Athena Gilbraith

I chose to run instead

Athena Gilbraith, candidate for Davenport mayor, responds to the Quad-City Times staff editorial endorsing the incumbent mayor, Mike Matson. This commentary was sent via email to several Iowa activists and news organizations.

It is unfortunate that lack of cultural competency is not a disqualification for our elected state and local Democratic leaders. It is my regret to name the perpetrators of racism and harm, but is essential to telling the story of my displacement. Silencing Black women should not be tolerated, let alone celebrated within the confines of the political arena we find ourselves in. Yet, we find ourselves directly in this situation. Virtue signaling is not an attractive trait for any leader to be in, and as members of the community with constituents who look to us for individual guidance, the question must be asked, “will we continue to fail?”

Failure is not an option for me, nor is silence. And so, the following words are truths and experiences of being racially targeted by Mayor Mike Matson, Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz, and State Representative Cindy Winckler, and why the Quad-City Times’ endorsement is not only a mistake, but a misguided effort on behalf of non-people of color. You all have the power to help or to do harm, and the choice to be accomplices or allies. Who are you in these scenarios?

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Why is Iowa (again) struggling with racism?

Athena Gilbraith is a racial justice activist in eastern Iowa. -promoted by Laura Belin

This week Republican legislators on the Iowa House Government Oversight Committee took on school officials in Ames to contest cultural competency. To challenge a celebration of Black America and Black Iowans, these lawmakers chose to center dehumanization.

Representative Bobby Kaufmann described Black History Month teaching materials as “garbage,” while Representative Steven Holt amplified whataboutism, a dog whistle in shepherding white supremacy. (Editor’s note: You can watch the committee hearing here or listen to the audio here.)

Between the extreme new voter suppression law, the bill to codify “qualified immunity” for law enforcement, and limiting diversity training at Iowa universities, the goal appears to be to reproduce racial inequality in our state. 

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Keep Iowa first

Athena Gilbraith is a Black woman and mother of four in eastern Iowa. She works in early education, previously volunteered for the Kamala Harris campaign, and is currently a precinct captain for the Elizabeth Warren campaign. -promoted by Laura Belin

In light of recent and continual pitches to let go of Iowa’s first in the nation status, there is yet a pitch with a better alternative.

Of course, there are pros and cons to Iowa’s premiere position, as there are for a caucus versus a primary. Both factors are indicative of a flawed system, but the arguments against our being principal in the role of the nation’s primary season are a basic and trivial attempt to ameliorate the Democratic Nomination Process.

Iowa is representative of the rest of the country. It is we the people who are in denial. Yes, our state has more white people than others, but this characteristic is also signified within the country’s sociopolitical structure. The responsibility of continually putting white people in charge is an American thing, not just an Iowa thing. And with the upholding of colonialism, denial and circumventing accountability.

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We’ve failed Cory Booker

Athena Gilbraith is a Black woman and mother of four in eastern Iowa. She works in early education and previously volunteered as a precinct captain for the Kamala Harris campaign. -promoted by Laura Belin

 

Cory Booker, senator from New Jersey, presidential candidate, and a Black man with local family roots, should easily be polling in first place. Iowans are no fools and we usually don’t get it wrong, but I’m afraid we will this time. Much of the punditry that questions Iowa’s first in the nation status will have a stronger case, and the state will have less of an argument. The 2020 caucus is riding on our choice and we are about to choose wrong. 

It’s not difficult to see exactly why Cory Booker isn’t doing better in the polling. It’s just difficult for Iowans to admit — It’s race. It is race, it is race, it is absolutely race. 

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