al calloway.jpgYou just can’t be in a game with a lousy defense and a non-existent offense and expect any modicum of success. In fact, you’d get run over, mauled, humiliated and go down in horrific, yet predictable, defeat.

Collectively, politics and economics are the end game; that appears to be true of most societies. Politics and economics are together like the fingers to the hand. They are inseparable and interdependent. How is it possible that so-called players could be on the field absent those skills and expect to win?

Is it just I who believe it, or is it quite apparent that, across black America, during football season and mere months before important political primaries take place, no discernable defense and offense are in play? While President Barack Obama has no primary opponent and, therefore, is a shoo-in for re-nomination to head the Democratic Party ticket for the 2012 General Election, state primaries across the nation are of utmost importance.

All manner of position players will be on primary ballots everywhere. Congresspersons, judges, state legislators, sheriffs and other countywide and municipal officials will be pleading to be retained, while others will be vying to replace them. How dare so-called black leaders shirk the responsibility to educate their constituencies through finely honed voter education programs?   

In Florida, for example, there are three black members of Congress, a State Legislative Black Caucus and various other entities, including the all but defunct Florida State Conference of NAACP Branches and a

stupendous proliferation of churches. Add that to an array of Greek-letter organizations, political clubs, social and other community-based organizations.  In effect, an amalgam of potential political and economic power left fallow by inertia germinated through a confluence of ignorance and fear.

The end product: a psychology of dependency. So when the great white fathers of the Democratic Party finally decide to feed the black leaders of their 95 percent black voting bloc a few crumbs, there will ensue a calamitous fury

of get-out-the-black vote activity. 

But the Republican Party reasoned that they could beat Obama in the General Election by keeping numbers of so-called minorities from voting. They also figured on across-the-board primary victories in key states, including the Republican-held South. In Florida and elsewhere, a modern-day poll tax has been instituted by law in the form of state-certified identification required in order to vote.

Suddenly many blacks, especially, cannot get drivers licenses renewed because they lack birth certificates. So many were delivered by midwives and others were just taken in by relatives or friends and paperwork was either lost of just non-existent. During segregation, whites hardly allowed blacks in places like City Hall and requesting records. Whites did not care about the records of blacks; that was a vital part of the oppression.

Whites of both political parties know that because their relatives and friends of relatives, especially, up to just a generation ago — and in many rural places it’s still going on — participated in every mean activity to keep blacks subordinate and under total control.

Blacks who are in downtown white folks’ favor easily become leaders in “black town.” They keep the lid on things, get in front of happenings and gear it to specifications of downtown interests. Leaders who choose politics — or are told to run for office — get elected via black votes and white money. It is no surprise then that they cater to white interests, overwhelmingly.

That is why in Florida, for example, during the legislative session last spring, only scant murmurs were faintly audible from black legislators protesting what became the poll tax-like legislation that swept through to Gov. Rick Scott’s signature.

And that is why, since the governor signed it into law — and its implementation has been oh so swift — there is this eerie silence.  There is no activity in the black communities, no organized counter.

There is no leadership from the leaders. There is absolutely nothing. Yet the coming primary season looms pivotal for black people in Florida and across America.

Al Calloway is a long-time journalist who began his career with the Atlanta Inquirer during the early 1960s civil rights struggle. He may be reached at

Photo: Al Calloway