A Message to St Louis: Do A Good Deed and Vote For Nasheed
By Umar Lee
Often in life we are faced with tough decisions. Decisions we don't necessarily want to be forced to make. These days many of us find ourselves in such a situation regarding the race for President of the Board of Aldermen.
For years BOA President Lewis Reed has been a man who has proven he cannot move St Louis forward. A man beholden to his ego, ambition, and donors. Reed disgraced his office and the City of St Louis taking money from the racist Bob Romanik.
For those that don't know who Romanik is he's a disgraced former Metro East police chief who went to prison on charges related to his connections to organized crime. Romanik refers to African-Americans as n****** and “porch monkeys” on his radio show on a daily basis. Romanik refers to State Representative Bruce Franks as Bruce N*****, calls State Senator Jamilah Nasheed and Maria Chappelle-Nadal “Aunt Jemima”, and has a visceral hatred for Ferguson protesters and the family of Mike Brown.
While Lewis Reed sat next to Romanik the shock-jock referred to 15th Ward Alder Megan Green as a “skank” and “alderbitch”. Reed chuckled as his benefactor engaged in these crude and misogynistic attacks. That tells you all you need to know about President Reed.
Alder Green is a favorite target of right-wingers and bigots. She has a target on her back because she stood with Ferguson protesters, has steadfastly advocated for social justice, and been a voice of reason at the Board of Aldermen. Green has been embraced by St Louis progressives. I have often been impressed by both her intellect and work-ethic.
I'm a fan of Megan Green. I want her to do well and I believe she has a bright future. Initially I was inclined to support Green; but like with many things in life I came to a different conclusion after some serious thought and reflection. This is quite simply not the time and race for Green. Mathematically she has no chance to win and a vote for Green is a vote for Reed. I had hoped Megan would bow out recognizing this reality. Sadly that hasn't happened as of yet.
The woman to beat Lewis Reed didn't come to St Louis with fancy degrees and backing. Jamilah Nasheed came from the projects. Like me Jamilah lost a parent to homicide. Like me Jamilah ran with a gang in her youth. And like me it was Islam that helped turn Jamilah's life around.
The numbers say Jamilah should just be a statistic now. Where Jamilah came from and what she endured growing up most found themselves dead at a young age, in prison, addicted to drugs to cope with the pain, or homeless.
Jamilah scratched and clawed and struggled from the bottom with the help of those such as the late Eric Vickers to get to a better place. Jamilah became a mentor, a business owner, a state representative, a state senator, and now a candidate for president of the Board of Aldermen.
In Jamilah Nasheed those students in St Louis Public Schools who are struggling have a role model. Someone like them who beat the odds. Someone who can advocate for them with the organic knowledge of St Louis you can't get from a study or think-tank. Jamilah hasn't read about things she's lived things.
In a time when President Donald Trump has enacted his “Muslim ban” St Louis can stand tall and elect a Muslim to arguably our most powerful position. St Louis can join Minnesota and Michigan who both sent strong Muslim women to Congress in sending a message we don't support the Islamophobia of the Trump Administration.
Being an “allie” of the African-American community doesn't mean you want to support the white politicians or structures that are nicer to black people than other white people. Being a white “allie” (and I don't like the term) means doing your part to help secure black political, financial, and social power in a majority black city.
One of the main criticisms of white progressives and liberalism is that in practice there is often the promotion of the idea that white progressives due to their education and financial-backing are more qualified to represent and guide communities of color than people of color themselves. This is an attitude that needs to be thoroughly rebuked.
Senator Jamilah Nasheed came up on the wild streets of St Louis and in the rough and tumble world of St Louis politics. Mistakes were made along the way. There is no such thing as a perfect politician or human and we all learned to crawl before we walked. As the Bible said “for we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God”. However, in her heart Jamilah has always carried the love for the people and a desire to make St Louis a better place for her community. When it comes down to it Jamilah has always been a fighter for justice whether that was shutting down Highway 70 to support black contractors, marching in the streets of Ferguson, or fighting in the halls of Jefferson City.
In electing Jamilah Nasheed you can send a message that you support change in St Louis, you support real black political power and progress in St Louis, and you oppose the Islamophobic Trump agenda. I encourage you to join Tishaura Jones, Bruce Franks, Marty Murray, and many more bright minds and do so.
Vote for Jamilah Nasheed.
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