By ANTONIA WILLIAMS-GARY
Back in August, 2011, I wrote an opinion piece for this paper in which I commented on the tension between the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and newly elected President Obama.
Here is an edited exert from that piece: The Black Caucus is doing exactly what it is supposed to do- advocate on behalf of black folks- hence, its name. By its very existence, the CBC creates tension, as too does the existence of the Hispanic Caucus, and other organized advocate groups for the rights of: gay, lesbian, transgender, questioning; women; disabled veterans; military families; retired people; children, and so on.
Just think if we were a true democracy- and every one’s rights to just ‘be’ was equal to the every other’s- we would not need all these rights’ groups in the first instance.
In fact, the very tension prerequisite for these groups to form and function is born out of the vast inequalities that are prevalent in our great democratic experiment.
Here comes the rub. The President of the United States, currently in the person of Barack Obama, (the self-professed black man) is elected to serve the interests of the entire country, albeit unbalanced as they have always been, including the interests of its citizenry- whites, blacks, Native Americans, Hispanics, Asians, gays, straights, differently able, et al.
I distinctly recall how wonderful many said they felt when, in 2008, Obama declared that he was not just the black President- even though he is now being suspected by some as ‘governing while black’- or, in the estimation of various members of the Black Caucus- not black enough- crimes now punishable by not being re-elected.
Let’s just stop and regroup. So there are tensions between the people’s advocates and our elected (by majority vote) leader. Good. Tensions demand responses.
First, the Black Caucus must continue to exist, make waves, fight for its constituents and hopefully prevail- through this, and every administration to come until…….
So too, all the other groups organized to advance the causes of justice must continue to be encouraged to pursue their ‘biased’ agenda. I’m not speaking of the simple justices won by majority vote on issues- those issues mainly found being debated in the open media, being tweeted, on uTube, in the clouds, on CNN, Fox, and other instant data retrieval systems.
I’m talking about the justice that MLK referred to when he said: “When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love. Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice.”
So who are the evil men (and women)? Cut to the present time. We have a new President-elect- Donald J. Trump.
His election has demonstrated that we have missed the mark! A large proportion of white America has an underbelly, and it has been turned up in our faces: the image of what makes America Great- that white folk ae a monolithic group; all privileged. But the tide has turned. In fact we are experiencing a tsunami of reversals.
During the 2016 election campaign and the subsequent election of Donald J. Trump, we learned that what the country needed all along was an advocacy group for poor, undereducated, disenfranchised white folk.
I Googled national minority advocacy groups and came up with pages of listings ranging from professional associations to social and civil rights groups. When I added the word ‘white’, I only saw one listing There are growing statistics which now underscore how this group- seemingly concentrated in Appalachia and throughout rural America, as well as in abandoned coal mining and factory towns- have been on the edge for so long and have suffered so much; their needs have not been adequately addressed by their elected officials. Until now.
It must have been the most impolitic response-to have a caucus for (poor) white folk.
We have learned through the lessons coming out of this past election that is not always the case.
Black folk have developed blinders, too. We have, in some instances, also cultivated a consciousness of superiority; feeling entitled; having built most of this country on our backs.
But is it our responsibility to look at the other side? To be more understanding and sympathetic to the suffering of the others? Of poor whites in particular? Are we complicit in their pain? Really?
Pay very close attention to of the unfolding of the plans to ‘Make America Great Again.’ You must decide on how you want to play in the dangerous new mind field of political advocacy where the table has been set with renewed and spirited negative energy to turn back, i.e., narrowly defined rights, public zeal for white supremacy groups, blood- thirsty calls for revenge and retribution against immigrants and Muslims (to name a few), a reversal of our legal fortunes (voting rights being just one). What we all need is a common cause. Let’s reflect on MLK’s words again. “ ….. Where evil men plot………” Toniwg1@gmail.com