With days left in the campaign that will determine the future for the city of St. Petersburg, everyone is on their toes to see who will come out as the top two choices for the District 6 council seat and mayoral race.
Residents of St. Petersburg have received their mail-in ballots and are in the process of sending them back in with the candidates of their choice. But what about the candidate of choice for those who cannot vote in this election?
Those who cannot vote can stretch from people who have had their rights taken away to those who just aren’t old enough yet. That’s the category my peers and I fit into.
Gibbs High has had a huge boost in political activism ever since Aug. 10 was declared the first day “back to jail.” Over the summer, the campaigns of Eritha ‘Akile’ Cainion for District 6 City Council and Jesse Nevel for Mayor have brought students from being simply exposed to political light to being political leaders in the very campaigns themselves.
So who, you may ask, are the students of Gibbs High School backing this Aug. 29? None other than Akile and Jesse.
Their platforms have reflected every demand and struggle that the black community has been faced with since the creation of St. Pete, which used the stolen labor of black workers to clear the swamps and pave the roads of this city.
Points such as black community control of the police, which entail the ability for the black community to hire, fire, train and discipline those mandated to protect the community, rather than function as military occupants who carry out murders of black children like the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department.
This resonates with African youth because corporate media has depicted us as the poster children of crime in St. Pete.
We are constantly told by Kriseman, Baker and even admitted cops like Maria Scruggs that we are not children; we are criminals who, if we’d just “behave,” wouldn’t have to be worried about dying.
Jesse and Akile are the only ones who have defended black children unapologetically and have recognized us for who we are: children who have had our childhoods stolen.
Points such as reparations and economic development that speak to the interests of the black working class who have produced all the value in this city with their labor and have been forcibly extracted from the community historically and today.
The main reason the black community can unanimously unite with this is the example of Tropicana Field. This dome was constructed on a graveyard of schools, restaurants, homes, hair salons, barbershops, playgrounds and other places where Africans frequented often.
With the conception of the dome, the City of St. Petersburg promised that it would bring about economic development for the black community and be a step forward for everyone. This turned out to be a lie and as a result, the homeless community grew.
When both reparations and the dome are given back to the black community, we can truly see economic development flourish.
And finally, the point of black community control of the schools. This point is the most relevant for us students because we reside in these prisons for 8 of the 24 hours of our day, and what we go through in these schools is not a reality that white students on majority white campuses have to live with.
The curriculum we learn is European centered and our parents have no ability to give input to it. At Gibbs, funding and development for the school are prioritized for the PCCA program, which was originally brought into light to fight the “desegregation” struggle of the 1970s that still negatively affects the school to this day.
This brought about the police presence on our campus, which brings a wave of police terror, brutality and in some cases, murder. In these prison-similar conditions, we have no power over an end to the police, an end to the European curriculum or an end to the lack of funding for the traditional school in general.
Only when parents of these African students and the community come together with the power to say who is hired, fired and disciplined to teach the correct curriculums and how the administration operates with students will we truly have a school that correctly acts as a place of learning.
Citizens of St. Pete, we have no room on Aug. 29 to give our vote to those candidates who do NOT have our best interest at heart. Only when the campaigns for Akile and Jesse succeed will we see true unity and prosperity in this city. Make the right decision; vote Eritha “Akile” Cainion for District 6 and Jesse Nevel for Mayor.
Let’s show the world just what St. Pete can do!