An African American blog of politics, culture, and social activism.
Politics cannot save, but they might make our lives better. Let’s be clear, politics is no substitute for faith. Religious faith answers the question about life and death. And politics can never answer the great mysteries of our finite days on this earth. Nevertheless, politics are important. Political organization addresses how resources are divvied up and how they are conserved. Democratic politics also help to mediate disputes through lawful processes.
How we organize ourselves politically is a perennial question. It is especially the case for African Americans because the American political system has been racialized and historically against our interests. Though that’s a part our history—we also have another part of our history that is rich in political reflection and activism.
We have served as both a foil and a progressive force in American politics. Our politics more often than not has benefited not only African Americans, but all Americans! So, while politics cannot save, they must not be avoided by using, two equally dangerous lines of reasoning–defeatist fatalism or the opium of religious exuberance.
Let us assess our strengths! First we have political strength. Culturally, since American slavery, we are a community made up thick network of biological family and fictitious kin . More plainly, we kin, yawl!
Everywhere I turn there are networks of families and familial relationships. Too often we take these for granted. Yet, in my opinion, this is one of our most potent forces politically. That is, all of us can pick up the telephone, email, or put word out to our kinfolk on the street about important concerns within our community.
As families and kinfolk we can encourage one of another to participate in the political process through voting, volunteering, and educating. With the strength of our kinship ties, however weak we might perceive them to be, they are our are strength and our first gateway to political organizing.
Granted, a lot of us get frustrated with our families. Family and kinfolk come with their share of baggage. However, let’s examine the baggage. Most African American families are drained financially. This creates all kinds of hostilities among family members. It would be incumbent upon any political organization that builds it foundation on these kinship ties to challenge the economic order and secure employment for people.
The kind of political organizing I am calling for here would use our own in-house family values, not ones promoted by conservative/evangelical male pundits.
Our politics would promote African American owned businesses and encourage us to use our dollars in more productive ways.
In your community has there been analysis of where our dollars go in our respective communities? Small businesses alone cannot solve our problems, but they can begin to help by hiring young black workers.
In an increasingly pressurized economy, African Americans we must join our collective interests into a broader movement with progressive Latina/o, Environmental, Businesses, and Labor organizations.
Our politics must be intent on relieving the pressures in our households that destroy our family network. By addressing our familial economic concerns the implications are enormous for love relationships, family ties, and the overall strength of individual black men and women.
Here’s some ways to get at our political interests:
• Which of the current people running for office have come to an organized meeting and discussed African American economic needs and desires? How is this reflected in their campaign ads and in their speeches?
• Look through the ballot initiatives carefully. See which ones will do adverse harm to our community. See which initiatives threaten our already fragile economic well-being.
• Of the people running for office locally see how many of them have African Americans in their businesses or offices before they ran for office? Which ones have African Americans as window dressings on their staffs?
• Of the parties vying for our votes determine how best their party’s agenda correlates with the economic and educational needs of our families?
• Which elected officials bidding for our votes have address in their platforms the issue of the criminalization and imprisonment of black people, especially our young black men?
• Of the parties and individuals seeking our votes determine their funding and educational priorities for urban school districts.
Individually you and your families must act on these questions once you learn the full answer to your questions. Here is the simplest thing you can do: call your kinfolk and urge them to act in concert what you have learned from your local and national politicians and vote! One thing I am certain of, if we must build an organization around the needs of our families! All of us will be stronger in the long run. Politics cannot save, but they might make our lives better if we act collectively together.