I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!
Who Are We Really Upset With?
February 7, 2017
A lot of Black people are upset with the results of our past election. Some are upset with others for not voting the way they did. Most are upset with those (especially family and friends) who did not vote. If a Black person reveals to others they did not vote, LOOK OUT! That admission is pretty much a social death sentence for them. They are unfriended on Facebook, deleted from phone contact lists, removed from family holiday mailing lists and so forth and so on. Yes, it is that serious for some people. Oh, and just about everyone, whether they voted or not, are upset with any or everyone who voted for the winner. What is lacking in this atmosphere of anger is a clear understanding of each other's perspectives. There is no one single reason why a particular candidate won or lost. There are multiple reasons, and this is our attempt at encouraging the exploration of one of those reasons. We need to do this in order to heal, grow, and move our communities and families forward. We accomplish nothing when divided.
Sometime in September 2016 the former President said it would be considered a personal insult if the Black community did not turn out and vote for his Party's candidate, a nominee the Party had essentially crowned long before the 2016 Primary season even began. The former President went on to say that if the Black community wanted to give a good send off we would vote for his Party's candidate. We won't speak to how dismissive, insulting, and condescending the former President's words are, because we know they are. What we will do is fall back on the wisdom of ancestors to check the former President for his dismissive, elitist, and pompously arrogant attitude towards those in the Black community who decided that the lesser of two evils is still evil, and therefore, voting for his Party's candidate was not an option they could, would, or did support either.
In his March 1964 speech titled, Ballot or the Bullet Bro. Minister Malcolm X said, "Anytime you throw your weight behind a political party that controls two-thirds of the government, and that Party can’t keep the promise it made to you during election time, and you’re dumb enough to walk around continuing to identify yourself with that Party, you're not only a chump, but you're a traitor to your race." Now before we get ourselves in an uproar, please know we are not calling the former President, or any Black person who continues to support his Party, traitors to their race. That is not what we are doing here. We are simply using the wisdom and insight of an informed ancestor, who was unapologetic about his Blackness, to facilitate thought and conversation relevant to our current situation.
This is important because we know we have continued to support the former President's Party, and it seems our support never falls off, no matter. When the Party introduced a crime bill that left our families and communities without enough influential adults to educate our children, thus ushering in the era of mass incarceration, we held that Party down. The Party pushed for and passed a welfare reform bill, pandering to the racist and false pretense that our mothers, daughters, sisters, etc were welfare queens milking the system, no matter to us. We were there just as strong as ever giving our support like good little soldiers. Merriam-Webster says a "chump" is a person who is easily deceived; easily tricked; foolish. Maybe the wise ancestor was onto something with that characterization of our behavior to overwhelmingly support a Party made up of people whose mouths say one thing, "We promise to do this or that for you if you support us", but whose actions reveal the opposite, "Well you see what had happened was."
Buried in his often misinterpreted 1963 Letter From A Birmingham Jail Dr. King spoke about the people making up the former President's Party when he noted, "I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is...the white moderate, who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace, which is the absence of tension, to a positive peace, which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a more convenient season."
The "more convenient season" in recent years existed in a small window of opportunity for 22 months from January 2009 to November 2010. This is when the former President and his Party controlled two-thirds of the government (Presidency and Congress) that Minister Malcolm referenced. Why is this two-thirds majority control of the government significant? Well, we saw how it benefited the Affordable Care Act. This legislation aimed at bringing affordable health care to millions of citizens was passed by a President and Congress from the same political Party with little, if any at all, support or fanfare from their opposition. However, now their opposition is in control of the Congress and the Office of the President (2/3 of the government), and the former President's signature piece of socially progressive legislation is in real danger of being thrown out. What's also important to think about is why was the failure to use this 22 month two-thirds control of the government to further effect social progress such a significant blow to Black people?
