Wake Up Mr. West!
Thanks for continued visits to the site even in our recent downturn in content. Turns out when you have a writing core of graduate students, things get kind of…..hectic around finals time. It’s been crazy because some of the BEST news items came across my desk when I was working on my thesis. This guy, Allen West, is one of them.
Who is Allen West? He’s a member of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus and ALSO a member of the Congressional Black Caucus (the first Republican member since 1997). And he’s pretty much completely insane. This is a guy whose view on race makes Herman Cain look like W.E.B. DuBois
Allen West is an enigma. This is a guy who (allegedly) was once in the Black Panther Party as a youngster but also has ties to criminal biker gangs. He’s surprised even members of his own party by openly claiming that 80 members of Congress were card-carrying Communists, a statement that even the official Communist Party refutes. He’s called President Obama the “dumbest person in America” right now, and despite being invited to and attending this weekend’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner, he slammed it afterwards for eroding the Republic. He’s likened Black Democrats to slave overseers and compared himself to a modern-day Harriet Tubman leading Black voters away from the Democratic Plantation.
This man has probably said more ridiculous things about race than Rush Limbaugh. And of course he denies racism in almost all forms, especially against Barack Obama, except when it comes to any and every attack against him by liberals. The thing that bothers me is that it seems like, with his prominence, as well as the meteoric rise of Herman Cain, that the easiest way to be heard as a Black politician is to be a complete buffoon and to become some sort of real-life version of Uncle Ruckus. This isn’t an attack on Black Republicans. Although I still don’t quite understand why anyone who has been the subject of racism would vote Republican, there are Black Republicans who I respect and even admire, from Colin Powell to Condi Rice (seriously…..but that’s another blog post). However, it seems like the new breed of Black Republican is a loud-mouthed idiot who goes out of his way to compare Black Democrats to slaves and uphold the same complex systems of denying-racism-when-convenient philosophy held by Tea Partiers. I don’t like to use the term “Uncle Tom,” especially given the fact that Blacks are not monolithic and that it is perhaps a good sign that we occupy as broad a philosophical and political spectrum as the majority, but to cast such a blind eye on obvious racism that clearly has defined one’s own life simply to advance your standing in the eyes of a watchful White power structure seems…..wrong.
Is this what the new breed of Black politician will look like in America? A bunch of loud-mouthed ignoramuses whose sole job seems to be to be to provide “expert opinions” and real-life examples to Conservatives as to how they aren’t racist and to how Black folks who bring up race are the real problem? Although we wrote about amazing politicians like Cory Booker, it seems like the easiest path to prominence is West/Cain style idiocy. I was reading a profoundly insightful interview from Brother Ali, a white rapper, about Trayvon Martin, where he laments about the only real social currencies that Black people have in society being sexiness, coolness, and scariness. Read that interview by the way. It’s awesome.
But one thing I think he forgot (perhaps because of the controversy a White rapper broaching the subject would spark) was the fourth currency, ignorance. And I don’t mean simple “I didn’t learn how to read but want to play pro basketball so I don’t care” type ignorance that’s harped upon in the media. I don’t mean being a Republican who acknowledges racism but disagrees with the avenues to change it or even the need to do so. I mean a deep anti-intellectualism that denies any type of social responsibility and rejects “Blackness” as a distinction to be reviled or ashamed of. Ruckusism, I call it. There are entire crops of Blacks who grew up through racism and saw the efforts of Civil Rights leaders to make THEIR lives better, but instead choose a narrative that rejects that. They think they’re being Booker T. Washington-esque…but they’re more like Flo-Rida. I guess this would be a natural time to point out that Allen West lives in Plantation, Florida. Perfect.
Like I said, this isn’t an attack on Black Republicans. I just hate seeing people who get the education and standing that so many Blacks would die for and so many have sacrificed for them to have come to prominence and waste the opportunity by only spewing ignorance and stupidity. Maybe Allen West doesn’t even care about what it means for the Black community as a whole, but certainly he should care about his children, who will be forced even more to only be measured by the four currencies because he feeds into them. This isn’t a simple left/right ideological difference. It’s a reflective rejection of elements of his Blackness for political gain and votes. I’m not with it.