‘How’s that hopey, changey stuff working out for ya?’ – Sarah Palin
Political empowerment continues to elude Black Americans. Under current systems no matter how high Blacks go in it, it’s the individual that’s empowered. The more Blacks are “working for the man” the better maintenance of his interest and neglect of ours.
In his farewell speech to colleagues in the U.S. Senate, Roland Wallace Burris reminded an empty chamber that with his departure “there will be no African Americans in the U.S. Senate”, a fact he called "unacceptable" and "troubling". But, what is troubling and much more “unacceptable” is the fraud Burris’ perpetrated pretending to represent Blacks. Speaking as if he has been the paragon of Black Causes Burris said: "Letters, emails, telephone calls have poured into my office from Black Americans from all across the country and … at times, as I have tried to bring their voices into this chamber; I have acutely felt the absence of any other Black person to represent them. When the 112th Congress is sworn in there will not be a single Black American to take office in this chamber". He said "This is simply unacceptable. We can – and we will– and we must do better”.
The questions for Black Americans are: “How did Burris being there help me?” and “Could he have done better?” African Americans seem go brain-dead when they get to Washington. During Burris’ tenure, the issue of “an apology” and “reparations for slavery” came before the Senate. But, like his “mainstream thinking” predecessor, Burris is reluctant to discuss reparations for Blacks in “polite society”. Blacks’ unemployment and poverty numbers are twice national numbers, but both Burris and Obama have reject open discussions of the legacy of slavery, segregation, and racial violence against African-Americans.
So-called “Black political leaders” like Obama in the White House, Burris in the Senate and John Conyers and Company in the House have long abetted establishment practices that prevent Blacks from attaining an equal political or economic standing. A change did not come with a Black Presidency. Institutional racism is built into the structure of American society. As institutional discrimination is built into the normal working relationships of institutions, its perpetuation requires only that people continue "business as usual."
It can occur regardless of the desires or intentions of the people perpetuating it. Institutional discrimination is easily seen statistically. If a particular group is disproportionately absent in comparison to the pool of those possessing the relevant skills, discrimination is occurring. Under the current system, Blacks elected to “high political offices” have proven to be as mediocre as their predecessors.
Too many Black politicians, like Artur Davis of Alabama, have bought into the argument that neither the victims nor the perpetrators of slavery are alive today, and it is unfair to hold the descendents of slave-owners responsible for the actions of their ancestors. And further argue that Civil Rights measures passed in the 1960s—especially affirmative action programs meant explicitly to compensate for the injustices of the past by leveling the playing field for Blacks in the future – have effectively discharged the debt owed to African-Americans.
What should be a recurring theme within American Black culture is that the USA owes a debt to Blacks because of slavery. Conservatives, both Black and White, try to short-circuit this claim by arguing that slavery was not profitable, but even if profitability was arguable, it still was a theft of service. Now what is needed are processes that establish the point when it became theft, and worthy of damages. America needs legislation that does the following: (1) acknowledges the fundamental injustice and inhumanity of slavery; (2) establishes a commission to study slavery and its subsequent racial and economic discrimination against freed slaves; (3) studies the impact of those forces on today’s living Black Americans; and (4) would allow the commission to make recommendations to Congress on appropriate remedies to redress the harm inflicted on living Black descendants.