The Hard Truth
13th November 2012 · 0 Comments
If I had the time…
By Min. J. Kojo Livingston
I’m tempted. Really, really tempted. Tempted to work to make it count for something, the recent election, that is.
If this is not your first time reading my column, then you know that I don’t believe that any presidential candidate will solve the problems of Black people. I don’t believe that this system has the will or the means to give us true and total Liberation. This is something we must acquire for ourselves.
No self-respecting, card-carrying, fully-initiated, Black Nation-alist revolutionary (with his own badge and secret de-coder ring) believes that electing a Black president, governor, mayor, councilman or Indian Chief will fix what is wrong with us or our situation. This is because we spend a lot of our time studying history and critically examining the present. Knowing the purpose and function of anything makes you aware of its potential and limitations. This truth applies to political systems also.
Most of our people don’t do their homework. That is why a large number of Black people now believe that we can sit on our collective ass for the next four years and watch miraculous progress emanate from the White(man’s) House. No way in hell!
However, I gotta admit that Tuesday’s election leaves me tempted, tempted to spend a little more of my time working to reform the system we live under. For this reason I know that this column will displease many of my fellow Nationalists, militants, radicals and malcontents of varying stripes and affiliations. And that actually matters to me, but I’ve got to speak truth as I understand it.
You see this election says there is hope, not the kind that the president is selling, but hope nonetheless. Right now, across the nation, Black people are fired up and feeling good about the election results. I see scenarios where all of that excitement, emotion can be nurtured, cultivated and directed toward objectives that could really bring some relief, empowerment and advancement to our people. Activists are rarely smart enough to even think of doing this. We’re too busy denouncing everything.
Many revolutionaries believe that any form of relief that comes to our people is a bad thing. They believe our people need to suffer more to get us to rise up. I disagree. I believe that what Black people need is more significant victories, not defeats. We need to learn how to win. We need to see more examples of us winning on any level. We’ve become too accustomed to losing, too comfortable with suffering and too accepting of defeat. We actually brag about the long history of butt-kickings we have been able to endure.
I say “Enough!” Let’s win some, for God’s sake.
If I weren’t so busy doing pure Nation Building work, I’d divert some energy to do some of the work needed to make the Obama victory count for something. Like I said, I’m tempted, partly because I love politics and partly because I see a rare, historic possibility.
You see, I separate my work into two categories: Nation-Building and Interface Work. Nation Building involves what I do among Black people to help us gain control of our lives. This includes cultural, economic, educational, agricultural and other programs that can result in short-term self-sufficiency and self-determination on various levels. Interface Work involves anything that requires engaging this system. It includes most of my crisis intervention work – addressing police abuse, racism and justice issues that can’t be ignored because we still live inside this system. I try to spend most of my time and energy on pure Nation Building work, but both realms of work are necessary.
So what has my intellectual juices flowing like this?
First is the Black power that has been displayed. Black people practically willed the outcome of this election in spite of everything working against Obama. We seem to be able to do this from time to time, it’s just that our objectives are rarely worthy of the energy and sacrifice we put out. Integration is an example of something that we fought and died for that did not yield a real improvement in our condition or status. In this election millions of Black people got fired up enough to spend hours standing in the heat or cold to vote for Obama. The point of this could not have been missed by the enemy, but I’d bet the rent that most activists missed it: we can get fired up; we can make sacrifices; we can be motivated to fight for what we want. That’s a lot to work with.
Second is the white vote. We did not do this alone, nor was ours anywhere near the majority of the vote. This means that there may be a larger body of whites than we thought who could be ready to fight this system to get some justice in a number of areas. This does not mean they would ever be ready for an agenda like mine, but on certain issues, we do have a lot of potential allies. We should use this to get some momentum.
Finally, I can’t help thinking about what would be possible if there were a progressive party that functioned like a real political party. The Tea Party is the only entity I know of that actually does this. And they got their approach from studying progressive movements, including our own. They fight and advocate year round to shape the world to fit their view. That’s what real political parties do. They don’t just try to win elections. They go door to door. They have political education classes. They organize and mobilize everyday people to get involved and stay involved in everything from local zoning issues to national elections.
If the above does not sound like the Democratic Party that most Blacks affiliate with, it’s because it is the opposite. The Green and other smaller parties are no better. If you are a Louisiana Democrat you are part of the sorriest state political party in the nation; a party in a state with a majority of Demo voters that can’t win an election. A party that lacks the will to win. A party that last time waited until the day of the election to find, groom and field a candidate for governor. A party with a racist tradition of refusing to support its own Black statewide candidates. This could change with its new Black female leader, but we’ll see. We will see.
Next time let’s talk about how a real progressive political party could: a) create a real platform/agenda for change over the next four-to-twelve years; b) hold the president accountable for really pursuing such an agenda; and c) give the president the tangible, strategic support needed overcome a hostile, obstructionist congress. (“Oh yeah? We got your filibuster…”)
Until Then, that Eternal Question begs to be answered…
This article originally published in the November 12, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.