There was a time when Black people, even if they were at each other’s throats with anger, would never let those outside of the African-American family know that there was dissent or discord within the ranks.
The old folks used to say, “Don’t air your dirty laundry.”
The negative reaction of a certain minority of highly-placed Blacks to President Obama’s speech to the Congressional Black Caucus and its annual gala, and the exploitation of that ongoing feud by the mainstream media highlighted the reason why African-Americans didn’t fight in public very often back during the Civil Rights Movement and earlier.
Sure, there were differences between Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the political clashes between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois were well documented.
But there was an air of civility or, in the case of Malcolm and MLK, reconciliation, in that public discourse.
This current disharmony reached a low point with the Tavis Smiley/Cornel West tour of disrespect for Obama got even pettier after the president’s emotional oratory.
Obama did get off his script and did show some bitterness—finally—at the utter stupidity of high-profile Black people publicly criticizing him at such a crucial political time, with Black unemployment well beyond the reported 16.7 percent because of personal disputes.
The president, likewise, should have stayed with his text and maybe dealt with his frustration privately with enough African-American leaders for the word to travel within the ranks.
However, Smiley on his PBS show raged that Obama would never talk to Latinos or gays in such a fashion, and former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder wrote an op-ed on Politico.com saying Obama needed to use code language by giving “us some sort of a sign” that he is indeed for the betterment of Black people.
CBC president Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, virtually telling folks just to give up, proclaimed that the American Jobs Act is not going to pass in Congress, and then walked it back by saying if Obama wasn’t President the CBC would be marching on the White House.
The mainstream media ate it all up. They rushed to report that Obama’s support among Blacks was dwindling, despite the fact that even with the disagreements, African-Americans still overwhelmingly favor the president.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer practically browbeat Congresswoman Maxine Waters on the air because she refused to blast Obama because of her disagreement with him on some issues.
It was a Willie Lynch moment.
Lynch was the British slave-owner who delivered the infamous address on the banks of Virginia’s James River in 1712 on how to keep the African chattel in line.
Lynch, whose name is purportedly the genesis of the term “lynching,” said turn the young males against the old males, the dark-skinned against the light-skinned and the females against the males to maintain disharmony so that commerce could thrive.
As 2012 approaches and the GOP unabashedly reveals its desire to return to the 1920s if not earlier: Black people, beware.
It is said that he who ignores history is doomed to repeat it.
We agree wholeheartedly.
(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune.)