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Sunday, June 16, 2024

The politics of racial hatred

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In what its creator thought was an acceptable political comment on the mayor’s race, anti-Democratic and anti-Bart Peterson partisans posted a cartoon on the Internet last week portraying Mayor Bart Peterson, Sheriff Frank Anderson and City-County County President Monroe Gray as monkeys.

Titled “The Peterson Plan,” the cartoon was first posted on a rabid anti-Peterson Web site. Then re-posted on a Black-hating-Black Web site run by a Black-owned company, Indiana Minority Group, which sent e-mail alerts to local media, including me.

The cartoon’s depiction of two Black men – Anderson and Gray – as monkeys and apes was reprehensible and despicable. The worst form of racial stereotyping, from the era of Jim Crow and America’s apartheid

On our WTLC-AM (1310’s) “Afternoons with Amos” program, I revealed the existence of the racist cartoon, called out the Black-hating-Black Web site for posting it and urged the community to call and denounce them. Within two hours, the furor caused the Web site to pull the hateful cartoon.

Since Republican mayoral candidate Greg Ballard was the beneficiary of the racist political hate, I demanded that he and local Republicans condemn it. The next morning, the original Web site that created the racist cartoon took it off. Ballard condemned the cartoon on his Web site and later in a live interview on our radio program.

This column begins its 14th year in your Indianapolis Recorder by bringing the story of this cesspool of hate into the open.

Political activists thinking that depicting Black elected officials or public figures as monkeys and apes is acceptable political debate isn’t new in Indianapolis politics. Indianapolis’ politics of racial hate began in earnest with Julia Carson’s 1996 election to Congress. Since then the racial hate exhibited towards Julia and other Black candidates and elected officials has increased exponentially.

In the 2002 sheriff’s race, Republican Tom Schneider’s campaign distributed fliers with despicable racist caricatures of Carson and Frank Anderson. The backlash to that racial hate not only sunk Schneider’s doomed campaign, but also torpedoed chances of Brose McVey to upset Congresswoman Carson.

The racist political hate speech increased as more African-American officeholders were elected in Marion County. The hate isn’t directed at Blacks elected to offices in Black-majority areas, but towards Blacks elected from white-majority districts or countywide. The racial hatred comes from whites – mostly Republicans, some independents and Democrats – who feel comfortable expressing their racial hatred.

Indianapolis’ changing demographics is fueling the political hate as those changes are making it tougher for Republicans to regain the control they once had.

The city’s mainstream media refused to report that last week the Census Bureau documented that Indianapolis/Marion County now has the lowest white (non-Hispanic) population since the 1960s.

The city/county that produced the John Birch Society and rabid Republicanism is now only 64 percent white. That means 36 percent of Indianapolis’ population are racial minorities or Hispanics, the lion’s share being African-Americans; now at 27.2 percent of Indy’s total population.

Blacks and Hispanics are driving Indianapolis’ population growth. Putting Republicans in a bind because to win in a city just 64 percent white, Republicans must capture nearly every white vote. A tough task.

In an environment where demographics are against them, some Republican partisans resort to hate politics. And that hate feeds upon the raw racism found on the Internet, a place where formerly whispered racist sentiments are brought out into the open.

In Indy, there’s a pro-police Web site where loathing for Black politicians resembles white supremacist views and blogs run by GOP-leaning attorneys and another run by a former veteran journalist openly display hate and disdain for Blacks.

Then there’s the comments section of the Indianapolis Star’s Web site. Whenever the Star publishes a story about even remotely connected to Blacks (i.e. crime), the hate posted on line is worse than that found in a KKK newsletter. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help when our Black politicians make boneheaded mistakes, which give the race haters alleged license to spew their slime.

Unlike his predecessor Dr. Buert SerVaas, City-County Council President Monroe Gray doesn’t come across as a sympathetic, open-minded politician. His boneheaded mistakes presiding over council meetings give the race haters ammunition.

So does the Ron Gibson case. The councilman is probably innocent of the charges stemming from an incident last summer outside a downtown bar, but it looks bad and fuels the race hate.

So does a bubbling controversy over whether Councilman Patrice Abduallah actually lives in his near Westside council district.

In the wake of that odious cartoon, I publicly demanded if chairs of the local Republican and Democratic parties and their candidates would sign pledges to conduct clean campaigns. Sadly, both parties danced around the issue.

In past campaigns, by now candidates and parties would have signed “clean campaign” pledges. But here we are in mid-August, and neither local Democrats, Republicans nor Libertarians have promised to eliminate the racist hate campaigning and promise to condemn those that do so.

The question we must ask is why won’t all the candidates condemn racist political hate and pledge clean campaigning?

What I’m hearing in the streets

Gov. Mitch Daniels hit a home run naming Eli Lilly’s chief financial officer, Derica Rice, an Indiana University trustee, replacing Dr. Clarence Boone. Rice, an IU master’s graduate, becomes the only African-American trustee.

An outstanding businessman with a commitment to education, I hope Rice keeps the IU administration’s feet to the fire on increasing African-American enrollment and hiring of African-American faculty and staff.

For the first time ever, Larry Bird, talked to our Black community. In an exclusive interview last week our “Afternoons with Amos,” Bird frankly talked about the Pacers’ problems, including the challenge getting today’s players to understand their larger community responsibilities.

Bird praised Pacer great Jermaine O’Neal and believes differences between O’Neal and the club will be resolved. Bird also lauded Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings. And lamented why fans weren’t more supportive of the Fever’s success.

Finally, as this columnist starts his 14th year, thanks to the leadership of The Indianapolis Recorder for allowing me the privilege of joining you each week. The Recorder has become one of this country’s great Black newspapers, bringing you stories the other media disdain and ignore. I’m honored to be part of the award winning team bringing you the news of our community each week.

See ‘ya next week.

Amos Brown’s opinions are not necessarily those of The Indianapolis Recorder. You can contact him at (317) 221-0915 or e-mail him at ACBROWN@AOL.COM.

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