent of NYC's three million registered voters turned out to re-elect Michael Bloomberg as Mayor, defeating Democratic candidate Fernando Ferrer by a historic margin of nearly 20 percent. Bloomberg received just under 730,000 votes, or 58 percent, which is remarkable, considering five out of six registered New Yorkers are Democratic. But how did he do it? Why did folks not show up at the polls? And finally, does anybody care?

Bloomberg is a billionaire businessman. Money talks. He paid for his campaign using his own money. I ain't mad at him. My quarrel rests w/ the so-called democratic process, which, in a capitalistic society, champions wealth, elevates class & ignores race. Ferrer didn't have a chance, because he didn't take care of his side of the street. As a result, we've seen four successive Republican victors on Election Day.

Ferrer has over 20 years of public service, a record even Bloomberg can't pay for. Latino New Yorkers outnumbered Black New Yorkers in the last U.S. Census, 29 to 26 percent. So much for the old 'minority' myth. Ferrer had an opportunity to seize the moment by developing a grass-roots coalition, but was unable to establish a clear political message that resonated w/ regular, working-class folk.

A number of issues unique to the Black & Latino community - high infant mortality rates, HIV/AIDS prevalence, illiteracy, mental health & unemployment - were ignored. Ferrer's Democratic primary opponents seemed to support him, as well as the Democratic Party, by default. At the eleventh hour, we'd see C. Virginia Fields, Gifford Miller & Anthony Wiener by his side. He would also get a nod from former NYC Mayor David Dinkins, former President Bill Clinton & former Presidential candidate Rev. Al Sharpton. Yet, these efforts never registered w/ the people.

I'm not sure what Ferrer's marketing strategy entailed, or if he had one. He certainly could've spiced things up a bit (no Big Pun intended), using his ethnicity to mobilize Latinos, who seem to be captivated by economic opportunities offered by Republican Party candidates. Personality politics often sway voters' minds, so you'd think Ferrer would've taken to the streets of 'El Barrio' for community-based guidance & direction, right? I was expecting him to speak a little Spanish, but...

...all he could talk about was "we need affordable housing in this city." He sounded like a bootleg CD.

Ferrer didn't mobilize folks around the Hurricane Katrina disaster, as it related to the disenfranchised, low-income & working poor citizens of Alabama, Louisiana & Mississippi. He didn't offer support for the historic Millions More Movement. He was eerily silent around the recent Iraq War rally outside of the White House. Hell, he didn't even let us know what he thought about All-Pro wide receiver Terrel Owens' ongoing feud w/ the Philadelphia Eagles. Frankly, I've seen more fire from a crack pipe.

Meanwhile Bloomberg, a savvy politician, aligned himself w/ the Black Church. In fact, he doubled his share of the Black vote from four years ago, persuading 46 percent of Black folks to pull his lever. I think by running on three different parties his visibility was enhanced. Bloomberg was supported by several major unions. He's made numerous deals w/ real estate developers, resulting in Harlem's gentrification makeover. Most importantly, weeks before the election, he orchestrated winning contracts w/ firemen, police officers, sanitation workers & teachers. And, he got bank.

A number of community analyzers suggested part of the problem w/ Black & Latino voting communities has to do w/ our narrow-minded approach. For many of us, historically, elections are basically a one-shot deal. We neither plan well, nor hold our officials accountable before, during & after the process. Nearly six out of ten folks in NYC are Black & Brown, yet we are not united as a people. Marcus Garvey said, "people who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it." When P. Diddy got involved in the last Presidential election w/ his 'Vote Or Die', celebrity-charged effort, some of our youth answered the call.

Today, the current line to our political & economic salvation is either broken, disconnected, or on hold.

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