The political climate in the United States can be understood by checking our historical record. There is little new about where we are today in the country regarding how politics usually operates. Since the election of Donald Trump many people seem to be suffering from historical amnesia. They think Trump alone is responsible for the cultural divide in America. However, even a brief glance into the historical record shows that Trump is not an aberration, but is in fact, a much clearer reflection of the American norm than was his predecessor, Barack Obama, who was correctly described by the words, “an exaggerated American”, one who so much “imitated White values and mores, that he entered the cartoonish realm of outright buffoonery.”
We deceive ourselves when appraising the present climate apart from its historical context. Our refusal to assess our present state of affairs and ignore history is especially troublesome for African Americans. Selective memory is always more damaging for those who are oppressed and in many ways, African Americans are experiencing conditions similar to those that confronted their ancestors prior to the Emancipation Proclamation. There is perhaps no figure in American history that spent more of his life trying to civilize the United States than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was indeed a true believer in the American Dream, which he believed was enthroned within the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
He was wrong.
King would spend much of his brief life unsuccessfully appealing to what he called “White folks of goodwill.” He was convinced that maybe a few of the men wielding political power would honor those documents that, at least on paper, respected equally the lives of all human beings.
He was wrong.
King appealed to those he perceived as “white men of good will,” hoping that they would honor the that claimed to respect the rights of all human beings. He believed that if he could just convince a few to honor their forefathers who wrote “all men are created equal,” then maybe these words would be interpreted to include African Americans as well.
He was wrong.
Initially, he viewed America’s founding documents, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution as sacred, but changed his belief after many years of fighting the system and directly appealing to those in power. After several years of struggle and disappointment, King later realized that those documents upon which America was founded, could not penetrate the malignant hearts of those in power. He would later realize that his political strategy of appealing to the goodwill of White men in power was “unwarranted optimism.” King would describe his uncritical confidence in White liberals and people of goodwill as “misplaced optimism.” King once believed that even the worst and most virulent racists were capable of redemption. Just before his assassination, he admitted that he was overly optimistic in his views on race relations, and those who had openly chained themselves to the philosophy of White supremacy had moved beyond the reach of redemption. These people had clearly rejected the cosmic force of justice, only to worship a god who upheld their perverted vision of the universe. Those men who controlled America’s system of justice were not unlike Hitler, who borrowed much of his philosophy from the American eugenic theorists.
When and Where We Enter the Struggle
The history of African Americans in the United States is a long and painful narrative, depicting a people longing to survive in an environment extremely hostile to their growth and development as human beings. More than any American in the last one hundred years, Dr. King dedicated his short life in search of salvation for African Americans. In the beginning he thought that real salvation would be granted to Black Americans if they were given access to political power. “Give us the ballot,” he wrote, “and we will transform the south.”
King was a true believer in the American Dream and this ongoing search for equality through political action continues to be the primary medium of change for African Americans. At the expense of rejecting other modes of deliverance (perhaps more effective at making the illusive dream of freedom a reality), Black Americans still believe that the political route to full citizenship is the only path available to secure a lasting freedom. Whereas, I believe like Orwell who wrote in his classic book 1984, that being human, eclipses all other ways of being in the world.
The year 2019 was designated as The Year of Remembrance, because itmarked four hundred years since the arrival of Africans in North America.Volumes have been written about their “beautiful struggle”, while an ongoing internal battle continues and more sophisticated obstacles are placed on their path to freedom. Yet in spite of the many challenges and obstacles placed in their path to wholeness, many continue to search for new ways to embrace their full humanity. Dr. King was fond of quoting Victor Hugo as a reminder of the destiny of African Americans and likewise, in this Year of Remembrance, African Americans have another opportunity to carry out the mission many gave their lives to make a reality. Once Black people are at another critical juncture in human history, marking “an idea whose time has come.”
In this Year of Remembrance,African Americans must re-evaluate their stages of development in the United States. A look into the historical record reveals that Black growth has been stymied by what King called “power contending forces.” These unholy forces have arrayed themselves against the Black collective and prevented millions from embracing their full humanity. The “power contending forces” block Black growth and development and have commandeered many organizations that once celebrated Black life, including taking over the Black Church. These “power contending forces” control every major Black leader who is forced by his political handlers to function in the Black community much like the overseers on southern plantations. It was these compromised Black leaders, appointed by outside forces, and “white people of goodwill”, who Dr. King later discovered were the greatest obstacles to Black growth and development.
African Americans must re-evaluate their allegiance to these power contending forces and the neoliberals who have blocked them from embracing their full humanity. After checking the historical record, one soon discovers that many who claimed to be representatives of Black growth and development turned out to be its greatest enemy. The decision to re-evaluate White neoliberals, masquerading as friends of Black folk, is the most difficult challenge facing African Americans in the twenty-first century. This is an idea whose time for critique has come. These hostile forces to Black growth have continuously blocked all efforts toward substantial progress.
African Americans will not move forward as a united people, until they have the courage to confront those White liberals pretending to be friendly, who at the same time are aligned with the same oligarchical forces that appropriated over a trillion dollars to feed the military industrial complex’s demonic appetite for war. Only when Black people develop the courage to directly confront the economic and social policies of the power contending forces, can they collectively progress. Now, only the Black celebrity class and vetted politicians, have benefited from this corrosive system, that continues to regard the Black Collective, as less than fully human. Black leadership does not exist in the Black community, because those politicians who took a solemn oath to serve their constituents, have compromised their values to maintain a relationship with their white neoliberal handlers. These political handlers controlling Black politicians, have become the new slave masters, which was on full display when Congressman Clyburn prostrated himself before Joe Biden.