The election had become a local production of America’s ongoing psychodrama about race. During the candidates’ second debate on Oct. 24, the moderator began winding his way through a question regarding DeSantis’ “monkey this up” statement and why he made four appearances at events hosted by a white nationalist. But before the moderator could finish, DeSantis lashed out, declaring that he wouldn’t let the media smear him and he wouldn’t take anything from Gillum.
To this, Gillum dropped his head and chuckled, and then he put home what will go down as an iconic slam dunk. “Well, let me first say, my grandmother used to say, ‘A hit dog will holler.’ And it hollered through this room. Mr. DeSantis has spoken. First of all, he’s got neo-Nazis helping him out in the state. He has spoken at racist conferences. He’s accepted a contribution and would not return it from someone who referred to the former president of the United States as a Muslim n-i-g-g-e-r,” Gillum said, spelling out the slur once tweeted by David Horowitz in reference to Barack Obama. “When asked to return that money, he said no. He’s using that money to now fund negative ads.”
And here came the coup de grace, the line the pastor handed him. “Now, I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist,” Gillum said, shooting his eyebrows skyward and nodding. “I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.”
It was a perfect formulation, suggesting both a fluency and an impatience with how the political and media culture typically handles accusations of racism. Black candidates operate in a bind. They can’t call out racism because the minute they do, they’ll be accused of playing the race card, of responding emotionally to attacks based in the denial of their humanity. Had he gone directly after DeSantis and bluntly called him a racist, Gillum might have expected several weeks’ worth of tortured coverage: Is DeSantis truly a racist? There would be testimonials from his side, black friends of DeSantis’ deposited in front of cameras and microphones, counteraccusations that his opponent was making too much of race, and in turn, Gillum would be pressed to qualify his statement.
But Gillum avoided the trap. Read the full story
Andrew Gillum response to Ron DeSantis: “Now, I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist,” Gillum said, shooting his eyebrows skyward and nodding. “I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist,” was brilliant. It’s a line I will use in the future.
Floridians wary of Trump’s lies and message of bigotry, hatred, and violence can send a powerful message to Trump by voting blue and supporting politicians like Andrew Gillum on November 6, 2018.
Think of Trump as an aggressive form of cancer and a blue wave on Tuesday as the only available chemotherapy to shrink Trump.
Remind family and friends to vote. Don’t forget a government-issued ID such as a driver’s license or a passport on Election day.
America’s future depends on our votes.