PEOPLE OF COLOR REPRESENTED IN SMALL NUMBERS
The under-representation of people of color at many of the demonstrations, rallies and protests in the wake of the WTO protests in Seattle last November has been cause of some concern among activists and other progressives in the growing movement to liberate poor and other disenfranchised people from the crippling effects of corporate globalization by multi-national corporations.
As an African-American and Vietnam Era Veteran who did participate as part of the contingency sent down from the Coalition on Homelessness San Francisco to protest the Democratic National Convention 2000, I personally found it odd that more people of color were not present.
The questions that immediately came to my mind as to why my brothers and sisters of color were represented in such small numbers were also cause of some alarm for me. It became evident after multiple discussions with some of my co-workers, and other folk of color randomly questioned as to why they were not participating in today popular movement (and protesting this Democratic Convention in particular) that a discussion in print on this subject might necessarily stir some controversy and necessarily step on some ebony toes.
In spite of the fall-out that may occur as a result of this discussion I am personally going to step out and take a chance and speak my mind in an effort to bring some real light to this topic and to issue a call to every conscientious man or woman of color to join us in our struggle against corrupt government and the global multi-national menus that loom on the horizon.
Being an African-American male who grew up in the early Ô60s I have had the opportunity to witness the emergence of a new black middle class. My hat is off to any Black American who has escaped poverty and the plight of the ghetto to carve out a niche for himself in this all-too-competitive career market that corporate America has us all dancing around in! As progressive activists it is our goal as well to see that poor peopleÕs needs and standards of living are protected and included in the new dialogue on the so-called Ò New World OrderÓ. Despite the fact that many African-Americans Ñ whether middle class, poor or even rich Ñ still must endure the scrutiny of Racial Profiling by law enforcement officers, many of the new Black middle class seem to somehow view themselves differently, as though they are somehow immune from the traditional bigotry that haunts every step of our day-to-day lives in this country.
WhatÕs my point? Well here goes! I personally feel that the new Black middle class cannot be counted on to join in and support the struggle of its poorer brothers and sisters Ôway across town Ñ it just isnÕt happening anymore these days. Furthermore, IÕd like to take this opportunity to personally indict them on their crimes of apathy and indifference. This accounts for the absence of many of them at the Democratic Convention, or at any other progressive demonstration that highlights the plight of the poor and disenfranchised people in our society and around the world.
In further discussions with my African-American brothers and sisters around the Democratic Convention in specific, and the progressive movement in general, another scenario began to emerge. The comments I received were consistent and unanimous in nature and they could be summarized as ÒWhy should I go out and get my head beat in over this stuff?Ó Almost to a person, each African-American I had the opportunity to speak with said the same thing Ñ in the event of any violence or provocation by the LAPD they (African-Americans) would be the ones singled out and attacked first, and not their young white political allies.
Logical reasoning indeed when you consider the notorious reputation of the LAPD.
Whatever reason Black men and women and other peoples of color are not turning up in larger numbers to speak out against corporate greed and globalization, IÕd like to offer a few reasons why they should and must for this movement to succeed and become truly representative of all those it seeks to represent.
What is Globalization and how does it affect the lives of all of us, including African-Americans? IÕd like to provide a rudimentary, maybe even crude definition of corporate Globalization.
Globalization in essence can be described as the movement of multi-national corporations to seize and monopolize world markets. They are and have been doing so on a scale that can be described only as one that has completely superseded the national sovereignty and autonomy of multiple governments throughout out the world. ÒWhatÕs wrong with that?Ó you might say. ÒThe more business and capital thatÕs created throughout the world can only mean more prosperity for all.Ó
In theory that may be the case, but in actual practice what is occurring on a global scale is the complete undermining of the sovereignty of multiple nations and, more importantly, undermining of the collective will of their peoples. What we are seeing is sweat shops proliferating on a global scale, options on the quality of health care diminishing throughout the world, massive strip mining projects destroying the terra firma of countless nations, and pollution of the air and water we need to survive, just to mention a few.
But there is, I believe, an even greater danger looming on the horizon Ñ letÕs entertain this scenario for a minute. LetÕs say the movement of multi-national corporations succeeds in establishing hegemony over all world markets and subsequently over all national sovereignties to the extent where indeed a ÒNew World OrderÓ or a ÒOne World GovernmentÓ emerges Ñ where politicians and corporations become the governing entities for us all. We are already feeling the effects of our own Government being offered up on a grand scale to the highest bidder. What happens when this occurs on a world-wide scale? I submit to you the end of democratic freedom as we know it.
LetÕs not be short-sighted on this matter, already the multi-nationals are operating in a fashion that can only be described as unchecked around the planet. World hegemony is world control, and if that occurs whatÕs to prevent the multi-nationals from presenting some of their more lucrative programs right here on American soil? America and its Constitutional Republic is the only last vestige of freedom that stands in the way of complete and total control.
Now what does this have to do with Black people and other peoples of color, or with any of us?
We all must fight to remain a free people, but more so Black people and all peoples of color. If Globalization takes complete control over the American market, which is the goal of the multi-nationals, who do you think will be the people who populate the next wave of American sweatshops/prisons? It will undoubtedly be those with the fewest educational and economic opportunities, and here in America that means Black people and other peoples of color. Whether we, as a people, realize it or not the struggle to expose the devices of the ÒWorld PigÓ is paramount to those of us so familiar with its effects.
We must fight against all forms of tyranny.
And by no means least important is a matter discussed at length at the Shadow Convention in Los Angeles, which was set up to be just that Ñ a shadow of the (so-called) Democratic Convention just a few blocks away. The topic was the complete and total failure of the War on Drugs as it has been waged in America. It has been waged primarily against African-American males.
Statistics compiled by the CitizenÕs Commission on U.S. Drug Policy show African-Americans represent only 12% of the population; only 13% of all drug users, yet are 35% of all arrest for drug possession, 55% of convictions for drug possession and over 74% of prison sentences for drug possession. I think we can see the War on Drugs for what it actually is Ñ a War on Black people, and especially on our young Black men. The Drug War is a RACIST WAR waged by many levels of government and influence in our society against people of color! This issue alone should be reason enough for every Black man, woman and child to reserve a permanent spot in every march, demonstration and rally that deals with an issue so important to us as a people.
The new movement has offered a platform and a forum for all such freedom struggles: those of Black people, Latinos, Asians and other immigrants, as well as all the peoples of the world Ñ who are currently under the gun of American corporate domination. We must succeed, or freedom as we now know it will cease to exist on this planet.
African Americans and all peoples of color Ñ get involved! Make sure the powers that be hear your voices! Let them hear that you know of their devices, and that you are in agreement with all freedom fighters around the world that when we say we wonÕt surrender our rights or freedoms to anyone!
ÒThe only thing that good men must do for tyranny to triumph is to do nothing!Ó