President Barack Obama achieved what most Blacks (if not all Blacks)
thought was impossible, this call for “Black unity” has been an
overarching theme of everything the African American community (multiple
and singular) desires to achieve in the 21st Century. People who
have never agreed on the same thing, at the same time, EVER, since
someone suggested we just walk away from slavery, suddenly got this
“lovin’ feelin’,” conditional - of course. The divide in Black America
is as large as ever. The “my way or the highway” mentality is prevalent,
despite Obama ‘s name being invoked at every turn. Stuff like, “If
Barack Obama can be elected President of the United States, we mostly
certainly can come together.” It’s sickening, largely because it’s
most commonly voiced by many who didn’t believe Obama could be elected
President in the first place.
vision behind his candidacy was absent in many that now have had
an epiphany. Most had to be run over, literally, by the change they
were standing in front of. That epiphany is that “some people” realized
they were about to be left behind, and Black people never met a
bandwagon they couldn’t catch. Opportunities for change are often
lost in the “debate” (if you want to call it that) of what change
is and who is really capable of change. Whether the debate is generational
or ideological, neither side of the debate really believes that
the other has the answer to bring real change into reality. The
“age of Obama” has changed one reality about America, but whether
it changes the state of Black communities has yet to be seen. The
fact is, if we had waited for Black unity to come about on the simple
question of whether Barack’s candidacy was credible before we supported
him, Obama would have never been elected, because the divide was
in evidence and deeply entrenched. One side had to do what they
had to do. The other side jumped on the bandwagon after the outcome
was in evidence. That’s a fact. The call for Black unity is often
a call to disrupt the opportunity for change. So when certain people
call for change, why don’t I believe them?
it was the run-away or the enslaved, the freedman (emancipated slave)
or the free man (Blacks who had never been enslaved), the emergence
of the so-called “Black leader” voice in Frederick Douglass or Martin
Delany, Booker T. Washington or W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey or
A. Phillip Randolph, Walter White or Charles Houston, Martin Luther
King or Roy Wilkins (or Thurgood Marshall), Elijas and Malcolm,
the Panthers and US, Farrakhan and Jesse, the Baptist and the Methodists,
Christian and Muslims, the Crips and Bloods, Rich and poor, dark
skinned and light skinned and the examples go on and on, Black America
never operated from a single united point of view. The largest (and
most disruptive) divides in the history of Black America stemmed
out of questions of when it was time to change, why we needed to
change, how the change would occur, and of course something we can
never ignore, who would lead the change. Many times, most change
agents were of the same ideology, all wanting to change
our realities. Others were just agents...period. Change was no where
on their agenda, though disruption was. Provocateurs are as common
as activists in our community and we don’t recognize interlopers
like we once did. There is no test for “change agents.” Just like
there is no test for change. It just happens when it happens, but
change is stonewalled more times than not. Blacks in America just
have never agreed on how the progress we say we all want can ever
come about. The divide often stems from realities of what’s real
versus the realities of what could be. There’s always someone who
either can see the new reality or won’t see the new reality. The
investiture in the status quo always seems to conquer the idealism
that encompasses change. The call for unity is often a fraudulent
call to accept compromised realities. At other times, the call is
made by false prophecies and even more false prophets. The legitimacy
questions of who’s more legitimate than whom. And, of course, legitimacy
is defined by no construct of one’s own.
the reason, ideas about progress somehow never give way to unity.
It’s never about unity, but the “winners” and “losers” in the cause
of change. Rarely, change is the winner because of the mindset that
if we all can’t win, none of us will win. We can’t move the ball
up the field ten yards at a time. It’s a touchdown or interception
on a “Hail Mary” pass. Some of us can’t win now and others win later.
Because those at the bottom of the well don’t trust that there will
be a later. So nobody goes anywhere. Just look at the absence of
change in every city in America. The evidence of “lost battles”
are in evidence. Change is not in evidence.
organization, group, cluster, “movement” I’ve ever been involved
in, over three decades, was undermined on the “unity” tip. Even
in the 21st Century “change movement,” the vestiges of Black disunity
that causes the Black divide in the 19th and 20th Centuries continue
to persist. It doesn’t mean change won’t occur. It just means some
will catch the bandwagon on the other side (if they ever catch it
at all). The call for unity is the toughest challenge for Black
America. It’s almost as impossible as electing a Black President.
At least I can say I’ve seen one of them in my lifetime.
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22 , 2009
published every Thursday
Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Est. April 5, 2002
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