Unless you want to live in the projects or a deteriorating tenement building teeming with America’s black poor, grand Harlem, with its mixture of the sublime, climbers and wannabe blacks of my youth, is no more. Black Harlem has given way to a gentrification scheme in which mainly white people have taken over and poor and near-poor blacks are mostly what’s left.
Under South Africa’s apartheid pogrom, white people created areas where blacks were corralled in abject poverty and they called these places “Bantustans” (derived from the name “Bantu” given to all blacks of central and southern Africa by European colonial powers, irrespective of tribal histories and cultures.)
Were it not for a near depression caused by Wall Street greed and a lax U. S. government prior to President Obama’s coming, the American-type apartheid scheme we call gentrification would be near completion in inner cities across this nation. Monied interests have long land-banked areas black leaders, particularly, like to call “The Black Community.”
In fact, over the years, blacks have been losing more and more of scarce property in every city.
Mr. President, this past election you got 94 percent of the black vote, a little less than in 2008 but, I mean, can you beat that? You also got 74 percent and 73 percent of the Latino and Asian vote, respectively. You got the youth vote. In fact, you got a majority everywhere except the white male (want to tote semi-automatic rifles, ready for a race war, hate and fear everybody non-white on planet Earth type) vote.
To top it all off, Mr. President, polls agree that about 74 percent of Americans just absolutely like you as a person, as a man. In 2010, in a vile election, you lost the House of Representatives. But even lots of Democrats were not with you, even many in the Congressional Black Caucus. When you won the presidency in 2008, all three black Congresspersons from Florida opposed you while their constituencies gave you 95 percent of their votes.
But while you tried to live and lead like the Scriptures say, white nationalists defiled, sullied, excoriated and lied. You turned the other cheek. They said you are not a Christian. And most of this came from members of Congress. It’s interesting how Congress now has only a 14 percent approval rating with the American people and you have an approval rating of 52 percent.
I am surely not the only one who expected a groundswell of support and activity after such a historic 2008 successful presidential campaign. After all, we heard over and over from candidate Obama and then President Obama exhortations that organization is from the bottom up not the top down. However, the people, especially those most in need, saw a modern-day Moses in President Obama and they waited for him to lead them.
As President Obama has exclaimed during his successful 2012 re-election campaign, this is about the Joshua generation. It is time to build and renew. We’re all in this together. So, Mr. President, that is why we want an urban agenda. Financial institutions must be persuaded to invest in long-standing reputable people within the urban cores of America, rather than replacing them with whites because that is “conventional lending practices.”
How many white Americans achieved upward mobility by virtue of being hard-working honest people with no other assets? They made it and their children did even better and so did America. And for how many generations has America denied opportunities to its black citizens? All Americans know the answer is from the beginning of the colonies when we were brought here enslaved.
President Obama has already taken a step in the right direction with creation of a national grassroots campaign called “Organizing For Action.”
Hopefully it is designed to give both Congress and Wall Street an enema, scare the dickens out of state and local elected officials and start a political development and replacement thrust.
What a generous God to align so much history on President Obama’s second and last inauguration: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday holiday celebration; the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington; the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Medgar Evers and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
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