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A New Black Power | The Nation

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A New Black Power

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One last comment on the idealistic part of this notion:

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.

All black people don't have to join right off. If we can put together just 10 percent of the voting black population, we will be wielding a great deal of power. Others will join us if our political strategy works. In time we might tip the scales against the rich and the ultra-rich. If we do that we might very well make this a better world.

I know many of you will say that we don't have the time to allow the United States to evolve politically. Like many Americans, you believe that our nation faces urgent problems that must be solved by the next election; and the elections after that. My answer is, That is just what they want you to think. Our so-called political parties want you to believe that only they can save you when, really, they have no intention of doing so. The Democrats, the Republicans--they're in business for themselves in this vast religion of capitalism. They will never solve Americans' problems, not fully. We have to strive against the system, change it, make it reflect our inexpert visions of right and good. As long as you vote Democratic, as long as you vote Republican, you will be assuring that true democracy has no chance to exist. As long as we believe in the fearmongers' light show, the world will suffer under our misguided convictions.

There's no question that a Black Voting Bloc would be a fine context for us and for people of the black diaspora around the world. It would be a forum that would express perceptions from the underbelly of the American experience. That experience, I believe, would find resonance on an international scale and help to bring our maverick nation into concert with certain other countries that would like to get along with us.

But how do we get our people to feel strongly about political unity? What in our experience will bring us together? Should we turn to a charismatic leader to guide us safely through the minefield of fanaticism? I've been told so many times that the problem in this world is that so-and-so died too young. A couple of years ago I heard another public figure say that it was because Robert Kennedy died that American liberalism lost its way. What might Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X have achieved if assassins' bullets had not cut them down in their prime?

If only we had leaders now like we did back then, so many lament. It's hard for me to write these words without a hint of sarcasm. Nostalgia belongs in the retirement home. Any organization, movement or people who rely solely (or even greatly) on a charismatic leader for their strength and their motivation are in the most precarious position possible.

"Cut off the head and the body will fall," their enemies murmur. This is a way to let those enemies dissolve your context. Just put all your belief in one leader, and sooner or later you will be lost.

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