We as Black people must keep pushing, organizing, and demanding a Black agenda centered on reparations.
“The physicality of Donald Trump will be over but not the ideology of white supremacy that possessed his mentality.”
"Be careful of ceremonies without substance" -- Dr. John Henrick Clarke, the late and great Afrikana Studies Scholar and Pan-Afrikanist.
The power of the Black vote is real in American politics. That is why, since the establishment of 15th Amendment in 1870, White supremacy has worked to impede the Black vote by creating systems such as poll taxes, literacy tests, and grandfather clauses. After decades of Black freedom struggles in the streets of America challenging the United States government to dismantle these systems to guarantee the right to vote in the Black community, the Voting Rights Act was established in 1965 to protect the Afrikan American vote given to us in the 15th Amendment. The Black vote has been the decisive factor in many presidential elections through the decades. Both White and Black liberal leaders went to the Afrikan American community to tap into that Black vote to defeat US Republican incumbent President Donald J. Trump. And the Black vote did just that in America. The Black vote absolutely helped defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 US Presidential elections. However, centuries of racial socioeconomic oppression keeping Black people in the American underclass status rages onward without a pause. With the Black vote propelling Joe Biden and his Afrikan American running mate Kamala Harris to the White House, Black people must finally demand that our interests be addressed now. For our loyal support of the Democratic establishment’s backed candidates, a Black agenda centered on reparations must not be pushed aside by President-elect Joe Biden nor by their liberal Democratic political operatives.
“Centuries of racial socioeconomic oppression keeping Black people in the American underclass status rages onward without a pause.”
When the national media came to deliver the news about Joe Biden capturing the Presidency, every marginalized member of the Democratic Party coalition was relieved. On national news, representatives from the LBGTQ and Latino communities gave their analysis on Biden’s promise of protecting their interests, such as marriage equality and the Dreamers act. But one group absent from the conversation were Black people. Our interests were not discussed at all on any national media. We were again made invisible and silent. If anything, what we received were Black liberal pundits like CNN’s Van Jones crying on national tv about the vestiges of Trump’s white supremacy on America and its racist impact on immigrants and Muslims.
Unfortunately, since Black lives don’t matter in America, many people in the US have no idea that Black people are demanding that our interests be protected in a Black agenda. By the way, the Black agenda is calling for many things. One of the first items on the list is Black people attending any two or four college or university tuition free. Why not? It was enslaved Black labor that built America’s prestigious universities.
For example, Rutgers University in New Jersey was established through American slavery. In a Star Legder articled titled, “Rutgers Confronts Its Ties to Slavery in Groundbreaking Report, Adam Clarke says in their November 18, 2016 issue, "Like most early American colleges, Rutgers depended on slaves to build its campuses and serve its students and faculty.”
“Our interests were not discussed at all on any national media.”
In March 5, 2017, Jennifer Schuessler wrote an extensive article in the New York Times about enslaved Black people building Brown University and America’s elite colleges. She writes, “In 2003, Ruth Simmons, then the Brown University president, announced a major effort to research that school’s extensive historical ties to the slave trade. While the move grabbed headlines, there wasn’t a single peep from another university, James T. Campbell, the historian who led the Brown effort, recalled during one panel. Since then, scholars at Harvard, Princeton, William & Mary, Georgetown, the University of Virginia, Rutgers and numerous other schools have done research, sometimes seeing it embraced by administrators only in response to campus activism.”
But Black folks demands for a Black agenda is being pushed aside in a very organized way. Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report wrote an article titled, “Corporate Democrats Want to Run Against Trump-like Republicans Forever,” published on Nov 5, 2020. He writes, “The election data show that Trump’s supporters now include surprisingly large numbers of non-Cuban Hispanics, an indication that the politically white (supremacist) base has new sources to tap and will not be shrinking any time soon. Given such data, the rulers will feel confident in serving up race-based duopoly electoral showdowns every four years, in hopes of putting off a reckoning on economic justice, saving the planet, and peace, forever. It is already quite clear that, in such situations, Black voters will demand nothing but protection from the white hordes, and will create no problems for their corporate ‘friends.’ Of course, none of this is written in stone. There is another politics: a people’s politics of the street – the only kind that can defeat corporate power. Black people are good at this kind of politics, once they become disentangled from the Black Misleadership Class – who are right now claiming to have ‘won’ a great victory for the Black masses. With more substance-less victories like this, Black America is doomed to irrelevance and impotence. A growing cohort of young Black folks understand this and will refuse to go along with the corporate script.”
