Category Archives: Editorial

Better Together Means Better for White Folks

By Steppin’ Razor

By now, most interested parties have heard of Better Together’s contentious recommendations amid the heated debate about merging St. Louis City and County. Many residents in the areas of concern don’t like the recommendations- we’re hesitating to call it a “plan-” because, quite frankly, they seem to want to provide country residents greater access to city operations without providing a detailed resourcing plan. Bar none, Better Together leaves people of color and city dwellers in the blast of the storm of divestment and political isolation, and county dwellers fear the results of merging with a starving urban center.

The city/county merger has been an electoral hot button issue for years. St. Louis City is one of only two politically-progressive bastions in Missouri, sharing the distinction with cross state sibling, Kansas City. Each national election, these urban centers have voted impressively blue, while the rest of the state, particularly rural areas, vote staunchly red, with increasing sanguinity coming from the suburbs.

While Blacks enjoy a population majority in the city with 55 percent, the percentage of Blacks in Better Together’s would-be “Metro City” would fall to about 33 percent. Who in their right mind would give away an electoral majority and therefore, political power?

Politically, Better Together’s city-county merger recommendations amount to a Rex Sinquefield-financed power grab, to further entrench conservative values and dilute Black political power in the city and furthermore, the state.

The consensus in the region is that ‘da Lou is due for a shot in the arm, and therefore, the merger COULD be an opportunity to spur growth and equitable development. Some tech companies have started to move downtown and the NGA is preparing to build its metroplex in north city near the Pruitt-Igoe site. But St. Louis has seen a consistent private company, population, and tax base flight over the last few decades, steadily declining after a population growth to almost 900,000 in the 1950s. Much of that lovely tax money is believed to have moved out to the county and St. Charles with the racism of white flight, creating the “St. Louis Metropolitan Area.”

White flight county residents and out state Whites love their access to the St. Louis Zoo, the Stifel Center, the Dome, Soulard, AB InBev, The Fabulous Fox, Grand Center/Midtown, South Grand, Cherokee, the Central West End, but would love to eradicate the Black folks and other people of color who live around these outlets in an effort to preserve the blindness of their privilege. Better Together is here to help them reclaim the Midtown Corridor.

And to add insult to injury, Better Together would have the destiny of this region determined by outstate rurals who have little stake in the matter. They don’t live here. Even a cursory examination of state politics shows us that the rest of the state of Missouri often votes differently than St. Louis City, and often against St. Louis interests. So to suggest that the political, economic, and social destiny of St. Louis should be determined by a state full of folks who consistently walk over our interests lets us know whose needs are the priority.

Better Together merger recommendations include the creation of one executive position, the Metro Mayor, rumored to be set up for county executive Steve Stenger to step into. That makes us wonder… Why would St. Louis city mayor Lyda Krewson be willing to GIVE away her power like that? Was she promised some support for some state appointment or candidacy down the line?

A 33-member council repping districts drawn by a “nonpartisan expert” was also recommended. Talks suggest these districts would be drawn to include approximately 40,000 residents, and would be administrated by two staff members. But how would this form of government work for and with the people? Details were not provided.

Here’s how you can tell Better Together ain’t up to no good: They want to phase out the earnings tax, which makes up about 33% of the city’s budget and is directed to the city’s General Revenue fund. The tax, coming from 1% of salaries collected from city residents, equals about $164 million, according to 2016 data. These are much needed funds St. Louis uses to pay its bills and fund programs.

The most dastardly part? St. Louis city residents voted OVERWHELMINGLY in April 2016 to keep the tax, passing it easily with 72% of the vote for the measure to keep it.

So why is Better Together ignoring the wishes of city residents in trying to eliminate the tax? Some of us believe that the private conservative billionaire-funded group is trying to choke St. Louis City into submission.

