| Guest Columnist
Bakari K. Lumumba, a doctoral student at Ohio State University, explains why Black voters should break from the “conveyor belt system.”
Amelia Robinson, The Columbus Dispatch
In “Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete,” William C. Rhoden argues that Black athletes are subjected to the “conveyor belt” of the American sports industry.
Their raw material — Black athletic talent — is siphoned from Black neighborhoods and shipped off to make money for white colleges, corporations and sports teams.
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I argue that a conveyor belt system also is active concerning the Black voter and the American political system’s complex web of local, state and national organizations, and its think tanks, lobbyists, congressional districts and politicians.
This belt elucidates, election cycle after election cycle, that Black voters are crucial in deciding who becomes president, and that it is the Black communities’ civic, moral and historical duty to vote due to the heroic fight for Black suffrage.
The latest call for Black voter activism culminated on Saturday, Nov. 7, when President-elect Joe Biden rose to the rostrum to give his highly anticipated victory speech and to thank Black voters for rescuing his campaign when it was at its lowest point, declaring, “You’ve always had my back, and I’ll have yours.”
Black voters celebrated Biden’s election and that of his running mate, Kamala Harris, yet many are skeptical that the administration will keep its word in addressing issues that African Americans face.
For example, during the first weeks of the Biden administration, many executive orders have been written but none that address extrajudicial violence against African Americans.
That omission has led many to question the archaic idea that having a seat at the table creates better results for Black constituents.
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Having a seat at the table seems to means you are a Black diner at a white establishment consuming white food (white supremacy, white paternalistic liberalism, performative allyship and symbolic but not substantial political victories), while being unable to deliver justice to the rising number of Black victims of police violence and white vigilantism that includes Breanna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Andre Hill, Casey Goodson Jr., and Kurt Andras.
Moreover, the Martinique-born psychiatrist, political philosopher, and revolutionary Frantz Fanon once stated, “each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.”
The current generation of Black America is like no other. It is politically sophisticated and not accustomed to or willing to accept the piecemeal politics of yesteryear that seek to politicize issues rather than solve them. This makes this generation ready for a paradigm shift in Black political organizing that understands that they must not move right or left but forward.
This shift requires the African American community to support, finance, run its candidates and end its dalliance with the two-party system. It is time that Black America embraces the mantra of the late Dr. John Henrik Clarke, who said, “We have no permanent friends, or permanent enemies, only permanent interest!”
To do so, the Black community must adopt the concept of the alienated revolutionary and the alienated statesman.
The alienated revolutionary is cynical about existing power structures but argues that progressive change can occur only via the use of calculated acts. The stance of the alienated revolutionary represents an active refusal to work within white power structures. It is a decision to emphasize Black solidarity and to assert oneself in terms of this solidarity.
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Simultaneously, the alienated statesman’s role is one that, in a nonviolent manner, focuses on the accumulation of Black political power on behalf of African Americans through the ballot box via Black independent third-party politics.
Examples of the alienated statesmen can be found in the work of Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) with the Lowndes County Freedom Organization mission to organize the Black citizens of Lowndes to create their own political party, and the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense funding of the successful mayoral campaign of Lionel Wilson, the first Black mayor of Oakland, California, and the fruitful mayoral campaigns of the late Chokwe Lumumba Sr. in Jackson, Mississippi, in 2013, and that of his son, Chokwe Lumumba Jr., in 2017.
Lumumba Jr.’s election shows that the concept of the alienated statesman can find consistent success in U.S. society by using one’s professional skills, charm, credentials and gravitas to successfully compete for power and resources, bringing to prominence the power of Black independent third-party politics at the local level, while serving as an example that Black America should embrace to bring real change to its communities nationwide.
Bakari K. Lumumba is a Pan-Africanist, father and founder of lumumbaspeaks.com, a Black empowerment initiative. He is a doctoral student at Ohio State University’s Higher Education Student Affairs program.
Guest columns are submitted or requested opinion pieces of about 550 to 600 words. Have an idea or submission? Email Opinion and Community Engagement Editor Amelia Robinson at arobinson2@Dispatch.com.
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