Independence Continues to Elude the Black Community in America – Part 1, 7/10/2017

It is my belief that one cannot have a conversation about independence of America without having a conversation about the independence of the Black man in America because American history and Black history are totally intertwined. I have always believed that Black history is American history because Black History predominantly speaks to what white people did to Black people during all aspects of the birth and development of America and how Black people struggled under severe oppression to win their freedom while continuing to fight for the elusive full citizenship and independence today.

To be clear, tens of millions of Africans were physically and brutally kidnapped and forced into slavery under the most inhumane and atrocious conditions which lasted several centuries, a sentence that affected not only them, but their offspring as well (legacy of slavery). It is impossible to tell the American story without telling the story of Black Americans. In addition, not only should the contributions of Black people be documented, archived, and celebrated, but the children of those enslaved are due real and tangible reparations that should be reflective of the great contributions our ancestors made without a single penny of compensation. The lack of this compensation haunts the Black community today.

Because of this history, the Black man in America is a unique group and should be given a unique and special treatment. We are neither Native Americans nor are we immigrants even though our blood has been mixed with every other group. The Black man in America was kidnapped from Africa against his will. We were neither casualties of war nor were we incarcerated and imprisoned for some criminal behavior. Our people were innocent victims of the worst kidnapping in the history of humankind, which has had a devastating effect on both the country of Africa and its people. You cannot discuss the state of Black America today without discussing the history of this country.

When the founding fathers were drafting the Declaration of Independence, most of them were avowed racists who believed that Black people could and should be nothing more than slaves. In fact, most of them owned slaves at the time the document was signed. Thomas Jefferson, the primary drafter of the Declaration of Independence enslaved 175 Black women, men, and children in 1776 and 267 by 1822. He began raping Sally Hemings when she was 14-years-old impregnating her seven times. In his notes on Virginia, Jefferson makes inflammatory and derogatory remarks directed towards Blacks. He makes no mention of the rights of Blacks in the Declaration of Independence and he did all he could to circumvent the law to continue his ownership of Black people in so-called “free” states.

It is easy for us to want to romanticize our past to keep things simple, without controversy and to convey the narrative that America wants to advance of being “the greatest democracy on earth.” From one perspective, the founding fathers of America were heroes, but to millions of Black victims, the founding fathers were no different than other white racist who committed crimes against Black people; crimes which are not only unparalleled in modern history, but the legacy of which continues to impede the independence of the Black community today.

By every standard, not only was the Declaration of Independence a great document and a great part of history, but the whole story must be told and must be understood, especially when it comes to the Black man in America. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” This was an obvious misrepresentation especially when it came to the Indian Nation, women, and Black people. America is the greatest democracy in the world and it is great because of the founding documents and democratic systems that keep this country going with none more key than the economic and political systems. Both of these systems today reflect massive structural deficits that continue to handicap the Black community.

The Black community continues to fight against oppression on many fronts in America without many of our Black leaders not knowing where the oppression is coming from and being unable to identify the enemy. The enemy to the Black man lies within the entire American society which was founded, established and built while leaving out a key fact (the enslavement of millions of Black people). America continues to have no answer for this most egregious oversight. Over the past 240 years, America’s institutions have matured and cemented without ever addressing the inadequacies and outright discrimination against a whole group of people whose sweat, labor and blood lay at the foundation of America’s so-called greatness.

In America, the political and economic systems work together; you can’t have one without the other. This can be seen in the most basic way in that America’s laws allowed white capitalists to enslave Black people in the first place (slavery was legal). Today, both of these systems have grown to astronomical proportions and the Black community does not have the capacity to defend itself nor to shape its outcome. Yesterday’s subpar standards are now the status quo. The Black community will never be able to hold America accountable for the unbelievable wrongs done to our ancestors or what the current American institutions are doing to Black people though an orchestrated system of policies and standards that absolutely restrict and/or inhibit our full participation in living the American dream (structural and institutional racism and discrimination) without having a political and economic solution.

In addressing the American political system, I have discovered that, at best, the Black community’s political efforts lay at the fringes of the political process. For the most part, its biggest participation is in the vote, a right which was not won until nearly 100 years after emancipation. It took laws to correct this major indiscretion, but the American political institution was already a goliath. While voting is a key mainstay of America’s political system, the political system itself is much more than voting; it is about interests (agenda). To win in the political system, the Black community must fight at a number of levels including dealing with existing challenges:

What is the Black Agenda? Everything is driven by your agenda and if your agenda is unclear, it cannot be leveraged (i.e. voting rights, education, affirmative action, civil rights, healthcare, class action suits, death penalty, mandatory sentencing, etc.). Our top three agenda items should and must focus on economics, which is at the core of the Black dilemma in America. No matter what you do or where you do it, in America economics will define how far you can go and Black communities have never rectified the economic disadvantage that they inherited. The Black community will be in an unending “invisible” fight in America. If we want relief; if we want freedom; if we want justice; if we want equality; and if we want independence, we will have to earn it through a democratic system that is just waiting for us if we only would act with a higher degree of purpose and political understanding.

