“There is no use to equivocate or lie about the matter, Mississippi’s Constitutional Convention was held for one reason and one reason only; to eliminate the nigger from politics. Not the ignorant but the nigger!” James K. Vardaman (Governor of Mississippi 1904-1908)
In the chaotic aftermath of the 2018 Midterm elections, a war of words erupted between film maker Tariq Nasheed and Democratic Party pundit Roland Martin. Martin went on the Tom Joyner Morning Show to excoriate these “Fake Conscious Negroes” for advising blacks to not vote. You would have to be living under a rock not to know who Martin was talking about. Still stinging from Nasheed’s vicious social media snap campaign, which included a mock puppet with an bad S-curl named “Rollie, The Boule’ Bird,” Martin saw his chance to retaliate under the guise of reason.
Right out of the gate, Martin made an appeal to pragmatism. Citing the election of a new Black Male District Attorney in St. Louis, Kim Foxx, the newly elected States Attorney of Illinois, and of course Marilyn Mosby in Baltimore, Martin decried the dull-witted mendacity of those who argue that voting is an exercise in futility. He went on to state an axiomatic truth————- Politics encircles the lives of all human beings from the point of their first breaths until the time that they take their last gasps of life. And then, with righteous indignation, he clothed his rebuke in martyrdom citing the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd and Aiyana Jones. He reminded blacks of an obligation owed to our fore bearers who gave their all to secure this sacred expression of self determination.
In the vast echo chamber that is black celebrity politics, it didn’t take long before he got a response. Though Nasheed would later respond with more of his school yard snapping antics, it was Finance Professor and Economic Powerhouse Dr. Boyce Watkins, who drew his sword to defend the honor of the conscious community. He took Martin to task for his condescending tone toward the conscious community. He charged Martin with using shaming tactic to coerce blacks into voting. (presumably for Democrats) Dr. Watkins then questioned the purpose of blind allegiance to the symbolic act of voting without securing tangible obligations from such a colossal political investment. Watkins expressed his misgivings at supporting an agenda of a party that has reduced the black vote to a foolishly loyal, yet consistently ignored side b*!ch.(paraphrasing) He went on to espouse the old Washingtonian argument of economic institution building, instead of the political ceremony of voting, as the long term solution to the problems ailing Black America. Summing up his rebuttal, he stated that black should be more concerned about” Silver Rights” than Civil Rights.
So!…..It appears that decades after their respective deaths, W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington are still fighting in the great beyond. These diss wars revive the age old familiar strife between black intellectuals: which path is the path toward black empowerment and prosperity? The dollar or the ballot? It is the zenith of imbecility not to see that since Reconstruction, there has been a relentless, sustained attack on Black Suffrage. This attack was best expressed by Alfred M. Waddell, a former Confederate Officer and Democratic U.S. Congressman from North Carolina in 1871. Waddell stated quite simply that:
“If you find a negro voting, tell him to leave the poll. If he refuses, KILL HIM!”
Backed by a militia of angry white men wearing red shirts, Waddell orchestrated the only successful coup’ de’ tat on American soil in Wilmington, NC in 1897. The impetus of the attack was to eradicate entrenched black political power that had been thriving in the city since 1871. As Jim Crow began to take shape, white political power initiated a cruel shell game that ensured its supremacy. Poll taxes kept poor whites and blacks from voting. While literacy tests were disparately used to weed out the uppity niggas from the polls. Questions like how many bubbles in a bar of soap, or name all the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court backwards, created a brick wall of resistance to the black vote. And there is a good reason why.
8 days after passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and over 150 days after Bloody Sunday, federal voting examiners registered 381 new black voters in Selma, AL in a single day. This new black electorate hurled Dallas County’s resident racist and violence prone Sheriff Jim Clark, from his seat in the police department to a mobile homes lot in Selma. By implementing policy, black people had demonstrated what Nat Turner sought to show his brethren over a century ago: white people are people, not gods. Thus, in this instance, the black vote had totally neutralized white controlled terrorism. Score one for Roland Martin.
But while the Black Vote censured white violence in the South, it was powerless to stop it in urban ghettos like Harlem, Watts, Cleveland & Detroit. In these communities, the lack of black economic power created a huge void in black aspirations for equality. Rampant unemployment, concurrent with an ever increasing wage gap between blacks and whites, created communities with virtually no tax base. And while factory employment may have granted decent wages to blacks in the automobile plants, it did little to stop the gradual depreciation of homes in Black neighborhoods due to white flight or gentrification. So while blacks could elect black candidates to office, those politicians had minimal resources to create, or even maintain thriving black neighborhoods. Thus, black political power became black political impotence. And black political impotence degenerated into black political corruption. Score one for Dr. Watkins.
But it would be childishly naive’ to suggest that economic prosperity is the sole solution to black inequality. Wilimington, Tulsa & Rosewood are all a testament to this dangerous assumption. In each community, blacks enjoyed thriving industrial sectors that created a vast black middle class among the citizenry. Unfortunately, each affluent black community met its Waterloo by the barrel of a gun, followed by the pen of the state; both of which were held by a white hand.
In the case of Tulsa, in the aftermath of the riot, black enterprises were zoned out of existence by local ordinances from all white city counsels, or down right stolen by state eminent domain laws. Though many confused “woke” negros blamed integration for the fall of prosperous black communities, it was under segregation where the most successful black communities met a bloody and ignominious death.
These facts illustrate a deep hole in both arguments. When Black America asserted themselves politically, they were swept from office in a red wave (no pun intended) of white retaliatory violence designed to enforce an informal dalit status of subjugation. If blacks became successful economically, they were subject to the same white mob violence which was shielded and enforced under the color of law. What no one will dare say out loud is that over a century and a half of slavery, followed by one-half a century of Jim Crow apartheid, has normalized black subordination in the minds of most of white America. Simply put, the status quo is black deformity.
So who is right? Well? They are both right. And they are both wrong. If America teaches us anything, it’s that political and economic power are twin barrels of the same shotgun. And force will be required to protect those gains and ensure their passage from one generation to the next. Black people have the unenviable task of building both sectors simultaneous under the probing eye of white anxiety. If we are honest, we must conclude that voting for a party that gives us very little in return is like masturbating with thumb tacks.
Likewise, to cast our voting power to the winds for a “Black Agenda” that no politician that has to face white America will dare support, is to literally call for our own extinction. If we intend to build economic institutions, it is foolish to believe that interests hostile to our empowerment will simply ignore the source of its supremacy and allow us to become independent of their will without a fight. We will need to trade time for space. That does not mean allowing the most regressive sectors of American politics to take power over the local economies of our communities because of our cynicism or apathy.
If the Democrats intend to maintain a policy of benign neglect, then that neglect must become our ally as we build voting blocks for independent candidates at state and municipal levels. So! Either way, WE MUST VOTE!!!!! PERIOD!!!!
Economic institutions with no political power or representation is like giving Smokey a nickel bag of weed. It just ain’t enough. Political participation without an economic base from which to draw patronage is political cuckholdry. All you can do is watch someone else enjoy the woman you married. And finally, political gains with an economic infrastructure mean nothing if you lack the police powers to protect them both. You are quite simply a mumble rapper, chain out, with no gun, walking through a hostile neighborhood at midnight; a casualty waiting to happen.
TONY MACEO is a Senior Blogger at the Negromanosphere and the Chief Blogger at Power and Strategy.com. Please like, share and subscribe to the website. Check out the shop or chess store at the site. Become a patron @powerofstrategies on Patreon. Or Support by paypal at email@example.com. TILL NEXT TIME, I’LL HOLLA!