Black America has a challenge. Despite steady improvement in our quality of life, much remains to be done. To speed improvement, liberal domination of our politics must come to a screeching halt. We must pull the brakes and return black America to our conservative roots.
We have long-suffered from the consequences of socialist policies promoted by leftist groups and embraced by our so-called leaders. The alliance they've forged has dragged our community down for too long.
It wasn't always this way. Community leaders could once be counted on to provide direction. They represented our frustration and the hunger for equality we so earnestly desired, and they delivered exactly what we needed: opportunity. People fought and died simply for the opportunity to succeed or fail on their own merits and be restricted only by their own desires. Previous generations dreamed of having the opportunities that we now enjoy because of the work of these leaders.
But a new guard has arisen. They preach that liberal policies, many enacted after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, are our salvation and must be protected at all costs. They even go as far as to advocate intimidation tactics towards those of us who disagree! They tell us that if we vote for conservatives, black churches will burn and black men will be dragged to their death.
This new guard differs greatly from our past leaders. No longer, it says, should we rely on merit or credentials for advancement. The content of our character is secondary. Instead, we should rely on skin color to carry us gently up the ladder. Media exposure and credibility come with the preaching of reliance on the government instead of on personal accomplishment.
Big government is now allowed to pursue the liberal policies that rob potential from our community virtually without criticism. Our children's potential is pilfered with the toleration of sub-par teachers and a lack of alternatives to failing schools. The spouses of the dearly departed are robbed of saved earnings and benefits by pushing for death taxes on inheritance. Our retirement security is mismanaged by keeping the archaic Social Security system in its present state.
Harry Houdini would be proud of the new guard's sleight of hand. It promotes issues that keeps it in power while belittling ideas that help the community. For example, it fights President Bush's faith-based initiative that would increase spiritual direction in our neighborhoods. It aligns itself with teachers unions and against common folk by fighting school choice plans to give lower income parents alternatives to gang- and drug-infested schools. Just ask a hardworking mother on State Street in Chicago if she would like alternatives to local schools. It also supports Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger's view on abortion, and opposes abstinence programs while our young girls are living lives of sexual promiscuity and producing children without being able to take care of them.
Our struggle for opportunity was too long and the reward too valuable to throw away. The lynchings, threats and intimidation tactics were too painful a price to pay to just give our votes away, if we vote at all.
Right now, the timing is perfect for change. Politically, the country is divided almost evenly between Republicans and Democrats. Blacks, however, voted Democratic by a nine-to-one margin in 2000. Obviously, conservatives haven't done a good of job articulating their message to us. The Republican Party, in particular, hasn't properly pursued black votes. That's tragic because conservative issues and ideas are not only good for Republicans but for all America - blacks included.
In my home state of Georgia, I am working with other black conservatives and state political leaders to articulate and spread our message within the black community. In a state where less than a ten percent change in the way blacks voted would have generated a different governor and U.S. senator, the importance of pursuing votes in neglected demographics is obvious. We are getting the financial resources and support we need to succeed. Black Americans are best served by conservative policies that promote opportunity and prosperity. Black participation also ensures a seat at the governing table - a seat that will never be occupied by the likes of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton.
The new guard and the leftist groups propping them up will
continue to look for more ways to scare us into keeping them in
power. The young mother on State Street in Chicago, however, is
counting on us. It's time to bring back the leadership style of
days gone by.
(Ak'bar Shabazz, an Atlanta native, is a member of the National
Advisory Council of the African-American leadership network Project
21. Comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.