I like Dr. Boyce Watkins — yes, I really do. It is for that reason only that he isn’t this week’s recipient of my Slave-Catcher of the Week award. Not that what he said in a piece over at Kulture Kritic isn’t slave catcher behavior. But after thinking long and hard, truth is, the last few strands of respect that I have for him as the “People’s Scholar” just won’t allow me to go there. Having said that, the good doctor has been treading the fine line that is black intelligentsia and fuckery to my disappointment, for quite some time. And the last thing I’d hate to do is to finally write him off as one of those Negroes that I refuse to fuck with anymore because of his ill-formed misguided opinions.
To be frank, Dr. Watkins has been on some bullshit.
I don’t know what’s happening with the brother, but I hate to start believing what I wrote about him recently. That is, I hate to believe that much of his screed of late is motivated by a need to feel relevant. You know, with the likes of Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, and even Melissa Harris-Perry getting some shine, I’d hate to think that my man is feeling left out like the kid who never got picked on the basketball court. Even worse, I’d hate to think that the good doctor is putting out much of what he wrote recently for page views for any one of the many sites upon which he leaves his internet footprint. Yes, I’d hate to think that I’m being bamboozled. And, I especially feel the way I do because Boyce has been putting in work in the black community for quite some time. But, after reading the following, what am I to think? Not trying to be judgemental, but dude’s trippin’.
As we approach the 2012 presidential election, I quietly ask myself: Regardless of who is elected, is black unemployment going to dip below 10% over the next four years? Is the prison industrial complex going to get any smaller? Are black teens going to continue to die from guns being made available on every corner in our communities?
Then, I realize that when we fight to keep “our guy” in office, we’re kind of like prostitutes trying to keep their pimp out of jail. The hookers know that the pimp isn’t going to make their lives any better, but his incarceration might possibly make it worse.
I would not go to the extreme of agreeing with WEB Dubois, who once said that he was not going to vote, since neither party cares very much for the African American community. But I am certainly in favor of African Americans being as selfish as every politician in Washington who simply does what’s best for him or her, without any regard whatsoever for the needs of the African American community. The fact is that you should care about them about as much as they care about you, end of story.
Whew! I’m so glad he’s not going the W.E.B. DuBois route of telling black folks not to vote. I am because if I recall corrently, DuBois in his infamous passage even noted that in voting for third-party candidates, he often voted against his own self-interest as a black man. But Bouyce is right, no matter who we vote for in Novemeber, there’s not much that will change overnight as far as black unemployment, the prison industrial complex, or even the long-standing problem that is black on black crime and violence. The problem I have with this melancholy self-defeatist position, is that no one presidency can, has, or will ever fix these issues. Indeed these are issues that negatively impact the black community. However, let’s stop it with the bullshit fantasy that this was all supposed to change with the swearing in of America’s first African-American president.
Yep, because Mitt Romney’s policies are best, right Boyce?
There is nothing wrong with supporting third party candidates, since most of us can agree that the two party system simply isn’t working. What offends me most is the determination with which the Democratic Party relies on fear and seeks to undermine individual freedom when it comes to how we vote. The fear is driven by reminding you that if you don’t give them your vote, horrible things are going to happen to you. Their subjugation of freedom comes from the fact that they are seriously threatened by the notion of anyone telling black people to think for themselves. They are accustomed to doing the thinking for us.
I’ll admit that, while I like Barack Obama and hope that he wins the election, I find myself unable to be as excited about this election as some of my friends. In fact, it’s downright depressing. I’m sad to look around me and see a world where anyone who doesn’t want to line up and have Barack Obama’s baby is somehow defined to be a traitor. It is also a world where anyone who tells our politicians to help battle against the diseases of poverty, violence, inequality and mass incarceration is told that they are peeing on the Negro Juneteenth Political Parade. No one wants to hear about black people who are suffering, since we’ve been trained to believe that a certain segment of our community just doesn’t deserve any better.
I am firmly against the consumption of alcohol, but this election is driving me to drink. To know that your vote isn’t going to have much of an impact on those you love is, admittedly, downright devastating. Perhaps it’s time that we demand something more, for our politicians have us bamboozled.
Boyce is right — the politics of fear is very powerful. However, the politics of fear isn’t one-sided — no, the fear mongering Boyce speaks of isn’t exclusive to Democrats. As a mater of fact, the very third-party candidates he suggests supporting employ the very tactic of fear mongering themselves. Shit, fear will always be a [art of our politics for as long as heaven is used as a better option than hell. The bottom line is that as long as the political narrative is dominated by the plutocratic power structure as it always has, things will never change. And there’s nothing wrong with being idealistic; but, if Boyce is going to be borderline suicidal and depressed about voting or the election cycle, then he might as well kill himself. I’m just sayin’, does he get this depressed about every presidential election? Shit, I’m only asking because, well, the two-party system has been around a long time. I mean, it’s not like the system or the problems affecting black folks have popped up overnight, no?
OK, so I’m not advocating that he ends his life. However, I am suggesting that he gets his shit together and stop feeding our people the slow poison that he has been serving up lately. You see, this isn’t about Barack Obama being black. This is about an ethnic group of people with a long history of marginalization exercising the right to vote after years of struggle. More importantly, this is about the very group of black people Boyce claims to love, mobilizing, and being a part of the democratic process. What pisses me off about Boyce’s tripe, is that he’s projecting the idea that voting is the end all be all to our struggle for equality. Quite naturally it’s easy for one to be depressed if everything was to be solved by simply casting a vote. But, that’s not how it works.
Listen, voting is important; yes, it is. However, as the late Howard Zinn said: Democracy is what happens between elections. Democracy doesn’t stop at the ballot box; no, it doesn’t. Democracy is us continually speaking truth to power and organizing ourselves so as to influence change. Yes, we have to become the change we believe in. Yes, it sounds cliché as hell, but it’s the truth. And believe it or not, Dr. Boyce Watkins knows this. How do I know that he does? Well, if he didn’t, he would have never started the program Building Outstanding Men and Boys (BOMB). If he didn’t, he wouldn’t traverse the country promoting his family empowerment series that targets the parents of young black males. That said, surely Boyce believes in himself as being a person being able to affect change. It’s just sad that he too is an infected crab in the bucket of black academia starving for relevance. I don’t know what’s up with this brother, but either he stops listening to that Emo Hip Hop (yeah dude, Drake sucks) or refrain from writing stuff to be published on the internet after having a fight with his baby momma. Seriously, get it together, Boyce — this ain’t you. Sheesh!!
Seriously Boyce, you’re better than this….