Pretending To Be Black a Texan, Dave Wilson, Wins Election
A white electrician in Houston, known for mailing out homophobic fliers to Houston voters against the city’s lesbian mayor, recently won a seat on the Houston Community College Board of Trustees after misleading voters in his overwhelming African American district into thinking he was Black.
Dave Wilson defeated the 24-year incumbent, Bruce Austin, who actually is Black, by circulating campaign materials featuring stock images of Black people he found on the internet with captions like “Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson.”
Some fliers faked an endorsement from a former state representative and African American Ron Wilson.
Wilson says the fine print on the materials “Endorsed by Ron Wilson” explains that Rob Wilson is his cousin, who lives in Iowa.
“He’s a nice cousin,” Wilson told KHOU, while trying not to laugh. “We played baseball in high school together. And he’s endorsed me.”
Republican Wilson beat Democrat Austin by a margin of only 26 votes.
Wilson previously lost a mayoral election as a fringe candidate. He ran on an anti-gay marriage, anti-civil union platform.
He has no qualms with pretending to be Black.
“Every time a politician talks, he’s out there deceiving voters,” he said.
He said he was fed up with the “shenanigans” of the Houston Community College System.
Wilson’s campaign took Austin by surprise. The Democratic incumbent tried to counter the fliers. He called Wilson a “right-wing hate monger” who “advocated bringing back chain gangs to clean highways.” But his efforts were unsuccessful.
“I’d always said it was a long shot,” Wilson admitted. “No, I didn’t expect to win.”
Black Like Me is a nonfiction book by journalist John Howard Griffin first published in 1961. Griffin was a white native of Dallas, Texas and the book describes his six-week experience traveling on Greyhound buses (occasionally hitchhiking) throughout the racially segregated states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia passing as a Black man. Sepia Magazine financed the project in exchange for the right to print the account first as a series of articles.
Griffin kept a journal of his experiences; the 188-page diary was the genesis of the book.
In 1959, at the time of the book’s writing, race relations were particularly strained in America; Griffin’s aim was to explain the difficulties facing Black people in certain areas. Under the care of a doctor, Griffin artificially darkened his skin to pass as a Black man.
Robert Bonazzi subsequently published the book Man in the Mirror: John Howard Griffin and the Story of Black Like Me.
The title of the book is taken from the last line of the Langston Hughes poem “Dream Variations“.
To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me-
That is my dream!
To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening…
A tall, slim tree…
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.
(By Langston Hughes)