Black Candidate Puts “Not the White Man’s Bitch” on Election Ballot Description

By Boyce Watkins, PhD – Ieshuh Griffin is a legislative candidate from Wisconsin who seems willing to do whatever it takes to get elected. In the five words that candidates are allowed to put on the ballot to describe themselves, Griffin put the phrase, “Not the white man’s b*tch.”

Obviously, the words got the attention of the Government Accountability Board, which voted to reject the wording. Words are not allowed on the ballot if they are profane, discriminatory or include an obscene word or phrase.

Griffin, a black woman, took her case to a five-judge panel. The entire panel happened to be white, which might be part of the reason that Griffin sees herself as having to confront a predominantly white power structure. She argued her case and fought, but didn’t win in the end.

“It’s a freedom of expression,” she said to the panel. “It’s not racial. It’s not a slur.”

Griffin earned a bit of a moral victory when three of the judges ruled in her favor. But she lost the war, given that she needed four votes to get her initiative passed. Thomas Barland, who spent 33 years as a judge, felt that the language was not a problem.

“She says a lot in five words,” he said. “It wasn’t pornographic, it wasn’t obscene, and I didn’t interpret it as racial.”

Roxanne Dunlap, one of the other members of the panel, felt that the words were racially discriminatory. She said that if a candidate were to use the words, “not the black man’s b—-” on the ballot, his efforts would be immediately rejected.

Griffin’s language was certainly interesting and will surely draw the attention she’s seeking in order to get elected. Her statement was an honest, frustrated reaction to the white-dominated power structure that many African Americans face in their day-to-day lives.

For Dunlap to simply apply the white male version of the same language would be to ignore 400 years of history that has not forced the white man to spend his life under the boot of African American people. Therefore, direct translations of racially loaded terminology almost always end up awkwardly deviating from our instinctual reaction.

The truth is that black people use different language because we’ve had a different experience — the same way women are able to use unique language toward men because we’ve spent thousands of years oppressing them.

While her initiative didn’t pass, Griffin may spark up a few votes with such a strong and fiery approach to politics. Also, I am hopeful that she remembers that white politicians are not the only ones who will try to turn you into their “b*tch.” Black politicians can be just as deceptive, manipulative and destructive, so she needs to watch her back in every direction. At the end of the day, I am hopeful that she has as much fire in her walk as she does in her talk; Wisconsin may be better for it.

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