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A California black political agenda, 2008


Just in time for this election season, the Black Think Tank at CSU, Dominguez Hills has come up with a reference guide for asking questions, evaluating candidate’s records, and up-scaling the community activism of the California black community. Other groups have their own political-economic agendas, and usually they try to use us to accomplish benefits for themselves. Latinos clearly have an agenda, as do Jews, for example. There’s nothing unusual or even unsavory in that fact alone. That’s just politics. Groups who can organize themselves, identify specific goals and directions, and who can stay focused, usually win and win consistently in the game of politics.

Those groups who stay unfocused, and who primarily rely on crisis mobilization, praying and complaining, usually get exploited and brutalized by American politics. That too is politics.

Fairness, after all, is not its m.o.

So where’s the Black Agenda, after all this time?

Seeking to provide at least a partial answer-the Black Think Tank specifically calls their production A Black Agenda, not The B.A.—the California African American Political and Economic Institute at CSUDH (CAAPEI) brought together a group of longtime community activists, youth, academics, former elected officials, and economic experts to form a continuing search for solutions of the economic and political kind. The group’s first production was this Black Agenda.

According to the Introduction in the pamphlet, “Regarding improving the lives of black citizens and residents in California, below are the five basic areas of concern as determined by the CAAPEI Black Think Tank’s intense discussion and investigation. These five areas constitute what we believe should be the core set of action items whose accomplishment will markedly improve the quality of life of California’s black citizens.”

Rather than another booklet to lay on the coffee table or shelf, the Black Agenda is aimed at a set of action items that can be utilized to encourage, advocate and propose strategic positions, policies and pragmatic programs through community groups, governmental entities, and self-initiated projects. ” It is not expected that any individual or group who accepts this Agenda will attempt to accomplish it in its entirety, but rather will choose the items within its expertise or interest and work diligently on those. The cumulative effect of such small ball approaches should be the accomplishment of the whole Agenda and, consequently, significant improvement in the quality of life for the black population in California.”

The action items are grouped into five categories: Public Education, the Political-Social Environment, Business and Economic Development, Community Health and Wellness, and the Criminal Justice System. Under Education are points such as ‘Increasing the Positive Value of Public Education to Black Youth,’ ‘Increasing the Number of Effective Black Teachers and Staff in the Schools,’ Increasing the Numbers and Percentage of Black Youth Graduating and Either Getting Into College or Acquiring Gainful Employment,’ and  ‘Decreasing the Huge School Drop-out Rate Among Black Youth.’ Under the Criminal Justice System category are items such as ‘Advocating, Strategizing and Promoting Either the Reform or the Rescission of California’s Three Strikes Law,’ ‘Mounting and Sustaining a Public Campaign Against the Glorification of Thug and Prison Life for Blacks,’ and ‘Advocating the Increased Expunging of Non-violent Criminal Records.’

The Black Agenda has already been sent out to community groups, legislators, churches, and individuals. CAAPEI expects various aspects of the black community to use the Agenda at candidates’ rallies to ask those seeking office and black votes whether they, as potential officeholders, have programs to fit any of the items on the Agenda, and if so, what are they. If not, why not? The Black Agenda can also be a report card on legislators, black, brown and all around. In order for the black community to get more than what it has traditionally gotten out of our elected leaders, the community must demand more in a focused, coherent way. The Black Agenda motivates that.

For copies, call (310) 243-2175 or go to

Currently, the Black Think Tank is working on a plan for improving the economic well-being of black Californians.