“A people’s politics of the street – the only kind that can defeat corporate power.”
Let’s remember, Biden did not run away with the presidential election of 2020. Damn near half the country voted for President Trump. And many of the 70 million voters came from the White vote. In Fabiola Cineas’ article published in Vox magazine on November 7, 2020 titled, “We need to talk about the white people who voted for Donald Trump,” the White vote was discussed. She writes, “In 2016, white voters propelled Trump to the presidency, with 54 percent voting for him and 39 percent voting for Hillary Clinton, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center study. And though the end result might be different in 2020 — exit polls are by no means comprehensive or exact — early evidence shows that white people’s voting patterns look much the same: Fifty-seven percent of this group voted to reelect the president while 42 percent voted for Democratic challenger Joe Biden, according to Edison Research’s exit polls of 15,590 voters conducted outside their polling places, at early voting sites, or by phone. That makes white people the only racial group in which a majority voted for Trump, as Charles M. Blow notes at the New York Times.
I am not surprised by the enormous amount of support for President Donald J. Trump. After analyzing the election results, the physicality of Donald Trump will be over but not the ideology of white supremacy that possessed his mentality. The philosophy of white supremacy is not going away right now. White supremacy is real in America. And many White people follow this philosophy. Unfortunately, many people in the United States are under the illusion that White supremacy has gone away under the election of Biden and Harris to the Whitehouse. Nothing is further from the truth. White supremacy dictates the American way of life. Hell, America was built upon White supremacy. The philosophy of white supremacy dominates culture, foreign relations, US relations with Afrika, US relations the Caribbean, politics, academia, images, pop culture, rap music, and economics in America. We must be clear on this analysis. They find President Donald Trump as a representative of White supremacy and the gate keeper of white domination. In fact, white supremacy is being used by White hegemony as a philosophy to keep Black people as a permanent exploited underclass in America, and in the world, to maintain a high standard of living for America and Europe.
“Fifty-seven percent of this group voted to reelect the president.”
On the other side of the political fence is the former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden. He came to the election table with a serious checkered past. In 1994, he helped to co-author the former Democratic US President Bill Clinton’s crime bill. This bill contributed to the disproportionate amount of incarcerated Black men in the US. The law was called the Biden Crime law. It is the largest crime bill in the history of the United States and consisted of 356 pages that provided for 100,000 new police officers and $9.7 billion in funding for prisons. “Communities of color bore the brunt of the crime bill’s effects,” writes Todd S. Purdum of The Atlantic in a September 12, 2019 article called, “The Crime-Bill Debate Shows How Short Americans’ Memories Are.” He quotes the legal scholar Michelle Alexander: “In a damning 2016 op-ed, the author and scholar Michelle Alexander argued that, ‘by the end of Clinton’s presidency,’ many African American men had been ‘relegated to a permanent second-class status eerily reminiscent of Jim Crow.””
In the 1970s, Biden opposed school busing in America that would have helped to integrate predominantly White schools. According to Jonathan Kozol’s June 6, 2019 article in The Nation magazine titled, “When Joe Biden Collaborated With Segregationists”:
“In an education-policy proposal released by his campaign on May 28, Biden briefly spoke of encouraging diversity by giving grants and guidance to districts that are willing to pursue it. But he said nothing to disown his long history as a fierce opponent of school busing and a scathing critic of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. He also took a leading role in fighting what he called “unnecessary busing” by pushing bills that would have forced the federal government to consider other ways of equalizing education—ways that would not have required what old-fashioned bigots used to call “race mixing.”
“Biden said nothing to disown his long history as a fierce opponent of school busing and a scathing critic of Brown v. Board of Education.”
