Black Power Politics

A polemic and critique of Black American politics and movement toward sophisticated applications,

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Location: New York, New York, United States

A veteran organizer in the “movement,” Gary James was a staff organizer in the borough of Queens for the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO), from 1966 to 1971 under the leadership of the late Dr. George Wiley organization’s President. Gary James is a political analyst and free lance writer. He is the author of a book entitled ERACISM that will be released in the spring of 2007. The provocative "political faction" book highlights grassroots politics in New York from the late 1960s to the present. For a limited time the book can be accessed at his web site: www.garyjames.info

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Black Mules & Rino's Cut Off New Generation Leadership At Grassroots

Arguably one of the most significant hybrids in human history is the one between horses and donkeys, vis-à-vis, the mule. Breeding a male donkey with a female horse results in and mule; breeding a female horse with a male donkey produces a hinny (mule). Offspring from either cross, although fully developed as males or females are virtually sterile. Therefore a line of horses and a line of domestic asses must be maintained in order to perpetuate mule production.

The mule has greater endurance, is stronger and less excitable than a horse. Depending on the need, different horses are used to produce fine riding mules, heavy draft animals or medium-sized pack mules, as the case may be. In Medieval Europe, when horses were bred large to carry armored knights, mules were the preferred riding animal of gentlemen and clergy.

In 1495, Christopher Columbus brought four jacks and two horses to the “new world.” They would produce mules for the conquistadors’ and facilitated expeditions onto the American mainland. Ten years after the conquest of the Aztecs, the first shipment of twelve horses and three jacks arrived from Cuba to begin breeding mules in Mexico.

Female mules were preferred as riding animals, while the males were used more as pack animals along trails that tied the Spanish Empire together. Mules were used in the silver mines. Along the frontier each Spanish outpost had to breed its own supply of mules, and each hacienda or mission maintained at least one stud jack.

On the Iberian Peninsular, Catalonia and Andalusia each developed a large breed of ass, putting Spain in the forefront of the mule-breeding industry. Exportation of Spanish jacks was prohibited until 1813. However, the King of Spain presented George Washington with a large black jack in 1785. This animal, called the “Royal Gift” is considered the father of the mule industry in the United States.

Mules were once used to pull fire-fighting equipment and were often employed by armies to pull artillery and to remove the wounded from the battlefield. The twenty-mule team that hauled borax from Death Valley has become part of American legend. Indeed, some western towns were originally laid out with extremely wide streets in order to allow the mule teams to turn around.

Popular mule-breeding centers in the United States developed in Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri to provide work animals for the cotton fields of the “Old South.” After the American Civil War and the development of tenant farming throughout the South, the mule continued as the major draft animal in American agriculture.

“Forty acres and a mule” was all one needed for self-sufficiency. The importance of the mule declined rapidly in the 1940s and 1950s, however, as gasoline-driven tractors became widespread, and mules all but disappeared from the American agricultural scene.

A curious political correlation between the creation and application of the utilitarian hybrid (mule) and the “orthodox” black civil rights leadership occurred to this writer.
Both the “Royal Gift” (Black jack gift to President George Washington said to be responsible for the American mule industry) and black “orthodox” civil rights leadership have interesting parallels relative to the advancement and achievements of American culture, not to mention their hybrid nature.

The mule and 19th century Black America enjoyed a most unique symbiosis and synergistic relationship. Just as the 20th century witnessed the decline of the mule due to the advent of the internal combustion engine applied to the agricultural industry, the black civil rights orthodoxy has apparently outlived its practical application in relation to the political, economic and social needs of 21st century black America.

Beneath the surface however, there is an even more intriguing correlation between mulse and the inherited leadership that constitutes the black civil rights orthodoxy. Interestingly enough the “orthodox” black civil rights leadership is also apparently sterol and unable to produce political progeny, hence they may have gone the way of the Dinosaurs. Consequently, the black political leadership may be phantom donkeys but are in fact political mules, with a similar pedigree.

As a practical political matter Rev. Al Sharpton former candidate for the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination in 2004, having been mentored by the “movement,” may represent the last generation of “orthodox” black civil rights leadership. And there is no coherent civil rights agenda being advanced by the respective echelons of the traditional leadership to move the black American community at large from point A to point B.

Some in the black community argue that civil rights techniques, political tactics and rhetoric are not sufficient to enforce or sustain the legislative and statutory advancements achieved, during that era. Equally insufficient is their capacity to cover new political ground in the context of the emerging black American demographic. The political leadership bears considerable responsibility for the fact that African Americans are the weakest politically among virtually all political minorities despite the comparatively disproportional high number of black elected officials and longevity in America.

