The Hard Truth…Making Obama count
19th November 2012 · 0 Comments
By Min. J. Kojo Livingston
The Obama re-election could be a great thing for Black people, but only if we put the work in.
The question that militants always debate is whether any reform of this system is worth working for. My answer is yes, I believe that any form of progressive mass organizing that we do can elevate the political consciousness of the people’s and enhance our awareness of our own true power. From there, the sky’s the limit, based on our own skill, will and wisdom.
Many activists don’t believe that it matters who is in office, that the political puppet masters call every single shot. Actually it’s not that simple. Elected officials do have the ability to do lots of things that they want to do, just within certain defined parameters set by law and by the powerful people who put them there.
Obama could do a lot of good, if he wanted to. However, instead of waiting to see what he wants to do, Black people need to do what other groups do and declare specific expectations…and then be prepared to help fulfill them.
It remains to be seen whether Sharpton, Jackson, Dyson, and the gang will continue to be the President’s defensive line, protecting him from both criticism and requests for action on critical Black issues. But it should not matter. We should quickly get clear on what a second Obama administration should produce. Since all the other “special interest groups” from Wall Street to the gay rights movement had their issues addressed last time, you’d think we would automatically get ours on the front end this time. You’d be wrong. In politics you only get what you work for, fight for and horse-trade for.
The first thing (my mantra) is to develop an agenda; a set of practical, meaningful objectives that address real needs and that people would actually mobilize around. I believe the list should be short but meaty. I think we should push for only three to five major goal areas over the next four years and use the momentum from those victories to accomplish more things afterwards.
I actually have six initial goal areas to choose from. They are:
Black Wealth & Jobs Creation — a goal of establishing 100,000 stable Black businesses over the next four years, plus an effort to enhance existing businesses would answer most of our employment. Contracting with HBCU’s and Black financial institutions to do tech assistance would also help strengthen these institutions operationally and fiscally. Just do right by Black farmers, they could be the key to exploding Black wealth.
Excellent, Culturally Competent Education for all Black Children — You could start by declaring high-stakes testing for minors a form of child mental abuse and outright academic malpractice. This is provable. Then start replicating and funding what is already working. Yes, and work in a sustainability component to help schools generate a substantial part of their operating budgets through gardening and other business ventures run by students.
Destroy the Cradle to Prison Pipeline — The “Justice for All” Initiative—Get HBCUs to study patterns of discrimination from traffic stops and searches to sentencing, to prison rehabilitation programs. Push for local, regional and federal citizen review panels. Set up a monitoring process to annually review the racial decision patterns of every criminal judge in the nation. Make everybody in the system accountable. Stop schools from sending children to jail. Offer youth something better than crime. Use positive media to counter negative messages in music, movies, etc. Give incentives to artists who direct positive messages at youth.
Environmental Justice — Implement and enforce policies that protect people from polluters and the planet from the greedy human viruses that want to consume it.
World Peace Initiative — Bring the trillions of dollars of war money home. Stop attacking nations that have not attacked you. Stop arming both sides of wars. Stop creating and training terrorist groups. Start seeking real and fair solutions for peace and sharing of power/land/resources in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Healthy Nation Initiative — Start promoting preventive health by teaching healthy eating and living habits in schools, churches, community centers and media. Give tax breaks to doctors who dedicate part of their practice to low or no income and uninsured individuals. Make it easier for qualified naturopaths and osteopaths to operate. Investigate and challenge the high cost of health care and medicine (class action). Investigate, monitor and bust medical gouging, including unnecessary procedures and medications. Stop testing drugs on the public.
Of course there’s always more, but this is a column, not a thesis paper.
Next time we will look at what ordinary people can do to get the president on board and go to war with a congress whose only goal is to block the president from getting anything done. “Obstruct this!”
Until then the ball is really in our court, the future is whatever we make it…
This article originally published in the November 19, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.