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Demonstrations and Politics

Photo from Getty Images

by: Joseph "Jazz" Hayden

May 17, 2015 - The decision not to indict the white police officer by the first black District attorney of Wisconsin raises the question of the importance of skin color over “the content of character” and “Token” representation in  our political leadership.

In Ferguson we saw the results, some say, of the lack of “black” representation in the political process, where blacks represented 67% of the general population, for the failure to gain indictments for police murders.

In Baltimore there existed the exact opposite. Blacks are fully represented in the political process from police commissioner, City Council, Mayor, State Attorney, state legislature, and Congress of the United States.  The Black states attorney indicted 6 police officers for the death of a Blackman and the Mayor called in the U.S. Attorney General to investigate the police policy and practice.

The Black District Attorney of Wisconsin chose not to indict a white police officer for the killing of an unarmed black man after invading his home and shooting him seven times.

Does the color of the skin of public officials matter?  How are these three examples informative?

Virtually no Black political representation in Ferguson, full representation in Baltimore, and token representation in Wisconsin provided the context for outcomes. The outcomes in Ferguson and Wisconsin were the same, Baltimore was different (and swiftly so). All of these outcomes have one thing in common, they were political. Each catalytic event was followed by broad demonstrations and press coverage and, all were decided by elected officials that responded to their constituents. Politics?  It seems indisputable. Ferguson showed us the result of massive demonstration with no political representation. Wisconsin showed us peaceful demonstration with Token Black political representation. And, Baltimore showed us what massive and disruptive demonstrations with full political representation could accomplish. All three examples had demonstrations in common but only one had dominant political representation. Ferguson and Wisconsin were trying to clap with one hand (demonstration)and Baltimore clapped with two hands, demonstrations and politics, and were heard.

Conclusion : (1)until we control the politics of our communities we will continue having the negative outcomes of Ferguson and Wisconsin, and (2)until we elect politicians based on the content of their character instead of just the color of their skin we will continue to have the ineffective and token representation that they have in Wisconsin. 


 

Joseph Jazz Hayden is also the Founder of the, The Campaign to End the New Jim Crow (CENJC). CENJC is about to launch a local, citywide, statewide , and national campaign to empower poor communities of color to assert their interest in the political process by organizing their communities to speak in a unified political voice for their communities interest. We welcome all our friends and allies to join us in this endeavor. We will need media, grassroots organizers, politicians, faith based communities, unions, prisoners, service providers, entertainers, community stakeholders, funders, and all who can contribute in any way.]

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