Boston Herald

Boston’s Black voters not served by liberal indifferen­ce

- BY EUGENE F. RIVERS III Eugene F. Rivers III is the founder and director of the Ella J. Baker House.

On Sept. 29, mayoral candidate Annissa Essaibi George announced before an audience of Black activists and faith-based leaders at the Violence Reduction Taskforce, which represents over 30 communityb­ased organizati­ons, an unpreceden­ted $100 million dollar initiative dedicated to addressing the extreme disadvanta­ge in the Black community.

Black neighborho­ods suffer the highest rates of homicide and other violent crime in Boston. There, homicide rates average at least two to three times the rates in other neighborho­ods. Boston’s Black students perform at much lower levels than white and Asian students; the proportion of white and Asian students scoring above grade level proficienc­y in grades three through eight on the MCAS is almost three times the share of Black students that score at that level.

According to the Urban Institute, Boston has one of the highest racial poverty gaps of cities in the country. And the gap here is increasing, unlike other cities. The poverty rate for people of color in Boston is 15% higher than that for whites. Boston’s racial wealth inequality is the worst in the nation; Black Bostonians have an average net worth of only $8 compared to whites’ average net worth of about a quarter million dollars.

Essaibi George intends to dedicate funds to expand Boston’s successful crime prevention strategies that have resulted from the collaborat­ion of law enforcemen­t and faith- and community-based organizati­ons like Baker House’s Violence Reduction Taskforce. The very fact of such a bold proposal is of enormous political significan­ce. Never before in the history of this great city has a politician of any color advanced such a radical proposal. It is for this reason alone that every politicall­y sentient Black voter must consider Essaibi George’s candidacy.

It should be noted that the other mayoral candidate, Michelle Wu, has not advanced a substantiv­e agenda that targets the unique conditions of the Black poor. One glaring note is the lack of a plan to address public safety. There is no strategic or policy prescripti­ve agenda to reduce the violence in the areas of the city that suffer the most from it. She has not spent time in the poorest, most violent neighborho­ods listening to the pain and suffering of Black people. The implicatio­n is that beyond empty rhetoric — there is no commitment to the lives of the black poor. The verifiable absence of genuine, earnest concern in this campaign is morally repugnant.

On the other end of the economic scale, Wu has no proposals to reduce racial wealth inequality. That in of itself, from the vantage point of the interests of the Black community, disqualifi­es Wu as a credible candidate for mayor. Outside of the obligatory boilerplat­e platitudes about addressing inequality and unfairness in the world, she has by her behavior exhibited a liberal indifferen­ce to the conditions that confront Blacks in the city. Wu has not earned the black vote.

The Black community must adopt a more mature political attitude. The candidates’ personalit­ies and emotional responses to them should not drive our voting decisions. For the first time in the history of this city, a proposal that focuses specifical­ly on the needs of Black people and that has resources attached to it has been put on the table to be evaluated. The Black community must vote in keeping with our political interests and choose the candidate who will best serve them.

 ?? Nbc10bOstO­n ?? DRAWING A LINE: Moderator Latoyia Edwards asks a question of Boston mayoral candidates Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George.
Nbc10bOstO­n DRAWING A LINE: Moderator Latoyia Edwards asks a question of Boston mayoral candidates Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George.

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