There's No Such Thing as a Black Vote
By Dr. Lenora Fulani
The pages of Big Apple newspapers have been filled with spin on the results of the mayoral race. For the first few days, the story (made up by pundits who have nothing much else to do) was that the Giuliani vote put Mike Bloomberg over the top. Then the story switched to the role of the Black and Hispanic vote. Some commentators insisted that the winning combination was really Catholics, conservatives and men. One even suggested that it was Queens that sent Mike to City Hall, as if Queens were a political description instead of a borough.
I have a different spin. Actually, it's kind of an anti-spin. My thinking is that there is no such thing as the "Giuliani vote" or the "Jewish vote" or the "Black vote." And as a Black person I feel particularly strongly about this last point.
There is no such thing as "the Black vote." "Black" is not a political category, any more than "Queens" is. Black is a racial category. It denotes skin color, not politics. When people vote they're making a political statement, not a racial statement. Relating to it as such is a form of political racial profiling.
I campaigned strongly for Mike Bloomberg who was the candidate of the Independence Party - the party I helped to build. I was the first Black leader to endorse him and I reached out to tens of thousand of New Yorkers, many African-American, to ask for their votes for Mike. Many voted for him.
Roughly 25% of Black voters who went to the polls voted for Bloomberg, a notable increase in the number who
voted against the Democratic Party as compared with the last mayoral election. In 1997, some 57,000 African-Americans voted for Giuliani. In 2001, over 80,000 voted for Bloomberg.
Still, from my vantage point, none of that adds up to there being a Black vote. There are Black voters. But no Black vote.
For years my point has been that the Black community should be freed up from partisan control to vote for the best choice. On November 6th, a portion of the Black community did so. African Americans because a part of the broad independent takeover of City Hall.
Many people have asked me what the influence of the Black community will be in the new administration. I think Mike is eager to reach out and work with all communities, including the Black community. He didn't get into office as part of a racialist political machine. He shook hands with Al Sharpton more times in the first two days after the election than Rudy Giuliani did in eight years.
Reporters have been asking me what job I'm going to demand in the new administration. I tell them I don't want a job. I'm not interested in patronage. I'm interested in something much, much bigger: opening up the political process and getting rid of partisanship.
Some people are shocked to hear me say that. They think Mike owes me. He doesn't. I'm a firm believer in the principle of giving to give -- not giving to get. That's a principle I believe in psychologically, emotionally and politically. Mike Bloomberg owes me nothing. And I owe him nothing. The issue now is whether there are some new things that we can do together for our city.
It's becoming more and more recognizable that the Democratic Party is built on a racialistic foundation, not on a consensus building process. The party is very controlled by special interests and it's hard to keep it
together. Mark Green exposed how visionless the Democratic Party is. Mike Bloomberg - together with the Independence Party and the independent voter- created an alternative.
There's a new political environment in the city today. Independent voters of all races (and all boroughs) created it. It's an environment where people can make choices based on merit and vision, not based on machine loyalty. For the Black community, that is key. It's kind of a postmodern Emancipation Proclamation. We don't have to be slaves to the Democrats anymore. We're free.
Dr. Lenora Fulani has twice run for President as an independent. She currently chairs the Committee for a Unified Independent Party -- a think tank for independent politics based in New York City.She can be reached at 1-800-288-3201 or by mail at 225 Broadway, Suite 2010, New York, NY 10007 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Lenora Fulani
Tuesday, November 20, 2001
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