But that was the past. He is now the Democratic US President-elect. Thanks in large part to the Black vote. In fact, the Black vote in cities across America helped Biden win the presidency According to MSNBC reporter Janell Ross, “Biden — who would not have been the Democratic presidential nominee without Black voters in South Carolina — reached 270 Electoral College votes in large part because of Black voters in these cities.
Although Black people saved his bid for US President in the primaries from the challenges of progressive Democrat of Bernie Sanders, and then his run against Donald Trump; his campaign did not reward Black people with a strong specific policy on a Black agenda centered on US reparations to erase centuries of socioeconomic oppression that keeps Black people in the American underclass status. However, what Black folks received was a Black woman as a vice presidential running mate and a vague “Black Lift Every Voice” political platform promise. (Kamala Harris was chosen as Biden’s running mate. This was a right decision by the Biden camp. Black women have been the backbone of the Democratic Party for decades.) But despite Biden’s racist past, and his ambiguous commitment to Black people, Afrikan Americans came out in droves to vote for him this Presidential election season. But we must be careful of the illusion of inclusion. Or as the late Pan Afrikan nationalist and Afrikana Studies Professor Dr. John Henrick Clarke warned us for many years about the deceptive games our oppressors play on Black people: “be careful of ceremonies without substance.”
“Despite Biden’s racist past, Afrikan Americans came out in droves to vote for him.”
Black and White liberal leadership told our people to put aside our legitimate criticisms of Biden to elect him as the US President. And that we did. Black people gave our majority vote to Joe Biden.
The election of Joe Biden to the White House can not lull us back to sleep for another four years. The kazi (Afrikan Kiswahili word for work) begins now to hold Joe Biden accountable to the Afrikan American community for our support of his bid to become the forty-six US President!!!!
It is not a mystery as to why Black people in America are a permanent underclass. Throughout our sojourn in America, White supremacy; legalized racism; hundreds of years of American slavery (the Maafa); and racial segregation have forced Black people to become the second most oppressed racial group in America. (Native Americans are the most oppressed group in America.) Slavery lasted for 250 years in America. It accumulated billions of dollars in wealth for America and White people for generations. America slavery made the United States the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world. Segregation in America lasted from 1896 to 1966 separating Black people from White people for almost 100 years. The system of segregation prevented Black people from exercising life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in America. Using the system of racism, Whites justified the enslavement, segregation, and the racial domination of Black people in every aspect of life in the United States.
Historically, Black people were brought to Jamestown, Virginia from Afrika in chains by White people to be turned into slaves in 1619 in America. Slavery in America, and in Europe, violently stripped Black people from Afrika, of our Afrikan names, Afrikan culture, Afrikan religions, Afrikan spiritual systems, Afrikan languages, manhood, womanhood, childhood, norms, values, folkways, mores, and all connections to mother Afrika.
“It is not a mystery as to why Black people in America are a permanent underclass.”
At an US Congressional hearing on reparations in Washington D.C during the summer of 2019, internationally famous Black author Ta-Nehisi Coats told lawmakers considering a Commission to Study Reparation Proposals that reparations is a "dilemma of inheritance” and that many of the inequities created by American slavery and segregation persist today, including in the form of economic disparities. The highly acclaimed writer said, "the wealth of the typical Black family has 1/10 of the wealth of a typical White family." Coates's is respected for his arguments on reparations. In 2014, he published his widely read commentary called, “The Case for Reparations,” in The Atlantic.
However, after 401 years of the Black sojourn in America our quest for justice has been an elusive prize. This is a wake up call Black people!!! The election is over. We as Black people must keep pushing, organizing, and demanding a Black agenda centered on reparations from the Biden and Harris administration from the local level to the national level despite a Democratic victory with a sister as a running mate over the Republican Donald Trump.
Bashir Muhammad Akinyele is a History and Afrikana Studies teacher at Weequahic High School in Newark, NJ. He is also the co-coordinator for ASCAC's (the Association for Study of Classical African Civilizations) Study Group Chapter in Newark, NJ. (https://ascac.org/)
Note: Spelling Afrika with a k is not a typo. Using the k in Afrika is the Kiswahili way of writing Africa. Kiswahili is a Pan-Afrikan language. It is spoken in many countries in Afrika. Kiswahili is the language used in Kwanzaa. The holiday of Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26 to January 1.
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