Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Which Way to March? Navigating the Road to Being Part of the Solutions

I pledged after the Supreme Court launched Jim Crow 2.0 as far as Voter Rights go that I would be more politically active.  Clearly, being a husband, father, and educator wasn't enough.  When the George Zimmerman verdict came down as I thought it would, an aquittal, it only made the call more clear.  What has been frustrating is that in the wake of these massively symbolic events that make me recall when I learned about Emmet Till and having to present freedom papers to vote, the mobilization process and course of action has been difficult to decipher.  It has also been disappointing to see many "prominent voices" in the Black community taking this time of anger and emotion to do more analyzing from the cushy pundits chair than strategizing.  I find myself no less resolute to be involved in striking down institutions that have targeted youth that look like my two sons, but I am now more conscious of just how difficult this road will be to travel.

I went to the Trayvon Martin 100 cities vigil at the LA Federal courthouse organized by the National Action Network (NAN).  I wore a shirt and tie, slacks, and a hoodie.  Perfect combo of how Trayvon will be immortalized (hoodie), and what he might have been (shirt and tie wearing professional).  When I arrived, all the media outlets were setting up and there were not more than twenty people milling around.  As the nine o'clock start time arrived and NAN LA President, Rev. K.W. Tulloss began to speak, the crowd continued to swell to hundreds.  What was encouraging was the organization of the rally, the number of organizations that were represented, and the general respect of TIME.  There quickly comes a saturation point when the same talking points are being hammered home by each speaker:

"George Zimmerman may have been acquitted, but he is not guilty"

"Trayvon Marin did not die in vain"

"We must force the Dept of Justice to file civil charges against George Zimmerman"

I left the rally looking forward to seeing the coverage of the rallies in other major cities and was happy to find that they had gone off without incident.  I felt like momenutm was building towards the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington event taking place on August 24th.  I believed that until the President spoke out on the case, and everyone had a comment.  I'm nowaleft with more questions than answers a month out from what I hope will be a unifying event in Washington, DC at the Lincoln Memorial.

1.  What is the agenda?
There are a lot of things on the table that adversely impact the Black community in particular, and communities of color in general.  The NAN flier for the March on Washington is set to address Stand Your Ground Laws, Racial Profiling, Poverty, Voter Registration, etc.  The question is, which gets top billing at this moment?

2.  What is the best way to attack?
Once you figure out the areas of "deployment", what is the plan of action?  I think it is admirable that artists like Stevie Wonder have decided to boycott Florida until the Stand Your Ground law is amended or repealed altogether.  It is reminiscent of artists who boycotted the Jim Crow South.  But Stand Your Ground is hardly the most damaging issue threatening the Black community.  How do we begin to stem the growing percentage of people who are out of work, beiung stopped and frisked, undereducated, and being sent to private-owned prisons as "new slaves"?

3.  Who wants to build?
The current percentage of the US population that is Black stands at 13%, hardly enough to topple institutions designed to maintain the privileges of those who created them.  History tells us that the greatest advancements for minority communities have come at key moments of interest convergence with those in power.  So the question becomes, what groups have a vested interest in eradicating gun violence in urban centers like Chicago like we do?  What groups will also benefit from making sure that the federal preclearance clause is reformed and restored to the Voter Rights Act?  With allies, the ability to lobby effectively increases.

4.  Can there be unity?
Any successful group or team, must be able to get on the same page in order to accomplish its goals.  When I see Dr. Cornel West calling out other Black leaders as members of President Obama's plantation, I worry that we will not find that rallying point.  SNCC, CORE, SCLC, NAACP, etc found a way to do it in the 1960s, it needs to happen again.

5.  What is the President's role?
Speaking of President Obama, what issue will compel him to put aside his pragmatic identity in order to take up a more revolutionary one?  Yes he plays the political game well, and he's been rewarded with a second term.  With three years remaining in office, what is the issue that will move him to forget strategy and start ramming executive orders through Congress?  I certainly don't want to look back on these eight years and remember historic speeches, Obamacare, and how he got handcuffed by Congress at every turn.

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