I sit alarmed at the fate of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), or rather, The Corporate Black Caucus.
At one point in its existence, the CBC stood as “the conscience of the congress.” But no more, when it first appeared upon the horizon in 1970 and over the next 30 years the CBC’s members consistently acted upon progressive legislation. Where as many in Congress often professed to be of a progressive mindset but voted differently, many of the CBC members voting records and their beliefs mirrored a consistent progressive view.
But now a dark cloud (pun intended) has befallen the CBC, cash. Corporate America has seized upon this once vibrant movement and pacified it with bling. The result has been a new look for the CBC with people like – Arthur Davis (AL), Denise Majette (GA), David Scott (GA) – and an influx of rightwing swing voters on key issues among senior members of the Caucus: Harold Ford (TN), Albert Wynn (MD), William Jefferson (LA), Sanford Bishop (GA), and Gregory Meeks (NY).
Although this is only a quarter of the representation of the CBC, their decision to side with corporate America while money for hurricane Katrina victims languished in committee, Haliburton cleaned up in Iraq, and for that matter Louisiana and Mississippi, and their seemingly lackluster stance on the Iraq war, has effectively neutered the CBC as a progressive force.
Increasingly when a few brave members speak out about issues that the CBC once would have stood behind (i.e. the Palestinian issue, gay marriage, pro choice and most recently, immigration), they are hushed back down as if they are children acting out in class.
For example, when Cynthia McKinney (GA) one of the most dynamic members of the Caucus stood for self-determination of the Palestinians and a complete withdrawal of Israel to the green line, the powerful Israeli lobby APIAC mounted support to vote her out of office. During the onslaught and maligning she received from the pro-Zionist AIPAC, nary a word was uttered from those in the CBC.
With a grassroots campaign McKinney managed to win her Georgia seat back. But when she returned, she wasn’t given back her seniority like other House Reps who had lost seats and won them back. Instead, Nancy Pelosi had her start all over again as a freshman congresswoman.
Again, no voices were heard from the CBC after this outrageous act.
We progressive Blacks in this country need to abandon the House Negro mentality (Yes I said it so what?), and move back towards our roots of advocating change. Not just for us, but all in America and the World. We need to have party members that want to make a difference for the people and not their pocket books.
For those of you unaware of the “House Negro” statement, let me give a brief history lesson.
During the period of slavery in this country there were basically two sorts of slaves the House Negro and the Field Negro. The House Negro was one who lived in the Master’s house. He dressed well and he ate well, albeit a scrap from the Master’s table, but it was better than what the field Negro had to endure.
The Field Negro toiled for long hours in the Sun tending to the master’s fields. Usually they arose before the crack of dawn for work, and normally worked well into the night. The food they ate wasn’t even fit for the animals on the farm. In fact, often times, animals ate better than they.
But the one thing the Field Negro had that the House Negro didn’t was pride and his/her refusal to submit to the way the power structure wanted them to. So when the Field Negro came to the one in the house and said “Hey let’s run away!” The House Negro would look at the one from the field like he was crazy and reply: “Runaway? Why? We have everything we need here.”
In fact, often, the House Negro would rat out the Field Negro to the overseer (who was another House Negro.) After which, the Field Negro could usually expect a whipping from his master or the overseer, depending on the situation.
We need to look towards more Cynthia McKinney’s, Barbra Lee’s, Charles Rangles’, John Lewis’, and John Conyers that reside in office. Encourage them to vote on issues that make this world better for all not for the privileged.
I know what you’re saying right now: “Brother man, we’ve made some serious in-roads to getting betterment for our people, but it takes time.”
How much time?!
If we as a people cannot see past our own narcissistic and myopic, I’m gonna get mine, attitude, then who are we really?
We have an obligation to speak out about the war in Iraq. Why not, the majority that are on the front lines are Black. We need to stand up for our Arab brothers and sisters. Remember, Blacks not only make up a high amount of the Christian population in this country, we also are one of the fastest growing Muslim populations.
The CBC was once a strong voice in American politics, it can be that again. Surely we don’t think that the corporate types care about us, do we?
This convergence back to our roots might mean a one-term situation for many in the CBC. But better to have one-term where one tried to make a difference for the better of all rather than an incumbent who sits back and lets the cash roll in from special interests groups and corporate lobbyists.
We need to call out the Barak Obama’s, and Mel Watts that merely serve as lapdogs for the power structures currently in place in government
I’m reminded of the words that Brother Malcolm once said on a television show about a Black man who said that what was happening to Black America at the time wasn’t so bad and that the Whites were finally beginning to accept us. Malcolm replied: “What do you think they call a Black man with a PhD from Yale? A nigguh, that’s what they call him!”
It’s time to clean out the House Negroes and put back the Field Negroes. We need the CBC to return to its roots in the field, toiling in the Sun not in the kitchen eating the crumbs off the table.