Signifyin’ by Mikel Kwaku Oshi Holt
Anyone with common sense or remedial political insight who read the “analysis” of the state senatorial race between incumbent Lena Taylor and Mandela Barnes should have come away with a firm recognition of why the Black Press continues to be an invaluable source for Black America.
As with many articles written about “Black politics” by the White media, the so-called analysis obscured the most important facts, downplayed issues of keen importance to Black constituents and mischaracterized the players.
That’s what happens when outsiders try to peep inside our house and assume their quick glance provides them with enough insight to make their assumptions factual.
On balance, I’d say the article was evenhanded, and essentially unbiased. But that assessment comes with the caveat that it failed—or intentionally ignored—the real reason for Barnes’ challenge: an attempt by White interests to undermine, if not destroy, independent and resourceful Black leadership.
Or to be more exact, this race—and several others—is part of a continuing effort by former legislative Democratic Party leader and current state Senator Chris Larson and the Wisconsin (White) Working Families Party to control Black legislative district representation through systematic replacement of pragmatic and independent Black incumbents with White “representatives” and/or Black accommodationists.
I first exposed this “conspiracy” weeks before the recent county executive race.
Much to the embarrassment of the Wisconsin (aka White) Working Families (misrepresented as a political party) Party and its chief architect, Larson, talk show host Sherwin Hughes and I revealed the election to be part of a conspiracy to control Milwaukee urban politics.
We provided a chronology that was carried out under the false flag of progressive politics (progressive in this case means “pimping the poor”), including linking the campaign to a scheme to redirect poverty funds from Black controlled non-profits to White missionary organizations.
That goal would be accomplished by subverting those who put their people before the party and embrace a philosophy grounded in Black empowerment, with political pawns.
Absent from the Journal Sentinel article is the certainty that the Taylor/Barnes race is at the very core of this conspiracy.
There is no doubt in my mind that Barnes was “ordered” to take on Taylor, who has been a thorn in the side of Larson for several years, refusing to bow down to the new plantation overseer’s dictates.
Obviously, a strong case can be made that Larson’s embarrassing defeat in the county executive race has prompted an acceleration of his plans. Larson didn’t count on the “Black-lash” from African American leadership when he boldly threatened Lena in the heat of his campaign.
Thus many assume that ordering Barnes to run against Lena could be grounded in revenge; a common motivator among politicians, particularly those who think they are (their) God’s chosen.
But I contend that regardless of the outcome for the county executive’s race, Lena Taylor had a target on her back.
The Larson/White Working Families Party scheme started six years ago with the coordination of the campaign for Sandy Pasch to take over the seat of Black Nationalist Polly Williams.
Polly was at the vanguard of a movement that redefined our relationship with the Democratic Party, advocating a philosophy that we had no permanent friends and no permanent enemies.
She boldly declared the Democratic Party was no more than a different wing on the same bird, and neither party had our best interest at heart.
Her declarations angered party leadership, which took our vote for granted and provided nothing in return.
Had she known that the Larson group would orchestrate the election of Pasch as her replacement, I’m sure Polly would not have retired. Polly made no bones about the need for Black representation of Black districts.
But by the time Black constituents woke up to what had happened, it was too late.
Fortunately, pressure on Pasch from Black leadership and the Black Press, made her a one-term incumbent.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. The following election cycle Larson engineered the elections to defeat the only remaining independent Black voices, Beth Coggs and Jason Fields.
In a clever, and successful strategy, Coggs and Fields were made to appear as if they were in bed with Republicans who had taken over the assembly majority.
The accusations were totally false and inflammatory. But you know what they say about a lie that is repeated often enough.
Their true crime? Being shrewd politicians, who put the interests of the community above that of the Democratic Party’s “Regressive” wing.
As Fields has repeatedly noted since his departure, “My crime was being able to deliver legislation to my district and our community.”
The only way you do that in a partisan, hostile environment, he explained to me recently, was through honest negotiation and political maneuvering.
Politics is the art of compromise and arbitration, he explained. “They (Republicans) may not like me, but they respect me. It is on that basis that we can operate.”
