Jared from “Lies Before Breakfast” submitted this post called “Action” in response to our Mission Statement:
The Afrospear has the potential to be a powerful tool, which can be used to better our community. At the beginning of anything that is new, the possibilities of what I can do are in fact, limitless. However, there comes a time when a movement, social group, corporation, or faction must define its objectives, goals, strategic methods, and ideology. The primary purpose of this essay is to respond to some key questions raised in the Afrospear mission statement. The secondary goal is to begin a conversation or rather a process that will sharpen the spear. That is, from the cacophony of ideas and opinions that is the Afrospear, what core themes and actions will create the sharp, piercing point of change, which I believe these times and our mission call for.
What problems do we face, and what clear goals should we set to solve them? Where should our priorities lie?
The African Diaspora, is faced with a myriad of challenges. From Alabama to Darfur, from the Congo to Compton, the legacy of imperialism, slavery, and injustice challenge our people every day. Moreover, these challenges are merged with crisis that affects every human being on the planet, such as climate change and globalization. It seems at times that these challenges are insurmountable.
Yet the Afrospear must have a specific set of overarching purposes and ideology. We cannot, it seems, address all the issues that face our people. Although our community lacks the relevant and effective infrastructure needed to meet the challenges we face, we cannot afford to be too divergent in our courses of action. While we should be as diverse as possible in our ideas and thoughts, our actions must strike these challenges in unison. There are two issues that I think our community-need and to a lesser extent the political climate call us to act on.
The first is healthcare. Access to affordable healthcare should be a birth right of every American citizen. AIDS, STD’s, diabetes and other health issues disproportionately affect our community. Many members of our community do not have access to the care, preventative treatments, or medicines needed to combat health issues. On the economic front, today’s labor market is fluid and unstable, a health care system that weds access to healthcare to employment status is particularly worrisome. There is, for sure, a debate to be had as to which system (single payer vs. a hybrid system) we should adopt— and we can learn from our brothers and sisters in Canada the benefits/flaws of a single payer system. Either way, our actions should be to educate ourselves and our community about this most pressing issue. We must begin to organize and lobby for the creation of a universal healthcare system. That means demanding the candidates seeking office, our employers, churches, etc become active now.
The second priority where the Afrospear can be effective is challenging the entrenched leadership establishment of our community. By that I mean challenging members of the Congressional Black Caucus who don’t represent the interest of their constituents. Gerrymandering has left many in the CBC in safe districts, where they aren’t challenged and held accountable. The obvious example is, of course, “Dollar” Bill Jefferson, who won reelection despite a terrible voting record on black issues and allegations of corruption. Aside from cleaning out elements of the CBC this also means lifting up a new generation of leaders. It is fair to say that the attitudes, politics, and values of the younger element of our community differ substantively from our current leadership. Yet even, new leaders seem to pass through the same structures and channels that gave us the establishment we have today. Our new leaders should be reflective of the generation of people they will have to lead. Similarly, there should be diversity in the new leadership. Black nationalists, pan-Africanist, progressives, moderates, secularist, radicals, Marxists, should all have a place. Let’s revive the robust debate that once occupied our community’s discourse.
When should we band together? When should we break apart?
These questions are a lot harder to answer. In theory we should be united more often than not, as the same issues that affect me should in turn affect you. And although the two issues, healthcare and leadership, are in my opinion the most important. There is much room for disagreement. As stated earlier, if we truly are to be a “spear of change” once a given course of action is decided on we must strike in unison. However, there is also space for different schools of thought and action—but all courses of action should be measured against their ability to achieve our over arching purpose. The problem, with not adopting—and we shouldn’t—a political ideology is that it will often be the case that ideological grounds will be points of contention within the Afrospear.
It is my hope that the Afrospear becomes as beautiful and vibrant as the thinkers that it’s comprised of. There are some who call for a change, while others are instruments of change. Members of the Afrospear have taken the first step in becoming members of the latter group.