Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Black Power? No, Not at All
One of the things I’ve enjoyed about this election cycle is the way it has busted all of the myths that many liberals cling to so dearly: the myth of Clinton’s “blackness,” the myth that White feminists care about all women and not just White women and the myth that liberals aren’t as racist as republicans. And my personal favorite, the myth that Black people have made such “progress” in this country has finally been shown for the lie that it is.
Progress, like many other descriptive terms, is relative. For the sake of this argument “progress” is going to be defined as the ability of Black people to make inroads into the power structure of these Unite States of America. When you define progress in those terms then we fail miserably. Too often, when the subject turns to the heavy burden racism still exacts on the lives of Black Americans, people say, “But look at all the progress that’s been made! There’s Oprah, and Jordan and Bob Johnson. Look at Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice. We finally have a seat at the table.” To which I reply, do we really?
What this election has shown me is no, we do not. What we have is a few rich black people, also known as the Black Power Elite, who’s “power” is given to them by their white masters: The Clintons. Not all of the Black Power Elite answer to the Clintons, some have republican masters. But the point is: they all have masters.
And how quick they are to do the Master’s bidding when called upon. We had Andrew Young, a stalwart of the Civil Rights Movement, talk about how “black” Clinton was because of all the black women he supposedly bedded. Robert Johnson wanted to remind us that the Clinton’s did more for the Black community than Obama ever did, since we know he was using (and dealing) drugs in the “community” when he was younger. And then there’s Stephanie Tubbs-Jones who, like mammies of old, will protect her white mistress at all costs no matter how self-loathing and servile it makes her seem.
Yet theses are our leaders. These are the folks we like to hold up forty years after the end of the Civil Rights Movement to show, “how far we’ve made it.” I think Malcolm X, Dr. King and all the others who fought so hard to give us a seat at the table, would be sorely disappointed at these turn of events.
And sadly, this is what happens when diversity and integration are treated as if they are synonymous, when they are not. Diversity just means you have a few Black faces where previously there were none. They aren’t actually involved in any of the decision making, they just add a little color to the place. Integration means that people have a real seat at the table, that power sharing exists and that they have a say in how things are run, be it on a corporate or government level. They can make decisions independent of what the white man is doing and have those decisions validated and implemented. That doesn’t exist in this country and if this election cycle is any indication, I’m not sure it ever will.
In the end, I don’t know what boggles my mind more: the complete lack of power that Black people have this country, despite the cries to the contrary, or the fact that otherwise, intelligent, accomplished people believe that handouts from the white man is still an acceptable and viable way to achieve power in this country. Either way it’s a sad state of affairs and brings into question just how much “progress” have we really made forty years after equality was made the law of the land.