One of the most glaring potential pointes of interest to come out of Better Together’s scheme was its hands-off suggestion for school systems. Of all the consolidation to occur as part of this deal, the St. Louis public schools would be essentially left to suffocate.  Everyone who gives a damn knows that our public school system, even after consistent closings over the past few decades, is in need of resources to properly educate our young ones. Wealthy municipality systems like Ladue, Clayton and Kirkwood continue to thrive in their enclaves, while benefiting from school choice transfers from impoverished city locales. After years of decay, neglect, finger wagging and divestment due to culturally-biased test score based resource allocation methods from President George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” barnstorm, it’s a miracle struggling school systems like St. Louis City are still hanging on. But now, Better Together is trying to put the nail in the coffin.

Better Together’s recommendation is racist, unilateral, conservative billionaire-mandated post-Ferguson backlash that essentially sources mayonnaise-flavored fear in creating a region that would erase any notion of political or economic empowerment for people of color. This is especially real and dangerous for Black folks, who make up about 55 percent of the population, and have used those numbers to stave off a conservative devouring by the state of Missour-uh, in concert with sistas and brothas in Kansas City. We’ll see how this plays out, and whose interests surface as true priorities in this process.

Black Folks Invented Civility, and it Takes More than a Smile

By S. Christopher Emerson

At the risk of picking the low-hanging fruit, I just wanted to issue this reminder to the good people that just because wight folks, especially wight politicians, speak in even, humble tones and occasionally smile while exacting deviltry on the people, that doesn’t make them “civil.” Too often recently I have seen people apply the term “civil” to describe the now-fortunately dead, and hopefully burning in wight people hell George HW Bush who was a hellion for people of color. How Sway? When you blithely cause even more pain, fear and loss for people who are in need of security and shelter and resources, “civil” ain’t what you call that.

In reference to a theroot.com article entitled “Civility is for White Folks,” an opinion that attempts to capture the “good riddance” sentiments of Black folks and people of color toward the life and death of former US president George HW Bush, but with the perspective of “civility” rather askew. Let’s not get ahistorically carried away here with colonized language.

Black folks, the first people ever, born of Africa, taught the world how to be civil out of the need to preserve and advance humanity. People of color are famous for being civil, and infamous for being civil when white folks were not, and next thing you know… Colonialism and slavery. We have been historically taken advantage of by white folks in the act of being civil for anywhere from seven centuries to a couple millennia. And y’all want to form your mouth to say “civility” is for white folks.

Why do you think the O’Jays would go through all that trouble to sing that wondrous 3-minute mother wit cautionary tale “Backstabbers?”

*singing* “What they do? Smilin’ in yo’ face…”

“All the time, they hate yo’ race…”

Some argue that the very fact the white folks still occupy positions of power when surrounded by the people of color that they have enslaved, raped, colonized and assimilated is civility run amok.

I feel the author diminished the foulness and impact of GHW Bush’s dealings in service of an inherently racist nation. George HW Bush himself exacted some hellish oppression against people of color as the Director of Central Intelligence, navigating Iran-Contra devilment and the War on Drugs as the US VP, vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1990, helmed the Gulf War for oil and more, dealing death in our communities shipping drugs and guns in our neighborhoods as tools of destruction. See, cuz’ the devil will pee on your head and tell you it’s raining.

Now this nuanced notion of “civility,” which the writer is attributing to white folks, again lacks depth. If anything, the aforementioned “civility” is being mistaken for the disposition and antics of the genteel at best. This includes whites who smile in your face, stab you in the back, take your home, deny you for a loan, tell your manager, try to get you fired, lie on you and get you lynched or call the cops on you (same thing) and sprinkle crack on you, malign you name and say you deserved it after you’re dead.

That ain’t civil.

Mississippi is Rising, We are Rising

By S. Christopher Emerson

As I recover with all my sistas and brothas, blood and Tougaloo family in Mississippi from the #MikeEspy Senate loss yesterday to the racist honktress, I feel it necessary to remind us that though these are scary and exciting and highly-charged times, let us not BLAME folks who did not vote for this loss.

Rather, let’s be clear in laying FULL responsibility for the election of racist candidates and the activation of oppressive policies SQUARELY on the racist, elitist bastards who voted for them. And I’m talking about d’wights and ALL their negro lackeys and cinnamon wenches who somehow believe amerikkka was once great and that more white supremacy will somehow make it great “again.”

