Black Dynamite And The Atlanta Mayor's Race




S. and I flew the coop for a few days this morning. I was riding shotgun in the AM through the slow as molasses Atlanta traffic after we dropped the dog off. Seeing him enter the facility is always one of the high points of any trip we take for me. So I hit the road with S. and my favorite traveling companions - a stack of the day's newspapers.

Tom Joyner and his crew on the Tom Joyner Morning Show were too funny this morning, though, so we were halfway to Chattanooga before I remembered my stack of fresh news. But by then it was too late.

It was my turn behind the wheel.

It just so happened, though, that I had opened the Atlanta Journal & Constitution first, so I actually did get to read through a few articles about Atlanta's mayoral election next week before Kim Whitley did a call in interview about her new movie, the 70's black exploitation era parody Black Dynamite.

Somehow, the idea of a pimp named Captain Kangaroo snatched my attention from reading any more about what may turn out to be a ground breaking election for the city of Atlanta.

Because for the first time in over 30 years, the front runner in Atlanta's mayoral race is white.

Mary Norwood, who is currently the front runner, is a veteran of City Council. Lisa Borders is a former City Council president. And Kasim Reed is a Georgia state senator.

If I were an evening news reporter, I'd immediately run out and find a couple of black City of Atlanta residents who are riled up about the potential of having a white mayor. Instead, I have talked to my friends and acquaintances over the last couple of months, and they are in a bit of a quandary - the idea of having another black mayor and all its attendant perks, especially if you have a personal relationship with said black mayor, is losing big time in their minds to the idea of getting anyone in there who can do something to fix the chronic problems at City Hall.

None of them, however, feel that Mary Norwood is that person.

Neither do I.

But I'm tired of the same old same old, even though I can't vote in this election because I live out in the sticks in suburban (gasp!) John's Creek north of town. And I am a firm believer that the Obama presidency has raised the bar for the many, many black politicians around the country whose only real accomplishment has been getting re-elected, or holding down the "black" seat.

Maybe there is more than a coincidence that I've mentioned a black exploitation movie just after describing the glimpse I had of the latest projections on the Atlanta Mayor's race. The transition the city went through during the Maynard Jackson years was both positive and negative. It brought a new look to Atlanta's City Hall at the department level, where the real work gets done in a city, with minorities ascending to positions of real power within Jackson's administration. On the flip side, it was some of these same minority political appointees who simply did not get the work done, whether they fell down on the job, were ill prepared, or just didn't give a damn about anything but a paycheck.

This in itself was nothing new - it happens in every city in the country big enough to have a bureaucracy. It was certainly going on in Atlanta before the administration's skin tone began to darken.

But we don't need anymore "black exploitation" politicians here in Atlanta, or in Detroit, or D.C. or Baltimore, or Philadelphia.

S. and I talked about this phenomenon in the car, after we'd dried our tears about the idea of a pimp known as Captain Kangaroo.

"As far as I'm concerned, Atlanta has basically had the same mayor for thirty years. Maynard has annointed them all, either in person or by proxy. Andrew Young got his okay. He fingered Bill Campbell to carry the torch next. And the whole Jackson coterie carried the flag for Shirley Franklin, an old Jackson crony from way back when, after Jackson's untimely demise.

Now it looks like Kasim Reed is next in line."

I actually like Kasim Reed personally. Every time I've met him, he has been willing to talk about the things I was dissatisfied with at the state level, where he worked in the Georgia Legislature as a state senator. I haven't always agreed with his stances, but I have always admired the sense of dogged professionalism he brings to any encounter.

So I guess, if Brown Man Thinking Hard was in the business of making political endorsements that really mattered, that I would unequivocally support Reed.

The question is, if he can hang in there for a runoff, or generate the kind of last minute support that allows him to claim victory on Tuesday night, what the hell will he do to get beyond the shadow of Atlanta's first black mayor?

Can he grow beyond the constraints of a legacy that Maynard Jackson himself was in danger of outliving?

Can he begin to select a more diverse staff, both in ethnic backgrounds and life experiences?

I guess we'll just have to see what next Tuesday night brings.









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2 comments:

A.Smith said...

Firstly, I hope you wave to Chattanooga for me on your way back.

But I'm tired of the same old same old, even though I can't vote in this election because I live out in the sticks in suburban (gasp!) John's Creek north of town. And I am a firm believer that the Obama presidency has raised the bar for the many, many black politicians around the country whose only real accomplishment has been getting re-elected, or holding down the "black" seat.

And this is the truth right here. Black politicians are just as guilty of the "good ol' boy" network as white politicians. Let's be real -- lots of people thought Obama wouldn't make it because he didn't have a backing from the Revs Jackson and Sharpton and he had no major black political players backing him. We're seeing a new movement in black politics, I think. The Cory Bookers, the Adrian Fentys... not necessarily old black players, just new, young and fresh with ideas.

If Atlanta needs a white mayor for a while to find their own new fresh black players, then fine, as long as whomever is elected is really what's best for the city. Atlanta is riding high now because there's no city like it in the Southeast -- but it can mess around and lose what it has.

On a larger scale, I'm just ready for the black political renaissance to commence and show it's effects nationwide.

Stacy said...

People do not appreciate things until they are gone. If Mary Norwood wins the race, black Atlanta citizens will suffer. Not because Mary is white, but because she is not the most qualified candidate. Lisa Borders is the most qualified. We will see if Atlanta will recognize that.

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