The results of last week’s Phenix City municipal election led one black activist, Antonio Carter, to proclaim he now lives in “Chocolate City.”
For the first time in Phenix City’s history, it now has a majority black city council, a black mayor and a black city manger. But “Chocolate City”? If by saying “Chocolate City,” Carter is comparing Phenix City to a place like Tuskegee, Ala., which is overwhelming black, then he is wrong. The facts say something different.
In 2015, Phenix City had 32,822 residents, according to suburbanstats.org. Of those, 15,995 are white, 15,285 are black and the bulk of the remainder are Hispanic or multi-racial.
Carter insists he is referring to the new political reality. Ask him about it and he will tell you point-blank he is taunting white residents over what he claims is “white hypocrisy.”
“If they had taken their ass-whipping like a man, I wouldn’t have said anything,” Carter said. “But they didn’t. When y’all won, we said, ‘Fine, see you in four years.’ ... So, there, welcome to ‘Chocolate City.’”
But it all started as a joke, Carter insists.
“White people in north Phenix City did not like it — and they still do not like it,” he said. “... It was tongue in cheek. But after seeing their reaction to what was a joke, and just the idea I had the audacity to call it ‘Chocolate City’ has fueled it.”
Carter has every right to speak his piece, said Johnnie Robinson, who was elected to represent District 2.
“Antonio has the First Amendment right to say, speak and believe whatever he wants,” Robinson said. “If a person or group is in fear of what Antonio personally feels, they can have a counseling session with me — and I am a social worker — and I can help them with their self-esteem.”
Carter’s claims are divisive, said Steve Bailey, who is white and was elected to represent District 1 in prominently white north Phenix City.
“We are better than that,” Bailey said. “We are bigger than that. We shouldn’t let that mentality overcome the good people of Phenix City —both black and white.”
And Carter, who owns Black Voices News, which publishes a newspaper and broadcasts an internet radio show, isn’t backing down an inch.
“You had the Board of Realtors endorse a lily-white slate of candidates and not one white person stood up and questioned that,” Carter said. “That’s hypocrisy.”
In today’s social media world, where much of this debate has played out, Carter has a voice that is louder than it would have been 10 or 15 years ago. He has a platform to proclaim the town he has lived in for the last 20 years “Chocolate City” all he wants.
Mayor Eddie Lowe, who won re-election with nearly 60 percent of the vote, said he is aware of Carter’s comments, but he isn’t about to get into the debate.
“I hear it, but I don’t get on Facebook,” the mayor said. “The only thing I am going to do is do just what I have been doing the last four years.”