I just posted the following in the comments section of an essay posted by Tim Wise.
"Just because someone is democratically, liberally, and/or progressively minded does not mean they are historically and socially aware (and prepared to act for) of the struggles of people of color."
I was thinking of this while driving down the street the other day. My initial thought: just because someone is a Democrat, does that automatically mean they are down for the cause of Blacks? Not necessarily. The two are not synonymous.
I finally understand why people older than me have been yelling for years that Blacks give their support to Democrats way too easily--almost as if they don't even need to work for it. Now, I'm by no means saying that we should run out and blindly support Republicans, Libertarians, Green Party, or anyone else. In fact, we should never blindly support anything. Make them work for it. Make them prove that they are worthy to have your support... this goes for anything. Not just politics.
While riding in my car that day, I was reflecting on being able to converse with people where I work about politics because some of my colleagues and I share similar values. Compared to other people I know, this is a privilege. While I still tread lightly (Momma didn't raise a fool), once I hear their opinions, I cautiously add my two or ten cents. Thinking on this, of course, inevitably led me to segue to a million things and ultimately brought me to my question mentioned above.
While I understand that in recent years (decades even), many of the causes of Democrats are similar to and linked to the causes of Blacks, these terms and fights are not inextricably linked. The causes of Blacks are more likely to be fought by progressive minded people, but that doesn't mean the causes of Blacks can't also be fought by people of other minds. Because I suppose the opposite of my initial statement would be true: just because someone is not progressively minded doesn't mean that they are not historically and socially aware of the struggles of people of color. However, I have a harder time swallowing this based on recent events from the Party of No.
As I age, I've begun to regret more and more being labeled so freely. It seems that someone always needs a label to define something or someone. Why the label? Why the need to identify as Democrat, Republican, Green, etc.? Why can't we just be? I appreciate the label of Independent because it carries so much weight. It means that I freely pick and choose where I fit. I am independent--free thinking, free choose, free minded, "free from outside control" as my nifty dictionary just said. But hell, Independents can't even vote in Dem or Repub primaries in some states. Is that truly a fair election if some able-bodied and present-minded people who want to vote cannot simply because they choose not to be labeled by the two dominant parties?
But to get anything accomplished, I suppose we must align ourselves with someone, some label, or step out on our own and make our own party, which is an uphill battle if ever there were one. But they need us too. Dems, Repubs, Greens, whomever--they need us (the people, not just folks of color) to help move along their elections and we need them to move along our causes.
Another thought: just because someone is a person of color doesn't mean they truly understand and are willing to fight for the struggles of people of color. I'll expound on this one another day...
In the end, what we must do is stop assuming a politician (of any party) has your best interest at heart and make sure they listen to your interests and fight for your cause. People fight to get to Washington with the best of intentions, but we know what the road to hell is paved with. People go there trying to make a difference and some truly do (thank you Mr. President), but they are constantly fighting the status quo, and good ole Mr. Quo doesn't want things to change. For those politicians who do make changes in the face of a hellcat Mr. Quo, thank you. Keep fighting!
However, as citizens, we must stop blindly following! And certainly, stop blindly supporting! As I was reminded on a video I watched today: Ask Questions. Demand Answers.
So, the lesson for today boys and girls: Fight for your causes, Demand your elected officials do the same, Stop following blindly, and PUSH (pray until something happens) because no one's cause can be fought and won without proper support.