Sunday, June 23, 2024

African-American Community Should Break Out The Box.

October 25, 2021 by  
Filed under News, Politics, Weekly Columns

( We’re familiar with the metaphor “thinking outside the box.” which means to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. But the metaphor presumes the box is serviceable.

Suppose the box is functionally obsolete, has outlived its usefulness, just doesn’t work anymore. This means, you need a new box.

A major weakness, you could call it a character flaw, of what passes for the Black public intellectual cohort (actually just cable TV pundits and their cousins who make up the national Black political leadership) is a complete absence of analysis and imagination when it comes to America in the 21st century and the condition of Black people.

If you’re Black in America, you don’t need to be thinking outside the box, you need to be thinking about a new box. Whatever has been the American box, it has never worked for Black people. We’ve spent the last 150-plus years trying to figure out and advocate for a place in the box. This American box as constructed, was not designed for us. As William E.B. DuBois put it, “A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.”

black america

There was a constant in what I’ll call Black political theory regarding America, and the political activism that developed as a result of this Black political theory. From Frederick Douglass in the1850s, through DuBois to Martin Luther King and James Baldwin, to James Cones and Black Liberation Theology, or Derrick Bell and Critical Race Theory in the early 1980s, the role of Black public intellectuals was analysis, a critique of America, from the perspective of the Black experience. They were talking to us, about us.

When it comes to America, Black leadership doesn’t need to think outside the box, Black leadership needs to advocate for a new box. America has devolved from a place that has never worked for Black people to a place that no longer works, period.

Let’s start with America’s federal system of government.

The Constitution is not the Ten Commandments, it is simply a political compromise among privileged white economic interests on how to create a functioning government out of the failure of the Articles of Confederation.

It’s not an operating blueprint for all time. It was an operating blueprint for that time, and that time was 1789. In fact, it was changed immediately after it was agreed upon. What Americans reverently refer to as the Bill of Rights, are really nothing more than the first 10 changes to the original document. The Constitution has been amended 27 times.

Webster defines amend as “putting something right, to change or modify for the better, to alter formally by modification or deletion.”

When you amend something, you formally change what it was to something else.

I would suggest there is nobody in America that thinks of themselves as citizen of the state in which they reside. They consider themselves citizens of the United States, the country and they’re right. No matter where they travel, whether it’s Missouri, Georgia, Florida or Texas, their citizenship and its corresponding rights and privileges cannot be modified or diluted by state government, per the Constitution as amended.

The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution establishes the Constitution, federal laws made pursuant to it and treaties made under it as the supreme law of the land and take priority over any conflicting state laws. The 10th Amendment says any powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution are reserved to the States.

Every vile, malevolent, contemptible officially sanctioned crime inflicted upon Black people, from enslavement to Jim Crow, are vested in the 10th Amendment.

But remember the definition of amendment is to change or modify what went before. The 14th Amendment, if you’re Black, is politically the crown jewel of the Constitution because it unequivocally makes the rights and privileges of citizenship a function of the nation and cannot be constrained by the states.

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;”.

I’m neither a constitutional lawyer or scholar but I do know how to frame and make a political argument to advance my interest. American corporations have used the 14th Amendment to bypass and neuter state governments since the 1870s. There is no constitutional basis for anything that’s happening to us today relative to voting rights or women’s reproductive health. Every violation of our rights and humanity has happened because we continue to let a minority of white men maintain the fiction that we’re living in the America of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Columnist; Mike Jones

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