The 2012 political season is in full throttle toward the November 6h national elections. The Democrats and the Republicans have determined their respective national standard bearers and delineated their issue platforms and public policy agenda and priorities. Black Americans, Latino Americans, and millions of other Americans who are eligible and registered to vote will determine not only the future of the United States for the next four years, but also the future of America’s standing in the world community.
Obama-Biden verses Romney-Ryan will be the ultimate political contest between the forces of progress and the forces of backwardness. But even amid the multitude of negative radio and television ads that attempt to attack the character and integrity of candidates for high office and service to the nation, caution should be put in place to avoid being turned-off or cynically alienated from the important civic and moral responsibility to stand up, speak out and vote.
In particular, I am appealing to Black Americans and others of good will and judgment to not fall prey to the revived campaigns of voter suppression in many of the crucial swing states. We need a record Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) effort across the nation. There are some mischief-makers who are trying to suggest that Black Americans should not be enthusiastic about voting in 2012 because of the persistence of poverty and unemployment, as well as the disproportionate incarceration in our communities. These real matters, however, are exactly why we should have the highest voter turnout ever.
There is another matter that I feel obligated to lift up at this time and it is the issue of the steady rise in both overt and covert acts, rhetorical statements, and other schemes where the tenets of White supremacy are being openly practiced and advocated to the detriment of Black Americans and others who believe in a pluralistic, racially-diverse democracy. For those of us who have personally witnessed reactionary behavior in response to the long struggle of Black Americans for freedom, justice and equality, this is nothing new. A politrick is a deceptive political tactic that attempts to use positive discourse, phrases or rhetoric to hide the negative intent and consequences of extremist ideological actions.
In 2012 the politricks of racial hatred, division and obfuscation continues to escalate into a counterproductive manifestation of what I call the ‘politricks of White supremacy.’ In Ohio, state election officials publicly bemoan what they feel is a “contortion of the voting process to accommodate urban voters.” That’s a politrick to try to justify the suppression of Black American voters and other who are concentrated in the urban centers of Ohio.
When Vice President Biden accurately stated in Virginia: “They want to put y’all back in chains,” Republican politicians cried and wept profusely in another glaring politrick maneuver. In Iowa, Hank Williams Jr. sang at the state fair and said to more than 8,000 people, “We’ve got a Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the U.S., and we hate him.” Williams displayed the politricks of White supremacy to the cheers of the crowd at the fair.
Extremism is on the rise once again across America and sometimes it takes a very violent form such as the Oak Creek suburban community near Milwaukee, where self-avowed White supremacist Wade Michael Page attacked a peaceful people in a Sikh Temple and killed six of the 10 people that he shot. Thus, this is not just about political campaigns or the tricky tongues of wealthy politicians. This is about life, safety and not being intimidated by those who are determined to retrogress into a society based on inequality, injustice, and racial and political hatred.
We have come too far and already suffered too much to contemplate any notion of going backwards. We will not allow the politricks of the present moment to divert us off course. Nor will allow our consciousness to be dulled by the attempts of the perpetrators of injustice and economic inequality to make some of us believe that the social conditions of Black Americans and others are in a permanent, irreversible state. Change has happened and more change will happen again. Our job and responsibility is to stay focused and keep our eyes and minds on the realizable prize of empowerment, equality and equity. Forward ever, backwards never!
Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is president of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and Education Online Services Corporation. He also serves as senior adviser for the Diamond Empowerment Fund and National Director of Occupy the Dream and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org