District 8 Councilwoman Denise Lee is a loyal Democrat, but she has a message for Alvin Brown regarding his recent radio ad, heard exclusively on local black radio: It’s “race-baiting” and “should be pulled.”
“It is race-baiting,” Lee said in a telephone interview Friday afternoon. “I understand that a campaign is war,” but these “race-baiting tactics” are “underhanded things campaigns do to win elections.”
“I resent candidates race-baiting to the black community,” she said, calling the ad a “scare tactic” that didn’t address the true needs of the black community.
“Why don’t they make an ad about crime in black neighborhoods?”
Lee believes the current radio spot is predicated on the assumption that “unless you scare black people, they won’t do anything.”
Lee also asserted that the campaign runs such ads because it thinks it can’t “win with truth.” Such appeals, she said, are examples of “African-Americans being used and scared” by a campaign that’s “insulting,” with “no respect for black folks.”
The ad, she continued, is “saying that black people don’t get it,” that “literature isn’t enough, and talking isn’t enough,” and would only be used by a candidate who thinks it’s necessary because he hasn’t “gotten them (black voters) where they need to be.”
Lee took particular issue with the ad’s contentions that Lenny Curry would “turn back the clock” on voting rights, referring to that phrase as coded language intended to mislead.
“Slavery’s been over. The Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act were passed decades ago. ‘Turn back the clock’ are code words for racism,” Lee said. “People hear that, they think ‘this must mean against us.’ How does one person block you from voting?”
“Black folks are disrespected by race-baiting, especially when it’s done by black folks,” Lee said.
She called for the ad’s immediate removal from the airwaves.
“If I were Alvin Brown, I would pull it,” Lee said. “He’s black like the people he wants to scare. Is that how you want to win? Someone needs to stop this foolishness. It’s an insult to me as a human. It’s an insult to me as an African-American.”
Asked about the mayor’s recent tacks to the left since John Delaney endorsed Curry, on issues such as advocating a minimum-wage increase, having the city’s general counsel review anti-discrimination legislation, and going to Tallahassee to advocate for UF Health. Like Delaney, she said she thought a lot of it was “pandering” motivated by political considerations.
“Last time I checked, Barack Obama was trying to raise the minimum wage. Don’t put those things out now to fool and mislead people,” Lee said. “Why now? You can’t have it both ways. Don’t mislead people. It’s not fair.”
She pointed out that conditions in black neighborhoods have not appreciably improved under the current administration
Denise Lee made it clear she’s not changing parties: “I’m a Democrat. I am one. I’ll be one. But I’m black also. race-baiting is wrong.”
“My comments are very germane to my race,” Lee said. “This ad is only going out to black folks. On black radio. Why not on white stations?”
Directly addressing the mayor, Lee said: “I thought you represented everybody.
“Leaders who do this don’t respect people. It’s like the ‘Quick Picks.’ I’m sick of the idea that ‘one black person owns black people.'”
The radio spot, she said, “says a lot about who you are. They need to pull that ad. I’m happy to say this anywhere.”
She then said “turn back the clock” in a way that drew out the “n” in “turn” for a few seconds: “Turnnnnnn back the clock. What damn clock are you turning back? You’re trying to scare black people to get black folk out to vote. As if they are not intelligent enough to vote for you because you say you did a good job” so “you lie on your opposition to win. I ain’t never been to the polls and been stopped from voting.”
“You can’t say you’re about unity when you make commercials like that,” the councilwoman said. “He didn’t make that ad for white people. They did the same thing last time. They always do it. This is what they do. “
“This may not be popular with people,” Lee said, expecting criticism for “not playing it safe.” But she said she has God on her side, and that she’s calling for unity, not divisiveness.
“God expects me to favor everyone,” she said. “I want people to work together. Black and white children go to school together. What happens when black children hear that ad?”
Lee wondered, also, why “black elected officials” haven’t said anything.
“Right is right and wrong is wrong,” she said. “What this tells me is that black elected officials won’t take a stand on race-baiting. Too many died for our right to vote.
“They want to always blame white folks but they don’t blame each other.”
You can, she says, “fight for your candidate, but don’t race-bait black people. This type of literature in black communities and commercials on black radio,” she said, do just that.
As “someone who calls himself an elected official that leads the city,” Lee said that if Brown is “about unity, he would pull the ad.”
Comment on Lee’s criticisms has been sought from the Brown campaign and will be reported when received.