Commissioner William Beavers, didn't just play the race card during Tuesday's Cook County Board meeting, he slapped it like the winning trump in a Bid Whist game. I suppose, that's what it means to be the "hog with the big nuts," as Beavers calls himself.
Unfortunately, in his own crude way, Beavers has raised an issue that continues to bother some of us. Exactly what is it about the Cook County Board President Todd Stroger that gets under so many white skins?
Beavers is only half right when he says that "If Todd was a white man, he wouldn't have half these problems." I say "half right" because he does have a point. Former Cook County Board presidents who were white garnered far more respect than either John Stroger Sr. or Todd Stroger. In fact, the elder Stroger also had to fight tooth and nail to get a budget passed.
Obviously, painting Commissioner Tony Peraica as a Klansman, was as wrong as it was ignorant--not too mention a dumb political strategy.
Why would Peraica support Stroger?
Peraica lost a power grab that he thought was an easy win, and he hasn't gotten over it yet. I expect that he will continue to oppose anything and everything that Stroger tries to do. So much for not having permanent enemies in politics."
Still, this battle is not fueled by racism as much as it is fueled by the lust for political power. Todd Stroger beat white politicians at their own game. That's why Beavers can boldy play the race card. Because of our history of racial politics, blaming racism for the ongoing board battles is not a far enough stretch.
Peraica vehemently denies race has anything to do with his fight with Stroger.
"The reason Beavers resorted to playing the race card is he is frustrated. With 12 Democrats on a 17-member board, Beavers can't get nine of his fellow Democrats to vote for the proposed budget. He's using the race card in a cynical way when in fact he cannot get what he wants," Peraica told me.
And that may very well be the case, but when a long-time alderman (Bernard Stone (50th) argues that the City Council Wars that made national headlines were not motivated by race, then it's clear that a lot of white people are in denial.
Denying racism when it's in your face is just as bad as seeing racism when it is not there.