The late musician Gil Scott-Heron once asked, “Just how blind will America be? The world is on the edge of its seat; defeat on the horizon, very surprisin’, that we all can see the plot and claim that we cannot. Just how blind, America?”
Today, 40 years later, we ask, “Just how blind will Black America be?” We should be able to see the plot, but many claim they cannot. We are heading down the same political road that got us into our current condition of political impotence and irrelevance.
The next election and all of its current hoopla exposes the continuous game being played not only on Black America, but on America in general. Unfortunately, much of our discernment is invested in “ “The Housewives of …” and all the other nonsense many of our people watch religiously.
We are too busy living vicariously through the TV lives of other folks who are paid to carry on a bunch of foolishness, to curse one another out, to threaten one another, and to insult one another.
We are blind to our own demise. But when October 2016 rolls around, we will be in a frenzy of registering to vote – albeit uninformed – and ill-prepared to face the ensuing four years of the same mistreatment and neglect we have suffered under previous political administrations.
Political candidates said, “Game on!” months ago, and all we can muster are a few demonstrations, disruptions, and discussions about whether our lives matter to them. We have asked candidates what they are going do in response to our plight, but we have not made appropriate and commensurate demands in that regard. We have a lot of rhetoric – but no substantive reciprocal relationships with any of the candidates.
In all the debates thus far, there was one question pertaining to Black folks; it came from a Black man, CNN’s Don Lemon, who selected the ridiculous question, “Do Black lives matter or do all lives matter?” The question was silly and meaningless; the candidates’ answer was to ignore the question.
Political candidates know that Black lives did not matter when 2,000 Nigerians were slaughtered in the Baga massacre in Nigeria, which took place the same time as the 12 Charlie Hebdo murders.
They know that the 147 students killed at Kenya’s Garissa University in April 2015 did not matter, but the 132 killed in Paris do matter.
They knew that the lives of 985,000 Tutsis in Rwanda did not matter during that massacre in 1994-1995. They know that Black lives do not matter in “Chiraq” and other cities where we are killing one another. So why ask that dumb question?
‘Pleaders,’ not leaders
As we are led down the primrose path by the likes of “pleaders” rather than real leaders, as we buy in to their sellout of Black people in exchange for a few crumbs from their master’s table, the speed of our headlong plunge to the bottom increases exponentially.
It matters not who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; you have been and are being played. You are being duped with your eyes wide open. Right now, many Black folks are arguing about Hillary, Carson, and Trump, as though we have some power to determine our own political destiny rather than one of them being in charge of it.
Even though it’s obvious that our elected officials will do whatever they want to do on our behalf or not, we turn a blind eye to it rather than changing the political game and playing it to win.
He told us
If you would listen to Brother Scott-Heron’s songs like “The Watergate Blues,” “The Bicentennial Blues,” “The New Deal,” and “We Beg Your Pardon,” you will see he told us what the political deal was. We would not listen then and we are still blind to the realities of political chicanery.
Our political dilemma has never been the lack of a “Black” president, any more than it was in the 1960s and ‘70s when we thought it was a lack of Black politicians. Our problem was and is our lack of political involvement beyond voting, our failure to build political power based on an economic power base, and our reliance on political symbolism over political substance.
James E. Clingman is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people.