There is an old saying that if you give them an inch, they will take a mile. It seems that that saying has been resurrected with the election of President Barack Obama. It was a saying that was applied to slaves as a counter argument to giving the slaves a “little freedom.” And while it seems a contradiction in terms, a little freedom is exactly what was given to slaves in New Orleans when they were given a half day off on Sundays. They would congregate at a place called CONGO SQUARE where they were free to dance and practice their tribal traditions. They were, in effect, half free, for a half day.
The Republicans seem to be trying to revisit those “good ol’ days.” They want to be able to say America is a great country and anyone can live the American Dream and become a mayor or even president, no matter what race, creed, or color they are. But the realities are something else, especially if you are looking at it from the vantage point of a Black man of fifty, sixty or seventy years of age. We have seen versions of the drama of the Congo Square, meaning half free and half slave. Another version was half free and half victim of discrimination and/or victim of racism.
We were half free when they said Blacks could be separate but equal. But there was never any such thing. We were half free when the U.S. Supreme Court said, in Brown versus Board of Education, educational opportunities must be equal. Then they stuck us in inferior classes at superior schools where whites graduated at 90 percent and Blacks graduated at 50 percent. Then when we got jobs and promotions, we had to be better qualified and still we got less money than whites. And we were half free when the government initiated Affirmative Action as a way to remedy the inequality of past discrimination, but then we had to compete with white women and Hispanics who claimed they were subjected to the same type of treatment and deserved whatever benefits we were given. Affirmative Action expanded the Black middle class to larger than it has ever been before.
As a note: California Governor Jerry Brown is working to reverse the Proposition 209 ban on Affirmative Action because of its negative impact on the number of Blacks getting an education at the University of California level. I also note that state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino promoted partnerships between the University of California and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, under Assembly Concurrent Resolution 21 in 2007. Today Portantino is being Blackballed in the legislature under the guise of being over budget. Affirmative Action, better educational opportunities, and equality of employment opportunities represent the Civil Rights of this era.
Finally, America has elected a Black President named Barack Obama, over the objection of people who didn’t like his religion, falsely claiming that he was a Muslim as if that was a crime, said he was a Nazi, as if that was possible, said he was not a U.S. citizen, said he was a monkey just as they had said about Martin Luther King, and also most that he was uppity, as if to say, “How dare he act as a fully free President instead of one who is half free, half the time.”
The Republicans are working overtime to stop Obama from being re-elected and stop the Black middle class from getting any bigger. With a Black Governor of Massachusetts and Black Mayors in a number of America’s largest cities, things are getting out of hand, and the racist Republicans are being reminded of the old saying, “Give them an inch and they will take a mile.” They believe they must stop Obama at any cost, even to the detriment of some white people. If that can be done, they believe no Black will ever again darken the door of the White House to be called President again.
Voting rights bills have expanded the number of Black elected officials across the country. Now the Tea Party Republicans are seeking to turn the clock back with new state legislation requiring voters to have picture ID cards and proof of American citizenship.
Another Republican trick bag includes considering the destruction of the American credit rating and possibly manufacturing a depression so that Obama can be blamed. Net result no re-election. Note that the debt ceiling is the equivalent of nothing more than a line of credit to pay for the past and possibly the future, if need be. The bag includes their blockage of programs to put people back to work like Roosevelt did during the great depression of the thirties. All the time they are blaming Obama for the lack of jobs, and the bad economy.
What the Republicans want to do is simply protect the rich from paying their fair share of taxes while cutting out things like social security safety net for the rest of us. They would take the money we pay into Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and give it to some giant insurance corporation.
Blacks already don’t live long enough to reap the benefits of paying into Social Security. Now they want to raise the age of Social Security entitlement to 70. Next, they want to take away government sponsored Medicare and Medicaid and give that money to another giant insurance corporation who will raise the premiums and reduce the benefits.
“Corporate Profits before people” is the cry of those who would destroy Obama and any opportunity to join the middle class.
One example is that a few weeks ago I needed to send a package to Georgia. The UPS price was over three hundred dollars. I took it to the government run United States Post Office and paid $84.00, and it got there the next day. And then there is the great equalizer, i.e., Education. The Republicans have already hi-jacked the educational loans and increased the rates so that it takes a fortune to get a loan for an education that before Reagan was free to Americans. Now the cost of education is a new way to discriminate against the poor. The rich get educated and richer and the poor will still be available to provide cheap labor, remaining still half slave and half free.
As for Obama, I sometimes get mad at him too, but in the end, he’s the best thing to happen to this country in so many ways, in a long time. As we keep fighting to expand the Black middle class, I say let’s also fight to keep our President!