Electoral Politics Crucial for Blacks

Jul 14th, 2017 | By | Category: Blogs & Op-eds, News & Features, Politics & Law

In this surreal-like but painfully real era of Donald Trump, Black people must re-examine their values and demand more effective leadership. The general public has less confidence in electoral politics and government than it did 45 years ago, even with Richard Nixon’s downfall.  With good reason, Blacks have even less confidence than others in politicians and government’s effectiveness.  However, they generally do not hold elected officials accountable and continue to suffer the consequences of their silence.

How will Blacks navigate the increasingly turbulent, conservative political and economic waters?  The short answer is with great difficulty, given their crippling passivity since the civil rights era. Also, Black leadership’s internalization of their white counterparts’ individualistic and materialistic values contributes to the problem of Blacks themselves reinforcing conditions inimical to their own best interests.

One of the most misunderstood, unacknowledged, and paradoxical examples of Blacks adding to their own plight were their unrealistic expectations for Barack Obama and his presidency.  His iconic status effectively prevented many Blacks from objectively assessing the man or his performance as president.

In his book, The Price of the Ticket: Obama and the Rise of Black Politics, Fredrick Harris, Director of the Institute for Research for African American Studies at Columbia University, offers a sobering and enlightening perspective on how Obama’s “race-neutral campaign” and his subsequent decision-making marginalized the struggle of the Black community.  Harris raises the question of whether the price Blacks paid for Obama’s ticket to the White House was too high. (Erin Aubry Kaplan’s more recent book “I Heart Obama” also provides a broad and insightful examination of Obama’s presidency.)

Harris stresses the irony of Obama’s victory, contending he won by “denying he was a candidate of African Americans,” but his victory underscored the historical   movements that made it possible.  Harris says the disparities in Blacks’ “income and education, stratospheric incarceration and unemployment and rampant HIV had no prominent place in Obama’s approach to domestic problem-solving.” He also looked at the role of the forbearers of Obama’s opportunity and how race-neutral theory negatively affects the Black community.

In his groundbreaking work, The Wretched of the Earth, Franz Fanon reminds us that one of the most harmful taboos is for the oppressed to seize power from the oppressor.  “The foundation of this taboo is the mindset of the oppressed that is conditioned to accept whatever those in power require.  If they are told things are great in the midst of disaster, the oppressed tend to believe it; if they are told that things are getting better, although every piece of evidence states otherwise, they feel compelled to do nothing, and wait for the blessings to flow.”

Although Black people have experienced the brutality of slavery and Jim Crow    segregation there has never been a time when we were as politically fractured or as docile as we are now.  While the election of Barack Obama was an astounding landmark, a close examination of the local scenes illuminated Blacks’ waning political influence in Los Angeles and throughout the nation. We would do well to heed Harris’ admonitions when assessing Blacks’ current status, politically and economically.

Read full story HERE.

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