Existing laws and activities that suppress the Black vote. There are more than 30 states that have republican control and are looking to further pass laws that could handicap the Black vote, if nothing is done quickly. The impact can be seen with Trump winning the Presidency by less than 100,000 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In Detroit, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee, the Black vote was more than 10% less than 2012 and higher than 2008. Ever since Citizens United, the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision allowing unlimited corporate and union spending on political issues, Blacks and other impoverished groups have been severely impacted. The playing field was already lopsided, but is now permanently skewed.

Supreme Court. With the political continuum pumped and primed to produce even worse outcomes for Black people, the conservative shift of the U.S. Supreme Court will determine outcomes for the next 50-75 years. Those Republicans that hated Donald Trump and everything he represented, voted for him to do what he just completed in the appointment and “gangster-like” Senate approval of Judge Neil Gorsuch. This does not even begin to examine the U.S. Court appointments across the country and the total control of the Department of Justice and the FBI. The final authority for all of our disputes will reside with the U.S. Supreme Court and the question remains: What will be the ideological makeup of the Court and how they will rule?

Electoral College. There is a built-in bias that continues to minimize and suppress the impact of the Black voter nationally because the majority of Americans live in urban areas with approximately 75% of the Black community living in urban America. This can be seen in the several presidential races won by the electoral vote, but not the popular vote. Majority rule does not apply to the election of the President of the United States. This is a bigtime and high-level fight that our community might not be ready for, but until it is corrected, we will continue to have outcomes like the current.

U.S. Senate. All states have two U.S. Senators and this too minimizes and suppresses the impact of the Black vote because states like California with nearly 40 million residents have 2 U.S. Senators, the same as North Dakota with approximately 700,000 residents.

Gerrymandering. The state’s gerrymandering acts have limited the progress of Blacks in the states that have the physical numbers because the redistricting keeps republicans in control of the legislature for many of these states and also the U.S Congress by steering the majority of Blacks into “Black” districts.

Mass Incarceration of Black Men. There are nearly 1.5 million Black men in prison and tens of thousands more who are unable to vote because of the laws governing felons. Under normal circumstances, the Black community would be much stronger politically than it is because fewer Black men would be in prison. Imagine what could be done if the Black community had normal percentages in the prison system; it would produce 1-2 million new voters annually.

Generation Gap. More and more young people (millennials) have given up on the whole voting process because they see no relevance to the political process and the outcomes that they see day-to-day (i.e. Black Lives Matter, etc.). What we are also seeing is the manifestation of this generation of Black people that are materially disconnected from our history and understanding of the Black struggle and, in many cases, have identified with a culture that is self-destructive. Voter education and Black history must be restored so that our young people can pick up the political fight and not abandon it.

Existing Black Politicians. Most Black politicians practice politics like their white predecessors not realizing that the Black communities are voting for them so that they can make a difference. Every individual politician has political limitations that are too many to discuss. Their power lies in their ability to caucus. In the city and states that I have studied, the Black elected officials are the most disorganized and disjointed group in politics. Their caucuses are just in name only and they have yet to recognize and/or utilize their power to represent global Black issues. Neither have they committed any significant time to consolidating their power bases and political influence.

The chief driver for the political process is the public opinion and how the opinions are formed or shaped. In addition to getting direct responses from their constituents, politicians are driven by polls (public opinion) and therein lies a good portion of the Black community’s problem. There is an existing public opinion about Black people and the Black vote that is defined and contributed to by a number of well-funded and intellectually strong and independent organizations which include the following: Political parties (i.e. democrat, republican, independent, etc.); large universities and the number of organizations that they sponsor or house within their university; hundreds of political and economic think tanks; lobbyists and political organizations that work exclusively for the business private sectors of our society that write policy and hold politicians accountable; thousands of Political Action Committees (PAC’s), C-4 Organizations, Pollsters; wealthy individuals, and the media and their political pundits (i.e. print, TV, Cable, Social, Movies, etc.). All of these groups, organizations and individuals help to shape public opinion and none are exclusively dedicated to the Black community.

While the American political system seems totally organized, it is actually decentralized with healthy tensions between cities and counties; cities and states; and states and the federal government. The American political infrastructure is a massive system which is made up of thousands of institutions that share equal power amongst the executive, legislature and judicial branches all under the political umbrella of the American government. Laws are passed by city, county and state legislators and signed by those CEOs (i.e. Mayors, County Executives, and Governors). In addition, each local has a court system that ultimately decides all disputes between all of the participants (public and private) through an organized process of law that if unable to decide can ultimately go to the state Supreme Courts and if one party isn’t satisfied with that outcome can possibly be presented to the United States Supreme Courts (the final authority).

The beauty of our situation is that in spite of the overwhelming political disadvantage that we face, the Black numbers in America (50 million) are absolutely potent, but unless we become politically astute, will continue to be sabotaged by other groups and other interests. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King stated that our power lies in our unity. This is not about giving up or just magnifying the obvious or restating the problems. No, this is just the opposite. One of the major issues facing the Black community is there are too many who are unaware of the depth of the problem and, therefore, suggest “simple” solutions to problems that are much more complex or think that the gains we see in our minds eye can be achieved in our lifetime. This is ludicrous and flawed thinking. The solutions require an advanced level of organization and functional leadership that we continue to refine. In part of two of this article, I will connect the political system with the economic system.

Previous post: «
Next post: »