The voter turnout in the recent Connecticut Democratic primary that pitting incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman against political neophyte Ned Lamont, is an example of illusionary politics. Party officials are absolutely ecstatic about the “overwhelming” and unprecedented voter turnout and attribute the hotly contested primary to the anti Iraq war sentiment within the Democratic Party. The fact that voter plurality in Connecticut was only 42 percent speaks volumes relative to the legitimacy of the state party leadership and the apathy among the states constituents.

Anti-war candidate Ned Lamont enjoyed support from the entire complement of black “orthodox” civil rights leaders and elected officials who were prominently displayed and deployed in his campaign offensive. There was not one traditional black political leader to support or endorse Joe Lieberman. The lone black politician to support Lieberman was the newly elected new generation leader, the honorable Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey. Corey was of course derided by the civil rights orthodoxy for not walking in lock step… Nevertheless, the two U.S. Senatorial candidates virtually split the Black vote.

If you follow the logic of “political correctness” relative to the delivery of the black vote in Connecticut, new generation political leader Mayor Cory Booker ran a dead heat with the combined efforts of Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and the Congressional Black Caucus. Despite diminishing electoral returns, pervasive voter apathy and overwhelming numbers of unregistered voters the black political establishment has yet to solidify its tenuous partisan advantage with aggressive voter education and registration efforts.

On the contrary, the national black political establishment defends its monolithic provincial approach to political ascendancy against all opposing points of view. The ferocity of the pack dog mentality political attacks against competing points of view to some extent takes the form of political fratricide. The recent attacks against professor, comedian, philanthropist and neo-political activist Bill Cosby, is but the latest example of the prevailing political pack dog mentality.

Perhaps the late author Harold Cruse described the Black American dilemma best in his profound expose published in the late 1960s entitled “The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual.” You need only replace the word Negro with Black or African American and the same crisis scenario remains here in the first decade of the 21st century. Too many Black Professors and intellectuals in prominent positions simply profess… but know not. We need only take a cursory look at the recent literary works of professors Michael Erick Dyson and Ron Walters for confirmation.

Professor Ron Walters, who came to public prominence as a political operative in the 1984 and 1988 presidential campaign of Rev. Jesse Jackson, is now one of the gurus of “progressive” black politics and member of the civil rights leadership establishment. In his most recent book “Freedom Is Not Enough” Walters continues to promote the vagaries of social justice, racial entitlement, victimization and partisan White paternalism.

Alton Chase a longtime community and political activist based in the Bronx and Harlem said, “Freedom is enough if we take full responsibility for ourselves, children and community.” Chase said, “Black folk need to be more sophisticated about how to maximize the power derived from the electoral process. Instead, we continue to buy into the political salvation rhetoric preached by the one legged politician or political leader.”

Chase continued, “But freedom is not enough if you are still pursuing “forty-acres and a mule” and engaged in modern day victimization and reparations politics.” When the famous Bill Cosby defied the protocol of “political correctness” by publicly admonishing black parents for the anti-social behavior etc., of their children and decried the disproportionate number of out of wedlock births among black youth, he was roundly criticized by the gatekeepers of plantation politics.

The black civil rights orthodoxy lead the invidious political assault against Cosby followed by character assassination pop-shots by media opportunists with apparent personal motives. The flamboyant and popular black popular-culturist and rhetorician Professor and Rev. Michael Eric Dyson has monopolized the anti Bill Cosby political fallout by authoring a book entitled, “Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has The Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?”

According to Rev. Dyson, “For most of his career Bill Cosby has avoided race with religious zeal.” Well known TV Journalist Juan Williams who is currently working for National Public Radio (NPR) in a direct response to Rev. Dyson’s book he (Williams) has authored a book entitled “Enough” that offers an eloquent and insightful polemic that questions the premise of Dyson’s political assault on Cosby. Williams’ book has sparked a long over due broad based political, economic and social discourse in the black community.

The breath of the abounding discourse seems to focus on the transitional needs of black American politics to address the short and long-range crisis may be cathartic. Traditional civil rights leaders are currently hard pressed to justify staying the course of civil rights as a viable strategy to move black folk at large from point A to point B in the 21st century. Some call for a third civil rights movement in black America, while others say a third civil rights movement is a bad idea and wholly insufficient.

