A New Black Power | The Nation


A New Black Power

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What I'm talking about here is the beginning of an American Evolution, a movement that will create a series of political interest groups that will transform our two-party system into a kind of virtual parliament. We could construct smaller political groups based on specific interests. There could be Black Party Congress members from Watts, Harlem, the Motor City and a dozen other inner-city bastions. All we have to do is have a fair representation in the House of Representatives to have an extraordinary impact on the wheels of government.

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...

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Farmers, women, the aged, angry young white men and, for that matter, true Republicans might create their own small parties/interest groups. These groups would not only have direct representation in the House of Representatives but would also begin to make deals with those people running for senator and President, police chief and mayor.

It's past the time when we black Americans can complain about how we are treated without ourselves trying to take the reins of power. A Black Voting Bloc would be a bold move. Some might say a radical move--too radical. But a country that incarcerates people of color at an eight-to-one ratio to whites played the race card way before Johnnie Cochran. If we could come together and see a way to put balance back in the American political landscape, then we should do it.


Because if we do not lead we will be led. And if those who have learned to despise, distrust and diminish us are the leaders, then our path will lead even farther away from our homes. We will wake up like strangers in our own beds. We, and our children, will be walking in uncomfortable shoes to poor jobs. We will be jeered on every corner, and every mirror we come across will distort our image.

Just so that it doesn't seem that I'm giving short shrift to this argument, let me try to explain why this kind of "political party" will be different from its interest-corporation counterparts. First, this kind of group will be a political unit more than a party. This unit should be patterned after interest groups that form around specific necessities of our particular community. As I've mentioned before, I would like to see many of these units evolve, but for the moment let me address the Black Voting Bloc.

What we need for this group is a short list of demands that define our political aspirations at any given point. These demands might change over time, but at any given moment we should have no more than eight expectations of the candidates or legislation we vote for. I am not positioning myself as the leader or even as a central designer of this group, but let me put forward a list of possible demands that our unit might embrace:

(1) A commitment to revamping the legal system and the penal system to make sure that citizens of color are getting proper treatment and that all inmates are given the utmost chance to rehabilitate and re-establish themselves in society. (This rehabilitation will include suffrage for all ex-convicts who have served their sentences.)

(2) An expectation that there be equal distribution of all public wealth and services among the citizens, no matter their income, race or history.

(3) A demand that a true accounting for the impact of slavery be compiled by all government bodies in authority over records that give this information.

(4) A universal healthcare system.

(5) A retirement system that will assure older Americans the ability to spend their later years in relative comfort and security.

(6) A commitment to assemble a general history of our nation in both its glory and its shame.



I left 7 and 8 blank because I think you should fill these out. This is, after all, a communal effort meant to bring our intelligences together. And if you don't feel that you're an affiliate of the Black Voting Bloc, write your own demands and see what kind of group you might attract. I believe that any group concerned with the rights of Americans will have at least half of these demands in common.

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