For decades we have heard our local leaders, pastors, and politicians speak on the importance of the black vote. We understand that our elders fought for the right for Black people to vote. The sacrifice of our elders was not a small task to ensure that black people could exercise their constitutional rights.
The recent big Super Tuesday push by black voters to vote for Joe Biden for the Democratic Nominee once again has brought to the forefront conversation of the importance of the black vote in our national elections.
In 2020, What are we voting for as Black People? What are the standards that we use to vote for a candidate?
For many Black people, the narrative is, let us get a candidate elected to office, to claim they’re on the winning team is enough for many Black folks. This notion has been the ignorance of our collective, and then we conveniently blame the white man why our political, economic, and family institutions are at a constant decline before our eyes. But as long as we’re able to take photo ops or sit close to the table at a dinner dance with those we supported, we are oblivious to the long term damage our ignorance has done to the many Black communities throughout the nation.
As usual, Black People will give an insulating pass to our struggle and legacy of slavery here in America. In one of the debates, Biden was asked a question about slavery. Instead, he spoke on a record player. The New York times questioned Biden’s Answer in an article, headlined “Biden Was Asked About Segregation. His Answer Included a Record Player,” but the blatant racism in Biden’s response there was no push back from Black leaders.
Black folks are brainwashed to forget that Biden was one of the authors of the 1994 Crime bill. It is impossible, or just hypocrisy for any Black intellectuals to praise Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow” but not hold Biden accountable for being one of the architects of the Mass Incarceration of Black People.
The legislation was aimed at addressing rising crime in the country. It contained a host of policing and crime prevention provisions — including “three-strikes” mandatory life sentences for repeat violent offenders, funding for community policing, and prisons. It authorized $30.2 billion, according to a Congressional Research Service report on federal crime measures. It increased federal crimes subject to the death penalty. It enabled juveniles to be tried as adults for violent and firearm-involved federal crimes.
Two weeks after Clinton signed the big crime bill in September 1994, Biden voted yes for the Riegle-Neal interstate banking bill. This bill helped deregulate the banking industry. No matter Republican or Democrat, they uphold and support racist systems. So low-level drug dealers, majority Black youth, have the weighted, strong government on their backs. At the same time, shady bankers, usually white, got get out of jail free cards and walked away with millions.
Blacks continue to insult our struggle by nickname Clinton, the first Black President, and now running to Biden’s aid without any concrete commitment from Biden. We have forgotten that the legacy of this crime bill still has harmful effects on black communities across the nation and not one politician can give you an answer on how to fix it.
Black folks are victims of what has been called” Spectacle Political Orhkastras”, where politics is just a big show with no reality, only to win the vote but without real policies and legislation that will change on the lives of Blacks at the bottom. We vote for the lesser of two evils instead of voting for power in systems and policy.
Why is our Black leadership scared to talk about having a Black Political Agenda? Having a Black Political Agenda is a long-term political plan that’s needed for the advancement of black people on all institutional levels.
The fight for the right to vote is and was directly connected to the black suffrage of Blacks people who have a direct coalition to black people’s right to vote. Black suffrage has been lost in an age of identity politics, a political process, and systems still based on the narrative of white supremacy. What we have are black faces just guiding the system, not changing or creating a new system built of justice and equity for their people.
Black voters make up about the same part of the Democratic Party as two parts that a lot of analysts like to excite for their growing power (college-educated white voters and very liberal voters).
In the Presidential election of 1936, Black people overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party, especially for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Even though President Roosevelt’s win with the Black vote was not necessarily seen as a vote for the Democrats but, an election for Roosevelt himself and the policies of the New Deal.
Black folks became loyal to the Democratic Party from the passage of the Civil Rights legislation but no real agenda for the whole of Black people and black communities. The reality was that the Civil Rights did not stop White Supremacy or embedded racism in America’s institutions. The truth is that the Civil Rights has reached its limits; it is now a need for Black Power exercise through a Black Political Agenda.
In my research, the only Black Elected Official that has spoken openly about the need for Black Power and a Black Agenda was the late Congressman, Adam Clayton Powell. The Black Power movement was prominent in the late 1960s and early 1970s, emphasizing racial pride and the creation of black political and cultural institutions to nurture and promote black collective interests and advance black values. Adam Clayton Powell summed the campaign up in one quote.
“Black Power means Black Dignity. Just as sure as your proud to be White, we are proud to be Black. Black Power means dignity and integrity. We are going to walk side by side with you or through you. We don’t want any more than you have, and we are not going to accept any less than you have.”
In another speech, describing Black Power, Congressman Powell said, “Black Power is merely of an attempt of equality of dignity, an equality of character, an equality of recognition, of non-Blacks of our negritude. Black Power means the saving grace of our United States.”
