Letitia James and Gandhi.
Letitia James and Gandhi?
Is this supposed to be a joke? Or, a puzzle? A riddle?
Some of you may have that question. And I don’t blame you for it.
But friends, rest easy. It is neither a joke nor a puzzle. It is an observation today, October 2, 2013, on two people that came to my mind. They came to my mind for a reason.
Today, October 2, is Gandhi’s birthday. It’s a national holiday in India. I grew up observing this holiday. Of course, in Calcutta and Bengal where I grew up, Gandhi is not a particularly popular name. But that’s another story. I have written extensively about it.
Today is also a day when we learned that Tish or Letitia James (pronunciation: Letisha), an African-American grassroots activist-turned-politician from Brooklyn where I live, became the first-ever black woman to be elected in a citywide election for a major New York City government position.
She is likely going to be the next public advocate of this mega city of global importance. She will be a great associate of Bill de Blasio who I hope becomes the next mayor of New York City.
I voted for her last night. I thought I should celebrate today a little on her victory.
I want to celebrate her victory for a special reason. She won with a substantial margin (60-40) beating back against all odds. First, her opponent was a white male who was endorsed by all three major newspapers of the city including the mighty New York Times. In fact, the so-called liberal New York Times and so-called conservative New York Post (they “hate” each other) endorsed the other candidate. Still, Letitia won.
Obviously, Letitia’s win is NOT a front-page story in these papers.
I also want to celebrate her victory because the mighty senator from New York Chuck Schumer endorsed her opponent. Schumer, as we perhaps know, is a politician with national reputation. He, just like NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg, has close ties with Wall Street and big banks and financial institutions. His endorsement was major. Yet, Letitia won.
Letitia was supported by labor unions, grassroots groups and women’s organizations. Letitia’s victory proved that with common men and women and families organized and working together, we can beat back against all odds, and defeat the one percent in power — non-violently.
Of course, the next question you may have is, what does her victory have to do with Gandhi’s birthday today?
Gandhi would not be overjoyed with Letitia’s win. Because Gandhi never liked blacks. In fact, his anti-black rhetoric in South Africa where he came from was all too exposed. It is no surprise, therefore, that most Indians — especially the older generation — do not like blacks, either. Sad (and it makes me angry), but true.
Let’s remember Gandhi today and use his non-violent tactics against oppression, although that non-violence put the wrong people in power in India. These people — Gandhi’s so-called followers — ruined and destroyed India all over again. They played caste-based politics to stay in power. They used women for their votes, but never did anything to uplift their status. India’s women and other minorities are going through a harrowing time right now. But that’s another story. I have written about it extensively too.
Today, I want to reflect on Gandhi’s politics. And then, I want to reflect on Letitia’s politics.
And then, I want to connect the dots.
A little happy on this special day,
Brooklyn, New York
Post Script. — A very interesting update on the U.S. govt. shutdown. — I went to the Department of Agriculture website to do some research today, and this is what I found. Telling what’s going on and how massive it is. It even has a special message from President Obama to U.S. government employees.