Rahim Islam is a National Speaker and Writer, Convener of Philadelphia Community of Leaders, and President/CEO of Universal Companies, a community development and education management company headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. Follow Rahim Islam on FaceBook(Rahim Islam) & Twitter (@RahimIslamUC)
When we start to examine the economic and social state of the Black community in America, we’re the first to come up with idea after idea on how to we should be doing this or we should be doing that.
But guess what? Nothing is happening and nothing of any meaningful way is getting done. In fact, over the past 50 years, at our pinnacle in this country representing the accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement, we’ve lost significant ground.
In addition to the Emancipation Proclamation, Brown vs. the Board of Education, and the civil rights legislation of the 1960’s, there haven’t been any real legal challenges or gains in the path of more freedom for the Black community in America. Or maybe we’ve come to believe that we’re equal? Recently, we did see a organized response led by the NAACP to challenge a national agenda to suppress the Black and brown vote which would had seriously threatened Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012. If they had been successful, we would have another person representing the office of US president. While most of the State courts reacted positively, we still having a major challenge brewing that could roll back our voting rights.
It’s not winning the office that represents our power; it’s the vote and the process that gives us our real power. The voting engagement allows us to keep the political pump primed and to use it to advance our socioeconomic agenda. It also becomes the foundation for any legal challenge as well. If we are to make the progress that we must have to change the trajectory of our people, we will need to have as much control of the political process that is legally allowed. On the federal level, we still need Black senators, and the optimal amount of Black representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. We must also maintain and/or retain the control of Black minority/majority cities of both the Mayor’s office and the City Council seats. We need local municipal judges, federal judges, state Supreme Court judges, etc. We will need to constantly address education, social, housing, economic development and civil rights programs.
When we were freed, we were penniless, uneducated, and stigmatized not just by White people, but by our own people as well. How many times have you heard that there are limits to what a Black person can/should be able to do and to question this is, many times, considered to be uppity? Many Black people bought into (hook, line, and sinker) the concept of black inferiority. We were indoctrinated in numerous ways in the belief of black inferiority. Like many victims, we bore the burden that this was our fault and we were deserving of it (self-guilt). How many times have we heard how the victim is made to believe that they were deserving of the mistreatment. Black man and woman, we must study how this happened to us. I believe this is one of the reasons why the issue has been allowed to be tabled. Brothers and sisters, I don’t care what people are saying; we must take a page out of the Jewish community’s mantra “Never Again and Never Forget.” We must never forget nor let anyone else forget what was done to us and we must begin to develop solutions that are truly designed to address both the structural and emotional damage done to our people.
This is why politics is so important; this is why voting is so critical, but it can not be a stand-alone. It only works when you have a collective agenda and you’re able to leverage and align your agenda with others that might not necessarily support you but share your agenda.