By Arelya J. Mitchell, Publisher
The Mid-South Tribune and the Black Information Highway
The alarms are sounding. The sirens are screeching. Because once again as with every other four years the frantic calls are going out for Black citizens to vote to save the Democratic Party and to splay themselves against a post to become the Republicans’ whipping ‘boy’.
This has been an election where the modus operandi continues to be the same as it has since the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments became part of constitutional law; the same as it has been since the 1965 Voter’s Rights Act was enacted and constantly re-acted when cries of voter suppression rears its ugly head as it aims itself at mainly one group—and one group only—whose voters are singled out for that suppression: Black voters.
This has been an election where Black Americans continue to be the litmus test strip on which America’s two major political parties can test if a candidate is conservative or liberal.
This has been an election where the word ‘Black’ is right up there with any other four-letter word. It has been an election where the Hispanic vote is talked about and negotiated; it has been an election where the gay vote is talked about and negotiated; it has been an election where the women vote has been talked about and negotiated; it has been an election where the Middle Class is to be saved because it is the only ‘class’ that can aspire and has a right to the American Dream. And we all know that the word ‘white’ is the unwritten adjective that can be placed before Middle Class. It has been an election where ‘Israel’ was taken out of the Democratic Party platform and put back in and where ‘Israel’ was again invoked positively in the last presidential debate on foreign relations to appease the Jewish community. Why? Because the Jewish vote can negotiate even if it is not always talked about.
In 2008 when covering the Democratic Convention, I sat and observed for days how the Black press was treated like that S-word, and like the rest of Black America we all took being treated like the S-word because we desired deeply for history to be made .
Now here we are four years later in the 12th year of the 21st Century and little has changed for Black voters. Because there are those who are under the allusion that America is post-racial. We have sat throughout a presidency where America’s first Black president felt obligated to let Black citizens know that he is “not the President of Black America” to further reassure White America that it can feel comfortable with him—that they needn’t be threatened with him at the helm – that he won’t rock the boat. We have watched him operate like too many Black politicos who when they get their prize make sure they separate themselves from the Black community except when election time rolls around or when they get into trouble. We quietly sat by when he reprimanded the Congressional Black Caucus as if they were petulant children who needed to be spanked or rather taken to the woodshed again so White America could feel comfortable with him at the helm. We watched him tell these Black lawmakers on whose backs he rode to ‘stop whining’ but we still can’t figure out exactly why he thought they were ‘whining’? We sat by and watched his team of mostly lily-white strategists make sure that he wasn’t surrounded by what might be perceived as ‘too Black’. Except now that the race is winding down, it’s okay to sprinkle some chocolate chips here and there in the vanilla crowds or for him to be seen around an all chocolate chip crowd—as long as there are long intervals in between.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough.
But let me continue. As I said and do let me repeat, here we are in the 12th year of the 21st Century and nary a word has come from either the Democrats or Republicans about the dreaded Black-word or African American-word. Not once in a debate was it pointed out that Black Americans who also serve this country with toil, blood, sweat, and tears have the highest rate of unemployment and that its state of entrepreneurship and building businesses has been nil and discriminated against just as badly if not worse than banks discriminating against Black homeownership. Nary a word about the high incarceration of young Black males many of whom if they had been white juveniles would have been sent home to mommy and daddy for the same crime to ensure they had clean slates to begin college and careers. Nary a word about how these young Black bodies have been and will continue to be used as fodder toward a move for prison privatization. Of course, they are disposable. They are Black children. Why wouldn’t they be disposable? You have a public school system that has escalated into pseudo-prisons to get Black children ready for the real deal. When you see nine and 10-year-old Black boys in orange jumpsuits that should be a wake-up call to Blacks if nobody else. Just think about it. Have you ever seen a white nine or 10-year old sporting orange attire? Nary was there a word about how Black inmates who have paid their debt to society are still being deprived of their rights to vote as restored citizens. Of course they shouldn’t have rights. They, too, are disposable. Nary a word about the lost of a Black middle class because it truly was never part of The Real Middle Class which has now become the rallying cry for both parties. Of course, The Real Middle Class is still under the allusion that it is the only ‘class’ going through economic hardships. It still does not realize that it is sinking into becoming America’s next ‘Negro’ and that it would behoove them to realize that we’re all on the Titanic and that it is was only the very rich who bought the lifeboats and who are now on land watching from the pier as they sink—along with the rest of the ‘Negroes’. The Real Middle Class and the Black voters have let the powers-that-be pit them against each other when we all know that the ‘rich will always be with us.’
