The Art of White Privilege

Assemblyman Walter Mosley

As a white man, I am a strong supporter of police reforms to curb unequal and deadly treatment of blacks in this country, but I don’t buy into the notion of examining or doing penance for my white privilege because in doing so it actually disrupts the long history of black empowerment in this country.

And most mainstream Black-Americans are as steeped in the legacy and history of black empowerment as they are of the sins and aftermath of American slavery. As such, they accept the alliance but also cast a wary eye on those progressive white people, who in examining their white privilege, have a history of usurping black empowerment.

City Council Member Laurie Cumbo
Senator Velmanette Montgomery photographed by tracy collins
Senator Velmanette Montgomery

This was the main point behind City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo’s (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights) rally this evening in front of the Bed-Stuy home of Senatorial Candidate Jabari Brisport. 

Brisport has the backing of the mainly all-white Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) Brooklyn branch in his bid to succeed retiring State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery in a district centered in black, but gentrifying Bed-Stuy and Central Brooklyn but also including largely white  Boerum Hill, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Gowanus, and Park Slope.

Cumbo decided to rally in front of Brisport’s home after Brisport on Friday came to her home with 200 white protestors and a bullhorn demanding that the city council defund the NYPD budget by $3 billion and to forget about the $1 billion cut proposal that the City Council labored over for weeks. 

At the same time this protest was going on, Cumbo was presiding over the City Council Stated Meeting and ushering forth historic legislation in the passing of the Choke Hold Ban Bill and a package of other legislation dealing with NYPD reform.

“I’ve never seen Jabari prior to his defeat in 2017 when he ran against me for City Council and I never saw him again until five days before his election outside of my home. He is part of an organization called Democratic Socialists for Brooklyn and over 90 percent of their membership is white but they utilize individuals like Jabari to run for office to carry their agenda until our neighborhoods become majority white,” said Cumbo.

Cumbo, whose work in the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has been exemplary, went to these NYCHA tenant leaders after Brisport and company rallied in front of her house and found that none had ever heard from or seen Brisport in any capacity at the many public housing complexes in the district.

Joining Cumbo at the rally was Montgomery, originally from Texas, who has been an able and respected state senator for 36 years and a legacy bearer of black empowerment in Brooklyn that dates back to the late U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first woman and the first black woman to run for President from a major party.

Tremaine Wright
Assemblymember Tremaine Wright
Assemblyman Walter Mosley

Both Cumbo and Montgomery and a good many Black Brooklynites are supporting Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright in tomorrow’s senate election because she is not only extremely qualified but has a deep understanding of black empowerment and its legacy in both Brooklyn and the country at-large.

Wright was born and raised in Bed-Stuy, went to Duke University as an undergrad and then attended the University of Chicago Law School, where former President Barack Obama was one of her professors. After law school, she returned to Bed-Stuy where she operated a coffee shop on Tompkins Avenue before it became gentrified and served as the Community Board 3 Chair before being elected to the assembly.

It should also be noted that Cumbo, Montgomery and the Black community-at-large is also supporting incumbent Assemblyman Walter Mosley in the overlapping 57th Assembly district, which also has a growing ‘woke’ presence of white gentrifiers. The DSA’s candidate in this race is Phara Forrest, who like Brisport is black, but whose money and organization is all white.

Like Wright, Mosley is well steeped in the politics of American Black empowerment and legacy. He comes from a very politically involved family and attended Howard University Law School, which is considered the Harvard of this nation’s Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) system, which was established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

If Brisport and Forrest win in tomorrow’s election it will be like putting a knee to the neck of black empowerment and legacy in Central Brooklyn. It won’t kill this empowerment because Blacks in this country are nothing if not resilient. But it will be a sad setback for sure.

As for those examining their white privilege, perhaps they should learn instead the nobility in stepping aside and letting black people choose their own leaders. It would go a long way to the healing that this country needs.