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A New Black Power | The Nation

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A New Black Power

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Most black Americans have been Democrats for at least the fifty-three years that I've been alive. What have the Democrats done for us in all that time? We have the lowest average income of any large racial group in the nation. We're incarcerated at an alarmingly high rate. We are still segregated and profiled, and have a very low representation at the top echelons of the Democratic Party. We are the stalwarts, the bulwark, the Old Faithful of the Democrats, and yet they have not made our issues a high priority in a very long time.

This article is an excerpt from Walter Mosley's Life Out of Context, just published by Nation Books.

About the Author

Walter Mosley
Walter Mosley is the author of the bestselling Easy Rawlins series of mysteries, the novel R.L.'s Dream, and the story...

Also by the Author

I was aware not only of being hated but also of hating myself from two points of view in the same mind—a brand of self-hatred that identifies the me in you and hates you for it.

Poverty and charity are two evils; charity is the lesser, but it is still evil.

Why should we be second-class members in the most important political activities of our lives? Why shouldn't the party we belong to think that our problems are the most important in this land?

I'm not saying that we should become Republicans. The Republicans don't care about us either. But at least they don't pretend to be on our side. And you have to admit that, of late, the Bush Administration has put black faces into high-profile jobs that carry clout on the international playing field. I don't have to like Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice to appreciate that once a black person has been put into a position of power, the second time around is much, much easier.

We are a racial minority in a country where racism is a fact of life, a country that was founded on economic and imperialist racism. Taking this into account and adding it to the fact that our issues are regularly put on a back burner, I believe that it is not out of order to send out a call for the formation of an African-American interest group, or maybe a political unit, that would bring our issues, and others, to the forefront of American political discourse.

If we had our own political voting bloc that paid attention to issues that reflect our needs in domestic and international affairs, things would change for us. The first thing is that many more of us would be likely to vote. Imagine the interest young people would have if they felt we were organizing based on our own interests: They could work for a candidate who represented their issues; they could run for office themselves.

And even though the party would be based on the racial identity that has been shoved down our throats since the first days we came here in chains, we wouldn't work only for ourselves. We'd argue about medical care and Social Security and the good jobs that are disappearing from this nation like fleas off a dead dog's back.

America's corporations, CEOs and portfolio managers don't have to worry about the euro and the devaluation of the dollar. They belong to an international club. It doesn't matter where the most recent SUV is being produced; what matters is that my stockholders and I own a piece of the company that makes and sells those cars.

It takes many companies working in unison to make secure the wealth of American capitalism. Two of the major-interest corporations that facilitate the needs of our wealthiest citizens are the Republican and Democratic (so-called) political parties. They exonerate their actions with numbers of votes, but the wheels they run on are greased by money, and lots of it.

If we took the vote into our own hands, we wouldn't have to ask the Democrats for their support--we could demand it. George W. Bush, or whoever takes his place, will send for our representatives to come to his home to discuss his plans. This is because they have not yet figured out how to dispose of the vote in the American political system.

Imagine it. We could actually democratize America by taking power away from the two-party system and handing it over to the people. Other special parties would arise splintering off from the centrist attendants of the rich once we show them the way.

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