By extension, another question also has to be asked: Are black people deaf, dumb and blind? Assuming that blacks, not unlike other people, mainly follow the leader or leaders — black folks tend to follow preachers, politicians, teachers and social workers, entertainers and certain criminals. And the proverbial query is whether the blind has been leading the blind?
After enormous struggle, sacrifice, brutality, and some deaths, blacks in the 1960s south wrangled their right to vote from an entrenched segregationist system totally dominated by the Democratic Party. Black leaders organized and otherwise exhorted black voters to use this new power to elect and reelect the same white nationalist Democratic Party politicians that had long propagated “segregation forever.”
What sense did that make? What sense did it make for black people to lamely allow those Negro opportunists and nitwits to capitulate to the political party of slavery, the destroyers of Reconstruction, the inventors of “The Black Codes,” “Jim Crow,” and “sharecropping?” Southern white Democratic Party Congressional votes opposed all civil rights measures, but a combination of Republican and northern Democratic votes defeated the “Dixiecrats.”
Negro leaders in the north and south joyously corralled blacks into the Democratic Party and gave Republicans who had sided with them the cold shoulder. Republicans and Dixiecrats began molding what became the conservative movement and today what was once the solid Democratic south is now the solid Republican south. Black leaders have absolutely no political power within their respective states, nor do they have any national power.
Negroes did not see that the wave of conservatism afforded Dixiecrats an opportunity for cell splitting – some joined the Republican Party and some remained in the Democratic Party and thereby became a dominant force in both political parties. To these crafty souls political party labels is less meaningful then political philosophy. As a collective – the conservative movement — these white nationalists began to take control of Congress, indeed Washington, D. C., seemingly in toto.
So, is black leadership deaf, dumb and blind? That is a question that carries urgent validity. Take a look at 1986 and 1988 and see how black, no, Negro leadership apparently didn’t hear anything, didn’t know to do anything, and didn’t see anything (at least not until it was too late).
Under Republican President Ronald Reagan, the Democratic controlled Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 and Reagan signed it into law. This legislation called for mandatory minimum sentences if convicted for distributing cocaine. It included more severe sentences for distributing crack, which is used mostly by black people because it is cheaper. However, those persons convicted of distributing powder cocaine, which is used mostly by whites and is more expensive, will get lighter sentences!
In 1988, the Democratic controlled Congress added more to the drug policy. So the new Anti-Drug Abuse Act added “civil penalties” including the eviction of public housing tenants involved in drugs in or near the premises. In addition, if convicted of a drug offense you can no longer qualify for a student loan and you lose your right to vote. This draconian legislation included five years mandatory minimum sentences for possession of cocaine base, for first time offenders.
According to author Michelle Alexander in her best selling book The New Jim Crow, “Until 1988, one year of imprisonment had been the maximum for possession of any amount of any drug.” Alexander reminds us how disparate members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) were about the legislation that passed 346 for it and only 11 against it. Alexander tells us that only six of the CBC members voted against the horror. Incredible!
“The War on Drugs proved popular among key white voters,” writes Michelle Alexander, “particularly whites who remained resentful of black progress, civil rights enforcement, and affirmative action.” Black leaders had no answers, no strategy to combat the “Law and order” insurgency that would standardize incarceration as a form of eugenics and decimate black communities, especially throughout America’s inner cities.
The “Law and Order” monster now more than ever, brazenly victimizes black and brown people in broad daylight, no longer just undercover, and the people wave signs and march with no discernable plan. And the leaders still don’t know to organize this political swarm. Deaf dumb and blind, they are.
Al Calloway is a longtime journalist who began his career with the Atlanta Inquirer during the early 1960s civil rights struggle. He may be reached at Al_Calloway@verizon.net.