Here we are at the start of another year – Happy New Year! Now is the time for black people to do something different in politics. Here in Oregon we have to recognize that much of our misery has happened under the leadership of so called “progressive” Democrats.
Some say it would have been worse under Republicans, and they might be right. However, we will never know because we have been so captured by and in lockstep with the Democrats for a number of years. We can remember when then State Senator Avel Gordly had the audacity to support then Republican Senator Gordon Smith. Heresy! Treason! – many hollered. But others thought it was the bravest political action any local black leader had ever taken.
In fact, the James Posey campaign for Mayor in 2004 was largely in response to the patronizing attitude of white liberal candidates in that election cycle. And, even when white liberals have good intentions, they hit far from the mark. Let’s not forget the mess well-intentioned former city Commissioner Gretchen Kafoury made while trying to create low-income housing in Northeast Portland. This was the fuel that began massive gentrification in NE Portland.
Some present day blunders include current Commissioner Nick Fish and his administration of the million dollar disparity study which found no disparity for blacks in procuring city contracts. Add to that his mismanagement of efforts to identify, stop and punish those who practice housing discrimination, and a pattern becomes clear.
The latest controversy in the news today is Dean Marriott and his mishandling of the city’s Environmental Services Bureau. While in his position, Marriott managed a 1.4 billion dollar Combine Sewer Overflow construction project where blacks were economically flushed down the toilet. We would be hard pressed to find any economic benefit accruing to blacks as a result of the largest infrastructure project ever completed by the City of Portland. The list of wrong doings is very long, and that’s why we should make every attempt to balance the scales in terms of who we support in the future.
And what about our current black elected officials? The truth is, they just aren’t as effective as they should be. I think it is time for blacks in Portland to stop accepting disguised and compromised support for blacks issues couched as support for the poor, minorities, underprivileged and disadvantaged. If black political leaders are afraid to specifically talk about support for black people, they shouldn’t get one black vote. And we should stop acting like they are God’s gift to the race if they can so conveniently disrespect us. If our black political leaders don’t whole-heartedly support us in public, don’t expect whites to offer any real support to us, public or private. We can no longer let white or black leaders take us for granted.
Specific things we should be doing politically in 2015-16:
- Here’s a revolutionary thought proposed by one of my friends. Start our own political party. Wow, I like it. Some say we will be wasting our vote, and a new party is too difficult to get started. Well, I say it seems like we are already wasting our vote, given the results from our Democrat and Republican representatives. And sure it would be difficult but at least we will know it is our party, fighting distinctively for our issues. Let’s call it the Black Peoples’ Party. The BPP. I like it.
- There is already an effort to start a Black political action committee. Let’s aggressively seek to get that set up in 2015 and have it ready for the 2016 election cycle.
- “Stock the Vote”. Let’s treat our votes like a Wall Street stock dividends. Let’s ask now for a committed vote investment in the BPP party from every eligible black voter in town. And during the next election cycle, ask black voters to honor their commitment by voting for BPP party candidates or others the party endorses.
Nothing ventured…nothing gained.