Message to the Black Community
Over the past several weeks the issues facing the Black community have been highlighted in a big way and many of our issues are being discussed on a national spotlight. This is a good step because for too long our issues have been on the back burner or non-existent on the national stage. Part of our struggle is controlling the narrative and getting dialogue that includes Black people leading the way, not White people talking about Black people to an audience of White people. We must stop trying to address the “symptoms” but deal directly with the “cause” and having a national spotlight is critical to our success. We must continue to keep our issues in the national spotlight after the election. We must win over public opinion (this drives the entire political process). There are Real Consequences in this Presidential Election
Let me re-state that we must do all we can do ensure that Hillary Clinton is the next president of the United States of America (end of story). Sure I would love to see the republicans and democrats publicly fighting for our vote and ensuring that our agenda is being addressed, but we have too much at stake at this point in the political season to not do our best to get Hillary Clinton elected. We must also do all we can to ensure that the far-right-wing Republicans, the so-called nationalist movement (White Supremacist), led by Donald Trump do not get into office. He and his party must be defeated and defeated badly. Now is not the time to play politics; we have no time to debate or relax our efforts to secure Hillary Clinton’s win.
Yes, I do believe that the Black community is woefully under-represented by both parties, not just the Democratic Party, when it comes fighting for the issues that we believe in (i.e. reparations, economics, education, better judicial system, etc.), but we have a much better shot at addressing our issues with the democratic platform than the republican platform. In addition to the current racist tone of the Republican Party, they have traditionally been in opposition to our agenda and fought democrats in our cities every step of the way.
Republicans have led the effort to roll back every gain we won through the historic civil rights acts of the 1960s (i.e. affirmative action efforts, voting rights, etc.). All of the tools we gained were needed and remain critical to our long-term success, weakening or abolishing them will set us back significantly. Even when the Republicans advocated compassion, it was suspect and now they have veered so far to the right, its outright scary. The frustrated racists have now come out of the closet because they now have a champion that they believe represents them in Donald Trump. There are Real Consequences in this Presidential Election.
If Blacks are to be successful, they must be prepared to hijack (takeover) the Democratic Party, or at the very least, get our hands on the steering wheel. This does not mean just having Black people in leadership (we do need that), but we must own more of the “party” process and infrastructure, which will only come from being organized. I know what many of you are thinking. You, like I, believed that our Black elected officials would be the ones that would “have our backs” within the Democratic Party. How could they? They are not even organized at the local level and are, therefore, unable to organize within the party. For the Black community to be successful in holding a party accountable will require organization on our part; something we have been unable or unwilling to do.
I, along with a group of private citizens, have had meetings with both parties prior to their conventions with the hope that we could persuade them to get the issues of the Black community front and center. And none is more vital than the need for resources to come to the cities that we occupy. While our needs are many, we agreed that our biggest need was economic. Part of our problem lies in that we have no centralized leadership, no centralized agenda, and no “functional” unity. If you asked fifty Black people what was our number one issue, you might get fifty different responses. This is what I mean when I say we have work to do internally before we can blame others for what they are not doing, and that work involves organization.
There have been numerous studies done that concluded that Black people in America experience extremely high levels of poverty, unemployment and a general decline in quality of life. All of which are historical (these issues have existed since the end of slavery in this country) and currently structural (many of American benefits are directly tied to your economic status require resources). For the most part, Blacks dominate in every “negative” category and are nearly invisible in every “positive” category. While there are a number of social-economic issues, none is greater than the economic issues related to the “legacy” of slavery – this a subject that America has skillfully been able to sweep under the rug and act like it never happen or if happened it was so long ago it has no relevance today.
The issues that the African American community face are both inter-connected and inter-related and could never have been addressed through some “organic” strategies, but require a serious and sustained “private/public” partnership which has yet to occur. In addition to the massive negative outcomes that we see today, the continuums (if they continue to go unchecked) are primed to produce an even greater negative outcome over the next 25-50 years. This will impact nearly 45 million people and will have severe and alarming consequences for future generations of Americans (kicking the can down the road is a flawed approach). For those that say that voting does not matter and that it cannot get any worse, it can and it will. There are Real Consequences in this Presidential Election.
The general view and economic theories that have been believed and driven by most public policy is that “rising tides lift all boats.” Yet, the Black community still is relegated to the bottom of the economic ladder. The plight of the Black community is much more of a challenge due to the legacy of slavery (economic race was paralyzing). When America experiences an economic boom, the African American community has yet to benefit. The achievement of civil rights in the 1960’s was a good start, but only a start. The key element of those laws was to stop the outright discrimination of Black Americans and to give Blacks Americans priorities (Affirmative Action) as a way to address past acts of racism. Unfortunately, because of a number of issues, including the nativity of the Black community, these efforts were thwarted and undermined.
There was some progress made for 1-2 decades, but it became relatively ineffective immediately after that led by a Republican Agenda. The civil rights “pipeline” was diluted and watered-down intentionally and was hijacked by every ethnic group, until today the term “minority” represents native Hispanic, Native American, Asian, Disabled, Veteran, Jewish, Women, and now the LBGT community has expanded this definition even further. The Black American agenda has been relegated to the back burner again. No other ethnic group, except the Native Americans, has suffered more than the Black American. One can argue that the African American experience was worse because of the duration and the absolute loss of identity and culture.
Working with a group of people that are not tone-deaf like so many in the Republican Party, we have a shot at improving the conditions facing the Black community with a sustained and new approach, which includes a Direct Economic Investment in our cities. The centerpiece of the direct investment has to be an economic bail out of urban cities (we need resources now and for a sustained period). Most urban cities, specifically those that have Black majority populations, suffer from the same economic conditions. They are unable to get in front of the massive cost it would take to improve the conditions of Black American low-income families and communities coupled with shrinking resources associated with having very large poor populations. America spends billions annually to address the same concerns for foreign countries, and has yet to address these issues within urban America that it has helped to create. When Wall Street needed a bailout, it got nearly one trillion dollars. Urban America needs a similar financial bailout. There are Real Consequences in this Presidential Election.