Harvesting Strange Fruits

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Instead of harvesting the societal fields of change sorely in need of attention in Black congressional districts across America, more members of the Congressional Black Caucus choose to pluck the low-hanging fruit of blaming the Tea Party for the politica

Instead of harvesting the societal fields of change sorely in need of attention in Black congressional districts across America, more members of the Congressional Black Caucus choose to pluck the low-hanging fruit of blaming the Tea Party for the political woes of the nation.

If the typical, urban-based Black voter was like an amateur farmer, she or he would probably look at the political landscape right now, seeing a field full of rhetoric that is ripe with plenty of all sorts of things that look nice and, because of appearances, could be sold to Americans everywhere – particularly other Black folks.

The attentive farmer, however, would probably know that the fields these days are growing crops that look pretty to the novice but don’t do much for those looking for something of actual substance.

Kind of like looking at a field full of dandelions and treating it as a good crop when the harvest actually needs wheat for bread – and nutrition – for an increasingly starving population.

That sounds like how the CBC is increasingly treating impoverished Black Americans in critical need of leadership and solutions from their entrenched elected officials. Instead of reaching for the best and brightest ideas among us to give the people what they truly need, the CBC seems to be settling in on the strategy of giving the people the low-hanging, shiny fruit of political blame complete with more rounds of victimhood and scare tactics.

And, frankly, that fruit has become rotten to the core.

At the same time that some members of the CBC would like to openly blame President Barack Obama for the lack of economic development and improvement within their districts under the first Black president, they also seem content to build up the Tea Party boogeyman for him to run against during the 2012 election season without holding him accountable at all for the past four years of ineffectiveness. Providing more irresponsible, loose-lipped hyperbole concerning the Tea Party instead of giving sound leadership (even if it means being unpopular at this point of time) only sells Black voters caught in the vice of gerrymandered congressional and local voting districts a convenient distraction away from the issues that strangle their communities. Further, it shields these politicians from an evident truth that now pokes its head out through the recent oft-repeated comments from U.S. Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.): that the Congressional Black Caucus has become more adept at leading Black voters in advancing outdated messaging campaigns about race and politics in America than they are in helping Black voters become more equal as partners in the rebuilding and advancement of America.

Sadly, the more that we need avant-garde, love-based, revolutionary leadership from these current elected officials, the more we get hateful, misinformed actions and statements from a group supposedly representing the “conscience of the Congress.” Instead of holding all sides accountable – including a president whose administration cannot say the word “black” without saying the word “tie” afterwards and asking for a significant campaign donation from everyone in the room – this group seems hell-bent on blaming the racial models from the 1950s on the problems in Black America in the 21st century. Instead of working on partnerships between fellow Christians within church communities regardless of political affiliation, it is just simply easier to wish that conservatives go straight to hell so that the elected elite can continue holding onto status while the vast majority of their constituents attempt to hold on daily without much hope.

Just as loud as the ear-piercing catcalls concerning Tea Party racism are (when inappropriate and disproportionate), the sounds of silence when their voices are truly needed is deafening – perhaps even more so. When Black men stand up against the societal obstacles and stereotypes to be better fathers, most of these members prefer to give a minute of a speech instead of muscle behind a movement. When young Black people are physically, economically, or otherwise abused by older community members, many of these “leaders” are quick to tap-dance away from the issues to protect their friends and donors than they are to gain moral authority and cache, even at the risk of losing precious financial resources. The same people that often speak of the courage of the Civil Rights Movement from years ago now fail to exhibit the courage – or the willingness – to befriend a perceived foe for a common goal or lose comfort in order to command a positive change. With the challenges facing Blacks in America in 2011, it is truly easier to blame a boogeyman than it is to bolster a block – or a community, or a nation. When the CBC takes that stale stance instead of taking bold, visionary action, the questions about the organization rightfully yield forth.

If there is still value in having a Congressional Black Caucus in 2011 (which, by the way, I do believe that there could be extreme value in it), it is being mortgaged out to pay for the protection of a few condescending, misguided, and marginalized members of elite pockets of Black America in their efforts to keep their seats of privilege. Rather than looking at themselves as nurturers of the Dream at a time when the MLK Monument is now up in Washington, many of these “leaders” see themselves as the embodiment of the Dream, not realizing that they were never to be anything more than a humble step stool so that the least advantaged among America (Black, White, and other ethnicities) had a chance to reach for that Dream. As a result, what we get is an increased amount of bad apples parading around as something delicious, hoping that more Americans take another bite of the outdated poison that is once again ripping apart this nation. At a time when the enemy is death and decay, not Tea Partiers in Duluth and Des Moines, the yield we are receiving from the CBC is looking more suspect to the eye and bitter to the taste with each passing minute. Even as Rep. Carson says that there are some that want to see us hanging from a tree, if Black America hangs its collective hat on that rhetoric going forward from here, we can hang up our hopes from turning our nation around anytime soon.

Lenny McAllister is a syndicated political commentator, community activist, and the host of the weekday radio show “Get Right with Lenny McAllister” starting October 3. Find him Saturdays with host TJ Holmes and fellow pundit Maria Cardona on “CNN Saturday Morning” at 9:30 AM CDT (10:30 Eastern / 7:30 AM Pacific.) He is the author of “The Obama Era, Part I (2008-2010): Diary of a Mad Black PYC (Proud Young Conservative).” Follow him at www.twitter.com/lennyhhr, on Facebook at www.tinyurl.com/lennyfacebook, and www.lennymcallister.com

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