The political inertia of the black political establishment with the cooperation of their partisan paternal masters are making every effort to silence independent black political thinkers. The attack on Cosby, whose contribution to the advancement of black folk speaks for itself, is an example of how blacks that think outside of the political box are maligned and politically “black” listed.

But the attack on Cosby is an act of political desperation and in fact a rear guard action to forestall what is politically inevitable, vis-à-vis, a changing of the political leadership equation. The increasing shortcomings of the traditional black civil rights leadership continues to generate voter apathy that has resulted in a pervasive political denial and paranoia.

Prior to the Bill Cosby political controversy among black folk, public TV talk show host and rising political star Tavis Smiley was being accused by some in the civil rights leadership of attempting to pull off a political coup when he published “The Covenant With Black America,” following his latest nationally televised annual forum on the state of Black America.

In the introduction to the book Smiley writes, “Why a Covenant with Black America? In short, because … without organization, black folk will never be able to take, keep, or hold onto anything, much less the hard-fought gains that we have struggled to achieve. Our interest with this document was to create a national plan of action to address the primary concerns of African Americans today. Once we are organized and mobilized, we can create the world we want for generations to come. The Covenant is required reading for any person, party, or powerbroker who seeks to be supported politically, socially or economically by the masses of black people in the coming years.”

On the local level in New York City the political fratricide continues, constricting if not imploding the black Democratic Party leadership leviathan. In Brooklyn’s 10th CD incumbent Congressman Ed Towns is in a three-way race with two former political allies City Councilman Charles Barron and Assemblyman Roger Green. Tragically, of the 400, 000 registered voters in the district only 10 percent of the voters turn out in the general election. Hence, the three candidates are contesting over who will get the lions share of 10,000 votes while the 390,000 voters are out of the electoral pool.

The political fratricide is so destructive in Brooklyn’s 11th CD, a so-called black congressional seat as the result of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The three black candidates (Mr. Chris Owens, Ms. Yvette Clarke and Mr. Carl Andrews) will likely split the black vote enabling the White candidate David Yasski to win the so-called “minority” seat.

In Harlem, the political turf of the “old” guard, the term limited City Councilman Bill Perkins is facing a primary battle with a Latino Ruben Varges for the open State Senate seat vacated by Senator David Paterson as he runs for Lieutenant Governor on the State House coronation ticket of Attorney General Elliot Spitzer. There is great political speculation that should Mr. Varges prevail in his primary race there will a domino effect that could lead to a Latino successor to the Harlem Congressional seat of the honorable Charles Rangel.

Apparently the perceived political donkeys are in fact variations of the hybrid mule unable to produce offspring to carry the political agenda beyond the civil rights and racial paradigm of victimization and entitlement. But the black political crisis is compounded because the RINO’s (Republicans In Name Only) have not practiced and abided by the rich legacy that brought them into being, in 1854.

The anti-social RINO’s have distinguished themselves by devouring new and young political sprouts at the grassroots. And in conjunction with the political imperative of the White RINO’s the Black RINO’s are clandestinely allocated turf strong holds to help manage the “reservation” and the status quo political scenario. By political design the black Republicans cannot be competitive in Brooklyn’s 10th and 11th CD’s and the GOP party leadership (white) will certainly negotiate short and long term power relationships issues beneath the surface, as usual.

Likewise, the Grand Old Party in Harlem has no opportunity to be competitive in the short and long term. However, some note a major improvement in that for the first time in at least 30 plus years the New York Republican County Committee designated a registered Republican for the coveted Harlem Congressional seat the 15th CD. Mr. Edward Daniels a political neophyte and local uptown party operative has set the unprecedented standard of being the first registered Republican to head the county ballot.

In 2004 the Republican Party candidate in Harlem’s 15th CD was Mr. Kenneth Jefferson a registered Democrat and political neophyte. Mr. Jefferson’s candidacy was supported by the uptown district leaders in order to stop Ms. Keisha Morrisey a ”hip hop” generation grassroots insurgent who was the GOP nominee for New York State Assembly in the 70th AD and New York City Council in the 9th CD in 2002 and 2003 respectively. The resulting controversy between Ms. Morrisey and the uptown Harlem GOP leadership was the basis a lawsuit initiated by Ms. Morrisey.

