Al CallowayLike the hammering of carpenters driving nails, the loud sound most heard coming from black and white liberal politicos during the last two years is the complaint about black voter suppression across America. Predictably, black “leadership,” in classical civil rights mode, has geared its slim resources and good will to combat this new assault against democracy through America’s legal system.

Somehow, so-called black leaders still believe that a legal system that has systematically failed to implement the 1954 Supreme Court decision to integrate public schools, the same legal system that blatantly discriminates against black people, will suddenly not be white nationalistic and provide just decisions for America’s black voters.

In Minnesota, for example, where leaders lament that some 300 thousand mostly black voters don’t have the newly required credentials needed in order to vote, no discernable movement is afoot that ensures their ability to vote in the November general election. Unless logic betrays me, developing a means to get 300 thousand voters the required credentials is a winning strategy.

People power is that great untapped resource available throughout black America. And, with churches on almost every block, a campaign could have easily ignited, flowing over to other cities and states across the nation. Voter suppression should have been used as an organizing tool. In Minnesota, 300 thousand disaffected citizens could have transformed as a new and powerful political and economic base.

Unfortunately, black leadership is married to the politics of containment. The vast majority of those “chosen few” black leaders are proven to be classically conditioned – in the Pavlovian manner. (After Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist and scientist who rang a bell, waited a minute and then let a dog have a plate with meat. After repeating that process 500 times with the same dog, Dr. Pavlov rang the bell, waited a minute then let the dog have a plate with no meat and the dog reacted as though it had eaten meat.)

So, for too many black so-called leaders and people that follow them, the bell of liberty rings in their ears, but the meat of that liberty is yet theirs to have. However, they are conditioned to believe that liberty white Americans enjoy is theirs, as well, no matter the opposite everyday reality all black people face.

Mainly, the politics of containment provides and maintains a special place well below the white norm for people of African descent. It is a worldwide phenomenon whose historical antecedent is the Trans-Atlantic African Slave Trade. There is absolutely no meaningful dissention among white liberals and conservatives about sustaining this system of control.

Therefore, unless and until people of African descent repudiate the politics of containment, black progress will remain measured as one step forward and two steps backward while other people of the world move forcefully ahead. The politics of containment must be replaced by the politics of access!

Access cannot be obtained without organization. Black people cannot get organized by acquiescing to the status quo. That is why repudiation is necessary. Community control is vital. Resources must be reevaluated and maximum utilization plans, designs and implementation strategies processed and placed in effect.

Don’t get it twisted, this is no quick fix. It will not be easy. Organizing is hard work. It is spiritual, mental and physical work. Organizing means bringing people together, focusing on common interests and the common good. Only an organized people can both fight-off containment and inculcate comprehensive positive social change.

We have got to remember and unashamedly spread the truth about white America’s fear that black people will organize. From slavery’s plantation fields to this very day, white America implements pogroms, devices and programs, including mis-education, incarceration, economic and voter suppression and police brutality to control Americans of African descent.

Be ready, though, for immediate counterattack from white America. After all, black people organizing for our self-interest is an attack upon the status quo, i.e., an attack on white America. Their first wave will be Negro “leaders” calling organizers radicals and black nationalists. The white press and conservatives will chime in labeling the move as socialist and Muslim led.

You know what? Keep on moving forward.

Al Calloway is a longtime journalist who began his career with the Atlanta Inquirer during the early 1960s civil rights struggle. He is writing a book of essays. He may be reached at