How long will Black Americans serve as sacrificial lambs? On August 4th the National Association of Black Journalists held a plenary session at their 2011 conference that consisted of Michael Steele, Dr. Cornel West, Sophia Nelson and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. The session stirred up a lot of engaging discussion but what stuck out to me most was a statement made by our Atlanta mayor. Though I voted for him and consider him to be a smart business man, a remark made by him at this conference severely disturbed me. Reed responded to a statement West made in reference to President Obama helping the poor. “The minute Obama tries to provide programs specifically for Blacks, he will be out of office faster than you can bat an eye…” he said.
Steve Harvey had his share of remarks on his syndicated show saying, “Healthcare reform is a plan that helps Blacks the most and we should understand if the POTUS doesn’t mention a program being directly for Black folks… he is the President of the entire United States, not president of the hood.”
What I am trying to understand is why do politicians mask helping Blacks as helping the poor, convicts and the jobless. Will there ever be a time when can we directly say, “I pour out this liquor for my black homies”, similar to when the president (or other elected official) says this program is for Native Americans (federally protected reserves, casino subsidies), Hispanic immigrants (immigration repeals, ESOL in public schools), corporations (stimulus packages), unions (protective laws for collective bargaining) or for the gay community (incorporation of civil liberties). What is the shame in helping Blacks? Is this really political progress or is it societal setback? Imagine the commander of a military unit that refuses to help remove a fallen soldier from danger, even if that soldier brought the situation upon himself? We would be outraged.
Are Blacks that soiled, infected and bastardized that a politician can’t say that a specific program, aid or relief is designed to help Black folks without committing political suicide? Are we only good enough to meet up with shady elected official at the motel but not good enough to say hi to him at a political function? These are the same persons who directly ask for the votes of Blacks. This seems as exploitive as the crooked pastor who says tithe your entire paycheck this week and you will see a doubling of your investment within a week and when it doesn’t happen, find rationale to justify them missing the mark. Meanwhile, when they asked for the money they promised an instant return by a specific deadline! It keeps the Black group poor but Black politicians economically sound and America divided.
The vast majority of national voters are White, so when we say we can lose a national political seat we are accepting that Whites dictate what is politically acceptable. However, after further assessment of this design I feel that not being able to directly assist Blacks only contradicts many of the statements made by Whites (and others) that racism is a thing of the past. I would want to believe that the majority of our country isn’t racist, so why is helping a disenfranchised group political suicide? If the educated members of the Black group who have been selected by a diverse group of people aren’t the ones to help tear down these walls of division, then who is it supposed to be?
Exactly what is it? Is it that blacks are too ugly to take to the prom, or is having a relationship with us against the religion of our country? Always a bridesmaid but never a bride? I would be the first to point out when we, as Blacks go wrong but in this case it’s hard to go against us socio-economically when there’s no justification.
If an esteemed, respected and prestigious Black politician isn’t there to help change the way people view Blacks but are willing to help change the way people view Latinos or Gays, what are they there for? We are not talking about White politicians who would feel it would lead them to political suicide because they are directly helping Blacks. There may be some patience in that area. However, we are talking about “supposed” Black change agents who are able to reverse the stereotypes that plague the Black group, cripple America and keep us racially divided and at odds!
As soon as it is time for Blacks to receive relief, our President becomes the President of the United States, which infers to me that theoretically Blacks aren’t a part of the United States. If you are President of the United States, president of a state, or president of a city then there should be no issue helping a woman, man, child, animal, Black, Jew, White, immigrant, poor, business owner, union, teacher, convict, Latino and all others because all of these groups contribute to the growth of this country.
At the end of the day we know hate is wrong in theory but so few are willing to take the step to bridge the disparities. I always say, if no one takes a chance, it leaves everyone at risk. Let’s stop feeling like being friends with the less popular people in our society is a stain to our personal repertoire because really and truly it is a stain on us as a nation.
Devin Robinson is a business and economics professor, columnist and author or “Rebuilding the Black Infrastructure: Making America a Colorless Nation.” You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.