St. Pete is a city divided

Eritha Akile’ Cainon

Dear Editor:

My name is Eritha Akile Cainion, and with the support of the people, I will be your next District 7 City Councilwoman.

I’m running on a platform of reparations and economic development to the black community as the starting point to making our city genuinely progressive.

Reparations has become a popular topic in the electoral arena today, with Democratic Party 2020 presidential hopefuls coming out in support of “some form” of reparations to black people in America for slavery.

The question of reparations being talked about in the mainstream is not a random occurrence. This discussion didn’t start because people like Elizabeth Warren developed a conscience and wants to do good by black people.

The reason why people all around the world are talking about reparations, whether debating it on CNN or in the European Parliament, is because of what this city did two years ago.

Reparations in the electoral arena had never been seen anywhere in the world until 2017, when my former running mate Jesse Nevel and I ran for St. Pete mayor and city council, respectively.

Two years ago, we were told we couldn’t say reparations if we intended to win the elections. It was regarded as lunatic fringe politics.

However, it was our campaigns that inspired hundreds of people in this city to march through the streets of downtown chanting “unity through reparations!”

It was 2,000 people in this city that signed petitions to put reparations on the ballot.

We were in the pages of Ebony magazine and mentioned on popular morning shows such as The Breakfast Club.

St. Pete made reparations mainstream! Now we have to finish what we started. That is why I’ve entered the race alongside Anne Hirsch for District 5 City Council.

Reparations is an idea whose time has come. There’s no way to get around it.

The question of reparations is so important now that if a candidate opposes reparations, they receive serious backlash.

Many different studies conducted around the country make it clear that the only way to actually solve systematic oppression and exploitation of the black community is by pouring resources into our economically deprived communities: that’s reparations!

There’s no way to resolve the wealth gap between the white and black community without reparations — anyone who says otherwise would be lying.

Studies have also shown that it would take 228 years for the average black family to catch up with the average white family — this isn’t possible through measly wages. This can only happen through a mass infusion of capital into the black community.

That’s why it’s on us to show the world how it’s done.

When we take the land Tropicana Field sits on and return it to the black community for affordable housing and economic development, we can give this country the template of reparations in action.

If we can put it in the mainstream, we can make it city policy, and be the first city in a wave of cities that will successfully address the historic and present-day oppression of the black community with reparations.

Our run for office in 2017 was a continuum of the work the Uhuru Movement and its founder Chairman Omali Yeshitela has been doing over the past 40 years to make reparations a household word.

From world tribunals to forming the first national reparations organization (African National Reparations Organization), the Uhuru Movement has been involved in fighting for reparations to African people all over the planet, not only for slavery but for the historic and present-day conditions imposed on the black community.

Even though St. Pete city government touts itself for being a progressive city, there is a legacy of oppressing the black community, which continues today.

It’s obvious — St. Pete is a city divided.

There is wealth on one side, the north side white community, and then there’s economic despair on the south side — no jobs, no black-owned businesses, no affordable housing.

This cannot be the case any longer.

We can have a genuinely progressive city, no one living at the expense of anybody else, but it’s going to require reparations and economic development to the black community in order to do so.

Let’s make history. Let’s be the first reparations city in the world.

We can do it. We will do it.  We are winning!

Support unity through reparations!

Elections are held Aug. 27.

Vote Eritha Akile Cainion for District 7 City Council to #MakeTheSouthsideBlackAgain, and Anne Hirsch for District 5 to build #UnityThroughReparations!

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