Vote for me because I am (pick one): ☑️ Black, ☑️ Hispanic, ☑️ Queer, ☑️ Transgender, ☑️ Disabled. But if you pitched your candidacy that your are 🔲 White you would be called a racist. You would, in fact, be racist. The Werkes longs for the day when our politics returns to who is ☑️ Best Qualified and aligns with your values.
At least one of the candidates for Madison alder actually pitched her candidacy on her skin color! In his ill-fated campaign for Madison school board in 2019, Blaska blamed his lack of melanin on poor parenting.
Only two of the 13 incumbents seeking re-election lost on April 6 — and it wasn’t their ideology, necessarily. Two political opposites: pro-cop Paul Skidmore on the moderate right and cop-basher Rebecca Kemble on the hard, stalinist left. The most effective defender and the worst enemy of police, respectively. Stranger yet, the woman who beat pro-cop Skidmore is Defund the Police. The man who beat Kemble supports the police. You can’t tell the Werkes that those districts overnight stood their politics on their heads. Something else was at play. The two defeated incumbents were both white; the winning challengers, both black.
Scratch the average Madison voter and they will attempt to allay their guilty white privilege by voting race.
Of the 20 Madison alders, 12 are now what unofficially are considered People of Color — black, hispanic, or middle eastern. I.E., 60% of the Common Council is minority race in a city that is 75% non-hispanic white.
(They are Barbara Harrington-McKinney, Brian Benford, Nasra Wehelie, Julianna Bennett, Nikki Conklin, Yanette Figueroa Cole, Arvina Martin, Syed Abbas, Sheri Carter, Jael Currie, Charles Myadze and Christian Albouras.)
That’s up from 8 on the previous council.
(As long as we are doing identity politics: half are women, the other half … well, let’s not jump to conclusions. Gosh, we are cheeky monkeys today!)
Two organizations specifically sought to elect People of Color. Adelante Madison (Gloria Reyes, president; Juan Jose Lopez, veep) hispanics. The other is Blacks for Political and Social Action of Dane County.
“DAAANG!!,” says Kaleem Caire on social media.
“MADISON STOOD UP! Now, let’s show what leading for Equity & Inclusion really means! I am screaming and crying over here!”
[Mr. Caire continues] Many of us who grew up here, and have families that go back multiple generations, never thought this was possible in Madison. We rarely if ever saw a reflection of ourselves in significant leadership roles when we were young. As a result, many of us tolerated a second class status, limited inclusion (if at all), or we moved away to seek opportunities and inclusion elsewhere. …
It is important for our children to see achievements and progress like this — that we (people of color) can work hard, win elections and gain support here.
Madison also has a black chief of police, a black sheriff, a black district attorney, and a black superintendent of public schools.
We get the role model thing, we really do. But there is a qualitative difference between an alder who bashes the police and one who supports public safety through enlightened policing. Between a school board member who sides with the teachers union and their bennies and one who puts students first. In other words, policy matters. Are Nikki Conklin and Charles Myadze two peas in the same political pod? Both are black; both beat incumbents — Skidmore and Kemble, respectively. But Conklin is Progressive Dane anti-cop, Myadze is a pro-police mainstream Democrat.
The best illustration is in the south side’s 14th District. Both candidates were (and remain) black. Common Council president Sheri Carter, a pro-police ally of Skidmore, turned back BLM cop basher Brandi Grayson, 65-35%. (The cop-bashing candidates listed here.) That minority-majority district does not take policing’s role in neighborhood safety for granted. It rejected Grayson’s slur that Carter was not black enough. (BTW: the Werkes has discontinued capitalizing races.)
Blaska’s Bottom Line: Policy matters. I think Kaleem Caire knows that as well as anyone. We agree with his hope:
[that] this is a moment where all voices will be heard and where true nonpartisan legislative efforts … will take root. I also hope the well-being of children and families take center stage, and that business, government, and our social sector thrive, too.