It doesn’t take much imagination to guess who is accusing Rich Wilkins of “race-baiting” for encouraging Kim Velez to get in the Allentown Mayor race, but needless to say it’s a pretty silly claim.
Race-baiting is when political figures try to flare up voters’ racial resentments to try to win an election or advance some other policy goal. Mitt Romney’s infamous “47%” comments are a good example, as is the Republican Party’s impressive dogwhistling of the word “welfare” to mean “money spent on brown people.”
Pointing out that Latino residents of Allentown don’t have anywhere near the political representation needed to match their growing numbers isn’t race-baiting any more than pointing out that women are underrepresented in Congress is woman-baiting. Observing that Latinos are still vastly underrepresented in Allentown law enforcement and education on Ed Pawlowski’s watch isn’t race-baiting either. The shortage of bilingual cops and teachers presents real practical problems for communication and trust-building between public servants and the public they serve.
We’re being asked to feel just as bad for Ed Pawlowski as we do for the disempowered minority groups jeered by conservative mobs at CPAC. Seeing as whites still dominate Allentown politics, it’s a little hard to take.