� They Just Don't Get LA | Main | Dr. Terrence Roberts �

January 24, 2006

Overloading Black Politics

I'm shutting down Vision Circle after a good run and there have been a thousand lessons learned. One of the most important is what's on my mind right now, and had a lot to do with my conclusion in converting Cobb to the new format:

I will however be less likely to get caught up in the struggle at the blogospheric level as I am convinced there is no political forum of substance, depth and popularity here which is capable of changing the dynamic of what goes on in the greater public. I have seen the black blogosphere and it is what it is. But it is hardly the catalyst for change I might have imagined, nor is there any indication to me that may be in the offing. Practically speaking that means I will spend a whole lot less effort making writing things 'for posterity'.

The blogosphere is about aggregation, not about change. It's about fleshing out ideas, but people still go where they go. And very few people wander out of their own comfort zones. The blogosphere is passive. Transformative politics needs to be active. The surprise of Vision Circle comes from Ed Brown, the last pundit standing. As a late-comer to the game, he was constantly reminding all sides that we were taking our arguments a bit to far - that mischaracterization of left and right dominated discussions, truces were more likely than synergies and blackfolks persist anyway.

It is that last note that strikes me today in consideration of my first viewing of The Delany Sisters: Having Our Say. I watched it with my 10 year old daughter this morning and what I found that the film's great strength was it's simplicity. It was all about people just living their lives in hard times and the hard times were defined by a society that motivated individual whitefolks towards injustice. Like a hundred bee stings and several roundhouse kicks to the dome, a lifetime suffering from white racism could rip up anyone's character. But not those Delanys. They had an inner strength. But that inner strength was not based on politics. There was nothing in their politics that was extraordinary, and quite frankly nothing in their lives was against the standards I would hold for my daughters, or of similar people at the time. Yet they stand as a shining example, simply because out of all we consume from media, their story is exceptional. That says more about our media diet than anything.

I am hesitant to say so, but I've known it to be a fact that people who tend to expect the most from politics often have the least from family. This is a common sense observation and it informs some of the Conservative criticism of the Welfare State. We should not, I reiterate for the boringeth time, depend upon politics or the government to give us personal gratification or bolster our self-esteem. We seem to have lost, in reaching out with identity politics, a grasp of the essence of citizenship which primarily involves sacrifice for the common good. Instead we have invoked a sort of Hobbesean deal from those who have for the benefits of the have-nots. That's fundamentally a decent idea, but not when the have-nots are getting a state-sponsored identity out of the deal. That kind of care and feeding requires family. Family is what's going to save you from the slings and arrows.

So going back just a few months to the most recent and glaring example, our friend of great distinction Kanye West banged the needy drum once more with his observation that 'President Bush doesn't care about black people'. Is politics supposed to care? Politics is supposed to be a negotiated settlement, but there is not an active negotiation for black politics of West's sort going on. That's why it's episodic. When Jesse Jackson shows up to say the same thing at every photo op, this is a symptom of the kind of demand created for the politics of caring. But the basic contradiction is that politics is not an avenue for showing love. I think a bit too much of that thing which is popular black politics is looking for love in all the wrong places.

I am a Republican because I expect my politics to reflect my class interests, and I am not like a limousine liberal. I recall a poster in an episode of the Simpsons that showed a man putting a necklace around a woman's neck. The caption read "Diamonds: Because money equals love". I'm not on either side of that false equation.

Posted by mbowen at January 24, 2006 01:38 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Mike, this is a gem.

100% agreement.

You sure you're not a progressive? :-)

Posted by: DarkStar [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 24, 2006 05:20 PM

The blogosphere does drive change. It is slow however. Like a glacier the movement is slow, unseen and relentless. The blogosphere let's you step out of your comfort zone in the safest easiest way possible, and in as small of increments as you want, but you still drift out. There are millions of silent readers out there quietly assimulating information, opinions and perspectives that they would never have come in contact with. Passive transformation can create deeper change with less resistance.

Posted by: MikeM at January 25, 2006 06:14 AM

Other groups scream and they are heard. We scream and it is said we are looking for love. I'm sure black people know that this government doesn't care. But, why should we accept less than what everybody else is getting. A government should be for all its citizens. I am neither Democrat are Republican because I find both to be deficient. We need a new paradigm. This system is not working for us. Conservatives say we shouldn't expect anything from this government although others expect and get. Liberals say that we should scream until we at least get something because we deserve more. Whenever I read black conservative sites, I always come away thinking we don't deserve to be treated fairly.

Posted by: cynthia at January 26, 2006 10:04 PM