If you haven’t seen what Chambers, who has been appointed to, among other things, Broome’s transition team and a citizens’ advisory board to review police practices, wrote at his site today, get ready. Because it’s one of the most breathtakingly racist things you will ever see.
15,000 whites is actually 24 percent of the white electorate in East Baton Rouge Parish in the December election, which is a pretty decent crossover vote and a good indication there are a lot of white voters in Baton Rouge who were looking to get race out of the equation. One suspects those people, or many of them, would have been less enthusiastic about Broome had they known her braintrust would have included people like Gary Chambers, Cleve Dunn and Reginald Pitcher, but you can always count on the naivete’ of a large part of the electorate.
Only four percent, or about 2,000, of the parish’s black voters crossed over to vote for Bodi White.
Baton Rouge is not going to be a united city. We can however become a progressive city.
He’s just getting started. After noting that three times more black people voted for Broome than White, he offers this…
The black vote has power in Baton Rouge and we should act like it.
In many cities around the country the black vote is a role player, but in Baton Rouge we are the deciding vote at this stage. If we don’t support a candidate in a parish or city-wide election they are done. With this power, we must begin to demand the type of change we desire to see happen in the city and parish. It is fair that we push for police reform. It is fair that we demand that leadership in city-parish government look like Baton Rouge. We are not the minority in the city, we are the majority. In the parish we are almost equal to whites, and should demand that the city and parish respond to the call of our concerns at equal measure.
Black voters are not, in fact the majority of East Baton Rouge Parish. Broome was elected because she got 24 percent of the white vote, not that she got virtually all of the black vote. So for Chambers to allege that blacks are the majority and then demand that the leadership in city-parish government look like Baton Rouge is a demand for a political machine made up by and for blacks take over. Not that the races collaborate to make Baton Rouge a better place – that one race command a superior position because it’s a “majority” when in fact it isn’t, and that’s a fact which can be proven both by looking up the numbers at the Secretary of State’s website and also by sheer deduction – when Broome won by 4,000 votes when 15,000 whites voted for her and 2,000 blacks voted for White, it takes someone with math skills just a little more developed than Chambers’ to recognize there are more whites than blacks in East Baton Rouge Parish.
That isn’t a ton of white support, but it is enough to force this city into a more equitable place to live, work and play. It says that there are enough white people in Baton Rouge who don’t want this to be the Baton Rouge of old. The allies are enough with the engagement of blacks to move this city in the right direction. The key is going to be ensuring that even those allies understand that there are some things that they don’t understand, and culturally we must educate them so that all of Baton Rouge can have equity.
You can decide what that means for yourself, but “equity” in this case is a pretty self-explanatory concept.
The progressives in Baton Rouge said let’s move forward. We cannot and should not spend time trying to figure out how to appease the group that doesn’t want to move forward. The only way to show some people the path forward is to pave it.
With the skulls of those who don’t want to “move forward,” apparently. Which leads to this…
4. Mayor Broome needs to be unapologetically black.
Mayor Broome was elected by a majority of black voters. This is her base. These are the people who went to the polls and said you were the choice. The message needs to shift from unity to progress. Unity is something we can’t promise. We can however ensure that the city and parish moves forward in measurable ways. Black voters after the death of Alton Sterling said they weren’t going to settle for the status quo and turned out to vote, with the expectation that we would see some wholesale change. Black voters became vocal about the lack of healthcare and economic development in the last year. Black voters have become aware of the income gap and want to see tangible results on closing the gap. We voted for the ability to have a mayor, a leader who would step up and be different than the past 12 years. Being unapologetically black, does not mean being disrespectful to the views or perspectives of any other race, but it means responding directly to the call and cry of the people who elected her. This isn’t my grandmothers Baton Rouge anymore, they prayed for the day we could decide elections and now we have. There are whites in Baton Rouge who understand that there are issues of racism, bigotry, and bias that are prepared to stand against it with us. That may not be the majority of white people in Baton Rouge, but there are enough that will support the work as long as it yields results. The math dictates that we are paid much more attention than we have been in the past administration.
And while we’re just pilfering Chambers’ whole piece there is a grand finale we can’t leave alone…
We have to move Baton Rouge forward for all of our children. For far too long black leaders have spent too much time trying to satisfy everyone that they miss the opportunity to lead. We must as a city and parish, work toward making life better for all people. We must admit that we have messed up in some areas and that we have to spend a considerable amount of time righting the wrongs of the past in order to make our parish whole. We may never be completely united, but the path to unity is progress. Things have to move forward in order for them to get to the point of meeting in the middle for unity.
Every person who plans to run parish wide from here until eternity needs to hear, and be prepared to address the concerns of black voters in Baton Rouge. Blacks now control the destiny of the leaders of this city. We need to fully embrace that, stand in that, and demand equity because we have the power to decide who sits in the seats of power in this city-parish.
In other words, Chambers is saying that since there is now a sense that Baton Rouge is a functionally black-majority city/parish, it’s time for a political machine run by and for black people to steamroll whitey in order to get what’s theirs – and if whitey doesn’t like it he can go to hell.
It’s the most nakedly racist thing anyone has put in the public domain in some time in this town.
On one level, Chambers is correct. So long as 24 percent of the white voters in Baton Rouge are willing to vote for a black Democrat while only four percent of the black voters are willing to vote for a white Republican, blacks in Baton Rouge have political control of the parish. And if your perspective is that of a black racist like Gary Chambers, it only makes sense that a political machine be built not just to get a mayor-president elected but to control every parishwide political office. This is why Chambers fanned the Mike Erwin business into a major news item despite virtually zero corroboration that an allegation made by a convicted felon with an apparent grudge against Erwin was telling the truth; Chambers and the people he’s with want someone of African descent in Erwin’s judicial seat courtesy of a resignation, and they’d like to take down District Attorney Hillar Moore and Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, who are personal friends of Erwin’s, through collateral damage. They believe they can run the table and grab all the parishwide seats, and set about redistributing money to feed their own little Tammany Hall.
And why shouldn’t they believe that? It’s what has happened in lots of cities where the black community has put itself in a position of political control, like New Orleans and Shreveport. And Jackson, Mississippi. And Baltimore, East St. Louis, Flint and Detroit, too. That this model tends to produce singularly awful results for all of the people, and most particularly the black people trapped under it, when it comes to things like law enforcement, education, economic development, infrastructure, fiscal policy and other facets of governance should probably make a supposedly civic-minded member of the new majority look for a more inclusive and pragmatic model, but that’s not what Chambers is about.
What he is about is turning what he sees as Rhodesia into Zimbabwe. It doesn’t matter that he and his crowd get to rule over a ruin; they get to rule. There are treasures to be found in a ruin, after all.
None of what Chambers has written is surprising, of course. We’ve all known what he is for a long time. What’s significant here is that Broome has taken him in and appointed him to things.
At this point, what Chambers has written is on her head. She has two choices. She can repudiate his triumphant demands not to end racism but rather to put it under new management, and disavow him, or she can by commission or omission adopt it by keeping him around.
If it’s the former, we will celebrate her willingness to embrace an inclusive model of governance. If it’s the latter, there is no reason why anyone should object to a St. George incorporation – or be offended or surprised when the white community responds by decamping en masse for surrounding parishes while Baton Rouge devolves into Detroit South.