I have said til I’m blue in the face, if we do not get criminal justice reform after the national and international outrage and protest following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, we will never get it. Since then, the officer who had his knee on Floyd’s neck on May 25, 2020, has been prosecuted and convicted, the vigilantes who hunted and killed Arbery have been prosecuted and convicted but the knee that has been on our collective necks for hundreds or years have not been removed. While these two convictions are important and maybe be worth celebrating the work is not done. Even with all the outrage, protesting and noise being made because it was the catch phrase of the day, The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act still has not been passed.
John Lewis passed away July 17, 2020, and all kind of fanfare and tributes came out the mouths of all his colleagues both Black and white, both Democrat and Republican. Praise for all the work he did to fight for voter’s rights, but these same politicians still have not passed The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. It passed the House in January and died in the Senate. The people demanded both these acts be passed and we pacified by the establishment of Juneteenth as a national holiday. President Biden, in what he called “one of the greatest honors” of his presidency, signed the bill two days before Juneteenth itself, which is on June 19 each year. While again that is important, it was not what we were asking for but in celebrating what was sold to us as a victory, we stopped complaining about things like voter’s rights and criminal justice because they made the Black Independence Day a national holiday. All that means is white people will now get a paid day off as well, so you have to excuse me if I do not accept that. Instead of passing the voting rights bill there is a movement all over the country to not only to strip us of our right to vote but make it, so our votes do not count, when they are casted. Oh, and fighting for our right to vote and for our votes to count is not enough, we must stop just giving away our vote and truly understand the power of the BLACK VOTE, but that’s an editorial for another day.
If you are owed $50,000, should you just be happy when they government gives you $50 or $500. Should you be celebrating, I don’t think so and that’s why I cannot allow myself to celebrate something we weren’t necessarily asking for at the time. We were asking for criminal justice reform, the protection of our voter’s rights, ending qualified immunity, reparations, wage equality, minimum wage raised to $15, affordable, high-quality childcare and preschool, affordable housing and much more but all should be right with the world, and we should be satisfied because they made Juneteenth a national holiday. When will we stop accepting crumbs from the table and continue to fight for the meal and a seat at the table?
I remember seeing a lot of outrage and feedback publicly and privately and all-over social media when Congressman Jamaal Bowman voted no to Joe Biden’s bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill last month. I remember reading about him and other voting with the Republicans, voting against his own president, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about it. It was the talking point of the day. I understand why, but I also noticed the deafening silence now while the Build Back Better Bill is being held up. Upon the request from several of our readers and some of our local leaders, we invited the congressman to come and explain his vote – if you missed it, you can view it here. While I’m not here to advocate for the congressman and defend his vote, when he says he felt if they voted for the infrastructure bill without what he called the human infrastructure bill – that were attached to each other – they would lose their leverage to get it passed. I will leave it up to you to agree or disagree with his thought pattern on the topic, but I am saying again where is the public outrage and statements from every politician now.
I understand the mentality we should take what they give us, and we may end up with nothing, but in each of the examples above we got something, but we did not get what we are asking for. When do we say no I do not want the crumbs that fall off your table, I want the whole meal, I want a seat at the table? As long as we are willing to take anything they give us for fear of not getting anything we will never get what we want and what we deserve. When do we finally get sick and tired of being sick and tired of the knee on our collective necks and say we are not going to settle this time? When do we say we are not going to stop fighting until we get what we want and deserve?
Now we are being told well you might have to wait on the Build Back Better bill if you want the voter’s rights bill. Its December, the bill passed the House in January. John Lewis died July 2020, but now that we are fighting for the human infrastructure bill that would subsidize childcare and create a universal preschool program for 3- and 4-year-olds, create a federal paid family leave program, drive down the cost of prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate with drugmakers, raise taxes for the wealthy and corporations, provide coverage for Seniors to be able to get hearing aids and services through Medicare, a slew of green energy tax credits for businesses and individuals and more. Now if we want federal protection for our voter’s rights, we should be happy and wait for this human infrastructure stuff. I ask again, where the hell is all the outrage, I heard last month? What happened to the push back?
As I stated earlier this is not about defending Congressman Bowman and others’ decision to vote no, but I do have to ask maybe they were on to something. Maybe they weren’t as crazy as they were made out to be. Maybe there was a method to their madness. There is so much more I could say right now and so many other examples I can give, but I will make this one short and sweet. and leave you all with this thought. Why should anyone give you anything you aren’t willing to fight for? When do we finally understand this is a marathon and not a sprint? When do WE THE PEOPLE stop waiting for elected officials and politicians to fight for what we want, and we stand up and fight for them ourselves? Let these elected officials know if you are not going to vote and pass legislation in our interest, we will vote you out and vote someone in who will?
There’s a war going on outside, nobody’s safe from. Problem is, we do not recognize that war is being engaged against us. We think or our actions make it appear we think this is a game. Politics is a participatory sport, that means for change, real change YOUR PARTICIPATION IS REQUIRED!!! Where are all those who had so much to say last month? What happened to all the demands and fight for justice and equality? And why should we expect anyone to take our demands seriously if we are not willing to continue to fight for them until we get them and make sure there is an Or Else if we don’t get what we are asking for? So, for all our people complaining about what we don’t have and what they won’t give us, WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO DO TO GET IT? Happy Holidays! For those of you that about more than just words and willing to fight, see you on the front lines in the new year! If you are not willing to put in the work, shut up and take what they give you and that’s REAL TALK! Peace and Blessings!!!
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show. AJ is a Father, Brother, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Hip-Hop Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.