Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dear Black People: You Are Invisible and Irrelevant

So far, I have watched all three of the 2012 Presidential and Vice Presidential debates. Each debate lasted approximately 90 minutes. All three moderators were white. The final debate is on Monday. Again, the moderator will be white. The last debate will focus on foreign policy. During these debates, the candidates have discussed important issues such as the economy, taxes, education, women's rights, health care reform and terrorism. However, none of the debates discussed race or affirmative action.

Race is still a major issue in America. The U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether the University of Texas' affirmative action policy is constitutional. If the Supreme Court strikes down UT's affirmative action policy, the doors to higher education will be closed to many African American young people. Universities and colleges will become more and more segregated. However, that issue was not important enough for the debate moderators.

Moreover, the moderators failed to raise the problem of racial profiling. New York city's racist stop-and-frisk policy has been a major issue in the civil rights community. In New York and many cities around the country, young, innocent black men and women are constantly stopped, harassed and humiliated by police just because of the color of their skin.

Another example of racial profiling is the tragic Trayvon Martin case. This year, self-appointed neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman hunted and shot down Trayvon Martin just because he was black. After great struggle and massive protests, Zimmerman was finally charged with murder.

In addition to racial profiling, mass incarceration was not raised during any of the debates. As explained in Michelle Alexander's book The New Jim Crow, the so-called War on Drugs has led to the mass incarceration of black people. Due to the mass incarceration problem, a disproportionate percentage of African Americans have been reduced to second class citizens even after they leave prison. In most states, they lose the right to vote and other precious rights.

In this mythological post-racial era, none of those issues matter. Unfortunately, the debates are fixated on issues that mainly impact white, moderate, middle class, undecided voters. As far as the presidential debates are concerned, black people are invisible and our concerns are irrelevant.

These debates have taught me one thing. In the eyes of the debate organizers and most of the viewers, the plight of Big Bird is far more important than the plight of my people. "Binders full of women" are more important than prisons full of black people.

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.


  1. Hi Brother. I had to come on to say, we black folks are neither invisible, nor are we irrelevant. Not by a very long shot.
    We are the foundation upon which this leviathan called the USofA rests. It's very important to the status quo that we remain focused on those issues of Civil Rights, which we have to admit are merely concessions. That way they can keep denying them to us.
    We have to continue our battle to believe that we already have human rights, which are inalienable. I'm a human being and for that reason I have the right to exist. The true fight is within the minds of black people.
    The republicans or GOP or whatever aren't obligated to do anything for us as a group. We are obligated to fight for ourselves, and exercise our human rights. And that fight takes on a new meaning when we see it that way.

    We have to admit that all "issues" cant be covered in a debate. We as black folks aren't the only people with "issues", and "civil rights" is only one of thousands of issues we have as black people in this land.
    Each time a black person jumps over the hurdle of thinking his/her fight is for Civil Rights and is instead for human rights, the better it is for us. We can't wait for others to do the heavy lifting for us, then declare ourselves invisible and irrelevant when they don't.

    Mitt Romney may hate my very existence until his dying day, but that's neither here nor there for me. My battle is right in my community, where brothers are fighting and killing each other for the opportunity to sell our sisters in brutal human trafficking. Where is the Kuumba in that? The battle is in the black man and woman's mind.

    You know I love ya!

    1. Hey Anna. Thanks for reading my article and commenting.

      From slavery until today, Africans built this country with our sweat, blood and tears. We have fought and died for this country in every war from the American Revolution to the war in Afghanistan. We are U.S. citizens. We fought and died for civil rights, including the right to vote. Without them, we would still be living under Jim Crow. Without them, there would be no black president. Civil rights are just as important as human rights.

      Our issues are just as important as any other groups' issues. Just like other groups, we must make our voice heard. We must demand black moderators or least demand that our issues be included in the discussion. Otherwise, we will be invisible and irrelevant. That is not asking the white man to do the heavy lifting. That is us promoting our own agenda.