The Black Power movement expressed a range of political goals, from defense against racial oppression to the establishment of social institutions and a self-sufficient economy, cooperatives, farms, and media. Even though the Black Power movement scared off many of the Civil Rights leadership, many labeled the movement and separatist movement.
If we look closely at the lack of Black institutions, economy, cooperative, and even Black awareness through the public educations system, Black people have come to a standstill since the hight of the Black Power movement in the 60s and 70s.
According to a CNN report, Black voters make up about 20% of all Democratic voters, according to 2016 primary exit polls and 2018 data from the Pew Research Center. To put that in perspective, about the same percentage of Democrats identified themselves as “very liberal” in the average 2016 primary with an exit poll as the percentage of Democrats who said they were black. Additionally, just slightly more Democrats are whites with a college degree than are black, per the Pew Research Center.
The election of our first Black President, in retrospect, was more symbolism than long-lasting substance. Obama’s election was two-fold. As a Black man is was a beautiful thing to see a Black man and his family in the White House. But, as a Black President, there were only moments that Obama responded to Black concerns and pain as a Black man. I get it; some say, Obama was the President for everybody, not just for Black people. Black Politicians are the only ethnic group that has to or care to make those statements when elected.
The real truth is that Black people let Obama down, we didn’t put the needed pressure on the first Black President to be the President for Black People. There is an old story with President Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr. Even though the former President might have agreed that Black people should have rights. He told King that he had to “Make him do it”! That’s where we fail with our Black politicians, we do not make them do anything, we allow them to dictate to us what they’re going to do for us. This is not how politics works in any other ethnic community except the Black community. We failed to make Obama do more!
A Black man in the White House with no Black Political Agenda and no Black Power; we failed. Our educated Intelectual was unable to produce a document of Black political wants and needs. We were just happy to be in the White House. Many in Black leadership is perfectly aware of our lack of organization around any local and national Black agenda. There are those in Black leadership that take advantage of our disorganization. Instead of fighting inside the system, many Black leaders that have controlled the narrative with lofty promises by a party that will never deliver. The Black masses are always sacrificing grassroots Black solidarity and change of the status quo.
What did all the rallies and marches get black folk? Fifty years after MLK March on Washington for Jobs and Justice, we are still marching for Jobs and Justice. Sixty years later, the average white family is worth about $171,000, while the average black family is worth $17,600. The result is the lack of wealth in the black community and Blacks being born into a disadvantage of earning power. Whites make $1 million more over a working lifetime than their black counterparts. We should be ashamed of ourselves that in 2020, we are still marching for the same rights and benefits that our ancestors were fighting for 60 years ago.
Blacks have shunned the vocational labor professions. Black people today have more college debt, less access to banking services, and lower pay than their white counterparts. The racial wealth gap is a reflection of long-term policies, practices, and systems by both the public and private sectors that have systematically disadvantaged Black communities. This is why grassroots Democrats are critical of smiling Black leaders who promote what they call Democratic values when every other day a young black boy or girl is beaten by police on social media.
Politics unspoken rule is it’s quid pro quo but has the masses of Black people receive for their vote? Was there ever a Memorandum of Understanding for what we get for our vote? The lack of Black Power and a Black Political Agenda give a false sense of security that we live in a post-racial society.
There is an old saying, just because your my Skinfolk doesn’t mean you’re my Kinfolk. The meaning of this day refers to that just because you are the same color that I am does not mean you’re going to represent me as one of yours. Only 38 percent ( 4 out of 10) of Black people view political representation in elected positions as a catalyst for increased equality, according to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey.
Polling done by the Pew Research Center has suggested that among self-identified Democrats, blacks and Latinos are less likely to describe themselves as liberal than whites. The majority of blacks say they are moderate (44 percent) or conservative (27 percent), while just 26 percent said that they are liberal.
So, what benefits have black folks received for their loyalty and their vote? Is there anything that black people are getting for their vote that no other ethnic group is getting?
Black politics with no real, local state or federal Black agenda has hampered the navigation or any negotiations with other political party’s. Bad enough, even Black Republicans have fell victim to no real Black agenda in a Trump-era political landscape in the Republican Party
Where are the plans from our Black elected officials for the advancement of Black People? Where are the long-standing economic strategies? Not just the usual seasonal jobs that handed out as political favors. Black People need substantial commitments on policy roadmaps. Instead of being Sheppards to community success, we have paid political announcers.
Our ancestors fought and died for the right to vote, for us to use this vote to empower the masses with change. They did not make these sacrifices for a select few kneegrows to prosper. I have always said, Black folks lack the Marine Corps mindset that the platoon does not go any faster than the slowest man. Meaning, if one family in the Black community is without shelter, without clothing, without economic standing; then we all are in that same condition. Our ancestors never intended fo us to give our vote to the highest bidder or some Black symbolic gesture. They did it for political, policy and economic freedom, something we have not yet have accomplished.