They’re loud. They’re rude. They’re black (mostly).
Their ideas are preposterous. Their ideas are outright socialism. Their ideas are non-starters with 98 percent (at least) of St. Petersburg residents.
They are, of course, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, or as everyone not a part of their organization calls them, the Uhurus.
They’re the most hated people in St. Petersburg.
On the local police officers’ message boards, they’re referred to as “Urangutans” and “Yoo-hoos.” The chairwoman of the Pinellas Democratic Party recently described them as a “domestic terrorist organization.” A lot of folks prefer to call them something else, usually a word that begins with the letter ‘n.’
I don’t care what anyone says about the Uhurus because I love ’em. And they’re the best thing to happen to the 2017 mayoral race.
Let’s be honest, were it not for the Uhurus, anyone following St. Pete politics would be asleep right now. After all, how many times can you watch one guy named Rick criticize another guy named Rick for dumping sh*t — literally sh*t — into Tampa Bay?
As John Romano so eloquently wrote in a recent column, because of the Uhurus disruptive antics during the early stages of the municipal elections, the tone and tenor of the entire campaign has changed.
“Neighborhood debates have somehow turned into hot tickets and viral videos,” observes Romano.
Unfortunately for them, all the Uhurus will be able to accomplish is turning up the temperature on the city’s elections. They won’t actually be able to join in the feast. Their horse in the race, Jesse Nevel, is polling at just above 1% according to the latest poll. Their candidate for the District 6 seat on the City Council, Eritha “Akile” Cainion, even if she were able to finish in the top two in the nine-way primary, could never win a citywide election.
(Nevel, a white guy with a hipster’s beard reminds me, in a reverse way, of Clayton Bigsby, the character in the Dave Chappelle sketch about a white supremacist who happens to be black and blind.)
Regardless of their dim electoral prospects, Nevel or Caisson aren’t shy about making loud policy pronouncements. Their campaign slogan is “A new beginning: Radical times, Radical solutions.” Their platform includes making the city pay reparations to its black residents for an assortment of transgressions. Tropicana Field will float away like a giant hot air balloon before that ever happens.
But, like Romano, I can’t help but sympathize with where the Uhurus and their candidates are coming from.
That’s because it basically sucks to be black and live in St. Petersburg, Florida.
It’s not as bad as living in Mississippi or somewhere in the Third World, but if there really are two Americas, most of those reading this blog post live in one America and most black St. Pete residents live in another America.
South St. Petersburg is home to the “failure factories,” but almost no job factories. There are few prospects, but there are countless open-air drug markets.
South St. Petersburg is a community that was struggling for years before the riots of 1996 and it has barely recovered since then.
As for progress, it’s now describes as that when black residents can take a shuttle to Wal-mart to shop for the groceries no longer found in their neighborhoods.
It’s because of this and so much more that, were I black, I’d probably be standing right behind Nevel and Cainion.
Instead, this white dude will continue to grab handfuls of popcorn while watching the show the Uhurus are putting on. It’s the performance of the summer.