Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Angry Black Man: The Black Politic

Alright so as the Iowa caucus has passed it's one more milestone on the way to the election. And as usual folks are starting how race might factor in to it.

Often times I hear people describe the black vote as a singular entity and I can't blame them because let's face it traditionally over the last half century the democratic party has had it. But beyond that there are several different and competing political ideologies among African Americans. I want to touch upon some of them.

Social Conservatism
A while back I wrote a critique on black conservatism. I suppose that I should have specified black social conservatism. And furthermore I guess I should define it for the purposes of this paper. Social conservatism is a reluctance to accept social and cultural change and abnormality.

I don't remember where I read it so I apologize, but I once read that during the 1960's apart from racial issues Africa- American were becoming more socially conservative as the rest of the country was becoming more socially liberal. The explanation was simple. A white long haired hippie had more resources to survive than a black long haired hippie.

There is a belief amongst the African-American community that the societal standard for us is higher because of subtle prejudice. In order to make it to the same positions blacks have to be better. Part of that means matching society's expectation of what better is.

I disagree with the man on the point, but my father said it's the rich and powerful that get to change and buck the system. Everybody else has to toe the line, otherwise you look like a kook.

Furthermore, again I disagree; there are those who would say that individuals have a responsibility to represent the race, to show mainstream society the best of us.

In addition to all of that social conservatism in general has always been tied to the church and the church for at least the last has century has been an instrumental part of African-American society. I am a social liberal and when all the other social liberals complain about the church pushing a societal agenda I have to take a step back and cough civil rights moment.

Social Liberalism
As before allow me to define my take on social liberalism, a willingness to embrace social and cultural changes and abnormalities. Something I should have made a bit clearer earlier is that I want to stick to arguments dealing with race. I am tempted to get on my soapbox and describe all of the reasons why I feel social liberalism aligns itself with American core values. But I would be here all day and it would defeat the purpose of this post.

As an African American almost every opportunity I have I owe to societal change. If things were the same way they were in great great-grandfather's day I would be in chains, and in my grandfather's day in poverty.

Furthermore several injustices have been committed and ignored in the name of maintaining the status quo. How many politicians refused to take on slavery because they were afraid of change, refused to take on Jim Crow because they were afraid of change, refused to take on housing discrimination because they were afraid of change.

This isn't and never was a perfect world, but it only ever gets better because someone says we can't do things this way anymore.

Often times what permeates that status quo is the fear of Other. That same fear of other that created segregation.

Black Separatism

Everybody talks about the philosophical differences between Dr. King and Malcolm X. One of them was Black Separatism. Hell, screw it this one even goes back to the days of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois.

In the days of Jim Crow things were separate but not equal. Throughout the civil rights movement there were attempts to make things more equal in terms of education and equality of opportunity. Where you stand on Black Separatism is going to lie in whether you believe those attempts were successful.

Even during reconstruction the American people have proven a short attention span to rectifying and participating in a sustained effort to eliminate racial injustice and inequality.

Sure every now and then you get an LBJ but eventually the American mainstream gets tired of it and abandons the effort.

Black separatism is basically the idea that the government or even mainstream society are not going to all of a sudden make Black people's lives better. It's going to happen through strengthening our own communities, institutions and businesses independently of mainstream America. Complete integration remains but a dream.

Furthermore though I am loath to admit it, there are occasions where the interests of the general population lay contrary to those of African Americans.

Black Integrationalism

On the other, more optimistic hand maybe the revolution has come. I have more opportunities than my parents. Many of the positive social changes in race relations have come about because there is more interaction between the races.

Black integrationalism is the concept that things can and have improved for the African-American community through mainstream institutions, and that actively shunning them does the black community a disservice.

Prosperity for African-Americans lies in integrating ourselves within the educational, governmental, and economic institutions that already exist and have historically had more resources than African-American ones.

Governmental Liberalism (One of the reasons why it's hard for Republicans to court the Black vote)

I'm going use Governmental Liberalism to describe the belief that the government does need to take a greater role in addressing economic inequality. I know there is a better word for it out there somewhere but I drew a blank. For more than half its existence the United States government implemented policies that in effect distributed wealth to WASPS from minorities. While not necessarily crying for 40 acres and a mule many believe that the government should seek to address the inequalities in education and wealth it created, largely through social programs and affirmative action.

Fiscal Conservatism

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There is a growing Black Middle class. One of the concerns of the Black middle class is that they are being stereotyped. The African American community's insistence on the continuation of government programs may perpetuate the idea that all African Americans need those programs and by extension are poor. In other words some people are afraid that just because they support welfare people will believe they're on welfare and will be painted by stereotypes as a result of their support for it. .

Furthermore several African Americans believe that these programs are a crutch that is no longer needed. And believe the general arguments for less government regulation in the economy.

Reverse Racism
Let's just say it's an issue and leave it at that.

The Obama Factor
He's the first Black president and though I am loath to admit it gives brownie points (no pun intended). There are a lot of people who are loyal to him because he represents a new democratic experiment. Can a Black president be successful? Is the country ready for it? Are we at that point? We really don't want the answer to be no. We want to make this work. Oh my God I'm writing like I'm in a bad marriage.

He's a symbol of change and brought us hope and by god we don't want to lose that. We don't want to have to wait another 50 or 60 years for another Black president. We have one and despite everything else we want to support him. That's not to say we will, but we want to.

Political Solidarity
The African American community is filled with economic, geographic, cultural and philosophical diversity. At the same time we do comprise a group that has had a common struggle and still has common interests.

Though I couldn't vote yet in 2000 I supported Nader.

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I now know the consequences of splitting the vote, but at the same time I really respect an individual's free will, free will of choice, free will of action and free will of thought. This is one of those issues all groups including African-Americans have to deal with. We have interests. We want our voice to be heard but it's hard as hell to hear 38,929,319 voices yelling at the same time.

You have to make some compromises in the interest of getting enough people on board with the letter, petition or campaign to express political power.

Otherwise your just a guy with some good ideas and a few crazy ones that nobody wants to jump on board with.

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