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Strategizing on a California Black political agenda


Last week on KJLH’s FrontPage with Dominique DiPrima, publisher and community activist Rosie Milligan started a firestorm of discussion over her not-finished comments on the state of Black political participation in California and elsewhere.

For the portion of her comments that she was allowed to get out, Milligan indicated that Black folks just have a lot of very serious work to do before we are simply rendered politically obsolete, given our tendency to continue taking where we are for granted. Besides the heat–not necessarily the light–generated in the aftermath of her comments, one highly significant development was Ms. DiPrima’s agreement to try and get Stevie Wonder’s station to support an upcoming series of Black community political strategizing sessions to craft a viable California Black political agenda.

Such sessions have long been needed, now they are positively crucial, and the support of KJLH will be very instrumental in signaling the substantive nature of the undertaking. These strategy gatherings will not and cannot be mere gripe sessions nor simply opportunities to vent one’s frustrations, no matter how legitimate.

Our Weekly will be apprised of when and where the sessions will take place as an exclusive to this newspaper. The thinking, responsible Black public will be invited, and African Consensus protocols will be followed throughout the meetings. That means those who have pertinent and relevant things to say about the topic of the moment will be listened to, but irrelevancies will be noted and then disregarded.

The overall theme of the sessions will be “moving forward.” There will be a comprehensive political agenda report resulting from the cumulative sessions, and it will be distributed throughout the California Black community.

Why is a Black political agenda even necessary in the days of President Obama? Just look around. Educational reform at the policy level and at the grassroots level most frequently finds Black folks absent or poorly represented as participant attendees.

Have you been to a community meeting at a local school lately? Has anyone noticed the significant and steady decline in the registered voting population of Blacks in both the city and county of Los Angeles? Has anyone paid close attention to the quasi-literate state too many of our children are settling for? English has become a foreign language for far too many of us, and mediocrity in math and writing has somehow become not just fashionable, but justifiably acceptable.

How many of you have participated in Dr. Bill Releford’s Black Barbershop Health Programs, or one sponsored by 100 Black Men and several other groups? If so, then you may be up to date on the generally unhealthy condition of most of us–we are way too obese, way too addicted to French fries and pork, and way too undisciplined regarding our overall relationship with food.

Then when we are in medical crisis mode because of too many food indiscretions, the continuing major and petty racisms of (our nation’s) health care (system) kick in, and we are either taken out of here before our time or incapacitated, before we have finished our work to move ahead.

Unfortunately, Black does crack and it’s becoming younger and more genderless as we speak.

Why not a Black agenda and “shouldn’t we hurry up and get one” seem pretty appropriate right now, rather than the questions of further delay and obfuscation.

Are we interested in preserving what we have struggled for and earned, and are we still willing to sacrifice the time, effort and resiliency necessary to hold our own in the 21st century, are questions that should also be in the mix.

Without a planned, thoughtful, and strategic approach to the political future of the Black population, the only future remaining will be one marginalized, disregarded and discredited.

Politics shows no favor towards those who merely wait for reward and succulence. Assertiveness, preparation, knowledge, the ability to articulate, advocate and defend one’s interests are the characteristics that get all the play in politics.

Besides, given both the open season on Black politicians, and their too easy vulnerability caused by alleged and actual unethical conduct, a proper strategy that includes the training of a new generation of young political leaders and public servants well-schooled in integrity, social responsibility, critical thinking and what serving the public trust really means is clearly called for.

Johnson, Sanford, Rangel, and our own Waters and Wright, although accused and publicly sullied, are not all guilty of transgressions, and even those who are guilty, are not all equally at fault for the same level of perfidy.

However, they are now the poster children for Black politicians as corrupt, inept, greedy, self-serving and avaricious. Even though the Bell city leaders are the carnivorous cretins of the moment, during most of 2010 Black politicians have been making the news as the standard bearers of the wrong kind of political tradition–shades of “Birth of a Nation.”

That is not a reputation we can allow to become a permanent tattoo. We and our offspring deserve better than that, so we must do different than that.

Thus, a series of Black political strategy sessions will be coordinated in the next few weeks, possibly in conjunction with Mayor Danny Tabor of Inglewood, to get our political house in order for the current as well as the future well-being of Black Americans in this political system. Political respect and leverage require action, not somnolence; and political decisions made about you are best made by those you have chosen to well represent you, if not made by you directly.

But in politics, there is no white-horse-riding messiah to save you–your salvation and your demise are both in your own hands.

So, for those of you who have been itching for an opportunity to fellowship with others who are very serious about forging a meaningful political pathway forward, keep a watchful eye out in the grapevine–the news of dates, times and locations are on the way. There will be flyers, KJLH announcements, newspaper notices and word-of-mouth. But here’s the word to the wise: Just come intellectually dressed for the occasion. This will be actionable leadership not stultifying rhetoric in the air. Come ready or stay home.

Professor David L. Horne, is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or Non Governmental Organization (NGO). It is the step-parent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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