Behind Bars

With ‘Leaders’ Like These…

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

It has taken a while to reach this conclusion, but upon reflection, it is inescapable.

Why, after over a half-century of the vote and the election of more Black political leaders than at any time since Reconstruction, are the lives, fortunes, prospects and hopes of Black people so grim?

Education is a shambles, with a drop-out rate nearing 50 percent in most central cities; Black communities are being gentrified into oblivion; joblessness stalks families by the highest percentage since such figures were first recorded; and Black families face foreclosure (and its concomitant result—homelessness) at rates far exceeding any other demographic: a direct result of the mortgage scams that lined the pockets of Wall Street.

In cities boasting Black mayors and Black police chiefs, police violence against Black so-called citizens continues unabated, and the Prison Industrial Complex traps generations in chains.

One is forced to conclude that Black America suffers from similar maladies as those faced by Continental African nations: neo-colonialism, where the political class gives the appearance of freedom and independence, whilst they are beholden to economic powers beyond their communities which decides policies and programs of exploitation of the People.

Sadly, more Black Politicians does not equal more Black political power. For, in this surfeit of Black representation, Black voices of discontent are muted, while rage bubbles in Black hearts and minds.

And rather than Black politicians speaking for those who voted for them, they too are muted, more loyal to party than people—more anxious to not rock the boat, when water rushes through the breached hull.

They speak to them, preaching patience, while homes burn. And they mimic white politicians, echoing their words, while “representing” communities that could not be more disparate.

If Black politicians are to do the very same thing as their white colleagues, why have them at all?

What’s the difference?

Neo-colonialism at home and abroad., August 20, 2011