I’ve decided not to write about Katie Britt anymore. If you want to know who already owns her votes, just go to opensecrets.org or read about it in her own words on her website. Mercifully for the reader, I have found a more caring, intelligent subject, Brandaun Dean, former mayor of Brighton, AL, running in the Democratic primary race for the U.S. Senate. As of now, Brandaun has my vote.
At the heart of matters, I believe he would have the best interest of everyday Alabamians in mind when casting votes. He is not beholden to many fossil fuels or defense industry special interest money like Britt. He isn’t being sued for inciting a violent insurrection in our nation’s capital like Mo Brooks. He doesn’t have a political ad that denies the pandemic and doubles as a television commercial for his own defense company like Mike Durant.
Instead, he has a passion for politics and activism that he cultivated as a student government leader at Howard University in D.C while studying political science and African American studies. He served on the Howard University delegation to the Harvard University Kennedy School Black Policy Conference, among other positions. His resume includes activism and advocacy at the state and national level for causes he believes in, such as education. You can read his full bio in the “About Brandaun” section of his campaign website brandaundean.com.
The following is from an interview I conducted with him last week.
Please introduce yourself to Alabama voters. What do you most want them to know about you?
“I am a descendant of formerly enslaved persons and the native people of this region. I am a survivor of a modern-day political lynching that resulted in my indefinite exile from this territory. I have a full dating life, like cooking my meals, and I wish I’d pursued my dream of being a NASCAR driver. I think people just need to know that I aspire to be a hyper moral and ethical human. That reputation preceded me in the political arena, and it made bad actors use the legitimacy of the courts and media as a weapon against me. I am no longer the mayor of Brighton because of anti Blackness. Internalized oppression, systemic racism and personality criminalization led to my social assassination. The opposition and indifference included the outgoing Secretary of Elections, a local, now-ousted male DA guttersnipe and some double conscientious Black state-level officials who were previously named.”
Do you have a signature issue that you are most passionate about?
“We must counter medical genocide in the Black community with resources to protect the reproductive health of Black men and women. This includes rounded, comprehensive care in disease treatment and prevention. This includes access to alternative reproductive science for individuals struggling with fertility. We also need tax credits and free child care that provide incentives and safety nets for family planning. Young Black women deserve options outside of abortion to mitigate unplanned pregnancies. Abortion and the hyper-focus on birth prevention have damaged the Black collective as a political population.”
What are your thoughts on the current defense budget?
“The House passing a $768 billion defense budget during a global health pandemic and domestic unrest seems dissonant. I’m recovering from a particular kind of PTSD that comes with watching 3 of 5 of my siblings shipped into conflict zones since they were 19, and I was less than ten years old. We use this money to destabilize Black, Islamic, Latin, and Asian countries and fracture the agency of our youth who seek out the military for survivalist purposes. There is no virtue in holding this up as a priority. We better use this defense budget to build a sonic inter-regional train system. We better use those billions to build more parks in our cities. We better use it to house all the people we can and build hospitals that provide world-class care to people who need custodians and permanent caretakers. The U.S. Military could build thousands of new homes in rural Puerto Rico and Brighton for the indigenous families there living in structurally unsound facilities.”
What leader, past or present, do you consider a political role model?
“I consider myself a son of D.C. Mayor Marion Barry’s policy and collectivist style. Marion thought we should not give up on anyone, even the most broken among us. Benazir Bhutto is probably the most influential global political role model for me. Bhutto was the 11th and 13th prime minister of Pakistan and the first woman to head a democratic government in a Muslim majority country. She was of aristocratic background and would have been unlikely to perceive me as an equal. Still, her fierce pursuit of power and the romantically tragic rise were so impressionable to me. Bhutto said, “I dream…of a world where we can commit our social resources to the development of human life and not to its destruction.”
American Descendants of enslaved people (ADOS) lists you as a reparations candidate. This led me to read H.R. 40 and “The Case for Reparations” in The Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates, who won the Genius Grant from the MacArthur Foundation. Writer Yvette Carnell argues that it is well past time to move past “idea exploration” and focus on real solutions. So how do you envision reparations?
“I envision immediate relief and a first 100 years delivery of a range of projects that deliver production power, global diplomatic influence, and heightened access to the statewide and constitutional office for American Descendants of enslaved people. The debt is at least $12 trillion, and it must be honored in the form of direct payments to descendants and institutions helmed by us.”
