Bankole: All white lineup and liberal hypocrisy

Bankole Thompson
The Detroit News

‘I am sympathetic to your message. And perhaps I owe you and the African American community an apology for my part and the part of our Caucus in creating an all white ticket,” wrote Mike McCurdy, the chairman of the Progressive Caucus of Mid Michigan in a lengthy apology email. “If I do, I give it freely. I wish to play no part in perpetuating the institutional racism and inequality faced by people of color in this country.”

The telling email which read like white guilt was sent to me after I raised the issue of no single African-American on the 2018 statewide Democratic ticket on my radio show.

The only hope that blacks had was Pat Miles, an eminently qualified and Harvard-trained Grand Rapids lawyer, who was vying for the attorney general slot. But Miles’ campaign, backed by the United Auto Workers, was outdone by McCurdy’s group, which almost single-handedly got Dana Nessel the nomination for attorney general instead, which created the all-white ticket dilemma for Democrats.

“I felt that by fighting for Dana I was helping to give that power to a true warrior for the people,” McCurdy said. “In the process I and my fellow activists helped create what could become an all white ticket. Is it within reason to apologize to the African American community for my role in this and still feel I did the right thing in helping Dana Nessel?”

Democrats know very well that the white slate that emerged out of Cobo Center after a contentious April 15 convention is not reflective of their base, and that it represents an insult to black voters who have loyally remained the soul of the party for decades. The fact that a party that parades itself as a paragon of diversity and inclusion will now head into the fall election with a ticket that smacks of political regression and indignity, not future growth, is unacceptable.

Time and time again, the party has always turned to blacks to rescue them in crucial electoral battles. But what do they get in return?

White liberal politicians who have gone on to seek higher office have always sought the black vote to catapult them to the pinnacle of political power. Yet when it comes to simply matching their actions with the political rhetoric of diversity that they sell in black churches when canvassing for votes, they drop the ball.

To understand what happened at the Democratic convention is to unravel the years of neglect by the Michigan Democratic Party, which has never really made serious and consistent outreach to Detroit, its largest base. The party has never felt compelled to make Detroit the center of its operation while mining it for votes during elections, because it relied on certain out-of-touch black gatekeepers for all the answers in exchange for official and unofficial roles in the party. It was less than a decade ago that the party found it important enough to establish an office in Detroit.

Gen. Colin Powell once accused the Republican Party of having dark veins of intolerance. While the GOP has always frowned upon the need for racial diversity within its ranks, the Democratic Party cannot claim clean hands either because it has failed to champion diversity with this year’s ticket.

But all is not lost. Crisis creates opportunities to right current and past wrongs.

All eyes are now on who will be the lieutenant governor candidate for the party heading into November’s election. That unequivocally has to be an African-American if the party wants to salvage itself from the problems created by the optics of an all-white ticket.

Party chairman Brandon Dillon has an opportunity to restructure the party in a way that ensures that diversity is a mandate, not a charitable option. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once accused white moderates of being more devoted to order than justice. But Dillon has an opportunity to turn the tide and push for justice through racial diversity in the party instead of order.

“Our diversity is a strength and what separates us from Republicans, not only because our Party looks more like America — but also due to the broad range of views, perspectives, and experiences that inform our beliefs and values as Michigan Democrats,” Dillon told me.

He added, “We owe it to the loyal members of our base, those who have called themselves Democrats through thick and thin, particularly our communities of color, a strong ticket and a real agenda that truly reflects their priorities and addresses their concerns.”

Twitter: @BankoleDetNews

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