Black Mayors, White Majorities: The Balancing Act of Racial Politics

By Ravi K. Perry | Go to book overview

Introduction
Theorizing the Representation of
Urban Blacks in “White” Cities

We need to be universal in our goals but not in our process.
This is what fairness requires
.

John a. powell, “Obama’s Universal Approach Leaves Many Excluded”

As you read this, somewhere history is being made. Somewhere, right now, in the United States, an African American is considering running for mayor in a city wherein his or her constituents are mostly white. Somewhere else in the country, perhaps, another black politician—an elected mayor—is making a calculated decision about an important issue in his or her city and is weighing how the decision might impact different constituencies—that is, white and black voters. Those realities have been made possible by a host of elected black leadership—namely mayors—in prior decades. By most indications, forty years ago such statements would have been impossible to write, if not laughable in their audacity. However, because of many trailblazers and demographic shifts in population and political attitudes, it is not difficult to imagine those scenarios. The result: an ever-increasing number of blacks seeking elected office as mayors in majority white cities. This book is about two such mayors: Jack Ford of Toledo, Ohio, and Rhine McLin of Dayton, Ohio.

What makes the scenarios mentioned above so very interesting is the projected impact of black mayors. Pundits and scholars alike may call such an impact pandering, but it is also a question of representation, electability, governance, and—of course—one’s legacy. It is also

-xxi-

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