An Open Letter to White Democrats in District 7

Evergreen Historic District

Greetings to all the white Democrats in District 7. This is Steve from the other side of Poplar, in the Idlewild neighborhood.

I wanted to drop you a line, because you’ve got an important election ahead of you. In fact, Early Voting starts Friday at these times and locations.

You’ve got the chance to vote for all the County-wide seats and State Primary elections, of course, but also District 7, which is a critical seat on the County Commission.

The District 7 race features Democrat Tami Sawyer vs. Republican Sam Goff.

Even though I don’t live in District 7, I wholeheartedly support Tami Sawyer in this race, and hope you’ll vote for her.

If you don’t know who Tami Sawyer is, where have you been?

Tami has been working tirelessly for Shelby County for years. Most recently, she was instrumental in organizing the political pressure that led to the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue in Health Sciences Park. But that’s not all Tami’s been involved in. She’s been active in a host of issues seeking to help elevate our County. Much of that has been focused on helping those who have been left behind due to structural and institutional racism that has hobbled our community for decades.

But maybe you’re unsure about Tami. Well, let’s look at who she’s running against.

About Sam

I don’t know Sam Goff personally. Perhaps you do. Maybe you go to church with him, or are a member of a club with him. Honestly, he seems like a nice guy who cares about Shelby County.

I’m not going to attack him personally…that’s not cool and not my style. But I’ve seen, on various social media sites, some white democrats might be thinking about voting for him. I’m going to ask you to reconsider that.

See, Sam has some real policy problems that you need to know about.

Sam supports the controversial and harmful practice of “Gay Conversion Therapy”.

He tells Focus Magazine he would not oppose a “bathroom bill”.

He also tells Focus that he would not support County funding for Planned Parenthood.

Now,  I remember a controversy several years ago. There was an uproar when a certain Democrat voted the wrong way on Planned Parenthood funding. A ton of Midtown white democrats were pissed about that.

So why you would even consider voting for Sam when he’s told you up front what he’s going to do?

I mean, you can be friends with someone and still not vote for them on policy grounds, right?

But there’s more.

Sure, Sam says he’s a more “moderate” Republican, but what the heck does that even mean anymore? There’s no way to know. His website is conveniently vague when it comes to answering the real policy questions that regularly come up.

So there are a lot of unanswered questions about what he will actually do if elected. But some things are clear.

He’ll vote against Planned Parenthood.

He’s for Gay Conversion Therapy.

And he’s wobbly at best on how to treat transgender people.

For me, that’s a hard no. But maybe you’re not swayed.

Maybe you’re more worried about something else.

On Civility and Division

For the past couple of years, I’ve seen a lot of white democrats express concern about the “tone” of the “Take ’em Down 901” movement that Tami organized.

Her opponent has cited “tone” to “tut-tut” her on his campaign Facebook page. Here’s an example:

Screen capture from the Vote Sam Goff Facebook page

Now, this is classic Tami. Hard hitting, to the point, and absolutely 100% factually correct.

Black people weren’t free in 1776. Black people weren’t even technically free until 1863. Functionally, in America, Black people still aren’t free!

And while Goff admits that racism still has a hold on our society, he seems to believe that somehow, by magic, if we all follow his definition of “civil”, racism will disappear!

Oh that magical white privilege strikes again!

In 1776, women were functionally treated as property. In many locales they could not own property. They could not vote in national elections until 1920.

Were women “civil” about this? HELL NO! And if they had been women still wouldn’t be able to vote to this day.

Black people in America get followed by security in stores for no reason.

They get the cops called on them for having a barbecue, swimming in a pool, or even mowing a lawn.

One African-American candidate had the cops called on her for campaigning in her district!

That might seem like an inconvenience to you, my fellow white democrats, but for black people, having the cops called on you is dangerous. Too often its deadly.

Its out of hand. Honestly, asking people to be some white person’s idea of “civil” about this structural and institutional racism is the nuttiest of nuts.

But that’s exactly what Sam is asking you to do. And folks, that’s the worst kind of privilege.

Recognize Your Privilege

Now maybe, just maybe you’re still not convinced.

Maybe you’ve got that weird feeling in the pit of your stomach. You know the one, where you feel both threatened and guilty at the same time.

I know how you feel, because I feel it more than I wish I did.

I read things from folks fighting for their rights, and most of the time I’m totally good. But sometimes I have this knee-jerk reaction that I can’t control. I get mad, or feel uneasy, or just wish everyone would play nice because someone said something that cut to my core.

That’s privilege kicking you. Telling you you’re under siege, even though you aren’t.

That’s privilege telling you your rights are threatened or diminished by folks fighting for the same opportunity…even though your rights are totally safe.

But white folks have been told again and again just the opposite. So much so that somewhere deep down inside, we believe it, even if we don’t want to. Its a reflex for us.

Listen to me white democrats.


Take a breath.


No one is threatening you when they speak their truth. If anything, its an opportunity to learn, grow and do more.

And while Sam Goff thinks that if we all just go along to get along everything will be better, deep in your heart you know that’s not true.

Change doesn’t happen by going along to get along. Change happens when people vocally and aggressively challenge the status quo.

Tami Sawyer

That’s what Tami Sawyer brings to the table. The kind of grit, and determination to fight. To fearlessly speak her truth no matter how uncomfortable it might be. And keep speaking that truth until the structures that support the racism we white people often can’t see…come tumbling down.

That’s the kind of leader Shelby County needs.

That’s why I support Tami. I hope you will too.

One Reply to “An Open Letter to White Democrats in District 7”

  1. The statues would have come down with or without Tami and the protestors, since the Mayor had his legal team working on this since he took office. The protestors may have brought more people to the situation than had been before, so that is not bad, and that the Mayor acknowledged on the night they came down. All that said, I would vote for her if I lived in District 7, because of what you have revealed about Sam Goff. Call me privileged, I am too old to care at this point. 🙂

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