If the recent Alabama election was a game show and and the host would say to the winning contestants (in this case, Black folks who voted for Doug Jones), “Tell them what they won” he would be hard pressed to say anything. At best he would proclaim a new 2017 MORAL VICTORY. No doubt a moral victory is something but it is past time that Black folks and poor folks discontinue participation in a game that offers them little tangible benefit.
Practically every national media headline about the race lauds the Black turnout in Alabama that put the Democratic party Senate candidate Doug Jones in the White House. “Black voters turned out for Alabama Senate candidate Doug Jones,” stated one, African American voters made Doug Jones a US senator in Alabama,” read another, yet another from USA Today, was even more explicit declaring that, “Black women helped Doug Jones to victory over Roy Moore.”
It may seem unfair to criticize the defeat of the bigoted, sexist accused predator Alabama Republican senate candidate Ray Moore, because he was about backwards as they come. He has gone on record to say that homosexuals should be jailed and had the unmitigated gall to say that life just wasn’t that bad under slavery because families thrived. What families could he possibly have in mind: The families of the plantation owners? Did he forget the Black families were enslaved and worse their families were split a part based on the needs of the slave owners?
Worse yet he doesn’t think the country needed Constitutional amendments beyond the first ten. That would have spelled bad news for Black folks since three amendments that are included after the first ten; ended slavery (13th) , granted US citizenship to Black folks and automatic citizenship to anyone born on US soil (14th) and granted everyone the right to vote (15th).
According to Eddie Glaude in Time magazine,” Black voters in Alabama saw their power and exercised it. In doing so, they served notice to the Democratic Party. Democrats cannot win without Black voters and they must not take our votes for granted. The days of symbolic talk and empty gestures are over. Deliver or pay the price.”
Despite Glaude and other Black pundits optimism, there is no real indication that the Democratic Party is going to stop taking Black folks vote for granted, after all they have been doing it for decades.
Absolutely nothing occurred in this election that indicates that this is nothing more than business as usual. Black people as per usual, voted for the “lesser evil” so to speak. In Alabama Jones made no promises to Black people.
Jones claim to fame that put him in favorable light with the Black electorate was his prosecution of two of the racist murderers of the four children killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham in 1963, while serving as a US Attorney several years ago. But beyond that there was nothing in his platform that suggested that he was interested in doing anything specifically for the Black electorate.
And there are clearly issues for which Jones could advocate for the Black voters that put him in office.
Ironically he could start with helping to organize an effort to repeal the stringent voter ID laws that kept many would-be Black voters from the polls. He could fight for less stringent punishment for drug offenses, which still even now are unbalanced, resulting in Blacks being sentenced to longer terms than Whites.
Alabama’s Black population also lags far behind the White population in education, employment and median income. It seems that while everything has changed since the dawn of the “Freedom Movement,” nothing has changed.
According to recent news reports coming out of Alabama, the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, toured a rural predominantly Black Alabama community where “raw sewage flows from homes through exposed PVC pipes and into open trenches and pits.” The UN rep Phillip Alston, said he had never before seen conditions like that in the developed world.
Yet, there is no evidence that the Black population met with Jones and made demands of him.
There is much talk every election about the importance of voting in the Black community considering the mighty struggle that was waged to obtain the franchise especially in places like Alabama. But the sacrifices that were made were not made just so that folks could pull a lever, but so that pulling that lever would result in real political, social and economic benefit.
justice then peace