A Message From the Publisher
By Bobby R. Henry, Sr.
If you know the story of Rip Van Winkle, you know Old Rip imbibes a “magic potion” – quietly falling into a deep sleep in the mountains and slept for 20 years. When he emerged from that intoxicating slumber, he had slept through the American Revolution.
Oblivious to his surroundings and circum-stances for 20 years, I am not sure if Rip was sleep as we know sleeping to be or he was most likely simply walking around ignorant, unaware, and disenfranchised. In Spike Lee’s biography of Malcolm X, Denzel Washington gives this line: “Ya been hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Led astray! Run amok!” Whichever one that I choose to represent the total neglect of the possible progress that can be made in the state of Florida is overshadowed by the non-messaging that appeals to the Black voters.
The Bible speaks of those who are spirituallydead and are sleepwalking Christians. They’re asleep and don’t even know it. Although they were ‘born-again’ years ago, they’ve reverted to their old lives and are no longer really living for Christ.
I find this sort of dormant dozing at the wheel to be pervasive in the Black community. What has caused a downright, low-down, dirty, pitiful, shameful showing at the polls, when we are desperate later for a seat at the table as our much-needed community resources are being threatened or eliminated? “Look how they do us!” we will exclaim once we rise from our drunken state. I say, “look at how we have decimated ourselves by sleepwalking through elections that greatly impact us and our community”.
Black folk, where are our collective voices while there is a potential history making election in Florida. Even sadder, they that most likely know about the specifics of what could happen are not forcing those that can make it possible do.
Three Black women are running statewide for some powerful state and national races: Val Demings, US Senate; Naomi Esther Blemur, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture; Aramis Ayala, State Attorney of Florida.
Val Demings, a Black woman, is running to defeat Republican Marco Rubio in the United States Senate. She currently serves as a US Representative for the Congressional 10th District. Demings has strong roots right here in Florida. She served on the police force in Orlando for 26 years, and in 2007, she became the first female (and Black) Police Chief in Orlando, Florida. She is not much different from you or me. She comes from very humble beginnings with a mother who worked as a maid and her father who worked as a janitor, landscaper, and orange picker. And like most of us, her parents instilled values of hard work, pride and giving back to the community.
Naomi Esther Blemur, a Black woman, is running for Commissioner of Agriculture. Blemur is a Haitian immigrant who has done some incredible work in Miami-Dade County while serving on several city boards, commissions, and advisory committees. She has focused her campaign on ensuring Floridians have clean water and renewable and sustainable energy. She supports small farmers and will work to ensure equitable access to all resources, despite a person’s zip code. Blemur says she has strong convictions and is not afraid to call out inequities and speak truth to power. Blemur did face criticism from her own Democratic party just weeks and days before the August primary. A competitor shares screenshots of Twitter posts from her page that appeared to be homophobic and anti-choice. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, State Sen. Annette Taddeo and State Sen. Shevrin Jones walked back their endorsements of Blemur. But despite this, she won the primary race and will be on the ballot on November.
Aramis Ayala, another Black woman, is running for Florida’s State Attorney. November. She has enough backbone and tenacity than the entire Florida Democratic Party! Ayala comes with a plethora of experience. She was elected in November 2016 to serve as the state attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida. A year later, she took on the role as Chief Prosecutor for four years. Ayala is a fierce civil rights advocate who opposes the death penalty. She was named “Civil Rights Champion of Justice” by the NAACP. She was called an “agent of change” in a cover story by the American Bar Association Journal. For her work to fight domestic violence, she was named “Champion of Justice” by Harbor House of Central Florida.
Did you know of these three impressive Black women? Why are Black folk allowing the State Democratic Party to miss the messaging on these historical political opportunities? Not to take any life for granted or to place one life above another or cause however, are we asleep at the wheel and only rise from out slumber when an unarmed Black man or woman is shot in the back as they flee from a situation or exasperate the words, “I can’t breathe!”
If the latter is what wakes you from sleep walking, then strong consideration of these three Black women is a must. They are ready to fight for the injustices in our communities that keep you up at night, but they won’t get a chance if we don’t make our votes outweigh the dollars they spend to try and stop us from voting. Believe that our nonvoting cost more than what you imagine.