Let us also recognize that this campaign and movement is one of the greatest grassroots campaigns built in Mississippi history, and that should not only be commended, but studied and built upon. Our people worked their asses off down south to raise awareness and build political power in this battle, and that kazi will most assuredly help us win the war.

We continue to be reminded that in this environment, freedom is not immediate. We are also finding out that ultimately, for america to be good enough to DESERVE us, we must TOTALLY and completely change the intrinsically flawed, racist, oppressive and elitist systems that govern this country. Our society must be equitable and efficient and make life better for all.

Certainly we should challenge each other to do SOMETHING, ANYTHING to eradicate racism and put oppression in check. But don’t let the racists get off. They deserve all that heat. So let’s take this lesson and get bigger, better, stronger and continue to chip away at this bs.

#MississippiRising

Voters’ Guide to the November 2018 General Election- St. Louis

Voters’ Guide to the November 2018 Election- St. Louis

 

This being the 2018 General Election, we recommend Democrat votes across the sample ballot for St. Louis city. Quite simply, those candidates have shown a greater interest and/or commitment to issues affecting Black folks and other people of color. This includes:

 

*Nicole Galloway (DEM)- State Auditor
*Lacy Clay (DEM)- US Representative, District 1
*Karla May (DEM)- State Senate, District 4
*Tommie Pierson, Jr. (DEM)- State Representative, District 66
*Chris Carter (DEM)- State Representative, District 76
*Steve Roberts (DEM)- State Representative, District 77
*Bruce Franks, Jr. (DEM)- State Representative, District 78
*Lakeysha Bosley (DEM)- State Representative, District 79
*Peter Merideth (DEM)- State Representative, District 80
*Wiley Price IV (DEM)- State Representative, District 84
* Mavis (Tessa) Thompson (DEM)- License Collector
*Michael Butler (DEM)- Collector of Revenue

 

Here is a link to the sample ballot for St. Louis City, where you will find a full list of races and measure and full ballot language: https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/board-election-commissioners/documents/upload/November-2018-Sample-Ballot-2.pdf

 

Below are a few highly contested races and measures on the ballot as well and our thoughts on them.

 

US Senator

Candidates: Josh Hawley – REP, Claire McCaskill – DEM, Japheth Campbell – LIB, Jo Crain – GRN, Craig O’Dear – IND

Our recommendation: Senator Claire McCaskill

 

Based on McCaskill’s talk and recent (in)activity, we believe a vote for McCaskill is in order. But we don’t see a vote for the incumbent as advancing a progressive agenda, but rather a vote to hold off evil. If Josh Hawley, who has fashioned his bid as a protégé to the president we revile, wins this senator seat, an already ultraconservative Missouri would seek to cut even more money from social programs and urban development and stripping affordable health insurance options, while seeking to bolster the disastrous “right-to-work” model that repressed workers’ rights and pay.

 

McCaskill leaves much to be desired. Not only has she been pretty absent as far as Black concerns in the state of Missouri, particularly in the wake of the uprising in Ferguson, but she has recently been caught attempting to curry favor with out-state voters and conservatives with unprogressive stances. In the fray around Brett Kava-NAH’s angry defense preceding his senate nomination to the Supreme Court, McCaskill held out to say that she would not vote to advance him past the judiciary hearings. She seems more interested in attracting white conservative and centrist voters who do not prioritize issues of Black and other people of color and this is causing some lukewarm responses to our needs.

 

But Hawley, who savors conservative Trump support, is worse.

 

Constitutional Amendment 1 (Lobbying, Campaign Finance and Redistricting)

Our recommendation: YES.

 

Amendment 1 takes would change the redistricting process from a group of 5 Democrat and 5 Republican lawmakers (supporting two-party politics) into a specially appointed state demographer who would draw the lines that would be approved by state legislature. The process seems to be fairer and may provide greater safeguards against gerrymandering.

 

The section on limiting campaign contributions is promising. If the measure passes, it could help level the playing field that has been manipulated by dastardly conservatives and help get more progressive candidates elected.

