ColumnistsAskia MuhammadOpinion

MUHAMMAD: Congressional Black Caucus, Larger than Ever (Yawn)

We must be having a “dream,” because what passes, in my way of thinking, for the black “mis-leadership” class certainly appears to be sleeping.

Once a militant voice on behalf of African-Americans, Africa and the Caribbean, the Congressional Black Caucus is now larger than ever. But now, in the face of the impending tea party, alt-right, make-America-white-again Trumpism, vocal black opposition suddenly seems nearly invisible.

The number of blacks in Congress is now 49, including three Republicans, an all-time high. But even with two black senators — Corey Brooks (D-N.J.) and newly-elected Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) — we have no real clout. And two GOP members, Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) and Rep. William Hurd (Texas) — aren’t even caucus members.

What is the name of the chair of the CBC? When was the last time you saw a national headline about a CBC member like Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) raising Cain somewhere? I rest my case.

(FYI Democratic Rep. Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana is the new chairman. Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina served as chair the past two years.)

Things have gotten so glum for black members of Congress that one member, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), is campaigning for the dead-end job (for him) as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. That’s a bad fit.

It’s a bad fit because Ellison has promised to resign his House seat if he gets the DNC post. How long could he last at the DNC? Before long he’ll end up like former DNC Chair and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, or former Rep. Harold Ford of Tennessee. He’ll be like those guys and like Mike Huckabee (R), the former governor of Arkansas — that is, a cable news analyst.

He already denounced and renounced Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, after smear photos surfaced of Ellison selling the NOI newspaper, The Final Call. Rather than denouncing Farrakhan as though the Minister is the cause of this country’s problems, rather than as the answer to those problems is a major error in judgement which holds the country back.

The neoliberal, Kumbaya, black mis-leadership ideology, whose orthodoxy has held sway since Reconstruction has led the exploited black masses into a dead-end. We were on the right street to freedom, we were just headed in the wrong direction. Closer to our tormentor, instead of away from him.

Instead of trying to blame the victims of American hate and oppression, and exonerate the evil doers for their crimes, Ellison, the neoliberals, and practically all the members of the CBC should re-examine their roles, and then call on God (Allah) — as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson do — to “convict” America.

“May this land know Your displeasure, taste Your Holy Wrath, for killing us like pigs,” Dyson writes in his new book, “Tears We Cannot Stop,” a sermon to his “dear white friends.”

The U.S. Constitution says explicitly “there shall be no religious test” for any position in the U.S. government. That’s good enough for me. So if there is ever a position, a board, any nomination for which I might be remotely considered, if it calls for a repudiation of Minister Farrakhan (or a variety of others) by the candidate, then I am certainly not a good candidate for you. But that’s just me. I wish that was the prevailing view of CBC members, and of all the neoliberal establishment.

There is no leadership position available which should be paid for by the candidate with his or her integrity.

The CBC has been, and remains today, the “conscience of the Congress,” but it seems hardly prepared to be a steady bulwark against the oncoming tide of Trumpism. Time will tell.

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Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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