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Critical Vote: Will It Come Down to Black vs. White?

by Tanya Cromartie-Twaddle

I caught the March 16 protest of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by Pratt supporters on the news recently. Many African American faces, a couple white. Polarizing. A phone call from a concerned friend: “Girl, how many white faces did you count?” The first black mayor of a city known and criticized for segregation is getting blasted by white media — at least, that’s how it appears to many. Polarizing. Leave it to Milwaukee to put it down like this. It only encourages people to vote for the wrong reasons. The past few weeks coverage of the mayoral race has created an even deeper racial divide in our city. By the time April 6 comes around it will only be worse. PrattJrnlProtest.jpgThe mayor’s race had been pushed to the back of my mind until recently. After doing my homework on the candidates, I didn’t find major differences that were crucial to me. I was excited that this race seemed to galvanize so many people that might not otherwise vote. I tried to avoid debates and keep my ideas private, approach it with a clear head, focus on the issues of concern to me. Not the fact that one candidate is black and the other white. So much for that. Many have voiced concern that decisions may come down to black and white. Would I vote for the underdog? Would I feel pressured to vote for Barrett, not wanting to be accused of voting for Pratt simply because we share the same color skin? White friends and associates wonder if I’m going to side with my people. Black friends and associates wonder if I’m going to side with my people.” While I am a cheerleader for diversity, I don’t wear rose colored glasses. I thought I could remain color blind, but local media has me all confused. But one thing is crystal clear…politics is nasty business. Reports of Pratt’s campaign finance mistakes are certainly news, but while City Hall may need to be cleaned out, I don’t believe Marvin Pratt is the calculating dirt that plagues it. It wasn’t even close to a black and white issue for me until I saw Pratt being painted as a crook. Many people believe that from day one as acting mayor, the media’s favorable coverage of Pratt was scant. I think many African Americans believe Pratt should have run a tighter ship and expect accountability, but the media’s seemingly unfair treatment of him now is a major issue for some. This is a sensitive time in Milwaukee’s history. I’m afraid that for many black Milwaukeeans, it will simply come down to Black versus White. Look at it from this view: Two capable leaders, one looks like all the rest before him. The most disenfranchised are looking for a hero and someone to stand up and create opportunities for them. They want a New Day. Crying foul…using the race card…gross injustice…conspiracy…stick with the issues…hard to weave through when you are not a political expert. I’ve decided that the only way for me to be fair to Marvin and Tom and this whole mayoral mess is to do what people have relied on since the beginning of time. I will vote with spirit… cast my ballot guided by the Spiritual. Let it go, and give it to the universe. I have to dismiss the black and white words that are hard to decipher from politics propaganda poison on the daily pages. Forget the racist, ethnocentric rants I’ve heard from both sides of the color line. Forget the fact that I have sketchy trust and faith in the process in the first place. I’ve decided to go down to that rich reliable well of woman-instinct…close my eyes and VOTE with my soul. What color will that be?
by Tanya Cromartie-Twaddle