The proof is in the pudding. Fields was the only Black assemblyman during his last term to get several important pieces of legislation through. And he did so without selling his soul.
“You can spit in their eye, but how does that benefit our community?” he asked rhetorically.
“With all the problems we face as a community—crime, unemployment, poverty—it is ridiculous to do nothing but complain.
“We need solutions, and we can’t wait until the next decade.”
But that pragmatic philosophy was contrary to the Democratic Caucus policy under Larson. His mandate is to not work with the Republicans, even if it meant negative consequences for the Black community.
In fact, Larson ordered his pawns to not even look at a Republican. Or walk on the same sidewalk with one. Or drink from the same water fountain.
At stake were not only a philosophical difference, but also the risk of Black people seeing through the insanity of spitting into a strong political wind.
If other Black politicians subscribed to Taylor and Fields’ pragmatic philosophy, a link in the political chain could be broken. And who knows what could possibly happen next. An escape from the political plantation?
The solution, in Larson’s mind, was to get rid of Fields, and Coggs.
Enter Barnes, who I first met several months before his campaign against Fields kicked into high gear. I had heard rumors of the Larson plot, with Barnes’ name being mentioned as a pawn in the political plot. I asked Barnes point blank if it were true. Without blinking he proclaimed, “no.”
In fact, he went so far as to say he was a big admirer of Jason and considered him among the most effective Black lawmakers.
A couple of weeks later I was shocked to see a Barnes’ campaign sign at Coffee Makes You Black.
I’m used to politicians lying to me. But one named “Mandela?” That’s sacrilegious.
What makes this entire scenario all the more interesting is that Barnes, aka Mandela, is now being cast in a similar role as an opponent against Lena, whose record of securing resources for the Black community and spearheading legislation is unprecedented.
That’s why Barnes’ campaign against her is nonsensical; save for his being a pawn in the Larson/White Working Families Party scheme.
If you believe the Journal Sentinel article, Barnes is running because he believes the district needs fresh, new leadership. Say what?
Lena has been the voice of the Black community for the last decade. She has championed Black causes and took a jackhammer to the wall of educational and economic apartheid. She has helped scores of businesses—Black and White—and was a member of the powerful Joint Finance Committee (until Larson removed her). She made sure Milwaukee was never neglected in the allocation of funding.
Equally important, during her tenure, Lena has sponsored 103 pieces of legislation that have been signed into law.
Mandela Barnes? Zero! As in “none.” As in number of times I beat LeBron James in our one-on-one basketball shoot out. As in the likelihood that Hillary Clinton will lose to Donald Trump, Barack Obama will follow Michael Jackson and Tiger Woods and declare he’s White, or that Black women will stop buying extensions.
New leadership? Interpret that to mean another step in the “New World Order” takeover, and the further loss of Black empowerment.
Think I’m off base?
Consider that the first Barnes’ priority after being elected was to seek an amendment to the Black and Hispanic Caucus bylaws to allow “White members!”
That’s akin to the Black Congressional Caucus becoming the Black and White Caucus. So who would represent Black interests? Paul Ryan?
After that idiotic attempt was scrutinized, Barnes effectively killed the caucus, which is no more, as was any hope of a coordinated attack on Black poverty, crime, and dysfunctional education.
Think back six weeks. Where did Barnes announce his campaign? In the suburbs, not the heart of the central city he supposedly loves so much!
And where is he doing most of his campaigning? Not in the Black community, but in the suburban areas of the district, accompanied by Pasch, and the boss man, Chris Larson.
In truth, that’s a good strategy. Pasch won her race because even though Whites are in the minority in the district, they vote in a much larger percentage than Black folks.
Running as a friend to White missionaries (a so-called progressive) candidate could serve Barnes well. The unwritten and only quietly spoken assumption to White district residents is that he will return the district to the “good ole days.”
He will allow them, to paraphrase Donald Trump, “Take Milwaukee Back.”
And I don’t have to tell you where that will leave us.
Signifyin’ by Mikel Kwaku Oshi Holt