Equity Alliance Must Focus on Broad-Based Issues

By Rosetta Miller Perry

I spent my entire professional career fighting for equality and economic justice while employed by the United State Commission on Civil Rights in Washington, D.C. and then as director of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Memphis and Nashville, where I retired.

I understand equality and economic justice better than some of those hooked on Jungle Juice.

I am also supportive yet, I am carefully studying the effect of having an Equity Alliance and a proposed Black Women’s Political Pac. Equity Alliance is a group that has united to advance an agenda that certainly is a good thing – one of the things they want is to be advocates for more black women running for office (this has never been an issue in Nashville, if you check the historical records).  

The Metropolitan Council has six black females in the Council and three black Councilmen.

But the problem  is what happens when there are no black women running in a campaign? That’s the case with the upcoming election for Vice Mayor. What does Equity Alliance do in this case? Will Equity Alliance support the Women’s Political Collaborative, Women in Numbers, Emerge, Women in Higher Education, National Association of Women Business Owners or tell their members not to vote as Charlane Oliver of Equity Alliance indicated that the non-partisan group wants to focus on getting people out to the polls for the August primary.

Is this because black women are running in the Senate race? Is Equity Alliance supporting one black woman over another and/or asking all black women voters to exclude black men?

Carol Swain’s first political race received 18,795 votes or 22.90%, Erica Gilmore, a career politician, received 4,579 votes 5.58%. Will Equity Alliance support all black women or select black women?

Oliver pointed out that the group’s work is not exclusive to any racial group.

“But charity starts at home.

We have to start with us before we can take care of others,” she said.  

Does starting with us mean the August race since there are black women in that race and not the Vice Chair of the Council race because a white woman is running?

Suppose the majority female groups which have been organized for years push back because of this statement and not support black women when no white women are in a race?

It is time that black political groups begin focusing on issues and looking at ways that they can play a key role in every situation, not just those involving blacks. The Tennessee Tribune certainly wants to see more blacks and especially more black men, in roles of power in Metro, but we also want to have something to say in all campaigns, and not be restricted when black candidates are not running such as this Vice Mayor’s race.

The other problem is the inherent assumption that every candidate in any race who is a black woman deserves the community’s support. Are we really ready as a community to support anyone and embrace their ideologies and views, simply because they are black? That kind of thinking is no better than what we’ve seen from racist whites who support any candidate in any election as long as they are not black.

That is one reason that we have President Trump.

That’s no improvement or advancement to utilize that as either a tactic or a voting strategy, it is black stupidity and racist at its worse.

It would be better if Equity Alliance stress issues that will enable them to be effective and relevant ALL the time.  The black community needs leaders, male and female to influence policy agendas, health, economic equality, and voting rights. We haven’t had that coming in Nashville since Senator Avon Williams represented us,  so if not now when? The black community deserve leaders who demand putting more black men in executive supervisory positions in city government, because right now and in the past 60 years there is only one in this city of prosperity, Metro Director of Schools Shawn Joseph and he has been under attack since he arrived. Howard Gentry is elected so he doesn’t count. The black community needs Equity Alliance to demand that blacks are employed at NES, instead of putting blacks on its board of directors with no influence or even care about ending discrimination where a black man has been the CEO for years. I would not sit on a board that discriminates against blacks in employment and those black board members at NES should be ashamed and resign.

The black community needs an Equity Alliance who would concern themselves with the denial of contracts to black contractors for the last 60 years, and demand that the city throw out that fake “Disparity Study” where there are no contracts for African Americans, just meetings and carrot waving all over town for years.

You see I get it when some blacks say nothing changes in Nashville. Only 1 black man has a top city executive position – Shawn Joseph?

So only black women and white men are in city executive positions in Nashville. So now that the Alliance and the alleged Black Women’s Political Pac want more black women in political positions in “It City,” what are Black men voting for – that is the question I have been asking since I started my newspaper more than 26 years ago.

We have 98.5% of professional employment in this city – black men have less than .05%. Will Nashville be known nationally – as a Matriarch Black Political City?

Finally, what I don’t support and won’t endorse is the notion that Equity Alliance and the alleged Black Women’s Political Pac supporting only black women because of social standing regardless of qualifications.  

 That’s not progress, it is Deja Vu all over again and just a shallow brand of identity politics that won’t really get anything significant done for the black community.

All black women should remember the black man’s voice for the voiceless saying: “I’m a black man in Nashville, so I know there’s the white man’s target on me. Please don’t join that target for the sake of our son’s future.”

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