Changing the Face of Politics

It is not uncommon for the mister and I to discuss a range of topics while eating dinner. We laugh, get passionate, and agree to disagree on everything from the latest news to celebrities to thought provoking articles we’ve read. Usually the conversation shifts to the state of our community because this is one of the things we are both extremely passionate about. You probably think of me as some ‘fro rocking, fist in the air, black power, Angela Davis type, always talking about “the people.” I do indeed rock an ‘fro, but I promise I’m not sitting around griping about “the man.” I just love my people.

Yesterday, the beau and I had dinner with his father in which our discussion primarily focused on politics and its relationship to people of color. After watching the State of the Union address, watching news commentators analyze President Obama’s speech and reading a few of the next day headlines, I was curious as to what others thought about the address.

My thoughts on the SOTU aren’t really that important. However, I thought radio host, journalist, hip-hop historian, activist and deejay Davey D’s post “Thoughts on State of the Union: Great Speech, Great ACT-Key Word ‘Act’” summed up what many Americans are feeling, but may deem too unpatriotic to express. The post is definitely worth the read. A few lines from Davey D’s post:

It was clear last night with all the flowery rhetoric, President Obama was concerned about one thing… getting himself into political position to be re-elected. That’s his agenda. That’s his interest. As former Vice presidential candidate Rosa Clemente pointed out in our round table interview the other day, ‘President Obama’s job was to make a good speech to make everyone feel better even as things are progressively getting worse for many’.

His job is to prop us up. keep the proverbial natives from being restless and run some more game that takes us further down the hole. That’s his goal. What’s ours?…

He continues:

We did this in 2000 when millions of voters were disenfranchised in Florida as we watched all 100 senators including the fool we voted for Al Gore, not raise their hands to fight for further investigations and recount counts. Y’all remember that right? Y’all remember the opening scene in Michael Moore’s documentary Fahrenheit 9-11?

So last night’s State of the Union was hollow and the realization that as much as I would like and naively expected, this president is not trying to address the realities that are impacting my world on a daily. There is obviously another audience he feels needs to be reached. Maybe its corporate backers, or some phantom independent voters in the middle of the country. Whatever the case it’s certainly not the activists who was leading those huge marchers or organizing to bring about the changes I described.

So God Bless to those he was speaking to. For the rest of us, we understand this script. We dust ourselves off, regroup and come up with a better game plan…one that ensures the interests of poor and working class are not only protected but pushed forward. That’s the goal for 2012 Support and votes are not guaranteed

That’s how President Obama is playing it. He doesn’t see us as friends, his homies or anything like that. He sees us as potential voters who need to be seduced or conquered into buying his agenda, which bears little reflection of our realities. I understand.

Great Speech, Great show. President Obama deserves an Oscar. His act is convincing. key word ‘Act’.


Back to last night’s dinner. The three of us pondered how collectivity the state of black people has gotten worse since the Civil Rights movement and yes, integration. My argument was heavily based in the idea that if the Tea Party, which only grew after the election of President Obama, could organize, receive sickening amounts of media coverage, influence policy makers and have their demands heard, it is the very least people of color could do.

Davey D reminds us that we’ve been in the trenches organizing for a long time. And we have. But it isn’t enough. Our needs aren’t being met, we are still oppressed and injustices still happen to us far too often. How long are we going to wait for someone else to fix our problems? How long are we going to discuss the reason our communities are the way they are without actions complementing the discourse?

The beau made a great point. “New York, the Mecca of hip-hop, couldn’t even get Kevin Powell elected.” Perhaps this is an indication of black people and the youth’s relationship with politics. And maybe we have to become more politically involved to further our causes.

Is politics imperative in the fight for the change? Do black people need a movement or revolution of some sort in order for things to change? Does Davey D’s sentiments of the SOTU resonate with you?

*I highly suggest reading Tim Wise’s “Imagine if the Tea Party was Black” article.

  • NMW

    YES…I effs with Bene…

  • NicoleNDN

    This article really made me think. Not until I attended college at an HBCU was the rich, beyond the surface history of our people truly understood by me. During and after college, I became and still am, absolutely obsessed with black history. Because of this obsession, it is my usual to attend several black history museums and openings throughout each year. And each time I tour a different museum I see pictures, quotes, etc. of those who struggled before us, who actually sacrified something, their money, their safety—their lives, to have a voice in the issues that affected their communities the most. I am always uplifted by these vists but also saddened. Where is our movement?

  • NicoleNDN

    Unfortunately, I think we have been lured and have lured ourselves into believing, all the "real" change has happened, that there are no more movements to be had. I am saddended because where are the people in our generation(myself included) that are willing to band together for the sake of a cause that is bigger than us? Easy. We are at home tuning into and facebooking about "The Game." We do need a movement, as evidenced by the most recent egregious and inequitable ruling in the Ohio mother's case, the GA prison strike and many more issues just like these that show up in my newsfeed(thanks to Boyce Watkins) everyday. Are politics required? No, I dont think so. But a willing, impassioned group of proactive black citizens ready for change is.

  • Imma just stick with the question. Given the state of our people, activism is what’s needed not engaging in politics. They are 2 different things. Polictics on all levels is too easy the bastardize which many citizens, black or otherwise have done. Activism in the community is visible and tangible. As small as the internet has made the world, the local civil or social rights leaders are the voices that need to be heard.