“What I dream is that for one election, just one, every Black person in America vote, Republican.” — Stephen A. Smith
In wake of Stephen A. Smith’s political call for a Black-voting transition from Democrat to the Grand Old Party, divisive commentary from the African-American community has certainly ensued. Some Black voices argue that Smith’s action is absurd and even question his political and cultural integrity as an African-American man. Others claim that the Smith antagonizers assume that all Blacks have pledged a dutiful allegiance to the Democratic party and point to the stereotypical notion that not every Black person is homogeneous in political behavior.
From a historical perspective, I understand the methodology behind Smith’s flawed yet idealistic political sentiments; as they have been articulated by Black leaders of the past. For instance, in his 1964 speech the “Ballot or the Bullet”, Malcolm X advocated for Blacks not to fall privy to the idealism of the Democrats as a political system for the advancement of African-Americans; mostly due to the party’s lack of concern for the socio-economic and political interests of the Black community after they obtained the Black vote.
However, unlike Smith, Malcolm X did not tell Black people to vote Republican.
Fast-forward into modernity, many African-Americans are still skeptical whether or not Black interests are on the forefront of the Democratic agenda. With racial tensions rising – much due to the extrajudicial killings and attacks against innocent Black people — many question whether Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton will be dedicated to the salient issues raised by activists groups such as the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Although Smith’s ideology to sway the Black vote from Democrat to Republican is quite interesting, I find that Smith himself — as well as Black advocates for both the Democrat and Republican parties — are missing crucial points as they sway along the proverbial pendulum of political philosophies.
And the crucial points are as follows:
Black people don’t need the Democratic party. Black people don’t need the Republican party.
What Black people need is an independent, Black political bloc and coalition to articulate interests, injustices and concerns that thoroughly pertain to the plight of African-Americans in America.
Now, this is what Brother Malcolm told Black people.
The historical basis of Black political thought stems from two perspectives — that of the multiracial, Democratic coalition-based ideology formulated by civil rights activist Bayard Rustin and that of a self-sufficient, independent Black political bloc, advocated by the likes of Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael and Charles V. Hamilton.
Author Frederick C. Harris, in his book, “The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and the Decline of Black Politics” describes these perspectives as a “clash of ideas”; as Black leaders have historically argued about which political style to use to advance Black concerns. However, Black people have worn out their welcome with the coalition-based style of politics as the concerns of the African-American community has fallen to deaf ears and blind eyes to both Democrats and Repbulicans.
Now, more than ever, in wake of Sandra Bland, Walter Scott, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Walker Scott, Tamir Rice, Aiyana Jones, Akai Gurley, Trayvon Martin, Ezell Ford, Rekia Boyd, Oscar Grant, and the countless other innocent Black people who have died at the hands of enforcement, it is time for a revolutionary, political change. It is time for Blacks to turn to the idealism of Carmichael and Hamilton and advocate for Black self-determination and aggregate our socio-economic resources to control the political context of systematic and institutionalized injustices.
And The Black Lives Matter Movement could be the very vehicle to bring such a historic, political change.
Because in all actuality, at this point in time, both the Democrat and the Republican need Black people more than Black people need either political party. It is about time we create something of our own.
And this Black, independent political articulation, Mr. Smith, is what you need to dream for.