2012 for Black America could be one of the most decisive and dangerous years since the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and the turbulent days of the Civil Rights Movement (1950s and 1960s), regardless of which party wins in November.
The conservative wing of American politics, so obsessed with defeating Barack Obama, has thrown their normal political caution to the winds. Before, for over 40 years, the left was seen as compulsive, irrational and careless.
Danger: Both parties are not cooperating, just as in the period leading up to the Civil War and the period just prior to the Great Depression of 1929.
Danger: According to the largest hunger report, “Hunger in America,” nearly 49 million people, one in six of the U.S. population and more than one in five children, were hungry or faced food insecurity at some point during 2010. 2011 statistics will be higher.
Danger: When Americans, including military personnel returning from conflicts and wars in foreign lands, can’t find jobs due to the clash of ideologies and philosophies, trouble brews.
Danger: If democratic institutions and the growing prosperity they inspire are shut down, it could end the scale of our democracy and prosperity.
Danger: Partisan debates regarding unemployment, wage stagnation, education, health care, foreign affairs, and the growing number of the hungry and “food insecure” will only get worse if both political parties don’t act from common ground. America’s citizens want their elected officials to seek creative, honest and successful ideas for answering these challenges that are testing America’s strength and fiber.
Danger: The parties seeking secrecy to avoid elections being put under a microscope, whether U.S. Presidential, Senate and House campaigns, campaigns for state governors and city mayors, or for state legislatures and city councils, will only make matters worse. If those inside the beltway won’t work together, it’s up to us outside the beltway to elect those who will. We need to be able to see the lights at the end of the tunnel: jobs, housing, and better education results, showcasing a nation that can compete on the world stage.
Danger: If we continue to live off the earnings of our children and grandchildren and not our own, African Americans understand a tilt downward and/or backward is the worst possible thing for the dream of Black America for parity and a future that will finally bring all of Black America into the mainstream.
Danger: “Kicking the can down the road” has been the result of both parties spending money for programs each wants when each is in power. We learned in Vietnam and again in Iraq and Afghanistan that we can’t have both guns and butter, cutting taxes while increasing spending.
Danger: As I have long stressed, if we do not discuss the slippage in the area of quality of life, if Americans believe that the only way we can compete is by fighting wars in foreign lands and dropping bombs on other people, our goals of hope, equal access and equal opportunity, fairness and justice are at risk.
Will America vote to become like Europe or vote to stay American? Will we opt for the big-government decision-making model of wealth redistribution (which always fails), or a pro-growth self-reliant model, making sure everyone is included at the table to participate? Will Black Americans be invited to the table or have to keep fighting for a seat?
Required is leadership. We have been harsh on Black leadership in this column and in Chapter 14 of my book. The old guard used their leadership positions for self-serving ends. The recent awarding of $28 million to a new nexus of leaders reflects this changing of the guard. We will watch them just as closely.
It’s not who wears the leadership uniform that counts — it’s the results of leadership in terms of equal access and equal opportunity for all in education, jobs, and housing that count. See our new “solutions” paper on leadership on our web page, which includes a history and roundup of our suggestions regarding leadership and planning since 2002.
The decisions of 2012 will determine whether 2012 is a year of danger or a year when all are invited to the table. What direction we go only God knows. It’s time we all came together to give Him a hand.
OUR CONDOLENCES to the family of three-year-old Terrell Mayes, Jr., killed by a stray bullet December 27, 2011.
Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm; hosts “Black Focus” on Blog Talk radio Sundays at 3 pm; and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Saturdays at 4 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers for community planning and development and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.