Saturday, July 17, 2010

Separate But Equal Tea Parties?

Sophia Nelson in the Washington Post proposes the creation of a Black Tea Party. She claims to support the Tea Party's objectives, but dislikes the "racist" element within the Tea Party.

Firstly, there is no proof of endemic racism within the Tea Party itself; there are, no doubt, individuals who attach themselves to the movement who are racist, but the Tea Party does it's best to police them, and the accusations of racism that Ms. Nelson makes in this opinion piece are largely simply recycled democratic party talking points -- without a shred of evidence to make them credible.

Sophia then ruminates upon the viability of a Black Tea Party, using as a foundation for this thought the conversation at a dinner party (one apparently attended by only Black People). While all engaged seem to come to differing levels of consensus about the righteousness of the Tea Party Cause, they do so in a rather peculiar way which seems to imply that Blacks should join A Tea Party because it would benefit them more than the current devotion to the Democratic Party, BUT they should take pains not to be seen as being part of this particular Tea Party.

In this conversation, we find the Black Lawyer who's concern is Unemployed Black Folks, rather than the more generic Unemployed People, who damns the traditional Black Advocacy groups for their ineffectiveness and political posturing (he's right, but yawn). We also catch a glimpse of the Black Congressional Aide, who makes the obvious point that people are "hurting in this economy" but who still can't stop herself from categorizing the Hurt as"Blacks" Whites" and "Hispanics". Then follows the lulu of them all, when another conversant chimes in that there should be a "Rainbow Coalition Tea Party", evoking visions of Jesse Jackson, racial hucksterism, and extortion.

Rule of thumb: if you ever want to be part of an efficient, effective and beneficent organization, do not Take Jesse Jackson's organization as your blueprint. Rainbow/PUSH does little except keep Jesse rich and relevant, and the crumbs he distributes are just enough keep everyone else in line. If Jesse had a vowel at the end of his surname, there would be a Federal Prosecutor with a RICO indictment in hand on his doorstep, weekly.

Reading this, you get the general impression that even when it comes to finding a supposed "non-racial" solution to the problems of overreaching government, high taxation, economic dislocation, the author (and her friends) still think in terms of Race first, which is antithetical to the Tea Party's approach which is to consider the concept of American Citizen Before All . The idea of the racially-neutral nature of Tea Party quite literally does not register with her, except as a passing statistic thrown out as filler, no doubt. I think Ms. Nelson comes from a generation in which"diversity" is a good thing -- so long as Whites are excluded. If the Tea Party is a good idea, then join the Tea Party, Sophia; You don't need to start a new one because it's not "Black" enough.

Your argument for not jumping in with both feet is basically "I would join it, except there's some yucky white people in it". Well, the Tea Party does it's best to rid itself of those elements, so why wouldn't you want to help them do it, and help improve an organization which you say increasing shares your own views?

You're no better than the NAACP that you criticize, preferring to rail against that which is difficult instead of making an effort to change or improve it. You might enjoy some success and score a blow for true equality -- if you applied your energy to ensuring the Tea Party was Citizen-oriented and not Race-oriented, and that the worst elements were eliminated from it.

But that would leave you open to charges of being a Race Traitor, Uncle Tom, or not"Authentically Black" -- whatever the fuck that means -- and this, above all is what you wish to avoid; you want all the benefits of Conservatism without being branded a Conservative by your fellow Blacks who haven't realized the 1960's are over, and haven't discovered that the Welfare State is a dinosaur we can no longer afford to feed. The only way to soften the blow then, is to be a BLACK Tea Party, with nary a white face in sight, so that no one can accuse you of being a tool of the Republican Party, brainwashed, bribed, or otherwise tainted by association with White Conservatives when you...ahem...join the Dark Side.

Talk about cowardice!

Unless, of course, there's another motive altogether, and you see yourself as a potential leader of a nascent Black Tea Party and are just floating a trial balloon toward this end? What better way to garner laurels and get that coveted face time on the Sunday Talk Shows, the better to flog that book of yours, eh? The Black Sarah Palin? Serious people actually do things, Ms. Nelson, unserious ones write Dear-Diary-Entries-in-a-16-year-old-motif on serious subjects, adding only a slight and irrelevant detail (in this case, race) for the Washington Post, and call themselves "professional writers".

Do you wish to do what is right --not only for yourself, but for Black Folks, in general -- or do you want to be a slave (yes, I said it) to old-fashioned notions of solidarity that are increasingly archaic, and even unhealthy, and which cause you to even view questions of self-interest and personal freedom through the prism of race? If you can't answer that brutally frank question to your own satisfaction, then wasting newsprint broadcasting your contrived, internalized, junior-high-school-level-semi-drama is nothing less than teenaged narcissism disguised as journalism.

Your choice may be distasteful for a variety of personal reasons, Ms.Nelson, but it's not a terribly hard one to make.

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