by Danny J. Bakewell Sr.
(NNPA) – This is America, but you wouldn’t think so in light of recent events wherein two high-profile, long serving African-American congressman have come under attack. They are being dragged through the mud in a rush to judgment regarding alleged ethics violations. Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) are the accused.
Rep. Rangel has been found guilty by a House ethics subcommittee of violating ethics rules and will face trial within the next couple of months. He has been under investigation since 2008 due to allegedly using his House position for financial benefit. Rep. Waters is also under the microscope of the House ethics subcommittee for allegedly using her congressional authority in a meeting with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on behalf of OneUnited bank, in which her husband owns $250,000 in stock.
It is important that our elected officials, those to whom we give our public trust, be ethically sound, but in this current spate of accusations, there is something fishy in the proverbial Denmark! As of 2010, there are presently 42 African-American members in the 111th U.S. Congress – 41 in the House of Representatives (39 representatives and 2 non-voting delegates) and one in the Senate. The fact is that African-Americans represent only 10 percent of the Congress and 19 percent (8) are under investigation! This raises the question as to whether or not Black lawmakers face more scrutiny over allegations of wrongdoing than their White counterparts. We conclude that if it sounds like racism and acts like racism, then it probably is racism! In America, we need to presume innocence until proven guilty, and we need not be led to judgment.
Congressman Rangel and Congressman Waters are valuable members of the African-American community who have fought valiantly for our community. The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), therefore, urges you to stand behind them. We want them to know that we are there for them; that all 200+ NNPA publishers throughout America stand solidly behind them, and urge them to continue on the course and stay strong. Black publishers are on the way with pen in hand!
History has shown that Black people make no progress in America without a struggle for what is right and good for the Black community. Many people want to call this situation something other than what it is, but it is racism at the core. It is daunting, but not surprising that this is the case, but Rep. Rangel and Rep. Waters are far too valuable to our community to give up without a fight!