The Black Commentator: An independent weekly internet magazine dedicated to the movement for economic justice, social justice and peace - Providing commentary, analysis and investigations on issues affecting African Americans and the African world.
Mar 1, 2012 - Issue 461

The Politics of Anger
The Other Side of the Tracks
By Perry Redd Columnist



The headlines are awash with the temperament of the nation: Voter frustration has led to “the most turbulent Republican presidential race in a generation” according to a February 13 Washington Post article. Nationwide polls are analytically demonstrating this newfound voter frustration with economic, social and political policies. However, I beg to differ.

Voters have been frustrated for years - decades - with this nation’s policies and direction. You just don’t hear them…because they’re Black voters. I get disturbed - no, perturbed - when I read about Americans upset with and very anxious about unemployment rates above 7%. I know that Blacks always suffer higher unemployment rates than whites - often double that of whites, actually. Last June 2011, the reported national unemployment rate was 16% for Black America, which was double that of whites at that time. This anxiety and uneasiness lead me to dare label white Americans as no less than crybabies.

We see Occupy Wall Streeters across the country as the only people willing to martyr themselves, and they’ve always had it better than the mass of Black voters although they, too, like Blacks, fall within the 99%. It is well documented history that Blacks have been “occupying” economic, social and political venues since the movement to abolish slavery began over two centuries ago, but white Americans tend to believe that their hurt is the sole measure of pain.

Enter this politics of anger. Are we to give legitimacy to conservative-minded Americans who use anger as a political tool only when it’s convenient? These same conservative-minded people oppose any program unless it’s one that benefits them, and yet we read repeated press narratives that take them seriously. Does that mean that we should?

The leading candidates for the Republican nomination have played the anger card like Kenny Rogers in a Gambler video. The very people who’ve fared the best, expect us to believe they are angry? Just recently, candidate Rick Santorum referred to President Obama as a snob, stating “President Obama has said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob.” Santorum holds a bachelors degree, an M.B.A. and a law degree, and he is out of step with most Americans on this belief - white and Black America. Though many Americans view academia with suspicion, they overwhelmingly agree that higher education is important and aspire to it for themselves and their children.

Not only Santorum but Romney, Gingrich and white, conservative Americans have had unfettered access to the nation’s best education systems, community resources, government subsidies and more importantly, jobs. This group, so indignant, has enjoyed the heavy side of the scale of wealth inequality since the country’s birth (hence, the mantra “Take our country back”). There is no way we progressives or other fair-minded people should mistake this anger as anything more than theater. Don’t buy these tickets!

Speaker of the House John Boehner continues to blame the President for our stalled economic recovery. He remarked that “job creators in America are essentially on strike” and proposes a single-track solution of spending cuts and entitlement reform. Boehner adamantly refuses to consider tax increases on the wealthy, citing such increases as job destroyers. Pity the Billionaire (the title of liberal Thomas Frank’s new book).

If anyone in this country has dibs on anger, it’s Black America. The very people most adversely affected by sub-prime home loans, mass incarceration, massive student loan debt, and record unemployment are the ones who deserve the headlines. Misplaced anger only makes for an uninformed populace. Even if anger is merely political, it needs to be genuine. With that said, I have but a single and visceral response to compassion for the billionaire. Absolutely never. Columnist, Perry Redd, is the former Executive Director of the workers rights advocacy, Sincere Seven, and author of the on-line commentary, “The Other Side of the Tracks.” He is the host of the internet-based talk radio show, Socially Speaking in Washington, DC. Click here to contact Mr. Redd.