When they go low

 

The idea that minority candidates and elected officers receive racist “messages” should not be surprising. Let us not forget that President Barack Obama frequently illustrated restraint and professionalism when faced with repeated illustrations of blatant disrespect rooted in a belief that black is “less than” and therefore should not be respected when in a non-domestic leadership role.

Some may better relate to this idea when it is presented in terms of gender, age, sexual orientation, religious or socio-economic deficiency or any other category that is not what is thought of as a “typical American.”

Many in the African-American community questioned the public silence of Obama’s political party time and time again while racist behavior was directed at him. Many more could relate to the Obamas’ position.

There was a desire for the Democratic Party, a party with a long history of relying upon the so-called black vote to have a strong, unified presence of defense for its party’s national leader. There were missed opportunities. Many were left disappointed.

First Lady Michelle Obama may have summed up best what is frequently a public display by minority candidates and elected officers when racist rhetoric is boldly present. She said, “When they go low, we go high.” It is an all too familiar practice by minorities in general, a practice for many that dates back to slavery.

Now, let us turn our attention to Florida Democratic Party nominee for Governor Andrew Gillum. We, the public, know of a few “messages” that we, the people, are supposed to get. You may have heard by now about Gillum’s Republican challenger telling Florida voters not to “monkey this up.”

Then, there are a series of racist robocalls mocking him. The head of the Florida Democratic Party, Terri Rizzo, called the comments a “racist dog whistle.” Many in the African-American community do not know of her response, or of her name. There are missing links that may prove vital down the ballot in Nov. and beyond.

Unfortunately, controversial racial remarks will motivate some to vote but do we really want to be a society where that is the formula that increases voter turnout? In the “land of liberty,” we cannot wait for “when they go low” to celebrate qualified, minority candidates, nor can we wait for political parties to endorse our best to support our best.

Many people in local political parties would welcome your involvement no matter the election year. This year, however, there is a favorable possibility that Florida will make history by electing its first African-American Governor in Gillum. He is a gubernatorial candidate who is a pragmatist, meaning that he has an ability to talk across party lines. Besides, he is a progressive. These things are attractive to today’s voters regardless of their party affiliation.

Keisha Bell

Keisha Bell

Presenting more candidates like Gillum will attract more voters on Election Day. His attraction is not limited to “black voters,” nor should it be thought to be limited. Gillum proved this in Aug.

When they go low, we go high. Let us make conscious-voting a top priority by highlighting Nov. 6 as Election Day and high-step to the ballot box.

Keisha Bell is an attorney, author, and public servant. www.emergingfree.com

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