Political organization and mobilization, while important in some ways, have proven ineffective in the everyday lives of poor Black people. I have seen everyone, from Mayor Lori Lightfoot to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, talk about non-violence, urging protestors to go home, and expressing their gratefulness for the police. Yet, not once have they given voice to the real issue. Instead, they are talking about what is happening on the streets but not why.
Living in this country for as long as we all have, we know that the politicians who support Black liberation do not get elected. That’s not because folks aren’t voting or paying attention. We have paid enough attention over the years to recognize a scam when we see one. Black folks’ only options in every election are Neoliberals or moderate democrats. They promise reform but end up enriching themselves and their cronies while taking money from the corporations and special interest groups who funded their elections. From Barack Obama down the line, Black politicians are in it for themselves. They are symbolic and not actual change agents.
I think our main focus should be on dismantling capitalism. Until we dismantle the system born out of our ancestors’ enslavement, we will not be accessible. Until we educate our children, instead of sending them to poorly funded schools, we will not be accessible. Until we can start our businesses instead of having to accept wage-suppressed jobs, we will not be accessible. Until we break the bail bonds system, we will not be accessible. We will not be free until people can adequately afford proper legal representation. Until we are no longer cheap labor to be exploited and discarded at the altar of capitalism, we will not be accessible. Until we reject the idea that a few of us will “make” it while most live in poverty, we will not be accessible. Money is the root of evil in this country, and we have seen politicians repeatedly being brought by corporations and failing to fight for the people who elected them. Please share with us the names of progressive Black politicians in this country who are currently making effective positive changes in Black neighborhoods to benefit the Black people who live there.
White supremacy is our chief enemy, and capitalism funds it. Yet, we live in a country that tells Black Americans they can become “successful” as long as they play by the rules in this country.
As someone who has followed “the rules” my entire life, this message is bullshit. I’ve never been arrested, stayed in school, got my education, lived in a “nice” neighborhood, and had a “good” job, yet none of that matters. I remain under the threat of violence at the hands of the police, just like everyone else in this family, no matter what path our lives have taken.
Political organization/mobilization/voting will not save us but is a tool for us to use in our fight against White supremacy. And that toolbox is multi-faceted and includes: protesting, violent rebellions, joining/reforming institutions, being examples of Black excellence in our neighborhoods and workplaces, raising our families, and embracing our big noses, nappy hair, and/or dark skin. Our biggest enemy is capitalism, a parasitic system that feeds off of us in the States and feeds off of non-white folks around the globe. Tearing that system down should be our main priority.
As Dr. Pamela Jolly brilliantly stated during a panel discussion in Philadelphia in 2019, “We as African Americans are the only people in America who were first capital before we made capital…We came over here on the balance sheet and we are wealth.”
While Dr. Jolly is advocating for the Blacks to further work within the confines of capitalism, I’m arguing we tear the entire system down and begin to imagine something new.