Askia MuhammadColumnistsOp-EdOpinion

MUHAMMAD: The Answer is ‘No!’

Before we even figure out what questions we should be asking of the body politic in 2019, let me hazard a prediction: The answer is no!

An end to ad hominem attacks on Black leadership? No.

An end to attacks on voting rights? No.

An end to the erosion of workers’ rights? No.

An enlightened U.S. approach to sustaining the environment? No.

A fresh approach to education? No.

Reparations for slavery? No.

Statehood for the District of Columbia? No.

Here’s my proof.

The problem, from my perspective, is that the people (the prevailing White mentality), whose approval is necessary for achieving those worthwhile outcomes, will never do the right thing. The right thing being: to spend some of the wealth they have stolen to correct the unjust and decaying world they have created. White folks don’t want to payback the plunder they have wrought or pay to undo the mayhem they have made.

They are so insidious, that even as blacks and other formerly disenfranchised people became more politically sophisticated, even winning contests fair and square, White Republicans–concerned that they could no longer win free and fair elections–began to cheat. That’s how they do. In the cowboy movies, Indians said: “White man speak with forked tongue.”

You want to vote? No.

Voter suppression was real and widespread.

“Even in states that are not under the Voting Rights Act, from Indiana to Pennsylvania to other states, Republicans once in control understood that they could not win if you had everybody voting who could vote, and so voter suppression has been ongoing,” said Dr. Clarence Lusane, chair of the Department of Political Science at Howard University. “Of course, when Trump came in, his antagonism to voting rights was taken to even another level. And even when they’ve lost, it’s what happened in Michigan and in Wisconsin, North Carolina — Republicans have, going out the door, done everything they could to continue their harmful policies.”

Kristine Lucius, executive vice president for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, concurred.

“[Republican legislatures] passed laws that made it so difficult to prove your identification,” Lucius said. “They passed laws cutting back on early voting. They passed laws restricting, you know, whether students could vote where they go to college and all of those restrictions, shape our democracy in a very detrimental way, especially to communities of color.”

That’s how they do.

On the world stage, a settler colony of Boers and Englishmen brutally conquered and stole South Africa from its original inhabitants, politically, economically, a century ago. Apartheid ended in the 1990s and the White settlers relinquished political power, but maintained their White-minority stranglehold on land ownership and the economy. But true to form, White folks, of course, quickly resorted to their “blame the victim” strategy when the reckoning began.

In 2018, when Black South African politicians began debating in earnest, the just idea of confiscating the land which White settlers stole from the indigenous Black inhabitants without compensation, the White folks complained not only about losing their land, they falsely claimed that genocide was being carried out against White landowners. It is not!

White settler landowners are not being slaughtered in South Africa, yet the Trumpistas would have us believe that the White thieves are in fact the innocent victims. No.

“Oh, no doubt about it, Trump has been one of the worst presidents, for African Americans,” Lusane said. “He lies consistently. So if there was anybody unsure about what Trump’s agenda would be and how it would impact on African Americans, they’ll probably have to look at the last two years.

“It’s pretty clear that there are setbacks, but it’s not just Trump, it’s the Republican Party writ large that at the national level in Congress, but at the state level, what we’ve seen in Michigan and other states, where there have just been wholesale attacks on people’s voting rights on workers’ rights, on the environment, on education, pretty much across the board,” Lusane said.

What politicians from the president on down have fomented is a hostile public discourse.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think everyone’s against hate,” Lucius said. “Unfortunately, I think some people are running and many elected officials are fomenting hate and divisiveness in our communities. Certainly the president has done his share of fomenting hate when it comes to offering comfort to White supremacists marching in Charlottesville, but also in scapegoating immigrant populations and individuals who are different.”

No. That’s how they do.

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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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