Election Day is right around the corner, Aug. 27 to be exact, and it may very well be the most crucial election for our city.
My name is Eritha Akile Cainion, and with the support of the people, I’ll be your next District 7 city councilwoman.
I am the only reparations candidate in the District 7 race, running on a platform fighting for social and economic justice to the black community, which I can confidently say is the only progressive platform.
I’m running under the slogan “Make the Southside Black Again,” which has gotten stares, eyebrow raises, but mainly fists pumped into the air by the working-class black community who is receiving the brunt of gentrification in St. Pete.
I say this is possibly the most critical election in this city to date because the fate of the black community rests with the outcome.
We have seen this city government over the decades destroy the economy that my community has fought to have for ourselves when we were corralled into the borders of the south side of town with little to no means.
Before south St. Pete was prime real estate for rich white developers, the black community came together, where our genius and labor worked to build our own grocery stores, night clubs, movie theaters, beauty parlors, service stations, cultural venues, restaurants and churches in places such as the Gas Plant area — the 85 acres of land that now rest under Tropicana Field.
There was Methodist Town, the 22nd Street business district, Jordan Park and more that have either been destroyed or are under attack today.
This reality will only worsen if we don’t put an end to it.
Everyone can see it — the divide in the city, our communities being overrun with high-rise luxury apartments, our families being harassed by developers to sell their homes, the rents increasing, the police violence of black people escalating, the mistreatment of black children in these schools, small businesses being shut down, the strain on our environment — all in the name of what this mayor and council would consider “progressive.”
These conditions are not unique to St. Petersburg. We are one of the many cities within the U.S. undergoing what chocolate city in Washington, D.C., Harlem in New York City, Oakland, Calif., Detroit, Chicago and others went through.
The question remains for us: will we let this government finish the job or will we fight back to ensure our future here?
My campaign in District 7, as well as the campaign to elect Anne Hirsch for District 5 City Council, are the only campaigns challenging this corruption and devastation of gentrification of the black community.
We are the only ones who came out and condemned the building of luxury apartments in the St. Pete’s deep south.
We are the only ones who are fighting to tax the developers and this corrupt city administration with the damages of the sewage crisis versus taxing the people.
We are the only ones fighting for genuine economic development for the black community, rent control and actual affordable housing.
These joint reparations campaigns are the only thing standing between the people and predatory land developers.
They are the only viable campaigns refusing money from land developers, real estate investors or major corporations, unlike the incumbent of District 7 whose campaign pockets are lined with big developer cash, which is a statement about her commitment to work with the gentrifiers as they push out the black community for good.
District 7 is the only black district in this city at approximately 63 percent black. This is the only district where the black community can exercise any political power in a majority white city.
The person representing this majority-black district, then, has to be unwavering in their commitment to serve the interests of black people; otherwise, our needs and aspirations will never be realized.
It is this situation that I proudly raise up the slogan “Make the Southside Black Again!” Let’s restore the black community through reparations owed to us by the same government that has stolen our land, resources, and labor to build its own economy.
This campaign is motivated by solving the problems of all working people, which happens by virtue of fighting for justice to the black community.
It is the oppression of the black community that serves as the core of all the contradictions faced by the people in this city.
There is no way to manage the symptoms if we don’t look at this core.
This is our opportunity to address the basis for all of our problems.
This is our opportunity to be on the forward side of history, to become a part of a social movement that refuses to lose to big money.
A once in a lifetime opportunity right now when this country is divided more than ever, to create a positive vision, to set the example for the rest of the world.
The time is now!
These campaigns have worked tirelessly, raising thousands of dollars from more than 1,000 different donors, knocking on over 2,000 doors, calling more than 2,000 people, mass mailing and texting, distributing 15,000 of our own newspapers The Southside Speaks and winning 75 volunteers, locally and nationally.
And now we’re gearing up for the general!
Get out there and vote on Tuesday, Aug. 27 for reparations and social justice to the black community.