Hangin' With the Homeboys:
Courtin' the Black Vote '08
Min. Paul Scott
You can set your clock by it. Every election year they show up in front of a bunch of well dressed, college educated, middle class black folks who are supposed to "rep" the entire African American community. The moderator asks the same polite questions that he posed last election and he gets the same, well rehearsed answers that he got last election.
Just once, I'd like to see Tyrone "T-Boogie" Johnson grab the mic and yell,
"What ya gonna do for the hood, homie!"
as the stunned presidential candidates duck for cover under the dais.
Tis the season for political strategists to find new and imagin....
OK... they’re the same old, unimaginative strategies that they've always used; warmed over. It's the same technique year in and year out. Go to a few black mega churches, shake a couple of hands, attend the NAACP/Urban League Conventions and make a lot of grandiose speeches containing promises that you have no intention of keeping.
Simple isn't it?
Conventional wisdom says that if you invoke the name of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. enough times, most well off black folks will follow you through hell wearing gasoline underwear.
But that doesn't apply to "tha hood" where Dr. King, himself, found his harshest critics.
While you may be able to finagle a couple of votes from the black middle class by a nice speech, the hood wants action.
See, the people in the hood have "issues". Middle class blacks have "concerns" but poor folks have "issues."
While the biggest concern of Dr. Horatio Farnsworth Jackson may be the rising taxes on his summer cottage on the lake, Lakesha Johnson is more concerned about how she is going to pay the rent next month.
The irony of a presidential candidate being able to raise more money in an hour at a thousand dollar-a -plate fundraiser than all the folks in the kitchen washing the dishes will make all year does not escape the hood.
This is why many of us choose to spend time relaxing at the crib eating Oodles of Noodles and watching videos on BET instead of going to the polls on election day.
While many of the middle class will start hyperventilating at the thought of black folks not voting and start yelling,
"Your...(huff).. ancestors died.. (huff, huff.)..so that you...(gasp)...could have the right to vote!"
That piece of revisionist rhetoric does not quite match historical facts nor common sense.
Our ancestors died for Freedom and Equality, not to pull a lever behind a shower curtain. Voting was always meant to be a means to an end, not vice versa.
Someone once said that voting is a democracy's alternative to rioting in the streets. So, in that case, it can be said that one brotha with a Molotov cocktail did more for "Civil Rights" then all of Dr. King’s marches put together. I am sure that most historians will agree that if it wasn't for the fiery "militant" threats of Malcolm X, as an alternative to "King's Dream", we wouldn't have a day off work the third Monday of every January to celebrate his birthday.
In reality, voting is a compromise; a peace treaty between the "haves" and the "have nots" that says:
"Despite all of that mumbo jumbo that they taught me in history class about what the "Founding Father" dudes said about fighting against tyranny, I believe that all of my aspirations for Life, Liberty with a can of happiness on the side can be realized by getting up on Election Day, entering a booth and drawing a line with a pen that they will so thoughtfully supply..."
So all that gloom and doom "signifyin'" about the evils of abstaining from the political process may play in Peoria but not in Compton.
Politicians must realize that the suit and ties that they court every election year do not represent all of black America. That room of BMW drivin’ , expensive cuff link wearin' folks at the NAACP function is no more representative of all African Americans than the group of cookie bakin' , soccer moms at the Harper Valley PTA is representative of all white Americans.
If the presidential candidates really want to get down, get funky, get loose and get a real taste of African Americana then they need to come down to the weekly political convention that we have every Saturday morning at Byron's Barber Shop and Beauty Salon.
We'll save a seat for ya....
Min. Paul Scott is a writer and activist in Durham NC. His blog is http://www.nowarningshotsfired.com He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 firstname.lastname@example.org