By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Hello All:

You know there is a saying that "Politics makes strange bedfellows."  There is also a saying "If you lie down with dogs you come up with fleas."  And yesterday, April 6, while attending the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority's Mayoral Forum at Bright Hope Baptist Church, and learning that some of our African American elected officials had decided to endorse James Kenney for mayor of Philadelphia, both those statements immediately came to mind.  

Not that Kenney has "fleas" or anything of the nature; just that one should be very concerned when a group of Black elected officials over-reache to endorse someone who has heretofore not had an inkling about who Black Philadelphians were/are; their history, their plights, their concerns.  What would be the motivating factor behind this obvious U-turn during a pivotal part of the primary election campaign?

It couldn't possibly be because suddenly Mr. Kenny has only just found out that Octavious Catto had been violently murdered on the streets of South Philadelphia  while advocating for Black Philadelphians over 100 years ago - and he's now going to erect a statue in his honor, could it?  Well glory halleluiah - he's seen the light!!  That's wonderful.  But that does not make him mayor material - especially not for Philadelphia - especially not in this pivotal year.

It's amazing to me how true were those words Sonia Sanchez spoke at the Barnes Collection just a little over a month ago:  "PHILADELPHIA ALWAYS MISSES HER MARK FOR GREATNESS!"  she exclaimed out of the blue.  And they were never truer than they are now.   It was a statement that came out of nowhere, during a discussion of her poetry and epic body of work - (Sonia was named Poet Laureate of Philadelphia by Mayor Michael A. Nutter).  

Her remark was so off the cuff, it caused me to ask her why she said it.  And she responded:  {Paraphrasing here}:  You  have the first Black colleges here {in Pennsylvania}; you have the center of music and entertainment talent here; you have produced and continue to produce geniuses here - but our people or either jealous, blind, ignorant or just apathetic.  [Philadelphia is 68% Black but acts like second class citizens] They have so much to be proud of, but they disrespect their accomplishments.  When they should be coalescing and coming together with all they know and all they have, they pick that very time to do the exact opposite.  "Philadelphians - especially elected officials - should read W.E.B. du Bois' book THE PHILADELPHIA NEGRO,"  concluded the diminutive, wise, poet, educator and octogenerian.  And, while the current mayoral candidates may or may not have re-read that book, I certainly did - and it was amazing how the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I have no idea what the real strategy is behind several of our Black electeds forming a Northwest Coalition to support James Kenney - I'm sure they've rationalized it sufficiently to be comfortable with it.  However, I do know that if those in the Northwest "drink the proverbial Kool-Aid" and wake up to find that they've elected someone who has not operated in their best interest during his entire time in City Council; if they miss the opportunity of putting someone in there who has consistently been involved in bringing their best interests and needs to fruition, they're going to be sorry indeed.  Sorry like New Jersey is sorry that they have "Crispy Kreme" for Governor type sorry.

My folks always taught me that charity begins at home - you take care of the people who take care of you.  You don't change horses in mid-stream.  If Kenney is being held out to be the voice for Black Philadelphia, as Philly.com asserts, we're in trouble indeed!  The not so subtle message is that our ice is still not the right temperature.

I neither know, nor care who spearheaded this little "mutiny" - which appears to be aimed at Anthony Williams, who is currently the front runner in a line of candidates for the primary nod in May - but I do find it interesting that Rep. Evans is crediting himself with the election of Tom Wolf, the newly elected governor of Pennsylvania.  It could easily be called the Northwest Sellout Coaliton.  It smells of the old tried and true method of divide and conquer that has been effectively used for eons against Black people - right at the point when they're closest to their goals, and therefore the most vulnerable.

I neither know, nor care why the other erstwhile intelligent elected officials are jumping into this scheme; but I can say that the people themselves - their constituents - are not pleased - and are shaking their heads that such a negative example is being set by people who should be leaders.  Interestingly enough, The Philadelphia Negro played out almost an identical scenario in reference to those Blacks whose votes were given over to the opposition.  Hopefully, however, this will not be a case of history repeating itself.  I do believe, contrary to Sonia Sanchez's statement, that Black voters in Philadelphia are smarter than that, and are more awake now than ever before to any machinations that would end with their being disenfranchised - whether it's mentally, spiritually, physically, economically, educationally or otherwise.

In a few words, lest you miss my meaning:  The coalition to elect James Kenney mayor of Philadelphia is an insult to Philadelphians - Black and white - but does point up one glaring fact - we are our own worst enemies - the reason our youth can't come together is because they are witnessing their own parents and adults in the Black community who clearly don't walk their talk.  The African American community in Northwest Philadelphia would do well to take a good, long, hard look at the "electeds" who have formed this coalition in reference to any considerations for upcoming reelections.    Also remember that Detroit decided to change horses in the middle of the stream and ended up with no water, no pension money, and a host of other problems  that happens when you put someone in position who is a politician, not a leader.  

Anthony Hardy Williams, who is in a "statistical dead heat" with Kenney, has been involved in the Black community of Philadelphia - North, South, Southwest, Northwest, Central - all his life - and has made some principled stands when it comes to his constituency.  He doesn't have to go and study Black history to find out what the plight of Black Philadelphians is, he's lived it, knows it, and works to ameliorate it.  He's not only mayoral material, but leadership material.  Let's don't get it twisted just because individuals with recognizable names have come together to support the opposition.  Philadelphians have to vote in light of the direction Philadelphia must move in for the next four to eight years.  Not just on the basis of someone who discovered we had a history after having been out of school for 42 years - a fact that was obviously told to him by one of the members of the coalition.  Kenney would need another 42 years to fully understand and be effective in issues that assail Black and Brown  in particular, and Philadelphians of all nationalities and economic backgrounds in general.

According to one elected official, they were backing Kenney because he was against "stop and frisk" and supported medical marijuana - things which Anthony Williams has also supported - so what do we have here, a difference without a distinction?  The rationale of his having a "good heart" is laudable - but still not mayoral.  

Philadelphians should not, must not = will not - allow a hand full of political machinators derail their future - they will vote for the most qualified candidate for mayor of Philadelphia - who just happens to be Anthony Hardy Williams.

Stay Blessed& 
Gloria Dulan-Wilson
www.gloriadulanwilson.blogspot.com/ECLECTICALLY BLACK NEWS



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