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The Only Politicians Leading Right Now Are America’s Black Female Mayors

As other elected officials shrug their shoulders, these women are stepping up.

atlanta mayor

As cities across America are ignited with righteous anger and thousands of people take to the streets to protest our country’s systemic racism and police brutality, our leaders are nowhere to be found. President Trump has shot off some racist tweets, and refuses to speak publicly. In yet another cowardly move, he put a photo lid in effect today, and is hunkering down at the White House.

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We feel rudderless and lost, and there is a desperate need for a leader. But who would that be? The Senate and the House are nowhere to be found. National security adviser Robert O’Brien doesn’t believe systemic racism exists. Even our high profile democratic mayors are capitulating to the police instead of supporting the protesters.

The only elected officials who are stepping up to offer sympathy, understanding, and leadership are America’s Black women mayors. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms delivered an impassioned speech urging people to go home and stop destroying the city.

THIS is what strong, authentic, and empathetic leadership sounds like. In an interview with CNN, Bottoms discussed Trump with Jake Tapper saying, “He should just stop talking. This is like Charlottesville all over again, … He speaks and he makes it worse. There are times when you should just be quiet and I wish that he would just be quiet. Or if he can’t be silent, if there is somebody of good sense and good conscience in the White House, put him in front of a teleprompter and pray he reads it and at least says the right things, because he is making it worse.”

Bottoms emphasized that we need “change in this country as it relates to race relations in this country. There has to be change in this country when it comes to leadership in this country. There has to be change as it relates to our health care system and how our communities of color are receiving health care in this country. But right now, we’re talking about cars being burned and businesses being vandalized.”

And Bottoms isn’t alone. San Francisco Mayor London Breed called for a curfew, and urged protesters to go home saying, “To be clear, this is the last thing I want to do as mayor. I want peace, I want protest, but I don’t want the kind of violence we have seen,”. Breed has received criticism for ordering the National Guard on standby.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell oversaw peaceful protests in her city:

Are these women doing everything right? Of course not. Mistakes will be made, and many circumstances are out of their control. But they are doing what leaders are supposed to do in trying times: they are promoting strength, unity, and above all, they are showing empathy and understanding.

In a country led by the most callous, unfeeling president in history, we desperately need to see elected officials who care, who step up to the plate with understanding and respect for their people. We have spent decades being gaslit by politicians who refuse to acknowledge the pain we live with every day. And it’s something we are not getting from many of our elected officials.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in response to the protests, “Any protester that tries to take the humanity away from a police officer and devalue them just because they are a public servant is no better than the racists who devalue people of color and particularly black men in America.” He said this as police vehicles ran over peaceful protesters.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has closed all the city’s COVID-19 testing centers, in what can only be read as a punitive response to protests. Closing COVID-19 testing centers in the middle of a pandemic is a cruel response that demands reckoning.

No politician is perfect, but these women are accomplishing something that should come naturally to any elected official. They are showing support for their citizens and they are delivering messages of unity and empathy. And that’s something this country is in desperate need of now more than ever.

(image: screencap/11Alive)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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