No permanent friends, no permanent enemies, only permanent issues


Bob Johnson, one of the founders of Black Entertainment Television, is coming to St. Petersburg. He, through his company RLJ Companies, is taking over The Vinoy.

The black community in St. Petersburg celebrated upon hearing the news. One of our “own” is taking over one of the most renowned hotels in St. Pete.

Johnson has been very successful in business; however, it is something he said related to politics that stood out to me.

It should stand out to you. Especially in this nonpartisan St. Petersburg mayoral race as it relates to black people.

There are no permanent friends and there are no permanent enemies.

There are only permanent issues.

Specifically, Mr. Johnson said: “We are required to challenge and to demand that all candidates or parties in pursuit of our vote, whether they are Republican, Democrat or Independent, explain in comprehensive terms what they propose to do for us to make our lives better.  Remember, the most precious and powerful asset we possess in this democracy is the right to vote in favor of or against those who seek to govern us.  Let us not give away that right; let us make them earn our vote!”

We have to stop blindly giving our vote away, simply because someone has a “D” behind their name, especially when they have not addressed our needs or our interests.

While the Democratic PLATFORM aligns with our interests, if the ACTIONS aren’t visible or tangible, pipe dreams aren’t worth getting our vote.

If the results aren’t visible in your community, then talk is cheap.

Your vote is your voice. When you allow the two to be separated, and you vote simply because of party affiliation and not because of ACTION, you once again become slaves. Someone who has been silenced and chained to despair.

You are back on the plantation.

Your voice is no longer your own.

For too long, the black vote has come to be expected, not earned, by one political party.

You can look across this country and see the inequities that face black communities, despite the loyalty we have consistently shown at the ballot box overwhelmingly to one particular party.

Education, unemployment, criminal justice, all of these systems disproportionately shows blacks at a disadvantage.

Look no further than the school failure factories here in St. Petersburg. Every single one was located in a district that was predominantly black.

Until we get serious about issues affecting our community, no one else will.

When it comes to the issue of Israel and the Jewish people, Democrat, Republican or Independent go out the window.

Until black people get just as serious, and when I say serious, I mean with the vote, change will never come.

Your black community “leaders” who are telling you to vote “blue no matter who” will continue to get their million-dollar appropriations from the legislature while you can’t get a minimum wage job.

They will continue to get their back-room deals for plans that don’t work, while you try to put food on the table for your child.

But when you look around in your community and still see businesses closing, gentrification, no grocery store, no affordable housing and your children being over policed and undereducated, ask yourselves this:

Was it worth voting the alphabet, and not your interests in a nonpartisan race?

Leslie Wimes is founder and president of Women on the Move and the Democratic African American Women Caucus, Her columns are regularly carried on Follow Leslie on Twitter: @womenonthemove1.

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