Nashville is a racist city

Election in the US state of Tennessee: In battle mode

The city of Nashville will have a Democratic mayor again. Conflicts with the Republican environment are pending.

In the runoff: John Cooper appearing in front of his supporters on Thursday in Nashville Photo: ap

NASHVILLEtaz | Not only is Nashville the capital of country music, hot chicken, and honkytonk, it's also the capital of the state of Tennessee. A “blue island in a bright-red state” (originally red in the US is not the color of the communists, but that of the conservatives), because “Music City” votes democratically, while the state around it is firmly in the hands of the Republicans : Almost 61 percent of voters in Tennessee voted for Donald Trump in 2016.

The Nashvillians elected a new mayor on Thursday. Almost at least: The (democratic) incumbent David Briley has to run in the runoff election against his challenger John Cooper, the offspring of a democratic dynasty - the father was governor, the brother sits in the US House of Representatives.

So Nashville remains democratic. And yet it is constantly reminded that the world around it looks very different. The mayor's office is adjacent to the Tennessee State Capitol, the state's seat of government.

There, as in the Tennessee House of Representatives across the street, the Republicans are in charge, and that means that in the middle of Nashville, of all places, at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, a bust of former Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest stands.

Drink and rock

The Republican Governor Bill Lee refuses to remove them, no matter how much the residents can protest. A few weeks ago, Lee even signed a declaration making July 13th “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day”.

In Nashville there is drinking, rocking, same-sex weddings and democratic elections, and the hero of the hour is Lil Nas X, a gay man of color whose country rap hit has just broken a chart record for Mariah Carey.

But the blue island is small. You only have to drive a few miles out of town on Sundays, where perfectly cut lawn edges in front of brick villas line the street behind automatically opening gates. At Puffy Muffin in Franklin there are only white families who eat their omelette with toast and french fries after church, the daughters wear brightly striped Sunday dresses and white knee socks, the sons blonde bangs and polo shirts buttoned up to the top.

They have to be them, the customers of Republican Representative Matthew Hill, who recently lost the nomination for Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives and can now return to his Christian mail order business for magic supplies. The Dock Haley Gospel Magic Company sells a cross that can absorb iodine in water to show how Jesus washes away sin.

Murder charges

The Nashvillians just shake their heads at this. All the more so about the news that a 29-year-old woman from Chattanooga, southeast Tennessee, was briefly charged with murder after her twins were born prematurely and with drugs in circulation and died shortly afterwards.

And about the announcement that Stephen Michael West, convicted in 1987, is about to be executed by lethal injection on August 15th, here in Nashville. West will be the fifth person to die at the hand of the state in the past 12 months after Tennessee failed to use the death penalty at all between 1960 and 2000, and only 10 total since then.

The things that the new mayor has to deal with seem comparatively easy. Can it alleviate the growing pains of the boomtown Nashville, where construction cranes and glass hotel towers are skyrocketing as well as rents and homelessness statistics? Will he manage to stop the social division?

Possible. But can he also defend the liberal Music City against the increasingly conservative state? At the election party of the yet-and-maybe-soon-again-Mayor Briley, suddenly one of his supporters in Jedi knight cloaks walks through the hall, past artistically piled chicken skewers and TV presenters with a hair dryer wave. Could be a good omen for Nashville, the island city.