Let me stress again the word ‘negotiate’ for votes. Black America owns nothing. Blacks are still laboring in the cotton field where it does not own the cotton. Black America’s economic model is based on consumption. Black America is the ultimate consumer and it has been cordoned off to remain that way. History will bear that out. Each time Black America attempts to endeavor in capitalism to be part of that ‘Hidden Hand’ it has been slapped back into economic ownership deprivation (which Rosewood and Tulsa, Oklahoma will attest to as well as Black entrepreneurs such as Robert Church whose wealth was stolen, or how the Negro Baseball League was ruined because it was creating Black wealth, etc. etc. etc. and ‘mo etc.) Any non-Black immigrant can come to America and lay out stakes without repercussion. This is why I don’t give a damn when a white immigrant or newly arrived immigrant boasts about how he or she came to America butt naked with one shoe and made it. Why? Because they came to America wearing white skin and that essentially was all it took to get one step inside to achieve the American Dream. They can go into any Black neighborhood, own a piece of the action, and again proceed to achieve the American Dream. And there’s nothing wrong with that. And because they have come to America and pursued the American Dream and captured the American Dream, they can ‘negotiate’ their votes and get such legislation as the Dream Act to make citizens of those children of illegal immigrants. Gays can negotiate because they have economic –ownership clout; white women can negotiate because they are part of The Real Middle Class. The Jewish community can ‘negotiate’ because it has economic-ownership clout. When these groups scream, the screams do not fall on deaf ears because they have economic clout backed by dollars they own; dollars that can be re-circulated in their communities because they own their means of production.
We Black Americans jumped up and down and hollered with joy with a Come-to Jesus moment when America got its first Black President only to, let me reiterate, for him to tell us that he is “not President of Black America.” We get that. No president ever elected has been President of Black America, because Black citizens were not the Real Citizens. We got that when such distinguished men as the Tuskegee Airmen came home to fly on Jim Crow wings; when Black World War I and II veterans came home to be embraced with ropes and apartheid laws throughout every state. We got that when the March on Washington occurred so one day a citizen who was Black could be elected president. We got it and we still get it.
One day, America will have its first woman-American president, its first Oriental-American president, its first Native-American president, and its first Jewish-American president. Can you sit back on your couch while watching television and imagine America’s first Jewish president saying that he is not the President of Jewish Americans? Do you think he would go before any Jewish group and tell them to “stop whining”? Do you not think that America’s first Jewish-American president would not look after Israel? Or that he would forget that his people suffered the Holocaust? Could you even begin to think that he would reprimand B’nai B’rithor the Anti-Defamation League? Do you think it would even cross his mind to make such an assertion just to make the rest of America feel comfortable on the souls of over six million Jews who were cremated alive for just being Jewish? There is a history—a reason—for such groups not to forget and for such acknowledgements from their respective representatives not to forget.
I personally would have no respect for the first person who would become America’s first Jewish-American president who would ‘forget’ and not try to make a better world because of that history. And obtaining this ideal should be the goal of anyone who runs for President, including Gov. Romney who refuses to see Black Americans as Americans or perhaps even as people. Period.
And if one looks closely enough, one can see that all these white billionaires and zillion-naires who endorsed President Barack Obama the first time are not so dumb as not to realize that America needed a face of color because down the road Africa is coming into play and it could very well be China that will be in a position to ‘negotiate’ on the planet’s richest and blackest continent. As usual, it will be Black business-owners and Black entrepreneurs who will be left out in the cold being denied participation on what will be a new economic Black frontier; it will be Black-owned businesses that will be left in the cold as they were during post-Katrina when you had a government who blatantly said it could find no Black-owned construction companies to give work to. And this is the same government in the form of the U.S. Department of Agriculture who aided and abetted banks in stealing Black farmland that eventually brought about a class action lawsuit against the government. And these are only but two BIG examples that were happening to stunt Black-owned economic growth long after the 1964 Civil Rights bill and extremely long after the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments became law. Yet when these big banks and Wall Street firms received bailouts nary a Black-owned business did. Oh yes, how can I forget? There is the cover called ‘Small Business and Minority Business’ which when you get down to the figures is a mere euphemism for any minority as long as it’s not Black; thus, this is why banks’ CRA reports make great fiction.
