I was assisted in writing this post by a bottle of Juggernaut Pinot Noir 2020 – Russian River Valley California. Another under $20.00 sweetheart! Only $18.00. Serious. Off Dry. Beautiful Pinot Noir Structure. Savory. Moderate tannins and acidity. Woody nose. Bold opening with oak, sweet black cherries, and leather. Quiet sustain of cigar, red pepper, and ripe plums. Ending in dry black cherries, cocoa, and elderberries. Smooth, slightly sweet – diminishing finish.
“There comes a time in your life when you can no longer put off choosing. You have to choose one path or the other. You can live safe and be protected by people just like you, or you can stand up a be a leader for what is right. Always, remember this: People never remember the crowd; they remember the one person that had the courage to say and do what no one [else] would do.”
Shannon L. Alder
Oh My Goodness: On the afternoon of January 8, 2023, there was a Candidates Forum held in Hyde Park, Chicago. This gathering was convened and hosted by the Chicago chapter of the League Of Women Voters. Important. (!) A field of twelve candidates were in attendance to make their pitch to voters of The Fifth Ward. We were literally standing room only. The voter interest was that high.
I was there, so was Marlon Watson and Cynthia McDonald – along with journalists, politicians, and activists invited by us and others.
The proceedings were live but polite. At the same time, there was a certain amount of controlled consternation that brewed among the panelists whenever Gabriel started speaking on reparative justice for African Americans. It was fucking weird. Everybody noticed it. All the other candidates were obviously Black. But no one else spoke on the subject because they empty-handedly didn’t have anything.
OK – they didn’t have anything. But they Black?!?!?!
The next Candidates Forum was held on January 15, 2023 at the Hyde Park Union Church. Oh how the pushback and the knives came out (link to article below). But our candidate deftly pushed back. He riled them. He was even accused of “out-Blacking everybody Black.” Really? I mean – these folks went on the attack Man. But Gabriel held it down and remained steady and on-lock with his message.
The “Letter To The Editor” reproduced below was written by Gabriel Piemonte. It was published in “The Hyde Park Herald” on January 17, 2023. This letter gives a candidate’s-eye-view of what happened on the 15th. But the letter also reveals the true heart of a fundamentally allied Reparations candidate. Read and think.
Here It Is:
Reparations Shouldn’t Rile Candidates
January 17, 2023
To the Editor:
The calm of the crowded field for Fifth Ward alderperson was broken this last Sunday afternoon, which was no surprise to me – it was simply a matter of time before we started jabbing elbows in a race with a dozen candidates. What did surprise me was that my discussion of Reparations was the cause of it.
Kris Levy called it “misleading” and “insulting.” Tina Hone said I was “out-Blacking everybody Black.”
Why such strong words? I have not and will not judge another candidate for their worldview, even when it has been in dramatic variance to my own. Clearly, I touched a nerve.
I have explained my position in the two forums that have taken place at the time of this letter’s publication, in interviews, in online videos and on social media: The federal claim of descendants of enslaved Black American citizens is to me the model upon which our local reparative policy should be based. In Chicago, this clearly translates to housing, to begin with. We need to prioritize the rights and protections of Black Americans who have been discriminated against by this city and private interests in the area of housing. The data is available and the harm is quantifiable. In the near term, that should justify an eviction moratorium at the very least in areas that have predominantly Black American residents.
Similarly, we need to take immediate action to address the foreclosure crisis impacting communities like South Shore, Woodlawn, and The Pocket. There is a race-based harm taking place today in this city, and redress must be a top priority.
As someone who has been active in the national Reparations movement for years, I do not feel I have to apologize for recognizing that Chicago housing policies follow a pattern of targeted discrimination and that a debt is owed to those who have been harmed. The Reparations movement matters because it is the appropriate frame to determine redress for prejudicial policy. The framework goes beyond just recompense and also includes acknowledgement of harm done and real measures taken to assure the practices that have caused the harm will cease.
What’s wrong with that?
Robert Palmer, another candidate for Fifth Ward alderperson, told me last week that he was in favor of Reparations but hadn’t thought to bring it up. Many candidates said no one mentioned it to them so they didn’t think it was important in our communities. I suggest to you that candidates who don’t set priorities based on their own moral compass may fall short of what we need in the Fifth Ward in this turbulent time.
Every candidate has a right to their own worldview, of course. For me, Reparations is the Civil Rights issue of the 21st Century in this country. If we do not face our past, we cannot build our future. And our past is inextricably tied to the unfinished business of chattel slavery’s legacy. As the man once said, it is not even past.
The late, great Leon Despres – the gold standard for independent, progressive alderpersons – worked assiduously with the South Side’s beloved historian Timuel Black to organize thousands of people in the Ward to attend the March On Washington in the 1960’s. He also attended and described the historic event in letters to the Herald. I wonder if that would have offended Kris Levy if he was around back then or if Tina Hone would have said Leon was trying to – well, you get the picture.
National Civil Rights organizing has always been part of the best traditions of Fifth Ward politics. We understand that all politics is local and that global action must begin with work on one’s own block. The question we should ask ourselves is whether we want an alderperson who is offended when the world is brought into Fifth Ward politics, or if instead we should be demanding that very quality from the people who would seek to represent us.
Fifth Ward Alderperson
END OF LETTER
Read – Comment – Share. We want to know what you think. Especially when we have Black candidates like Tina Hone protesting against doing right. Unbelievable.
5th Ward Candidates Debate Article Link
Gabriel Piemonte’s Campaign Website
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