Trump. Clinton. Bush. Kasich. Carson. And all the rest.
While it is too early to predict, with any surety, who will actually be on the tickets in the upcoming presidential elections, one thing is very predictable: the candidates will all have carefully prepared statements to appease the masses; to speak to their concerns and issues; including to the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
But, I’ll bet, not one will be able to effectively deliver on that last one.
Like what Trump is saying about the campaign finance system- so are race relations: broken. But I’ll wager that not one of the candidates, including Trump, has the temerity to suggest that because race relations are broken beyond repair, that what we need is a revolution. Not an armed overthrow. Too much of that going on right now with guns being used against the citizenry. No, I am advocating a revolution of concepts, ideas, and solutions that will completely change how black folk co-exist in the USA.
Historical note: once upon a time, not too long ago, in this land we call home of the free, Africans were described by scientific measures of the day to be: 1) not fully human; 2) if human, then a sub-species; 3) less worthy of entrance into the Christian heaven; 4) counted as a fraction of a person for purposes of elected representation; 5) and when finally free, only to be denied access to voting, given separate public accommodations, schools, housing , to name a few; and 6) relegated to marry only within their own race.
Fast forward to 2015: we now know and understand that all of the above were untrue, illegal and/or immoral. We know in our hearts and minds that Africans (all human beings) are equal by nature and, if an American citizen, entitled to every benefit of being a citizen.
So what’s the problem? Historical memory.
Africans remember their time as ‘less than’ as much as whites remind themselves that they were once considered ‘more than.’ There were times when no one wanted to be black, not even Africans! Every immigrant got off the boat or crossed over the borders with the same mantra laid down: become as white as you can in America. How? Elevate your economic status; limit the size of our family; speak English without an accent; hyphenate your national/ethnic origins; change the spelling of your last name; intermarry to ‘whiten’ the race; move out of the inner city, etc.
Reasonably, or not, many African blacks strive for the same; adopting the same tactics.
Proof? For more than fifty years, sociologists, psychologists, parents, and teachers, have been trying to figure out why the black doll rarely gets chosen.
So what can this bumper crop of Presidential candidates say and do to rewrite the script of race relations in this country?
One of the biggest challenges for them is States’ rights.
Why are there different standards around the country anyway? For issuance of marriage licenses, for driving age, for health care coverage, for voting, for spousal benefits, etc.
Take Texas, for example. A state-wide text book was approved that minimizes the cause of the Civil War (the slavery argument is diminished), and the policy of reconstruction and its negative economic impact on black folks’ progress, is barely mentioned. Why can’t we adopt one narrative that tells the truth for the entire nation? Is there more than one truth?
Of course, the two thousand pound elephant in the room is States’ rights to establish voting registration procedures. Remember, States’ Rights matters are a holdover from before the civil war, when the southern states were pulling away from the spirit of the constitution to allow them to continue slavery.
Isn’t voting a constitutionally guaranteed right?
Just chipping away at these States’ rights is getting us nowhere; tensions are growing, especially amongst the most marginalized citizens: descendants of the Africans.
What we urgently need are national standards to cover all the people –all the time, for every human right available to every citizen. Amending people in, drip-by-drip, amendment-by-amendment, is torturous.
So what do I expect from the Presidential candidates?
Come on Trump. We need you to throw down the gauntlet. It should be easy for you to simply yell out: “Black Lives Matter.” I’d settle for “All Lives Matter” if you then tell us how you’re going to tear up the constitution, rewrite it, and then stuff it down everyone’s throat- to make America great, again- like never before.
Then let’s see who else in the pack of Presidential candidates is bold enough, smart enough, enlightened enough to get it- to really get it.
Antonia Williams-Gary is a consultant with Miami-based Savings and Grace Enterprise. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org