Forgetting Black History at the Ballot Box, by Ak’bar Shabazz

February is Black History Month. Also, 2004 is an election year.

If current voting trends don’t change, 90 percent of eligible black voters will vote for liberal candidates, usually represented by the Democratic Party. This obviously helps liberals, but does it really help our community?

Common thought processes would conclude this fierce loyalty would weigh heavily on the minds of liberals when determining policy and contemplating legislation. Actually, the opposite is true. Active here is the law of diminishing returns. Blacks vote so heavily for liberals that their power has become discounted almost to the point of insignificance.

As a result, liberals don’t pursue the black vote. They believe they are automatically entitled to it. They’ve become arrogant inheritors, and feel that they no longer need to provide meaningful representation or a positive vision of the future of our country. It satisfies the current community leaders to simply slam President Bush and seductively promise boons proudly pilfered from the wallets of others.

What example does this provide for our children? Will they become yet another generation expecting handouts and freebies? Will they sit back dormant, anticipating more riches from congressional buccaneers? Does the fantasy of reparations checks, for example, cloud the sight of opportunity and further deteriorate their wondrous youthful potential?

Practitioners of inequity arrogantly condemn our youth to lawless educational slaughterhouses to pacify the teacher unions. To curry the favor of the teachers unions, they force children to attend their government-run neighborhood schools regardless of condition or curriculum. This time, the currency of silver manifests in an endorsement. All the while, the hypocritical legislator themselves may be send their own children to the finest private academies in the state.

Black History Month gives us an opportunity to reflect on the past contributions of African-Americans. We focus on the great names of history: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Marcus Garvey, Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells and others. These civil rights activists, inventors, scientists and doctors made tremendous impacts on our country and the world.

But what good were all of the marches, sit-ins and voting rights struggles for if we waste our vote or maybe even not vote at all? Was the suffering worth it if we select our candidates strictly by party affiliation and who promises the largest bounty?

What good was the fight for desegregation and equal opportunity if we don’t demand higher standards and accountability in our public schools? If taxpayer money is spent on public education, then taxpayers should determine the quality of education that money provides and where the schools can use it. Teachers’ unions and administrators shouldn’t make that determination. That decision should be reserved for parents.

If we once again make the principles of hard work, self-discipline, ethics and values secondary to skin color simply because it now benefits us over others, we dishonor the sacrifices of our predecessors and the opportunities they created. It probably makes MLK weep from his grave. Those currently claiming to be our leaders fail greatly when they ignore the spirit of his famous address in Washington over 40 years ago.

If we base our votes on habit, parental legacies or pillaged goods, we do a great disservice to those who fought for our freedom. If we are now content to have government provide for our families and determine the quality of our lives, we are wasting the opportunity that the enslaved hoped, dreamed and prayed for. It was opportunity and liberty – not security and domination – that or ancestors wanted all along.

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.