ColorLines’ Akiba Solomon writes that Miami-Dade mayoral candidate Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell’s quest to make meaningful change in Miami is hampered by his legacy of sexism. Some of Campbell’s ideas, like implementing a “stripper tax,” are keeping his controversial past in the forefront of the memories of Miami-Dade residents. Will residents be able to overlook Campbell’s sexist past and different worldview about sexuality? Check out what Akiba Solomon has to say below:
Through his weekly Miami New Times column, Campbell posits himself a political outsider, a hometown hero who will represent for non-elites, especially the city’s poor black folk in neighborhoods such as Liberty City, Overtown and Richmond Heights. Indeed, Campbell has raised important issues through the filter of race and poverty such as felony disenfranchisement and prison privatization, police brutality, and term limits for county commissioners who take black voters for granted. In his official platform he claims he will save embattled public hospitals, remove blight from poor neighborhoods without gentrifying them, and support programs that uphold “the cultural values of our diverse communities.”
Incidentally, I believe Luther Campbell intends to make meaningful change for poor people of color in Miami-Dade County. But just as presidential flameout Donald Trump fell prey to the racist dog whistle of birtherism, Campbell has a fatal flaw: his sexism.
Now, Campbell is fond of saying that women — especially the dancers and strippers who have lent their bodies to his empire — love him. He uses their supposed love to justify one of the more headline-grabbing aspects of his campaign, a so-called stripper tax. In his March 29th column, “Miami Could Be the First Wave in a Stripper Tsunami,” he claims he’ll use the fees to fund childcare and after-school programs and writes:
“What I’m proposing is actually done in other major metropolitan areas. Take Atlanta. The city charges exotic dancers $350 for a permit to perform. In Houston, the city just raised its license fee for a new ‘gentlemen’s club’ dancer from $60 to $250. In some cities, these licenses have produced millions of dollars in annual revenue. And considering the hole that Alvarez dug for us, this could be a big plus.
“Local police conduct background checks on female entertainers. That’s a good thing. If a stripper makes five or even six figures a year — and some do — a few hundred bucks to register with the state like a real estate agent or a nurse is a wise investment. For one, cities could keep underage girls out of the industry.”
Campbell doesn’t mention what will happen to the “underage girls” after police prevent them from dancing. (Will they be sent to child protective services? Incarcerated? Deported if they’re undocumented?)
Nor does he account for the ways in which strippers are already taxed. Typically, they pay club owners rental, DJ and other fees and they generate money for the bar by pushing watered down cocktails on patrons. Dancers are already contributing to state coffers, assuming club owners pay their freaking taxes …
Read more at ColorLines.