It has been the cheap and often inexpensive advancements made socially that have afforded Black people the placement and access needed to progress politically and economically. In 1967 Dr. King said, "I think the biggest problem now is we got our gains over the last 12 years at bargain rates, so to speak. It didn’t cost the nation anything. In fact, it helped the economic side of the nation to integrate lunch counters and public accommodations...Now, we’re confronting issues that cannot be solved without costing the nation billions of dollars." The integration of lunch counters and public accommodations are good examples of social progress that should have supported our economic growth and progress. However, we in the Black community have largely not benefited politically or economically from the placement and access social progress has afforded us. Put simply, we have failed as a collective to leverage and exploit the additional values (power and money or political and economic) of our social progress.
Therefore, when we look back on history, let us make sure we are not Brag about the accomplishments from his terms when appropriate, but don't Black wash his legacy. We hate it when the truth of history and the history of truth (especially ours) are White washed, so we cannot be hypocrites complaining about history being White washed, yet be party to Black washing our own history. Doing so dishonors the truth of our history and the history of our truth. That makes us no better as a people than our counterparts, who themselves have engaged in cultural appropriation so much you'd think the science that identifies Mother Africa as the birth place of the original people was folklore.
If all truthfulness the question of whether or not some of us have engaged in Black washing the former President's legacy is a point of contention in our community that must be addressed. In too many circles our emotions over his time in office and the lost bid of his Party's candidate are keeping us from realizing the power we wield when we are united socially, politically, and economically. There are those among us who, like the former President, are very upset their candidate lost. They are mostly upset with people who either a) did not vote, or b) voted for someone other than their candidate. In lieu of what's happening now that frustration, while understandable, isn't really legit. It is, on its own merits, as equally dismissive and insulting as the former President and others taking offense over Black people not supporting his Party's candidate, and here are some reasons why.
First there was the leaked email revelation that the Party's Chairwoman and staff conspired to undercut and sabotage the campaign run of another candidate. If democracy is the bedrock of our society, then someone has to explain the mindset that lets this slide, but not what the Russians allegedly did? There was the revelations from a hacked audio conversation of the former President's Party's candidate calling supporters of her own Party's opponent "children of the Great Recession" who are "living in their parents’ basement." Sorry, but it is political suicide to basically label the people you need help from as freeloaders, and it seems the former President's candidate didn't learn anything from her "super predators" comment. The Russians did not make her say that stuff. There was Sarah Silverman publicly insulting supporters of the other candidate from the former President's Party at their convention, and countless other missteps made by the former President's Party throughout his two terms that directly and negatively impacted Black people.
However, in sticking with the election campaign season, perhaps the biggest slap in the face to the people the former President's Party succeeded in alienating, which lends itself to the legitimate fact that the former President and his Party were off putting and out of touch with a vast majority of potential supporters, was the strategic message pivot late in the election. This was when we saw the former President call for would be supporters in his Party to try and understand the concerns of individuals supporting the opposition's candidate. This was an error as egregious as telling one's own child to love, have compassion for, and seek to understand why the schoolyard bully takes their money every day. We should ask ourselves, How was this failed strategic message pivot not a slap in the face of everyone who has suffered race based oppression all their lives? The concerns of the opposition's supporters are firmly grounded in hate and fear of others. Others they have enjoyed disenfranchising and ostracizing, but we should have compassion and understanding for them when tides start to turn?
When you aren't the one being directly impacted, in a negative way, by the actions of those who are either straight up racist, racist adjacent, or supporters of institutionalized racism it is easy to admonish others to be understanding, compassionate, and or forgiving. In 1963 Dr. King had something to say about this superficial optimistic conceptual view of the world for those out of touch with solid realism, "Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, ‘Wait.’ But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society...when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of ‘nobodiness’ then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait."
When all that has been said and done over the course of our historical relationship with the former President's Party is looked at introspectively, with the intent being to increase our own self awareness, it is clear to us all who we are really upset with. We are all reminded everyday of who that person is, or who those people are whenever we look in the mirror and we see our own image staring back at us.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!