People have a way of discounting certain unpleasant events as though, mystically perhaps, these realities never occurred or happened differently than they actually did.
In typical black communities, for example, wherever there is a proliferation of religious edifices, there are huge numbers of poor and near-poor people, sub-standard public schools and inadequate social services. In some instances, there are no sidewalks and septic tanks are the rule.
Pathological indices in these communities have been and remain astounding. Yet, for the most part, church doors remain shut except for bible study night, internal stuff including choir rehearsals and board and committee meetings and, of course, Sunday services and activities. During the weekdays, church doors and gates are locked. The communities of need are locked out.
After school, too many latchkey adolescents and teenagers within black communities are without adult supervision and constructive, organized recreational, cultural and educational activities. A 9-year-old knows who sells what dope and where. Sometimes drug houses are right down or across from churches but so many preachers and church-goers don’t want to know or they act like they don’t know.
Similarly, black people have shut out the reality of what happened during the Obama for President campaign that involved many black elected officials and their constituencies. Although Barack Obama, as the lone black U. S. Senator, was a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, that all-black political body did not endorse him.
Many black congress members and other black elected officials throughout the nation vigorously supported Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president. Throughout
the campaign, black congress members especially were quoted time and again espousing negative comments about Obama. Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel hurled vociferous barbs at Obama that made national and international news.
Florida’s three black congress members, Kendrick Meek, Alcee Hastings and Corrine Brown, all campaigned against Barack Obama for president and Meek was especially prominent in the Clinton campaign nationally. Obama received between 90 and 95 percent of the black vote nationally, which mirrored the vote in Florida.
There are probably 10,000 black elected officials in the U. S. at the local, state and federal levels. In most instances, these officials represent majority or near-majority black constituencies and yet the question has to be asked: To whom are black elected officials accountable?
Now Meek, who is running for the U. S. Senate, and Hastings and Brown, who are running for re-election to the U. S. House of Representatives, are out campaigning for that very black vote that they so stealthily gave in the form of their endorsement to Hillary Clinton.
Obviously, it should be a foregone conclusion that an elected official is obligated to be accountable, in all situations and at all times, to his or her constituency. The voting public should look upon it as akin to a criminal act when an elected official is not. In that instance, organize and recall them or otherwise oust them from public office. It is any disaffected constituency’s constitutional right to do so.
Because black elected officials -like churches– are not accountable, the more of them that proliferate, the more debilitated black communities become. And the politicians don’t bother the churches and the churches accommodate the politicians, especially during political campaign season.
All of what happens does so because we the people allow the few to control the many. Preachers and politicians are powerful because we give them power. But we demand no quid pro quo, no tit-for-tat, no return on our investment.
If we the people made just one significant change and begin to look at the church as community developer and politics as the means of access to the people’s constitutional rights, we could, with basic resources, such as organized people power, foster comprehensive positive social change.
It will take discipline, accountability and prayer.