In 2002 the party gave the congressional designation in Harlem’s 15th CD to Dr. Jesse Fields an official of the Independence Party, reportedly controlled by Dr. Lenora Fulani. Many longtime local Republicans were irate because of the obvious snub and apparent compromise of GOP values in the political deal with the Independence Party. But the controversy began because Mr. Conrad Muhammad the former minister of the Nation of Islam’s Mosque # 7 and his GOP supporters were lobbying for his (Conrad Muhammad) designation as the party’s congressional standard bearer.

The popular and charismatic Conrad Muhammad had begun evaluating both political parties as well as the prospect of running for public office a couple of years earlier. The advent of Conrad Muhammad as a GOP Congressional candidate generated shockwaves within the leadership of both local political parties. The word on the street began to generate great curiosity, if not a ground swell, and much local and state political interest in the Grand Old Party was percolating.

Governor Pataki’s re-election campaign quickly embraced Conrad’s candidacy and reached out to the grassroots political activists associated with his (Conrad) campaign for cross endorsements. The high profile public re-election endorsement of Black community leaders included Conrad Muhammad and chairman of the GOP Grassroots Political Taskforce among about twenty other prominent celebrities of varying genre and community and political activists from around the city.

Conspicuously missing from the statewide assembly of black leadership were the uptown black GOP district leaders and county operatives, who peppered the hundreds that constituted the audience.

On the contrary, the leadership of the New York Republican County registered in the strongest terms possible that they had a problem with the notion of Conrad Muhammad as the party’s congressional designee following a cursory interview. Consequently, the uptown GOP leadership who formally introduced Conrad to the county leadership as a prospective designee jumped ship and lined up behind the county chairman at the time former State Assemblyman John Ravitz. Somehow, Ravitz came to the conclusion that Independence Party official Dr. Jesse Fields was the best designee for the party.

Not only had Conrad upset the County Republican Party leadership, but the energy associated with his (Conrad) proposed campaign smoked Congressman Rangel’s people out, who made direct inquiries to the campaign organization. And the writer was advised that the esteemed congressman has considerable leverage with GOP county officials and may have had some influence on the decision of county chairman Assemblyman John Ravitz.

Excitement was resonating in the media as well as the community concerning Conrad’s planned entry into the congressional race. The New York Press published a comprehensive interview July 17 – 23, Volume 15, Number 29 with Conrad Muhammad, that also included Congressman Rangel and GOP County chairman John Ravitz. The extensive piece was headlined: A Great Race In Harlem – Will “Hiphop Minister” Conrad Muhammad Go From N.O.I. to G.O.P? By Adam Heimlich

Ravitz was hard pressed by Heimlich to justify resorting to an officer of the Independence Party in general and Dr. Jesse Fields in particular while ignoring local registered Republicans to head up the county ballot. Dr. Fields, and her associate Dr. Fulani have been mired in controversy in the context of alleged anti-Semitic statements and the lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual agenda which is in direct contradiction with the values and standards of the Republican Party. Ravitz without question compromised the GOP by insisting that the county endorsed Fields for the designation.

Ravitz was totally against a GOP primary to let the voters make the decision, between the candidates and sited Conrad’s alleged anti-Semitic statement when he was the minister of Mosque number 7. Ravitz maintained that a primary was not a healthy process for the local party.

According to Heimlich’s piece, “Ravitz said there are reasons why the G.O.P. is wary of Muhammad, and none of them are secret. Directing me (Heimlich) to the Anti-Defamation League’s website for specifics, he says, “Conrad knows about the problems with some of the things that he’s said in the past… I believe he’s going to have to address and deal with them. I think that all of us who are in public life have to be held accountable for our words, and there are a lot of things that Conrad still needs to work with – people who are still feeling very hurt about some of those comments.” Ravitz said.

Some astute political analyst suggest that Ravitz made a serious miscalculation with the Fields and Muhammad scenario and may be held accountable for compromising the values and growth of the party should he seek public office in the future in New York City.

Meanwhile, embattled new generation grassroots GOP activist Ms. Keisha Morrisey said, “I will continue undaunted with my efforts to help grew the party at the grassroots level… And I remain encouraged by our forward movement.”

4 Comments:

Anonymous A. Frazier, Esq. said...

Your comments regarding Dr.Fields and Dr.Fulani fail to mention thier thirty year plus records of building/leading the independent movement in electorial politics. Especially the historic presidential run of Dr. Fulani in 1988 when she was the first woman and Black ever to be on the ballot in all fifty states. They represent in part the 47% of Black voters that left the Democratic Party to vote for Mike Bloomberg as Independents in 2005. Dr. Jessie Fields had run on the Independence Party line many times. More democracy, less sexism.

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