Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Prejudice Within Black-on-Black Political Beefs

Guest Wall Street Journal columnist and homeless activist Ted Hayes' recent piece titled "Prejudice" may seem to initially border on the ridiculous at first glance:

American blacks who are affiliated with the Republican Party are vigorously vilified by Democrats, especially black Democrats. Uncle Tom, sell-out, Oreo--the list of slurs is long.

We're certain there are many who don't feel a drop of sympathy for Hayes' and his "ilk." For all their bootstrap talk of personal responsibility, pride and rejecting the evils of victimology, many Black Republicans and conservatives sure do whine a lot when they become the target of philosophical beat downs. It's as if they expected protection from the burdens of being Black once they signed up with the Elephants, so: "That's what you get for thinking you're better than us."

Yes - the scorn is intense. It's like the Black kid who gets beat up after school every day because he "talks White." Many modern Black Republicans fail to consider (or accept) that Black racism can be as cruel as White racism.

But Haye's experiences, although extreme, allow room for thoughtful pause:

But it is not only insults. I am the founder and director of a unique, progressive homeless facility in downtown Los Angeles, known as the Dome Village. Yet the 35 men, women and children and their pets who call the Dome Village home are being "evicted" from privately owned property after 12 1/2 years--apparently on account of my political beliefs and activities. You see, though I am a leading homeless activist, I am also a conservative Republican and a strong supporter of President Bush.

There are those who would argue that maybe Hayes' should think or reconsider broadcasting his political affiliations before the Black world. But then that gets into violating a citizen's Constitutional rights simply because you fervently disagree with him - which can create a slippery slope that effectively destroys the shaky foundation for our collective rights that wasn't easy to create over the past 400 years. Once you've successfully muffled political expression - the most basic and fundamental tenet of the democracy we live in - then you end up looking a bit like a long list of underdeveloped nations trapped within endless cycles of violence, anarchy, genocide and futureless corruption.

See, it's not so much that Hayes' is a Black Republican as opposed to being a Black Democrat - that really makes little difference. His attempt to persuade the Black Democratic masses to come to the Republican side of The Force is weak, at best, because it's not about selling a party or selling one's soul to the party. People make political parties; parties follow what the plurality tells them to do - if the contributions are high enough, of course. We can argue political strategy till we all drop from dehydration, but the bottom line is that political winds change in cycles. Parties are tools that groups simply pick for convenience when the right time and mood align. African American political strategy is beginning to mature to a point where it will, in the future, exercise collective balance in the best interests of its people rather than what's in it for either party.

The shameful nature of Black political racism is that we end up doing or saying things we constantly dismiss our White counterparts for doing to us. We freely hurt one another by using terms created by the racist apparatus. We don't like it when White people create humiliating media images that denigrate our humanity, yet we are just as quick to do it to ourselves. We don't like it when White people think we all look alike (when, clearly, we do not), yet we engage in petty and dangerous disputes over "light" v. "dark." We don't like White people to expect us all to "think alike," yet we police our own political thoughts and expressions with heartless force.