When Solyndra failed with nearly $17 billion the government supplied with a Black president at the helm and with his enthusiasm and endorsement, I am sure every Black business-owner and Black entrepreneur thought Solyndra would not have failed if it had been Black-owned for the mere fact it would never have been given a Lincoln penny in the first place to get off the drawing board. The same can be said of Black-owned businesses and Black entrepreneurs who want to go into Silicon Valley which everybody knows is for Whites, Indians from India, and Orientals ONLY; yet, these Silicon firms are given access to capital not only through big investment banks that were given bailout billions but further receive lucrative government contracts under the helm of a Black president who only believes that immigrants, Orientals, and whites should be the only ones to occupy Silicon Valley. It is okay for Black children to learn the keyboard of a computer equivalent to that of a typewriter while everyone else learns how to write code, because we all know that Black students don’t have the brains anyway, can’t be taught anyway. America’s educational system continues to have the same mindset that the NFL once had when it thought Blacks couldn’t be quarterbacks because they couldn’t think like a white athlete. It is the same mindset why America continues to stunt Black human resources to a point of utter despair.
I hear the alarm bells going off. I hear the sirens screeching, but I am going outside to sit down on the porch and drink my Kool-Aid. And I don’t care that you might be calling me every S-word or N-word in the book, because I am going to lean back further on my elbows and drink my Kool-Aid because, you see, it doesn’t really matter if we maintain our first Black president or get in another anti-Black people Republican, the Black vote is still disposable until the next election, because we, as Black voters, have yet to learn to make demands regardless of what party gets in. Because there is no vision from either of these candidates, and as the Good Book says, “Where there is no vision, the people will perish.”
I sit on the porch with my Kool-Aid knowing full well that the next ‘revolution’ for Black achievement is going to have to be on the economic front where we are no longer viewed as the 2015 Nielsen-projected $1.1 trillion consumer to be raped of our wealth and talent; where our Black-owned businesses are viewed as mere things to be mentored by white Corporate America or as toys for Affirmative Action charities; or when African nations open there doors we are blocked from participating on an international front, or where our young gifted and Black college graduates are utilized in Corporate America as window dressing for Affirmative Action and EEOC repellant and ultimately to keep other Blacks from coming in from soiling the corporate white structure.
I sit on the porch drinking my Kool-Aid knowing that Dr. King’s last speech “I Have Been to the Mountaintop and I Have Seen the PromiseLand” was about Blacks achieving economic ownership rights. I sit on the porch drinking my Kool-Aid because I know that yes we can sit at the lunch counter, but we have yet to own the counter. I sit on the porch knowing that it was the economic-minded Blacks boycotting that backed the civic action of Mrs. Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat to a white man which brought down a whole urban bus system. We have seen a history of Black-owned banks or what were once proudly call ‘penny banks’ that when once they began to grow, white bankers stole them, blocked them, destroyed them because Black business people were getting too much access to capital. Black businesses were being built and growing to employ other Blacks. Read about Black economic history. Know the Black economic history.
But you know what? I realize that I don’t even own my Kool-Aid. But you know what really hurts in life is when a family member or a best friend turns against you, and I feel deeply this is what America’s first Black president has managed to do to Black voters. It hurts when your own gives you crap. When your own disrespects you and calls your complaints ‘whining’.
If Romney wins, the Black vote will still be disposable.
If President Barack Obama wins again, the Black vote will still be disposable.
I am not saying that I will make sitting out here on the porch drinking my Kool-Aid permanent, but for this election, I am sitting it out because I am tired of being taken for granted and/or ignored. And in the words of the late great Fannie Lou Hamer who had to integrate the Democratic Party, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Black citizens of these United States of America have got to get beyond the voting booth; beyond every four years of attempts to suppress the Black vote. Get beyond the alarm bells and sirens. The fight now has got to be on the economic and entrepreneurship front to create jobs for our own as well as other Americans. You cannot continue to have a productive America where a group of Americans continue to be cordoned inside a United States of Black Poverty without the whole ship sinking and a whole country sinking into Third World status.
In another ten years or less the Hispanics will be amalgamated into mainstream America and will own its economic means of production as it has begun to do presently. It will be amalgamated into white mainstream just as the Irish American was amalgamated into white mainstream America.
Post racial. There is no such America as long as there is no true economic access to pull as much of Black America and Poor America into the American Dream and into another Dream Act, for I truly believe that most people regardless of race, color, and creed want the Pursuit of Happiness and have a God-given right to pursue it. I never thought in a million years I would be doing something I have long condemned: Not voting, but I honestly believe in my heart, mind, and soul that those on whose backs I stand (including my late father who helped found a voting rights organization), I must this one time say ‘No’ to a party that only recognizes me every four years and to a party that has no reality check that Black Americans are hard working and patriotic and that they have fought on the battlefields only to return home to be treated like that proverbial S-word.
Now leave me in peace and let me take another sip of my Kool-Aid and watch November 6 roll by into another100 years of history as yet another lesson that Black America refuses to learn.
My head aches, my ears pierce—there’s that blasted siren again!