AFRICANGLOBE – This past weekend, the Congressional Black Caucus hosted its annual weekend extravaganza that included expensive dinners and lavish partying. Yet, Black politicians in the present day are standing by as the GOP and its right-wing zealots run amok in cahoots with local and state police departments.
They have become the modern-day example of Alderman Fred Davis – the jive-ass politician from Good Times who was all talk and no action. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann went on a tactless, destructive, racist and ignorant rant about Islam at the Family Research Council’s Voters Summit last weekend, calling on President Barack Obama to “declare war” on Islam. Black politicians remained silent as she openly declared war against Black people. While exact numbers are nebulous, it is estimated that there are approximately 2 – 7 million people in this country who consider themselves Muslim. What we do know is that approximately 450,000 of them are African-American.
Unfamiliarity with the Muslim faith is so prevalent in this country that even officials in professional sports, where most of the players are Black and many have Arabic names – seems to be mystified with its customs and practices. Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah intercepted a Tom Brady pass Monday night and returned it for a touchdown.
Afterwards, he did what so many other NFL players do to celebrate a big play: paused to make a religious gesture of thanks. But Abdullah was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, all because he slid to the ground, then knelt in prayer in the end zone.
In light of the many players who drop to one knee in prayer after a touchdown and the league’s essential backbone of religious (i.e. Christian faith) the NFL has since apologized for the penalty. Where is Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim and African-American from Minnesota to be elected to the Congress, and the rest of his colleagues? How can our congressmen and women remain silent about something so dangerous and so irresponsible, as the country and the rest of the world deal with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)?
“Yes, Mr. President, it is about Islam!” Bachmann proclaimed, reinforcing the very narrative ISIS wishes to propagate. “And I believe if you have an evil of an order of this magnitude, you take it seriously. You declare war on it, you don’t dance around it. Just like the Islamic State has declared war on the United States of America.”
Why is it that whenever zealots wage war, hurting the reputation of an ethnicity, faith, or cause by doing terrible things in the name of its culture, faith, or cause, we think the responsible thing to do is to stay quiet? Jews, Christians, atheists, Whites, gays, Italians, Irish, liberals, conservatives, libertarians, socialists, environmentalists, and pretty much every other classification of people I can think of, will do whatever is necessary when their cause or identity is commandeered or dishonored.
And while silence may not automatically imply consent, it does invite suspicion of consent. Sadly, it’s about more than just Islam. It’s about the ridiculous onslaught against Black people in this country. We’ve seen the deaths of Eric Garner, John Crawford III and Michael Brown at the hands of police who may never be brought to justice, all just this year.
Affirmative action, which helped educational inequities, has been weakened nationwide. Qualifying for student loans that helped parents send their children to college has been made more difficult, which has disproportionately impacted HBCU students. The public school system that educated me and many others is in freefall.
As we have seen, even with the President, race still matters and needs to be at the center of our efforts in Congress. It’s a shame that a group of protesters in Ferguson got more attention paid to relations and police brutality, than our Congress has in the last 15 years.
“Too many Black intellectuals have given up the hard work of thinking carefully in public about the crisis facing Black America,” Eddie Glaude, the chair of the Center for African-American Studies and the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African-American Studies at Princeton University, once told me. “We have either become cheerleaders for President Obama, or self-serving pundits.”
I expect our Blacks in Congress to fight for parity in education, health care and the economy. I expect them to put a plan in place to bring us up to speed with our counterparts across the nation. I expect them to do something about our inner-city public school systems, where classroom sizes have ballooned to 45 kids in places like Detroit and Philadelphia. I expect them to raise the minimum wage.
I expect them to do something about the 3.6 million Black children living in poverty. I expect them to represents the have-nots and the downtrodden; I expect them to represent hope. I expect them to challenge, rebuke and replace the Bachmann’s of the world.
By: Zack Burgess