by Solomon Comissiong
Far too many Black folks will vote for their worst enemy, if he or she looks like them. That’s why identity politics, which masquerades as a Black Power strategy, winds up disempowering African Americans every election cycle. Identity politics makes Black people politically passive. “The African/black folks that voted for Obama made no demands, nor did they present Obama with any kind of agenda regarding their concerns.”
The Dangerous Game of Identity Politics: How the Black Community Continues to Vote Against Their Interests
by Solomon Comissiong
“The identity politics bug runs through the African/black community like a socio-political plague.”
The great H. Rap Brown/Jamil Al-Amin once said, “I think the vote can only be used as a tool of organization. We can only use the vote to organize our people. Now to really believe we can put someone in office and these people will be responsive to our needs is naïve…politically naïve. Because even if one of the Black candidates who ran for office was to take the office of president then Black people must be prepared to fight against that person. The system mandates the action of the individual. The individual does not determine how this country will function. This country works off the military industrial complex, which means it’s profitable to wage war. And unless you devise another plan, another scheme to sustain, to boost this economy then it’s going to be necessary to wage war, whether a Black individual is in office or a white individual is in office. So we’re talking about a complete change in system.” His powerful words and admonishment ring true to this day---perhaps even more so.
This author truly wishes that every African/black person within the United States had to study H. Rap Brown’s interview on “Like It Is” with Gil Noble. If this were required viewing, listening and studying, then most African/black people perhaps would never vote for fraudulent Black politicians such as Barack Obama. Instead of being politically domesticated, they would be politically educated. They would ultimately (and easily) see through the layers of lies, manipulation and obfuscation that is methodically force fed to African/black people in the United States. This ploy is geared toward keeping them programmed to support political parties that have never had their best interests in mind. The brutal truth is, if this trend continues US born Africans will not see self-determination anytime soon. We will continue to serve as the footstool for white supremacy and endure the brunt of institutional racism. A continuation of voting (and thinking) within the confines of either Democrat or Republican Parties can only uphold a very destructive status quo. And when it comes to supporting a particular candidate, African/black people cannot afford to predicate their support on skin color alone.
“Even if one of the Black candidates was to take the office of president then Black people must be prepared to fight against that person.”
White people continue to use sell-out Negroes as tools to drive African/black people to support their agenda and to flood voting booths with Black votes. This is especially true regarding the white liberals who control the Democratic Party’s political plantation. These white people are keen to the fact that many African/black people use identity politics in deciding who to vote for, Unfortunately, many African/black folks see skin color, without examining the person’s politics, then make uninformed decisions – often voting against their own interests. This obviously is not limited to African/black people; however, it has a huge impact on our voting behavior.
Political domestication and political illiteracy play a major role in this ongoing debacle. Token and opportunistic Negroes are used to draw in the African/black vote. Once drawn in, these voters are contained through an endless stream of hollow promises, to keep them locked in the two-party electoral game. The election of Barack Obama was a perfect example – one of the Democratic Party’s most successful experiments. If it were a military exercise it might be called, “Operation Brown Trojan Horse.” In 2008 African/black people voted for Barack Obama in droves. They were not only politically uneducated, they were historically myopic. They forgot that African/black people have never gained their freedom or social gains via the US ballot box. They forgot about the long arduous struggles and organization that it took for African/black people (worldwide) to gain any kind of social traction.
Collectively, we have taken little interest in the intense studying and analysis of history that it takes to politically strategize in the 21st century. Too many parents continue the regressive practice of encouraging their children to assimilate and to politically express themselves solely via socially rigged ballot boxes. When the white liberal political establishment rolled out Barack Obama, African/black folks were ripe for the plucking. In other words, they had long bought into the identity politics trap – hook, line and sinker!
“African/black people have never gained their freedom or social gains via the US ballot box.”
These white political snake-oil salesmen (and women) knew that the Democratic Party had hypnotized most African-Americans. They had socially engineered them into believing that the Democratic Party was the “savior” of African/black people, and that the Democrats were polar opposites of the white supremacist right-wingers that run the Republican Party. Nothing could be further from the truth. Where the Republican Party is boldly presents itself as white supremacists, the Democratic Party tries to mask itself as a socially progressive party. The Democratic Party is every bit as warmongering as the Republicans, and their record proves it. Democrats are not committed to destroying institutional racism or white privilege – they benefit from it. However, as long as they can masquerade as liberators and social justice champions, they will have more than a fighting chance of duping African Americans into believing their lies. This ensures them tens of millions of Black votes, each election – votes they never have to be accountable for.
Barack Obama was their secret weapon---a charismatic brown face that could sell their lies and further solidify their stranglehold on the African/black community. Make no bones about it, what made Obama so appealing to Black folks was the fact that he was not only brown but that he was also a card carrying member of the Democratic Party. He needed to make no promises to African/black people whatsoever. They would focus on his superficial identity and the similarities to their own surface-based identity. To the politically naïve, that was all that would be required. There was no plan to end the United States’ wretched legacy of institutional racism, a legacy that includes things like police brutality, disproportionate poverty and unemployment, the prison industry complex and healthcare inequities. There was no need for him to even put forward hollow public assurances regarding those things because the African/black folks that voted for Obama made no demands, nor did they present Obama with any kind of agenda regarding their concerns.
“When the white liberal political establishment rolled out Barack Obama, African/black folks were ripe for the plucking.”
Many African/black people were in some sort of hypnotic trance and strange euphoria as if they had won the lottery. Identity politics strikes again, thus nothing mattered except that their “man” was now in the White House. It mattered little that he is a man who is every bit as imperialist as his dimwitted predecessor. Obama bombed an African nation (Libya) on a bunch of lies, just as Bush did with Iraq. And most of the African/black community were either silent or openly supported his decision. Who cares if he is killing innocent people with airstrikes and drones, he is our man! That was their mantra. Barack Obama bails out the racist and corrupt banks to the tune of more than 12 trillion dollars and his supporters say nothing. Ironically, Bush bailed out the banks to the tune of 800 billion and countless Blacks were vehemently outraged, just as they were when Bush bombed sovereign nations. Barack Obama was able to do these same things, yet the identity politics bug ran through the African/black community like a socio-political plague.
It is high time we as African/black people wake up from our politically induced stupor and begin to radically and comprehensively educate ourselves. Otherwise, we are doomed. The United States is riddled with false propaganda and white supremacist indoctrination. If we cannot navigate the political terrain in some sort of independent (and radically progressive) manner, we will continue to be politically domesticated pets for the white establishment. Time to follow the lessons of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense and conduct political education trainings community-by-community. It is time for a new era, one free from the two-party dictatorship of the Democrat and Republican Parties. It’s high time for people of color to begin to control the politics of our collective communities. If we do this, self-determination is on the horizon!
Solomon Comissiong (www.solomoncomissiong.com) is an educator, community activist, author, and Founder of the Your World News Media Collective (www.yourworldnews.org). Solomon is the author of A Hip Hop Activist Speaks Out on Social Issues. Solomon is also the writer and producer of the documentary, Hip Hop, White Supremacy & Capitalism: Why Corporations Infiltrated RAP Music. He can be reached at: [email protected]