Same old racist formula by white candidates and media in the Denver Mayor’s Race

Denver ballots are out and it’s time to just name it. The Denver Mayoral race has become a shining example of double standards, racism and how white men/people take credit for the hard work of others. I’m a woman of color, and this is what I see. I live in the Denver metro, and I have been paying attention to the ads and candidate forums.

As a woman of color, others have said it more eloquently than I will here: the double standards, sexism, and tactical racism among “progressives” are on full display this year in the Denver Mayoral race. Whether we talk about the inhumane and backwards seeming positions of Trinidad Rodriguez, the not-so-subtle imagery selected by Chris Hansen in his TV ads, or the overblown accolades for progressive policies taken by Mike Johnston, and Johnston’s attempt at messaging to BIPOC communities through his mail program. While some select outrage at Rodriguez’ unpolitic  language, I can’t help but roll my eyes and think: familiar players, familiar song and dance, same microaggressive tactics… different office.

Yet, what I’m noticing is that Johnston, Hansen and even Brough are attempting to mimic campaign tactics utilized by Senator Hickenlooper when he ran for Mayor. The result is all of the white privileged “othering” and grandstanding, taking credit for things that people and women of color stood up for long before it “polled well,” and attempting tone deaf tactics trying to reach out to BIPOC communities.

While all are standard “accomplished” members of the business community, all are applying a formula of marginalization very familiar to BIPOC and marginalized people.

  1. Use subtle imagery and language regarding crime to “other” and “blame” BIPOC communities for crime without ever mentioning them.
  2. Take a disproportionate amount of credit for legislation and policy that others across the mayoral candidate field have worked for since long beforehand, and ignore the setbacks you caused on a statewide basis, such as the fact that you set back every single school district in the metro area by shoving bad policy on the statewide ballot.
  3. Apply vicious double standard whisper campaigns to other candidates across the field regarding office conduct.
  4. Utilize “color blind” and frankly tone deaf tactics in attempting to reach out to BIPOC communities.

The Denver Post article this morning,

Johnston, a former state senator and head of a philanthropic organization, said on Twitter that he had not seen or approved the flyers, adding that “as soon as I saw them I pulled them entirely out of circulation.” He attributed them to campaign supporter John Bailey, who chairs the Colorado Black Round Table; Bailey said he didn’t intend to use divisive language. Campaign finance records show Johnston’s campaign has paid Bailey $10,000 for his consulting services.

Where Johnston blames a BIPOC campaign supporter and for mailers he “didn’t approve,” calls into question how involved he was in other campaigns he’s claiming credit for.

And the OpEd written by CU Regent Wanda James are spot on, and this woman of color is also watching.