Una votante de Michigan inserta su boleta de voto en ausencia en un buzón en Troy, Michigan, el 15 de octubre de 2020. ¿Qué sucede si una boleta está dañada o mal marcada? Los trabajadores electorales reconstruyen o "duplican" las boletas que están dañadas o marcadas incorrectamente para preservar la intención de los votantes. Esto es necesario si una boleta tiene, por ejemplo, una mancha de café o una rotura, o si un votante rodeó a un candidato en lugar de llenar una burbuja para hacer su selección, y por lo tanto no puede ser leído por una máquina. (Foto: AP/Paul Sancya/Archivo)

It’s been more than a month since Philadelphia held its municipal primary election where former Councilmember Cherelle Parker defeated a crowded field of candidates that ran the gamut from Billionaires, millionaires and not so serious men that decided to stay in the race for reasons known only to them. After analyzing the results on a precinct-by-precinct level a few things became very clear; namely that Black and Latino Philadelphians voted overwhelmingly for Cherelle Parker while young white people who have been the driving force in gentrifying West Philly, South Philly, Fishtown and now my neighborhood of Kensington voted for Helen Gym.

The breakdowns for Rebecca Rhynhart were mostly wealthier white liberals, Allan Domb dominated the Northeast, and the rest of the field didn’t make a significant dent in the electorate.

The dynamic I witnessed over the last few months of this election season left me with a very clear message, white progressives and BIPOC enablers are not listening to poor and working-class Black and Latino Philadelphians – people who have lived through some of the toughest times in this city’s history.

Furthermore, many of these same people had the nerve to call Black and Latino Philadelphians who voted for Cherelle Parker “uneducated and uninformed”, besides the extremely racist dog whistles these statements conjure, they also show something else – an unwillingness to empathize and engage with the most marginalized residents of our city.

(Foto: Ilustrativa/EFE/Archivo)

“Progressive” groups like Reclaim and others made a decision to support Helen Gym before petitions were even circulated ensuring that they got in front of the progressive narrative and pushed an extremely flawed candidate who talked the talk but couldn’t earn the trust of longtime Black and Latino Philadelphians. These groups held opaque processes where the outcome would be their chosen candidates while making sure Black and Latino progressives that were not part of their clique would be silenced, gaslit and dismissed as not “progressive enough”.

These tactics undoubtedly led to a level of mistrust of the “progressive” slate these groups decided to support. The mistrust was further compounded when Helen Gym made a very conscious decision to attend an event at the Union League less than a week after she condemned them for honoring Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. The “progressive” groups decided to ignore and again gaslight Black and Latino voters and still vehemently support candidate Gym.

In my neighborhood,  the 7th District which is comprised of Kensington, Hunting Park, Fairhill, Feltonville, Juniata and Frankford these same “progressives” (Yes, I will continue to add quotes to the word progressive when referring to them, since their tactics come from the school of Saul Alinsky which in many ways deny agency to the very people suffering injustice.) were “experimenting in the 7th” trying to claim a council seat as if it were merely a chess piece.

The chosen candidate Andres Celin ran a campaign based on broad strokes and little details. When all ballots were counted Mr. Celin received about 40% of the vote, almost entirely in the gentrifying areas of the 7th District which also voted for candidate Gym.

The dynamic of people actively gentrifying our communities while voting “progressive” is perverse. I can’t count the number of million-dollar homes where Black and Latino Philadelphians use to live with Helen Gym signs. These were the same people who seemingly placed Black Lives Matter signs in their windows to either show support OR take the attention off their gentrifying properties which are part of the violent act of displacement. Democrats and “progressives» need to deliver not for the loudest people in the room, but for the most marginalized.

They need to address the historic systemic disinvestment in Black and Latino neighborhoods and atone through self-reflection and honest conversations on how we harm each other under the banner of “good policy only” tactics over relatable candidates. 

While many will minimize Black and Latino turnout to spare their egos, the reality was those groups felt unheard and unseen by those who claimed to represent them from a “progressive” ivory tower. Black and Latino voters knew that if something sounds too good to be true, it likely is. If your goal is to be our ally, you must learn to relinquish the power your race and class has bestowed upon you and trust the working-class Black and Latino people you claim to want to save.


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