Stick to writing novels, Walter
From seperation to unity
A New Black Power
by Walter Mosley
Most black Americans have been Democrats for at least the fifty-three years that I've been alive. What have the Democrats done for us in all that time? We have the lowest average income of any large racial group in the nation. We're incarcerated at an alarmingly high rate. We are still segregated and profiled, and have a very low representation at the top echelons of the Democratic Party. We are the stalwarts, the bulwark, the Old Faithful of the Democrats, and yet they have not made our issues a high priority in a very long time.
Why should we be second-class members in the most important political activities of our lives? Why shouldn't the party we belong to think that our problems are the most important in this land?
I'm not saying that we should become Republicans. The Republicans don't care about us either. But at least they don't pretend to be on our side. And you have to admit that, of late, the Bush Administration has put black faces into high-profile jobs that carry clout on the international playing field. I don't have to like Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice to appreciate that once a black person has been put into a position of power, the second time around is much, much easier.
We are a racial minority in a country where racism is a fact of life, a country that was founded on economic and imperialist racism. Taking this into account and adding it to the fact that our issues are regularly put on a back burner, I believe that it is not out of order to send out a call for the formation of an African-American interest group, or maybe a political unit, that would bring our issues, and others, to the forefront of American political discourse.
If we had our own political voting bloc that paid attention to issues that reflect our needs in domestic and international affairs, things would change for us. The first thing is that many more of us would be likely to vote. Imagine the interest young people would have if they felt we were organizing based on our own interests: They could work for a candidate who represented their issues; they could run for office themselves.
And even though the party would be based on the racial identity that has been shoved down our throats since the first days we came here in chains, we wouldn't work only for ourselves. We'd argue about medical care and Social Security and the good jobs that are disappearing from this nation like fleas off a dead dog's back.
America's corporations, CEOs and portfolio managers don't have to worry about the euro and the devaluation of the dollar. They belong to an international club. It doesn't matter where the most recent SUV is being produced; what matters is that my stockholders and I own a piece of the company that makes and sells those cars.
It takes many companies working in unison to make secure the wealth of American capitalism. Two of the major-interest corporations that facilitate the needs of our wealthiest citizens are the Republican and Democratic (so-called) political parties. They exonerate their actions with numbers of votes, but the wheels they run on are greased by money, and lots of it.
If we took the vote into our own hands, we wouldn't have to ask the Democrats for their support--we could demand it. George W. Bush, or whoever takes his place, will send for our representatives to come to his home to discuss his plans. This is because they have not yet figured out how to dispose of the vote in the American political system.
Imagine it. We could actually democratize America by taking power away from the two-party system and handing it over to the people. Other special parties would arise splintering off from the centrist attendants of the rich once we show them the way.
What I'm talking about here is the beginning of an American Evolution, a movement that will create a series of political interest groups that will transform our two-party system into a kind of virtual parliament. We could construct smaller political groups based on specific interests. There could be Black Party Congress members from Watts, Harlem, the Motor City and a dozen other inner-city bastions. All we have to do is have a fair representation in the House of Representatives to have an extraordinary impact on the wheels of government.
Farmers, women, the aged, angry young white men and, for that matter, true Republicans might create their own small parties/interest groups. These groups would not only have direct representation in the House of Representatives but would also begin to make deals with those people running for senator and President, police chief and mayor.
It's past the time when we black Americans can complain about how we are treated without ourselves trying to take the reins of power. A Black Voting Bloc would be a bold move. Some might say a radical move--too radical. But a country that incarcerates people of color at an eight-to-one ratio to whites played the race card way before Johnnie Cochran. If we could come together and see a way to put balance back in the American political landscape, then we should do it.
This would be political suicide for black people, but I understand the sentiment. Totally disagree with it, but I understand why people are frustrated.
First, while black people overwhemlingly vote Democratic, they do not share all of the same interests or ideologies. Mosely falls into the same tautology many people fall into "why can't all black people just stick together". Well, because they have different interests, just like white people.
