I don’t live in the Second Suffolk District, where a heated battle is underway between incumbent State Senator Diane Wilkerson and challenger Sonia Chang-Diaz, the challenger who won the Democratic nomination last week. I have no standing to evaluate whether Wilkerson or Chang-Diaz is more capable of representing that District’s needs.
However, as a Chinese-American, I do feel strongly disserved by the executive director of the Chinese Progressive Association, Lydia Lowe, who is quoted in the Bay State Banner as saying, “I think progressive whites don’t care about what people of color want or who they see as their leaders.”
This is a disgraceful show of divisive 70s-style racial politics that we simply don’t need at this moment in history. Progressive (and not-so-progressive) whites — indeed people of all races — have shown that they do care about other people, of other races. I fundamentally and profoundly disagree with the sentiment that progressive whites are selling out their non-white brethren. If anything, history has repeatedly shown us that progressive whites have been essential to the advancement of so many issues of importance to minorities, whether civil rights, affirmative action, or immigration reform.
Like a certain black pastor who recently received nationwide notoriety, Lydia Lowe’s years of fighting for the interests of Chinatown and the Chinese-American community may have, at the same time, given her a sadly frozen view of race relations. Diane Wilkerson’s own preferred candidate for President chastised his former pastor: “The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made… But what we know — what we have seen – is that America can change.”
The idea that whites in Jamaica Plain are selling out their non-white neighbors because of race is reprehensible and disgusting. Lydia Lowe and her organization may win a tactical victory if her candidate returns to the Senate. But by playing the race card — against a woman who’s mixed white, Latina, and Chinese, no less — she’ll be hurting the long-term interests of her own constituency, pushing away the very people who have been a cornerstone of political success any time minorities have tried to attain success beyond our own boundaries.