Voter Suppression: Creating Black Wealth – Vote Your Economics! Yes, We can!by Peter Grear September 8, 2014
Here I go again. Since November 2013, I’ve been writing commentaries designed to spark enough interest in Black Voters to cause them to vote in November 2014. So far I’ve failed. This week I’m going to introduce another rationale for voting in November and in every election thereafter. Recently, a friend emailed me the publisher’s commentary written in May by Earl G. Graves, Sr., Publisher of Black Enterprise. The title of his article was “Wake Up! Re-engage in the Battle for Opportunity.”
In essence, he said that Black Leaders – i.e., “the talented tenth” are and have been engaged in “political and economic malpractice.” Graves wrote, “We seem to have forgotten that economic reciprocity is only supplied in response to our consistent and resolutely communicating that it is our absolute expectations.” (See link # 1 below). Those that have read and commented to me on his article are in full agreement.
To properly appreciate Earl’s commentary, it is important to understand the historical context of the debate on the best strategy to pursue to uplift the Black Community. This understanding must necessarily begin with the well-known, iconic debate between W.E. B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington, circa 1895-1915. Though both men can be criticized on various aspects of their approaches, both DuBois and Washington were key figures in the advancement of African Americans. (See link # 2 below).
Washington stressed industrial education and believed that Blacks should stop agitating for voting and civil rights not only in exchange for economic gains and security, but also for reduced anti-black violence. DuBois believed in what he called the “the talented tenth” of the Black Population who, through their intellectual accomplishments, would rise up to lead the Black Masses.
Although both men advocated and promoted serious strategies, I believe that Dubois won, and the era of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 was the era of “the talented tenth.” They solidified our civil rights but failed to advance our economic well-being. What we need is a combination of their different strategies going forth.
Every time that a ballot is cast by a Black Voter it should be cast with the implied demand that the recipient of his or her vote commit to pursuing Black Wealth creation as a priority of election to office. When Blacks votes it should be more about wealth creation than the individual running for office. Elected officials and other community leaders should hold regular meetings that include documented strategies that they are engaged in to create economic opportunities for Black Voters.
It is the responsibility of the Black Community to define its wealth creating strategies and to hold the recipients of their votes responsible for promoting them. Failure of our elected officials to deliver recognizable valued voters is a declaration by them that they are not worthy of our votes. Not having candidates that support black wealth creation on the ballot is tantamount to voter suppression. Having such candidates is voter and community empowerment.
Historically, candidates have ignored and downplayed the concerns of Black Voters on the theory that speaking clearly to the legitimate needs and concerns of Black Voters makes it more difficult for them to get elected. This may or may not be true, but whatever the rationale, the result is that Black Communities are left poor and neglected. We have to vote for a better way. The more we vote as informed voters the more likely it is that we’ll get economic opportunity as a return.
It should also be noted that politicians speak to the issues of pro-life voters, abortion rights voters, gay rights voters, immigration rights voters, elderly voters and the list goes on. Far too often, however, speaking to issues that pertain to the Black Community is viewed as a bridge too far. This practice is entirely unacceptable but helps to explain the lack of confidence and commitment that Black Americans have in the political process.
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