Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The Black Agenda
i did a post not too long ago about the Tavis Smiley and AL Sharpton disagreement, and not too long ago the 'We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda appeared on C-Span. i missed it when it came on television, and forgot about it until i read about Farrakhan speaking at it in The Final Call newspaper. its almost 4 hours....kinda long. but theres a lot to be discussed, and you should watch all of it when you get the chance.
i think this was a good discussion that was much needed. i would like to know who put forth or made the final decision on the panel. well, i guess thats obvious-Tavis. my point though, is that if someone has a point they want to get across, then they'll pick a larger number of people to represent their stance, and fewer that don't. i'm not saying Tavis did this, but it would be nice to know how this panel was come to. i would have liked to see more women on the panel as well as others that aren't necessarily in this black leaders group that we usually see. like Van Jones or Ben Jealous and although i think he's a Republican lapdog, Michael Steele too.
something Tavis said towards the beginning was that people are constantly asking whether these discussions he hosts do more than just talk. he says that this program is supposed to lay out a Black Agenda that we can discuss, edit and then work towards as a community, but i'm not sure whether or not that was accomplished. most of the panels' sentiments were... "black folk need to....", "we should start...", "we need to stop....". which if good for those that that mobilize and work towards these things through organizations and voting, however, there are many people that need direction and a systematized plan. but a plan for what?
i like what Jackson said when he interrupted Tavis at one part when he was talking about the Black Agenda. he said that there is not one single black agenda. and i think that was a very good point. to act as though there is a black agenda is to think that all black people want the same thing. MANY black people want the best for all black people. but that is not ALL black people. and even that "many" has their own ways they feel would be best as well as their own agendas. some black people want environmental justice and things like climate change to be assessed above all; some blacks want better healthcare and more jobs available; other blacks just want to see more black faces in the government; some blacks' main concern is the war; some are just trying to remove themselves from poverty, and some are just trying to make money; some blacks understand the patriarchy and racism that this country is saturated in, and some do not; some want the best for all blacks and consider the black community in all that they do, and some just want to succeed on their own; some want to look past race, while others want it to be embraced. we are not one monolith of voters; of citizens; of people. its arguable whether thats a good or a bad thing (or beneficial or disadvantageous), but it is what it is.
although it was said a number of times, as in the title of the program, that the Black Agenda, apparently, is the American Agenda. yet, Cornel and later, Dyson, spoke about how much we did to get Obama elected, and how he, in a sense, owes us as blacks our due respect with a separate agenda. on another note, i liked that Ronald Walters (later reiterated by Farrakhan) pointed out that there doesn't need to be this much discussion about Obama because Obama does not run this country. he is in the government, but he is by no means the most powerful individual in the government-no individual is. we should be criticizing not only Obama, but black acitivists, mayors, senators, governors, and so on.
i think all of what was said about Obama was much needed constructive criticism. one criticism that should be noted was that Obama has no qualls about helping Asians and their goals, Native Americans and their goals, Jews and their goals, and so on....but falls short or backs away from blacks and our goals. but, like i just showed, we are not one monolith of people with the same goals. and this is possibly why he has not addressed or worked toward it. he cannot just listen to these self-appointed black leaders and fulfill whatever they say our goals are, because he knows they do not represent ALL black people. but that is just a possibility. its also possible that he understand what is best for all black people whether all of us understand what that is or not, and simply chooses not to work towards that because he doesn't want to be called a separatist or a president that focuses more on race than all else.
the panelists i most liked were Michael Eric Dyson, Cornel West, Dorothy Tillman and Louis Farrakhan. Tillman had an attitude i liked. she reminds me of a church lady that took up politics as opposed to the ministry. she was honest and straightforward about what she wanted to be accomplished in the education system, mainly.
i grew a little more live for Cornel. i love his spirit and enthusiasm and lack of inhibitions. i liked how he got up to high five Tillman at one point and to hug Dyson at another point. and all thats aside from his wicked fro.
the individual whose message(s) i most liked, whose intellect and statements i most respected was that of Michael Eric Dyson. around 108 minutes, Dyson speaks for the second time with much more passion than his first time around. he said Obama was analagous to Jackie Robinson who was the first black man to integrate professional baseball, but not the best. "...at the end of the day-he's Jackie Robinson. i'm waiting for Willie Mays to come behind him cuz willie's got a hell of a swing. .....dealing with the black agenda is what every president before you had to deal with, how are you [Obama] any different?" he also scoffed at the comparison between Obama and Martin Luther King Jr. which is made so often.
Farrakhan is probably the most controversial person on the panel. and i spoke about my feelings about the Nation of Islam in another post. Farrakhan speaks more bluntly than anyone else, which is not only refreshing, but also mperative. sometimes we need someone that isn't afraid to offend and simply speaks the truth when it needs to be spoken. there are many criticisms i have of The Nation of Islam, however, during this discussion, he was on point. he said "i am very proud that a brother sits in the......WHITE. HOUSE. .....how long are you gonna sit around asking white folk to do what we can do for ourselves?...we have been looking at the wrong people to fulfill our agenda!" that being said, i respected how Tom Burrell said that we need to stop focusing on white people (i believe he was speaking to Farrakhan) because it reinforces that superiority complex.
all in all, it was a productive discourse. theres more and likely some new perspectives that all of us heard and found necessary for the struggle.
criticize. comment. think. question.