Kenneth Hardin: Is it time for a Black agenda?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 5, 2023

By Kenneth L. Hardin

This introduction is different from what I had originally written. I initially opened opining about the continued gun violence that plagues the Black community here. But after sitting in conversation with two Black female business owners recently, I opted to start anew. My point remains the same, but after listening to the two share frustrations with skinfolk in leadership, being left out of the economic development of the city and recounting in detail a chronological historical pattern of disenfranchisement in this marginal slice of heaven where I eat breakfast each morning, I had to go in a different direction. I sat there in quiet reflection wondering if it was necessary to develop and implement a Black agenda within our community. I quietly answered my own question deep inside my head with an “aye, Captain.”

Skinfolk are living in an era where our civil, political and social liberties are being snatched away by the Orange One and his similar monochromatic operatives. Our existence is being threatened and our lives are being put in jeopardy every day, oftentimes, by our own hand. If this isn’t true, then why are we still asking for Black Lives to Matter? Why should we even have to ask for basic humanity and longevity of life with a Constitution in place? Can we rely on that piece of paper to protect us when we weren’t included in the original equation? We’re being shut out of the economic development and wealth building structure here and nationally. The only inheritance we’re passing on to our next generation is debt and empty promises. Politically, we’re missing in key positions that have the power and authority to transform communities and individual lives such as judges, DAs, seats on decision making political boards and local municipality leadership roles. We’re not politically savvy enough to vote strategically. Too many of us are swayed by two- and four-year visits to a Black church by politicians who don’t look like us, accepting tolerated based invitations, hollow recognition awards and falling for the promise of economic infusion of resources into our community that never materializes.

We’re mired in a misguided fight for equality, wasting critical time and resources trying to prove racism exists. While we’re finding humor in assigning cute nicknames to racists Karens like BBQ Becky and feigning fake outrage at businesses like Starbucks while still drinking their product, we’re failing to demand equity in the access to and distribution of financial resources. We engage in passive participation efforts that marginalize us and our communities by co-signing and oftentimes taking the lead just to curry individual favor and recognition. We don’t understand that by joining and aligning without demanding equity and reciprocity, we’re active participants in our own demise. We falsely believe that somehow seeking compromise is progress. This does nothing but keep those skinfolk, who engage in this misguided practice, quiet, neutered and unwilling to demand equity. When racial animus rears its ugly head, we’re the first and only ones who publicly call for peace and calm. Let’s see some high-profile people with less melanin on the front page of the paper asking for calm instead of just Black pastors.

We waste time trying to prove our subjugation and pointlessly compare historical pain with other cultures’ past inflicted atrocities. We should accept that racism is a centuries-old systemic societal norm that has manifested into many forms and iterations. We have to stop waiting for a person’s moral compass to align. That will never happen as power concedes nothing without a demand, so stop wasting time marching, praying and protesting with no significant outcomes or positive change.

I’ve seen a lot of skinfolk, who are designated as community leaders and activists, but have done nothing to deserve the title. Writing a post on social media is not activism. Creating a recognition ceremony and honoring someone for longevity without sacrifice is meaningless. Going to the annual MLK event, sponsoring a Juneteenth celebration, giving away a book bag or holding an athletic camp is not progress. When do we stop entertaining our youth and pour something into them that can change behaviors, build wealth and create economic self-reliance? What are you doing to fight for real change and progress? What have you sacrificed physically, financially or personally to fight for change? If you’re a so-called leader, tell me one thing you’ve created, implemented, sustained and nurtured that has resulted in positive change for our community?

Show me your Black agenda. We have to demand from elected officials to know what the specific development and long-term vision plans are for our community. If they don’t have one, don’t waste a vote on them.

We shouldn’t be criticized for wanting to take control of our communities like other cultures have. So, I ask again, what is your Black agenda?

Kenneth L. (Kenny) Hardin is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.

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