by ALTON H. MADDOX JR.
Originally posted 2/15/2008
|A Criticism of Black Politics|
Many Blacks and especially Black leaders are arguing that white America is not ready for a Black president. I beg to differ. It is Black America that is not ready for a Black president. Stated differently, a Black president in 2009 would be of no benefit to Blacks because we have refused to do for ourselves politically.
Sen. Barack Obama argues that a political campaign moves from the bottom to the top. This rule also applies to government. Congress makes laws and these laws are sent to the president for his signature. The president selects members of the cabinet but these appointees must enforce the laws that are authored by Congress.
CBC Monitor, a political watchdog organization, has issued report cards on members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Most of them flunked. If I had brought a similar report card home to my parents when I was a minor, my father would have beaten me as if I had stolen something.
New York has four Black members of Congress. Two of them earned grades of “F.” The others earned grades of “D.” Those grades mean that our Black selected officials are consistently voting against our best interests. This can only happen to a disorganized people that also refuses to hold Black selected officials accountable.
For years, I have maintained that as we put more Blacks in public offices our condition is worsening. These report cards support my position. We are financing and endorsing our own oppression. Our political results also correspond to our economic behavior. We are already on a life-support system. Health care is a red herring. Sen. Obama should not become the scapegoat.
Before Kwame Ture made his transition, he urged me to help Blacks receive a political education. Rev. James Bevel, a top lieutenant for Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. and architect of the Million Man March, told an audience at a UAM forum that Black voters were responsible for putting political morons in public offices.
Since we refuse to change our political behavior, politics is an exercise in futility. We are practicing plantation politics. Like enslaved Africans who would go to the cotton fields at sunset and return to the slave quarters at sundown, Black voters go to the polls and return to their homes without any promise of a quid pro quo. Between election days, we fear organizing or participating in political organizations.
With respect to my political expectations, I refer to Frederick Douglass who said, “You may not get everything you pay for, but you will pay for everything you get.” For example, on June 7, 1892, Homer Plessy purchased a first-class ticket and Blacks, subsequently, had to ride on Jim Crow trains.
It would be misleading to suggest that our political flaws are self-inflicted. Politics is based on the exercise of First Amendment rights including the rights of a free press, political speech, political associations and political assemblies. Unless a Black person is a student of American jurisprudence, it is difficult to see the connection between politics and the First Amendment.
Suffice it to say that the First Amendment preceded the Fifteenth Amendment, the Nineteenth Amendment, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Twenty-sixth Amendment. These are the political tools that have enfranchised historically-oppressed groups.
White males only needed the First Amendment to fully participate in politics. There is a reason why it is denominated the First Amendment. Blacks only have the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to get into the polling booth and it is temporal. Thus, we are pawns in political chess. Pawns have limited mobility.
Like pawns in chess, we have too much to overcome to ever possibly say “checkmate.” In politics, Blacks are gagged and handcuffed. We are also locked into a morontocracy. Our “best and brightest” are co-opted, assassinated, imprisoned or exiled.
This inference may be drawn from Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s “The Miseducation of the Negro” and Hon. Elijah Muhammad’s “Message to the Black Man.” Whites follow the teachings of the “founding fathers.” We disrespect the teachings of our revered ancestors. This is the foundation for a morontocracy.
put my life on the line in Georgia, Alabama and
Mississippi during the 1960’s and early
1970’s to help Blacks secure political
representation. We have gotten no further than
the polling booth and Bush v. Gore is a
reminder that the Black vote can be easily
discounted if not discarded. Whites embrace the
doctrine of stare decisis. Bush v. Gore is like
Plessy v. Ferguson.
Sen. Obama’s run for the White House is having one tangible benefit. He is positively inspiring the youth and especially the Black youth. His candidacy may inspire Black youth to run through minefields a little bit longer to avoid a life of hopelessness, despair and crime. These young people need
a helping hand and it is not coming from Black leaders.
