As a new Presidential election cycle begins, prepare to be bombarded by the saccharine-sweet posturing of suit-wearing salesmen turned politician. Every putz becomes a pundit as the airwaves are filled with opines on the stupidest shit. The political conversations of the un-savvy usually involve topics such as this guy’s missing birth certificate, or that guy’s vote against gay marriage, what church candidate so-and-so went to, and all that bull.
“What do you think about that Romney guy?” someone asked me. My answer? I don’t give a damned who sits in that chair. We the people believe, incorrectly, that the politicians who occupy the positions of President, Senator, Representative, Governor, and Mayor in our government are of primary importance when it comes to the direction of the country. Wrong. You can have a Senate and House full of Democrats or Republicans and that wont make a damned difference. Its not the people that we should be focusing on – its the policies they advocate and push.
We, the people, and specifically Black men and women will continue to screw ourselves if we don’t hold the people we put into office accountable for the policies they let fly. The ONLY things that we should be concerned with politically are POLICIES . We as Black voters have mistakenly believed since the days of Carl B. Stokes and Maynard Jackson that by pushing a Democrat into office we could make a difference in our lives and our communities. We believed (incorrectly) that by electing more Black Mayors, Governors, Judges, and Police Chiefs that Black poverty, death, and incarceration rates would decrease, that incomes and quality of life would increase, and that cops would stop shooting Black boys on the street.
I DONT GIVE A DAMNED WHO SITS IN THAT CHAIR! - Asad
While its true taht today there are more Black households earning more than $50,000 per year than at any time in America’s history, there are also more Black men and women in jail or prison per capita than at any time in America’s history – and that includes during the periods following Civil War Reconstruction and Jim Crow laws. Graduation rates are abysmal, HBCU enrollments are declining to the point of unsustainability, and the unemployment rate has remained twice as high for Blacks as it has for Whites since the Great Recession.
On August 10th of this year, five New Orleans police officers were convicted of killing unarmed African-Americans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In June of this year, a 13-year-old Black boy was shot and wounded by Chicago police officers, who said he was holding a BB gun. Oscar Grant was handcuffed, face-down on a subway platform, and restrained by one officer when another shot and killed him with a point-blank shot to the back. The execution was caught on at least two cellphone videos. The shooter, Bart officer Johannes Mehserle, served just over seven months in jail for the killing. Earlier that year, Charles Blair Hill was shot and killed on the platform of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (Bart) system’s Civic Centre platform. Robbie Tolan will likely live the rest of his life with a bullet lodged in his liver as a painful reminder of his encounter with a white Bellaire police officer, who fired at least three shots at the unarmed 23-year-old black man in his own driveway. All these incidents happened for the most part over the past four years – and THERES A BLACK MAN IN OFFICE!
There is very little political action taken to prevent any of the above from happening, and no one is holding politicians accountable. No one holds judges or police chiefs accountable by demainding a change in policy. We are incorrect in believing that by putting a likeable guy of Democratic or Independent orientation into office, that equality and justice and the bounty that is the American dream would flow from the hill and bless the circumstances of the people at the bottom. Such foolishness didn’t work for us when Black activists and pastors pushed Clinton into the Presidency, its not working in the Age of Obama, and it wont work in the future if Blacks focus on people instead of policy.
Policy is what you call a politician out on – not who they are sleeping with, when and where they went on vacation last year, or what church they go to. What was done to adress police brutality following the murders of Sean Bell and the shooting of Robbie Tolan? What was done to adress the 20 to 1 gap in the net worth between Blacks and Whites? What is being done to address the declining health, rising violence, and flatlining progress of us as a people responsible for the construction of this country at its inception, and who currently fill the ranks of the working poor? I gives a damn about how much a scumbag politician spends on a haircut. I don’t care about what ish he is talking when more Black men and women are arrested than employed on a day to day basis.
This isnt to say I am abdicating my “do for self” philosophy – I’m not. This is to say, however, that when politicians do more to condone our hardships (or multiply them through ignorant or malicious policies – see Regan’s Southern Strategy), then we should be politically mature enough to call them out and chastise them.
So this election cycle, whether you vote left or right, don’t be distracted by sensational smiles or down-home swagger. The only way that we Black men and women can gain political power is through the understanding of policies, the recognition of the people who push those policies, and by punishing those who responsible via POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC BLOCS.