 

Also of note is the fact that the measure is being opposed by billionaire conservative political manipulator Rex Sinquefield. But according to https://www.cleanmissouri.org/support/, the measure is supported by St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, Rev. Starsky Wilson, Organization for Black Struggle (OBS), AFSCME, SEIU, the Missouri Conference of the NAACP, the League of Women Voters and Missouri Jobs with Justice Voter Action, among others.

 

Constitutional Amendment 2 (Medical Marijuana with 4% Retail Tax Fund for Missouri Veterans)

Our recommendation: YES.

 

The legalization of marijuana leads to decriminalization, which directly benefits communities of color and the poor. As a follow up, we would like to see restorative justice measures brought forward that would eliminate or reduce sentences for previous offenses and increased drug treatment options for communities affected by the failed conservative War on Drugs.

 

Constitutional Amendment 3 (Medical Marijuana with 15% Retail Tax Fund for Cancer Research)

Our recommendation: NO.

 

Though we support marijuana legalization, we now know that a major proponent of the bill is a multimillionaire named Brad Bradshaw, who will be heading the research center the tax funds will be funneled to. This is an attempt for a few to lines their own pockets with law.

 

Constitutional Amendment 4 (Bingo)

Our recommendation: NO.

 

The language being asked to be prohibited has already been ruled unenforacble and this measure would also reduce the amount of time a member would have to be a part of a licensed organization before participating in the management of the games. Nah Son, pay your dues first.

 

Proposition B (Minimum Wage)

Our recommendation: YES.

 

We support increasing the minimum wage, though we feel a greater increase is needed to provide a living wage for workers. But it’s better than no increase, so we’ll be voting in favor of the minimum wage increase.

 

The fear that many of us have about cost of living increases due to minimum wage hike is not the fault of people in poverty who need the increase; it’s the greed of corporations. We should fight for minimum wage increase EVEN if it does affect us directly, WHILE we fight for more controls on corporate greed. It will raise the quality of life in our communities helping fund public education with more tax dollars, boost the economy with more income, and therefore, reduce crime and increase access and agency among our people.

 

Wealthy, often white, often conservative elitists try to scare the people with lies about scarcity. There is no shortage of resources; these elitists are just asserting tighter controls on the resources. That’s the major hustle; don’t go for it. Vote yes for minimum wage increase.

 

Proposition C (End Marijuana Prohibitions on Use and Growth)

Our recommendation: YES.

 

Once again, we support marijuana legalization. The 2% retail tax funds raised if the measure passes will go toward veterans’ services, drug treatment, early childhood education, and public safety for cities with a medical marijuana facility.

 

Proposition D (Motor Fuel Tax Fund for Law Enforcement)

Our recommendation- NO.

 

  1. Another tax on the backs of the people, more specifically, people who buy gas, many of whom or low income, especially in St. Louis and Kansas City. The burden on these folks would be inequitable greater on low and middle income gas consumers.

 

  1. The lion share of funds would be coming from the two urban centers, St. Louis and Kansas City, to pay for roads and law enforcement across the rest of this RED state. But WHEN has the rest of this red state ever voted or acted in the interest of the urban centers, which are majority Black and POC? Never. Outstate MO ALWAYS votes against our urban/Black/POC interests, but we’re supposed to foot the bill for their roads. Nah B.

 

  1. What is “law enforcement” going to use the funds for? We don’t support any funds going to police without, at the very least, any commitments to reforms or diversity education or more civilian oversight. Police have been running roughshod over the people of St. Louis and Kansas City, and this bill asks us to pay to more to continue to hurt our communities.

 

For Member of Board of Education

Candidates: Donna R. Jones, Joyce M. Roberts, Adam Layne, Bill [William C.] Haas, Jared Opsal, Cydney E. Johnson, David L. Jackson, Jr.

Our recommendation: Donna R. Jones and Dr. Joyce M. Roberts– both Black women who have worked in our communities for a number of years and who we believe understand the needs of our children concerning public education.

 

Also of note:

Action St. Louis, which is a Black-led organizing collective working to build political power in STL, founded in 2014, suggests voting “NO” on the following judges:

*Judge Joseph L. Walsh, St. Louis County, Division 17
*Judge Thomas C. Clark II, St. Louis City, Division 7

*Judge Joan Moriarty, St. Louis City, Division 20