I spent my legal career defending young people. My last two youthful clients were Michael Briscoe of the Central Park 6 and Tawana Brawley. If I had not represented them pro bono, they would have had to fend for themselves. Briscoe was acquitted of the rape charges.
There was no legal defense fund for Brawley or Briscoe. I also had to organize a bail fund for the Central Park 6 amid criticism from Black leaders. This results from our refusal to establish an organization that provides legal protection for our youth. Compare the “Jena 6.”
My greatest lesson about our youth and their vulnerability came from my representation of Jonah Perry, a Harlem resident and student at Cornell University. A white cop killed his brother, Edmund, who was about to attend either Yale or Stanford.
The cover-up involved a subsequent charge of robbery against Jonah who witnessed the fatal shooting. While the cameras were rolling, Jonah enjoyed community support and legal representation. When the cameras stopped rolling, Jonah was literally on his own. This was an indictment of our community.
While Jonah was standing alone, the Manhattan district attorney’s office was attempting to send me to prison and to disbar me. The last thing I needed was another headache. Nonetheless, the Black community was unconcerned about either my plight or Jonah’s. It was ready to jettison a good Samaritan and a college student matriculating at an Ivy League institution.
My conscience got the best of me and I filed a notice of appearance on Jonah’s behalf in Manhattan Supreme Court. We were both broke. No prospective client would touch me with a ten-foot pole. The undefeated New England Patriots enjoyed better odds in Super Bowl XLII than I did in my pending trial.
No one expected me to be around for Jonah’s trial, which was expected to be costly and protracted. It would immediately follow my trial. Whites were ready to conclude that Black youth were inherently incorrigible and a first-rate education for any of them was a placebo.
In December 1985, the jury would say “not guilty” on all counts in my trial. Jonah’s jury would repeat those same words on January 22, 1986. He had faced seven years in prison. My verdict would allow me to take on additional pro bono cases, although I did have to pay a $20,000 fine to the federal government for my representation of Jonah. Jonah was subsequently graduated from Cornell University.
So many of our young people are ensnared in a merciless and racist criminal justice system. Even a President Obama would be unable to save all of them under the law. There are no more Adam Clayton Powells to sponsor remedial legislation. Checks and balances are still alive and kicking.
The criminal justice system has never been the subject of a presidential debate. Sen. Hillary Clinton is demanding more debates. Sen. Obama should agree. Heretofore, the candidates have avoided issues relevant to Black voters who are fixed assets in the Democratic Party.
There should be a full-scale discussion of the criminal justice system and automatic pardons for most felons after they pay their debts to society. In addition, survival insurance for Blacks should be added to the next CNN debate on February 21. Presently, this debate will seek to address Latino issues.
Silver rights leaders continue to rush to courthouses to accommodate racial oppression. The “Jena 6” is an ongoing, racist prosecution with no relief in sight. These young men are getting it from all sides including from their lawyers who must sell them out to stay in business.
It is a crime for a Black defendant to enjoy Sixth Amendment rights. This should be a concern of the next president. Sen. Obama expressed an interest in the Duke rape case and demanded a vigorous investigation into the conduct of Durham District Attorney Michael Nifong, but he has remained sheepishly quiet on the misconduct of Robert Abrams, a special prosecutor in the Tawana Brawley investigation. So has Sen. Clinton.
Feb. 20 - Anthony Browder, author of Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization keynotes UAM Weekly Forum at the Elks Plaza, 1068 Harriet Tubman (Fulton Street) nr. Classon Ave. in Brooklyn at 7:00 p.m. SHARP. He will also highlight his “Egypt on the Potomac” tour. Parents are encouraged to bring their children. Take the “C” train to Franklin Ave.
April 19-20 - Overnight bus trip to Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC with tour of Reginald Lewis Museum in Baltimore and an “Egypt on the Potomac” and Civil War Memorial tours in Washington, DC conducted by Tony Browder, author of Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization.
For further information call United African Movement at 718-834-9034.
See: www.reinstatealtonmaddox.net for “Black Congresspersons Kiss White Doll,” and “UAM: Make-up or Break-up.”