Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Is There Room for African Working Class Leadership in the Black Community?

If the African community is to have self-determination, economic and social justice, now is the time for the African working class to struggle for leadership of our community on all of its various fronts. Now is the time to put forward solutions for genuine progress and change in the areas of economic development, institution building, public policy, education and electoral politics.

The defeat of the Black Power movement in the late1960’s dispersed and disrupted the development of working class, militant leadership for the African community. Unchallenged, the Black middle class was able to consolidate its ideological, economic, political and social subordination to the liberal sector of the white ruling class for its own interests and at the expense of the masses of African people.

Increasingly, the democratic space, hard-fought for by African people, has begun to be rolled back. Not only have the democratic gains been rolled back but, with the assistance of liberal black middle class leadership, nearly all forms of democratic participation except elections have become stigmatized. African revolutionary and progressive forces have been driven to the margins of influence and as a result, the condition of the masses of the African community has worsened.

Beginning in the mid-1970’s, the most dominant and consistent form of political activity the African community has participated in is the electoral process, by voting, running as candidates or participating in electoral campaigns. Voting has become synonymous with politics, and to the disadvantage of the majority of the African community, has marginalized other forms of democratic struggle.

Representatives of the African middle class, who are now entrenched in the status quo of electoral politics, almost completely spurn the use of direct-action politics and, because they are government officials, increasingly are the targets of such political tactics in urban centers.

Thirty plus years of voting by the African community for Black political leaders and liberals in the Democratic Party have not translated into economic or political wealth for the general African community. Because of this, many elements of the African community have become apathetic to the elections. In the 2007 Baltimore City mayoral race, an African woman was able to win the election with a total voter turnout of 29% of eligible voters. Despite not having anywhere near a mandate to run the city, there is no consolidated opposition to challenge her anti-African and anti-working class agenda. The relative weakness of her neo-colonial administration in Baltimore has not translated into power for the African working class or its allies.

We believe that the masses want genuine progress; not empty promises, worthless trinkets, or opportunities to sell out. We want to improve our community and we believe this progress should not come at the cost of us abandoning our principles. We believe now is the time for African workers – regular everyday people – to find the solutions to our problems and struggle to retain the benefits of our work instead of allowing it to fall in to the hands of the few. Under the leadership of the African working class, we believe it is possible to forge a principled unity that serves the masses of our people and moves us closer to self-determination.

Brother-Comrade Nnamdi Lumumba, UPP State Organizer

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