Second. this isn't Europe. If you wanted tiny parties, you could have 200 hundred of them, and all kinds of insane coalitions, some dedicated to some very ugly ideas.
If you had a black party, you would instantly see whites react to it and refuse to do anything it offered. Only by being part of a wider coalition, can blacks and Latinos and Asians get anything done. The reason there is no universal health care is based, partly, on a racial spoils system. Poor whites live in fear of blacks taking their little bit of money while sucking down welfare.
Only someone unaware of American history would think this was a good idea. Seperatist parties have usually been crashingly defeated.
Why does Mosely think a black party would suddenly have power because they were a black party? Are our concerns suddenly going to become popular because there is a black political party? Or will it be set upon by the right as disloyal seperatists? Or would it wind up like the Greens, a nest of eternal bickering and loyalty tests?
Here are some of Mosely's ideas for demands and how they will be interpreted:
(1) A commitment to revamping the legal system and the penal
system to make sure that citizens of color are getting proper treatment
and that all inmates are given the utmost chance to rehabilitate and
re-establish themselves in society. (This rehabilitation will include
suffrage for all ex-convicts who have served their sentences.)
Let the niggers run wild raping white women and running soft jails. They
don't get enough time as is.
(2) An expectation that there be equal distribution of all public
wealth and services among the citizens, no matter their income, race or
Take money from hard working people and give it to lazy niggers on welfare
(3) A demand that a true accounting for the impact of slavery be
compiled by all government bodies in authority over records that give
Digging up the past
(4) A universal healthcare system.
Socialized health care. The government telling you what doctor to see
(5) A retirement system that will assure older Americans the
ability to spend their later years in relative comfort and security.
Don't we have that now?
(6) A commitment to assemble a general history of our nation in
both its glory and its shame.
A socialist, unamerican version of history which blames people.
I mean, you don't have to be a genius to see how this would end. The party would be discredited, it's ideas mangled in the media.
We have to be smarter than this. We don't have the luxury of this self-indulgence and constant bitching about the Dems.
You want power, do what the fundies do, get those church ladies in the street, and working the community. Pass felon voter laws, so more people can vote.
And where I and Mosely agree, pick better leaders. We have some very bright people who need to be encouraged to seek higher office. Eliot Spitzer picking David Paterson to run with him is the kind of thing we need to see a lot more, not just picking your kid to run for your seat.
We also need to start supporting our successful leaders better. Cynthia McKinney was run out of office by AIPAC while the Atlanta black community watched. Two years of Denise Majette and McKinney was back in her seat. She thought she could run for governor and win. In Georgia.
Well, that was that.
And we need to stop with the paranoia when people challenge the establishment. Barack Obama, now a liberal hero, was attacked like a rabid dog when he ran for Bobby Rush's seat. The first time Cory Booker ran in Newark, the suspicion was that he was an agent for the Jews, because he was supported by Yalies.
These are liberal democrats for God's sake. Which is why I laugh when conservatives whine about how we attack black Republicans. We attack Democrats with the same vigor when we don't trust them. Because the issue is trust.
But also, instead of building racial walls, which this would do, we need to knock them down. We need to work with class, so we can stop the game where they pit us against each other. All a black political party does is heighten seperation, while we all suffer from the same problems. There are a lot more poor white people who remain poor and suppor the GOP because they want to protect their racial status. They get stolen from because they have been convinced that being white mitigates everything else, even while their GOP overlords kill them with indifference.
Blacks are a minority and Latinos will remain one for years to come. It is not in our interests to wall ourselves off as an interest group so nakedly, because that will prevent anything we want from happening, because it will be seen as the needs of a special interest, and not all Americans.
Black people want to have the same rights and lives as anyone else. But isolation is not the way to seek inclusion.
posted by Steve @ 12:05:00 AM