Last week’s column suggested the establishment of a series of political strategic planning sessions for those very serious about changing the paradigm of our Black political existence, especially the probable consequences of the path we are now on. Juggle the figures however you want, unchecked and uncorrected, we are headed straightforwardly to political oblivion.
Hosted by the California Black Think Tank and, hopefully, radio station KJLH and the FrontPage, session one of “Crafting A California Black Political Agenda” is now set for Saturday Oct. 23, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Vision Theater in Leimert Park.
Who is invited? You are, if you are an African descendant who has something to contribute beyond mere venting and complaining. You must come to handle this issue: “What Viable Political Steps Can We Agree on That Will Move Us Forward and Sustain Us in This Political System?”
Representatives from 100 Black Men, the Martin Luther King Political Club, the Voter Registration Project, the NAACP Political Action Committee, the Deborah Movement, the Community Coalition, the Free Mumia Committee, the Black Newspaper Publishers’ Association and/or anyone else ready to roll his/her sleeves up and get to work on this grand issue is cordially requested to attend. But be cautioned, this is a work session, not a gripe and grumble gathering.
It was stated previously in this column that a specifically Black Agenda was needed because, while we are all part of several interest groups in our daily lives the one that we did not choose and that is a constant in our daily engagements, is our being a Black group. As Ralph Ellison once said, “there is no shame in recognizing our Blackness. There is only shame in once having been ashamed of it.”
In American society, we are disrespected, because we are Black. We are profiled and imprisoned because we are Black. According to Kenneth Clarke’s duplicated and modernized doll study, very young children are yet being taught that the darker the hue, the uglier and more non-preferred is the child. CNN recently did a major study on this issue and found, in 2010, this pattern had not changed.
We need a Black agenda to organize ourselves around, and to serve as a social-political reference point.
Neon Bulletin folks: We are not in a post-racial society, as any non-self deluded African American will tell you, if asked any time of day or night. Race is not only a factor, it is still the dominant factor in socio-political-economic affairs in this country. We have not yet arrived at the ‘content of our character’ phase of American life.
A Black Agenda will tell us politically where to go in order to move forward, what to fight for, how to evaluate gains and losses, and how to determine a lesson for future action from a chance aberration. In politics, interest group agendas–poorly articulated, badly or negligently advocated and weakly, if at all, defended–simply get no play or recognition. Those interests are not even in the game of politics and thus cannot win.
Currently, and for the immediate future until we change it, votes from Black folks in elections are not associated with benefits for Black folks, even when the successful candidates are Black. The votes are respected, but not the Black voters who provide them, nor are their needs and wants.
In order not to become politically irrelevant in this California state, the Black community must get better organized, and it must get more clear-visioned. The Black community will not be saved politically by accidental circumstances; it will only be saved from political oblivion so that it can progress to its full potential, by its own devices.
So, for those who plan to come on the 23rd to debate, discuss, collaborate and agree, think of a Black political agenda that includes:
A. The politics of public education, in which we need to increase the positive value of education among Black youth; adjust positively to the increasing Latino presence in schools; increase the presence of Black teachers and staff in the schools; decrease the percentage of Black youth sent into special education and remedial programs; and increase the numbers and percent of Black youth graduating.
B. The politics of the socio-economic environment, in which we need to increase the political literacy of the California Black population; we need to maintain the political status quo in elective circles while we simultaneously expand our base; we need to establish and maintain an annual series of Black Youth Leadership workshops or academies in various parts of the state; and we need to maintain scrutiny of, monitor, and defend against any public policy choices that decrease Black political influence in California, among other things.
C. The political economics of daily living, in which we need to address chronic Black unemployment and underemployment; lack of housing and land ownership; evaluate the impact of the marijuana initiative on increased Black farming opportunities in California; Blacks and the mortgage and banking industries; the possibilities of economic boycotts for political purposes, etc.
D. The politics of Black health care, in which we need to consolidate a lot of the disparate projects we are engaged in so that we can make a bigger impact on health care disparities; the lack of properly disseminated information in the Black community about help that is available; the HIV/AIDS crisis for Black women, and other areas of concern.
E. The politics of the criminal justice system and the Black community, in which we are losing two generations of African American males and females to long-term incarceration; and lack of available employment and housing opportunities once they are released, as we are simultaneously caught up in the massive disappearance of Black male role models for our daughters to marry, and from whence new leadership needs to be drawn, etc.
F. The politics of public service, in which we need to address the proper training and preparation of our candidates for office, including integrity and public responsibility, as well as establishing an evaluation system for measuring their effectiveness.
These are starting points and sign posts for progress. Come ready, come informed, and come ready to move the Black agenda project forward. Nobody can or will do this for us, but us. See you there.
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.