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June 24, 2004

Black Politics: The Reasons for Change

I have talked about the supply side of black politics and I'll get to the demand side soon. I probably will never cover all of it because figuring out what the people want is a full time job and it never ends. That's appropriate. I really want to comment on the discussion going around about Hiphop Summitry and that particular flavor of politics, noisemaking and exploitation. But in the meantime I want to bring up three points that I made back in January of this year, just before I started going to Ofari's on a semi-regular basis.

These three points constitute the context of what I think black politics needs to address. It is my starting point.

Patronage Or Else
Black Politics will continue to exist so long as the political desires of African Americans are not met. The problem with the very idea of replacing MLK is that, as great as he was, MLK was not elected. When the hopes and aspirations of African Americans are placed in people who are not elected, they do not develop the collective skill of demanding patronage or else. The result is the miserable amount of clout black voters actually have because of the perception that they will only react.

Bring Out the [Stereotypical Black] Vote
In fact the pattern that I see is that political activism in black communities winds up being little more than voter registration drives with the presumption in mind that all the black votes cast will be of one form in order to combat the threat Democrats have agitated against. Without such an external threat, this predominating form of political activism is silent. Between elections, black political desire is ignored.

Republican Integration
I think of integration of the Republican party as additional enfranchisement for African American voters. Today, everyone expects that they know exactly what is on the mind of black voters, and that their influence is merely a question of voter turnout. The apathy is real on both sides. Joining the Republican party takes all presumptions off the table. All parties involved in such political activity have to really think hard about why this is being done. That thinking is not taking place, by and large.

Posted by mbowen at June 24, 2004 09:35 AM

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