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The politics of moving backward as we try to move forward


Practical Politics

Boy, there are some head-scratching moments these days: Public legislators not checking for live microphones as they speak openly about how they really feel about constituents who helped elect them; elected state officials who behave as if the Rules of Parliamentary Procedure are mere fluff points to be used or ignored once the racial instincts of White elected officials are irritated enough for them to try and smash the legislative lives of their young, Black colleagues; long-serving city and county officials who step off into the danger zone of corruption and arrogance and damage, if not destroy, an enviable community servant’s reputation, yet expect all to be forgiven, etc.

These are indeed troubling times, and our way forward does not always seem clear-cut and sharp. This past weekend, in Baltimore, Md., there was a major national/international conference held to bring disparate voices of the Black Liberation/Pan African Movement closer together: the Black State of the Race Conference. This was not the first time for such a gathering, and there were plenty of luminaries there—people who have put in the time and the effort to move Black people forward. They were there to discuss options for further forward movement, and how to increase the interest among the Black youth.

At the libation interlude at the beginning of one of the major sessions, the young woman conducting the libation called out the names of a number of well-known Black activists, then asked the crowd to add more names. Virtually every name she called out and that came from the crowd was that of a Black heroine.

The Black Lives Matter contingent responsible for doing the libation then got severely criticized by a well-known male activist who challenged the exclusion of any Black male ancestors and heroes in the ceremony. His view was that the BLM contingent had let their LGBT interests lock out their common sense. A general bruhaha broke out that suspended that part of the conference for quite a while.

There was no coming-to-Jesus moment, and virtually no notable agreements occurred, in spite of the presence of at least 150-years of Black activism experience being in the room. When one’s individual predilections and choices are allowed to run rampant, little ever gets done for the masses. And that’s still news.

It is interesting to note that though most in the crowd claimed to be Pan Africanists dedicated to full African independence and development, it did not occur to many of them that---though there is clearly homosexuality and LGBTQ activity in several African countries---for the most part African states and voices have gone on record to reject the broadening of such activity.

The African Union’s Pan African Parliament, for example, when it has issued any group positions, has usually included a ‘keep-that-stuff-in the USA and the West” alert, Africa is not interested. Common sense and logic would seem to suggest, at least for those who claim to be Pan Africanists, that they listen.

Although this next statement is a break from the narrative above, this writer must say it. Many, many condolences to the family of long-term performer and activist Harry Belafonte. Your contributions to the improvement of the Black condition were spectacular, consummate and never-to-be-forgotten. Rest in peace, warrior-artist. Rest in peace.

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 stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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