The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

Beyond the Movement of the Minute

The Jena 6. The Obama ascendancy.

Both of these stories have a unifying theme. In both, black Americans came out in droves to protest or support a cause they felt worthwhile. Facebook groups were started, emails flew across the internet from individuals and organizations, phone calls and text messages came from people you didn’t know…every form of organizing you can imagine for these causes took place.

And then, they just ended. Not because the causes themselves weren’t sustainable, but because their participants declared a victory on a limited goal, and then moved on with their lives.

This is, unfortunately, the nature of black political involvement-mobilize for what amounts to a split second, declare victory, fade away, rebuild and restart for the next “crisis.” And it’s about to happen again with the execution of Troy Davis.

We as black Americans have to learn how to see past the movement of the minute-that cause that brings everyone together for a few days or weeks, from which everyone then scatters. We need to learn, understand, and then strategize around the fact that mission accomplishment-whatever that mission is-is not measured in how much activity we can generate on a short fuse, but by constant, consistent involvement. It’s great to put people in the streets to stop what’s considered an unjust punishment, but how many times have you ducked jury duty? It’s great to vote for a black candidate for president and get caught in the history of that moment, but did you carry that same enthusiasm to your local elections?

Or did you complain when the outcome of a trial or an election wasn’t what you “wanted,” after not exercising your voice and power?

Case in point: I want to see my political party greater engaged with my community. That is a long term goal…and it may well not get accomplished in my lifetime. That’s fine (well, I’d like to see it, but I digress). Why? Because I know that it’s something that will take constant, consistent involvement not just from those two parties, but from me as well. If it’s something I truly want to see happen, I have to devote the time, effort, and energy that it will take until it happens.

This is one of many reasons why the black vote and black political power are often disregarded or discarded completely. If the answers to the questions above are “no,” “no,” and “yes,” then know that there are several thousand others who have those same answers. And all those people together form a fairly predictable model of behavior, one that goes on to form political strategy, fundraising strategy, and legislative objectives…and that, ultimately, we’ve excluded ourselves from.

We in black America have to learn to take a longer view. We have to realize that our goals, whatever they may be, will not be accomplished by putting people in the streets for marches-regardless of how those look on TV. We must learn to engage on ALL ends of the political specturm-from activism to organization to, yes, running for office-and to engage ALL ends of the political specturm.

So, to my friends who are truly passionate about the issues of the day, keep yelling, keep screaming. You may see me across an issue from you, yelling and screaming back in disagreement.

But whatever you do, keep doing it. And do more.

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Written by Coby Dillard

September 22, 2011 at 10:34 am

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