Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Racial Tension in Atlanta's Mayoral Race

The city that became a post-civil rights movement emblem of the political power held by African-Americans could have a white mayor for the first time in a generation — a possibility that has some in the black community scrambling to hold on to City Hall.

Atlanta Councilwoman Mary Norwood, who is white, is one of the front-runners for the Nov. 3 election, along with City Council President Lisa Borders and state Sen. Kasim Reed, both of whom are black.

All three have bristled at a racially charged e-mail circulated by a black leadership group calling for Norwood's defeat before a possible runoff. If the black candidates split the African-American vote, Norwood may find herself in a runoff.

"I suspect we will see high levels of racial polarization," said University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock. "This e-mail may have been used to promote turnout, to get higher levels of participation from the black community. But it could also spark higher levels of participation in the white community. It's a scare tactic."


There are people who believe that we live in a post-racial society. These people believe the election of Barack Obama signaled the imminent end of strained race relations in the United States. I admire and pity that level of optimism. I wish that we did live in a world where race and ethnicity didn't cause problems, but unfortunately that isn't the case.

Atlanta is a relatively progressive city. It has a number of Fortune 500 companies, a large openly gay community, an immensely popular music scene, and a "big city mentality." However, the palpable racial tensions that existed prior to Atlanta's current state are still ingrained in the minds of many African-Americans.

One cannot discount the amount of racism and injustice that minorities in the South had to endure during the years preceding the Civil Rights Movement. Hell, the Civil Rights Movement itself wasn't exactly a trip to Disneyland for those who opposed segregation. I completely understand why those who were oppressed during that time period are still upset.

It's okay to rally against a candidate's policies or political philosophies if you feel the candidate isn't looking out for your best interest. Mary Norwood, the white woman running for mayor of ATL, may have some distorted views that should be challenged. Nevertheless, the opposition of a mayoral candidate based on solely on that candidate's race is unacceptable. I am pretty sure there is more to this story than what I read in the article above. I will definitely follow the events surrounding this election. I have a feeling that they are going to be very interesting.

And I told about equality
And it's true either you're wrong
Or you're right
But if you're thinking bout my baby
It don't matter if you're
Black Or White


Anonymous said...

not sure if i would claim atlanta to have an openly gay community...especially when people associate "DL brothers" and ATL.

Julius Coxswain said...

True. There are a good number of DL brothers in the ATL. Nevertheless, I see lots of seemingly openly gay men when I visit Atlanta.