What do you consider the biggest problem facing the U.S. Senate right now?
“The United States Senate, while deliberate and sophisticated, is centered around the politics of the high-value white elite class. Not even poor white people have a champion in its ranks. Life experience and the lens through which it is observed matter. While it appears more diverse than ever, the Senate is monolithic in its lack of urgency to correct the historical harms of Slavery, Jim Crow, voter suppression, and wage labor abuse.
What would you tell Democratic voters in Alabama who might be discouraged from voting in a “solid red state?”
“I’d tell Democratic voters nothing beats a failure but a try. The seat is competitive. Unemployment is high. The number of Republican candidates seeking job security in the Senate is evidence of that.”
What would you tell Alabama Republican voters?
“At this point, every person you’ve voted for who looked like you has f***** you over. You’ve elected narcissism and charisma to fail you. Finally, here’s a dude who exists in a textured space who can articulate, criticize and empathize on your behalf. You have not had a U.S. Senate candidate in my life with such intention.”
Do you consider climate change real, and do you think the Senate should take legislative action to institute policies to mitigate it?
“I have not read the entirety of the Green New Deal legislation as of this morning. We need a mass-scale initiative around litter removal. I want Black people and wage workers to get priority access to electric vehicles. The sources of pollution are unique per community. We’ve collectively not been good stewards of the planet. We consume too much and hoard everything. We’re also not growing enough food at home and inside our cities and towns.”
One more question. What do you have to say to the Democratic Party establishment in Alabama?
“I’d say that they have an opportunity in valuing me that no political personality or profile can offer. The party has disabling reservations about revolutionary Black candidates. There is a clear preference for the respectability model minorities that assume a “begging” posture and not a dominant one. My great grandfather antagonized a trespassing Klansman with a shotgun. Begging postures are not intuitive to me.”
I find Brandaun Dean’s candidacy inspirational and brave. Who better represent everyday Alabamians than a young adult who struggles with the same financial hardships as his generation? Before speaking to Brandaun, I did not know that there was a senate qualifying fee of $3,840. Raising this amount is not a given, but he also recognizes the stakes of not trying. He knows that the current field of Republican candidates is unprepared and unwilling to tackle the real problems here in this state.
The Alabama Department of Public Health will not use Brandaun’s term “medical genocide,” but their statistics and own commentary back up his call for better health care for the Black community. According to alabamapublichealth.gov, “Disparities in infant mortality by race continue to persist. The infant mortality rate of black infants remains twice that of white infants. The 2018 black infant mortality rate was 11.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births compared to the white infant mortality rate of 5.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Health outcomes are molded by the environment in which people are born, live, work, play, and age and not simply by the individual’s health behaviors.
These factors, which contribute to health outcomes, are formed by the individual’s environment’s historical, social, political, and economic forces. Therefore, improving birth outcomes, reducing maternal, fetal, and infant deaths requires a multifaceted approach that addresses both societal and health system factors.” And those statistics were before the pandemic hit!! Currently, Alabama ranks 3rd highest in infant mortality rate in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report. Access to health care in prisons is also a significant catastrophe in Alabama. Just today, Eddie Burkhalter published an article in the Alabama Political Reporter entitled, “Alabama prisoner dies after taken to another prison instead of a hospital.” Being imprisoned in Alabama for a minor offense shouldn’t have to be a potential death sentence. All this, yet Kay Ivey declares in her commercial: “Thank God we live in Alabama.”
According to U.S. News and World Report, Alabama ranks 47th in education. What would it take to flip Alabama blue like Georgia? I read an Atlantic article that Brandaun posted on Facebook, which strongly argued for abolishing the U.S. Senate altogether. It makes the point, “And since there now are a greater number of sparsely- populated, mostly white, right-leaning states than there are heavily-populated, racially-diverse, left-leaning states, the Senate acts to preserve power for people and groups who would otherwise have failed to earn it.” (The Case for Abolishing the Senate, GQ.com)
Doesn’t that ring true with the failure to pass the Voting Rights Bill this week? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has a well-known quote, “We all too often have socialism for the rich and rugged free market capitalism for the poor.” I endorse Brandaun Dean, a rugged collectivist, for U.S. Senate. I hope you read more about him at brandaundean.com and even contact him to learn more about his candidacy and where he stands on the issues for Alabamians.