We support Blackwell........shhhh
The Blackwellians meet
Blackwell backers in name only?
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Sam Fulwood III
Plain Dealer Columnist
If I hadn't been looking care fully for it, I might have overlooked the blue-and-white "Blackwell for Governor" poster in the clutter of signs on the Buckeye Road storefronts.
But I found it, tucked in the bottom-left corner of the plate-glass window at Coffeehouse.com, an Internet-and-java joint near East 118th Street.
This is one of Cleveland's most densely populated black neighborhoods, where nearly nine out of 10 African-American voters punch ballots for Democrats only.
What's up with the Blackwell sign? Maybe the Republican candidate has made stealth gains, suggesting that race might trump party loyalty come November.
So I stopped in and asked to speak to the coffee shop owner about the sign.
None of the four men admitted to owning the place. The barista behind the counter was a black man with shoulder-length dreadlocks. He didn't want to tell me his name, but said he is voting for Ken Blackwell.
"How could I not vote for the most qualified black man running for governor?" he asked.
With great prodding, another man who said I should call him John admitted to being the owner, but didn't want his real name in the paper because doing so would be bad for business.
"I've already had one customer come in here and say that as long as we've got that Blackwell sign up, he wouldn't spend any money in my shop," he said.
Sipping on his smoothie, Eric Jones listened to all this with escalating disbelief.
Only a few minutes earlier, the men in the store had been loud and strong in their support for Blackwell's campaign, Eric said.
But now, given an opportunity to share them with a world outside their cozy club, they were mute. They didn't even know their own names.
"I can't believe you," Eric exploded in mock outrage. "Be a man. Be a proud black man. Stand up and say what you believe."
Eric wasn't ashamed to put his name on his politics.
"I'm the only one in this room who doesn't want to see Blackwell elected governor," he said.
"But these brothers are Blackwellians - that's what whey call themselves," he said, shouting over the men's groans. "They won't tell you the truth.
"But let me tell you what's going on here: This is the East Side Blackwell campaign headquarters. They hold secret strategy meetings here to get more black support for their man. Just a minute or two ago, they were hitting me up for a $1,000 campaign contribution."
When I read this, I couldn't stop laughing. They didn't even want to admit that they supported the man. The owner already lost one customer, and I bet after East Side residents saw this, they didn't have to guess who this was.
I think it's safe to say Blackwell isn't popular with black voters. Sure, like the idiot barista, some black folks vote on race. But most people see Blackwell, and they see someone who opposes them.
Which is why they meet in secret and don't want their names in the paper.
posted by Steve @ 2:34:00 AM