01 May 2003 African-Americans Painting Themselves Into a Corner of Irrelevancy, by Eddie Huff
For some time, I’ve believed most of black America gave up on Dr. King’s “Dream.”
At its core, King’s dream was of a unified nation where all races had common values and enjoyed the benefits that come with those shared values. In the last several years, however, I’ve become increasingly convinced of a major effort to keep black America a separate nation.
A concerted effort has been made to shape the thinking of black America to harness, if not outright enslave, this major voting bloc. Please allow me to provide some historical perspective.
Long ago, in Africa, we lived under tribal rule. When Arab, and later European, slavers came to Africa, they simply won over the tribal leader and the rest of the tribe did what they were told. During enslavement, taskmasters were found among our people to keep us in order and in check.
Following emancipation, new leaders were found. Those seeking to manipulate the black community approach pastors and community leaders, who are often one in the same. As Election Day nears, politicians come into the community to “visit” with pastors and court our vote. What other ethnic community offers such a low-cost and effective access?
I know there are those who pretend this isn’t true or want to keep it “our little secret,” but we all know better. Every election, the same discussion comes up: what happened with the black vote, and did we make a difference?
This helped ensure black political viability over the last 35 to 40 years, but I’m afraid it may be coming to an end. After so much influence from one side of the political spectrum, black Americans are fast approaching the point of irrelevancy – and possibly even becoming a liability.
This was acutely evidenced in an April 4 Gallup poll. In gauging support for the U.S.-led military action in Iraq, 72% overall supported our efforts to oust Saddam Hussein. Specifically, 78% of whites supported the war, but only 29% of black Americans voiced similar support. To show how contrary we were, even 44% of liberals, who largely opposed Bush’s military build-up, supported the effort. Other minorities also overwhelmingly supported the war.
My point is not to discuss the legitimacy or justification for the war, but rather that our worldview as a group is so contrary to the rest of the nation that there should be cause for concern. Being this far removed from any rational discussion begs the question of whether we can still be taken seriously.
Reading black-oriented Internet chat lists or listening to black radio will quickly reveal that opposition to the Iraqi conflict is not so much about Iraq or an anti-war stance as it is about a hatred for the President who led us there.
The liberals pushing us lost control. Our zeal has turned to hatred, and extreme positions like almost monolithic black opposition to Operation Iraqi Freedom could lead us losing political power.
Even the left may begin asking whether or not we are an asset or a liability. NAACP Chairman Julian Bond felt compelled to release an official statement shortly after the release of the Gallup poll to state that the NAACP supports our troops and urge African-Americans to do the same.
Congressional Black Caucus member Harold Ford sees this slide, and attempted to address it in his bid to become the Democrats’ minority leader in Congress. He was bashed for his efforts, even by many of his black colleagues.
As other minorities overtake blacks in population, and as they integrate and diversify their voices within society, our clout will diminish. To question and dissent on issues is one thing, but to stand in stark opposition based upon pure irrational hatred is another.
I think we need to ask ourselves some serious questions. First of all, what is America? Next, how do we want to fit into that America, or do we? The answers to these questions may determine our future.
Will black Americans be relevant, contributing citizens or a divisive liability to a healthy society? Community leaders should not answer for us. It is something we must decide one person at a time. If and when we do that, we may become more relevant and powerful than we have ever been in our history.