When a parent proudly proclaims during a school board meeting, “Call me a racist,” while advocating for neighborhood schools, there’s no concern about diversity. When suburban parents and communities (and perhaps the politicians more than the parents) then decide they would rather secede from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and create a charter school district, which would maintain concentrations of racial and socio-economic homogeneity, that apparently isn’t a diversity issue.
But when the Black Political Caucus endorses candidates who subsequently go on to win primary and general elections for key elected positions in Charlotte-Mecklenburg — candidates who do not all share the same racial/ethnic identity of the Caucus — that’s when you have a concern about diversity?
Between former Governor Pat McCrory’s remarks last week about the Caucus having too much influence in Charlotte and Kanye West’s assertion about slavery, I’m confused. Well, not really.
Kanye made an attempt to argue that because of the sheer numbers of kidnapped and enslaved people, blacks chose to remain in slavery for centuries in this country. His reprehensibly irresponsible comment summarily dismisses history (and reality) and the terrorism and the trauma that effectively kept thousands of blacks in social, psychological, physiological and even spiritual bondage. Lynchings of black people effectually was enough to keep black people, who did outnumber their oppressors, in their place.
Kanye concluded that blacks had the numbers; he also reached an erroneous conclusion that based on numbers, they also had the power. But there were laws and social norms against blacks even assembling, Kanye. When it happened, it was met with violent correction.
Meanwhile, McCrory is seeing the worrying potential of the collective now. It seems that black people assembling — not at the exclusion of others, as far as I could see from the Black Political Caucus meetings I attended and from the candidates the Caucus has endorsed — is reason to sound a call for alarm. For McCrory, it’s not about wanting diversity; it’s about maintaining dissension and fear. Black people got the numbers. They got the votes. They have the positional power. Lord, now what?!! Be afraid people.
To be clear, our former governor and mayor decries the absence of diversity in Charlotte-Meckenburg because of the presence of black leaders in key elected positions. Where was the concern for diversity due to political racial/ethnic segregation when the courts were ruling the partisan gerrymandering we engaged in as a state was an unconstitutional effort to target blacks with almost “surgical precision”? His remark about the “African-American power . . . through the Black Political Caucus where you have African Americans leading” reveals the actual source of his concern.
The real or perceived progress the Caucus is making has prompted a familiar response: When you don’t have the numbers on your side, you have to maintain power and control in another way. Make people afraid they are losing something. Anything. Everything. It’s an effective tool.
It’s also a very scary one.