On my first visit to the continent of Africa I was received by my African brothers and sisters with open arms. Smiles were everywhere and I was truly glad to finally see the land and touch the ground that my ancestors had walked on.
I traveled to Zimbabwe, Botswana and all over South Africa. The Africans were truly excited, I thought, to see me and to pick my brain about America. But the South Africans, especially, didn’t want me to stay there.
Black South Africans had recently overcome a racist government and system of apartheid that prevented them from realizing equal opportunities and justice.
When I was there, tokenism and/or neocolonialism was in full effect. Blacks now held positions in government and in private business that they never had before.
But the black workers in management and administration in South Africa, in the beginning days and months after apartheid, were not black South Africans.
The blacks working at the Hiltons, the Lost Palaces and other luxury hotels that I stayed in were from Mozambique or Namibia or from as far away as Kenya and Nigeria because blacks from those countries had management or administrative job experience while many black South Africans did not.
As for me, the South Africans loved that I desired to visit but they feared if I stayed in the country I would be able to get a great job and they wouldn’t be able to find any work.
The South Africans who bled and died for freedom, equal rights and justice did not want someone like me to just pop up and ride to professional success on their battered coattails.
There are no coattails in the world that are longer and stronger than the coattails of African Americans. Blacks were the ones who were enslaved, hanged, shot, exploited and oppressed in America and the nation’s minority business enterprise, diversity and
disadvantaged business programs were set up to assist blacks.
But guess who is enjoying all of the fruits of the struggles of black Americans. So-called “minorities,” like white women, Cubans and other Hispanics and even Asians have taken advantage of programs originally intended to assist black people.
Don’t take my word for it. Look at any federal, state or local MBE-type program and you will find that the people getting the most jobs, contracts and highest paying opportunities are not black.
In politics, black coattails are worse. Non-black voters in America are divided. Some voters are Republican, some are Democrat. Some voters are liberal, some are
conservative. The only true voting block in America is the black vote. Ninety percent of whites don’t normally vote for one party or one candidate nor do 90 percent of Hispanics or women. When every other voting group is divided, whoever gets the black vote in a strong black turnout has a good chance of winning.
In 2012, America’s Democrats are praying that white Democrat candidates can ride to a 2012 Election Day victory on the black president’s coattails. More money will be spent in the 2012 election cycle than in any other political race in American history but there is no indication that any of that money will be spent in black communities.
If you don’t know, some political money has already been spent to encourage and motivate Hispanic and women voters but black voters continue to be ignored.
As much as we are politically hated, every politician would love to take a free ride into office on our coattails. One day, we’ll be just like Africans and say to our political exploiters, “Not here and not now.”
*Lucius Gantt is a consultant based in Tallahassee and author of the book Beast Too: Dead Man Writing. He may be reached at allworldconsultants.net, where you can also like The Gantt Report Facebook page.
Photo: Lucius Gantt