Visions For The Future Versus Views Of The Past

By Barney Blakeney  

The fallout’s still raining down from the June 12 primary elections. I started Father’s Day with the receipt of a telephone text about some crap about a story I wrote and Black folks being bought off as I prepared to hear Summerville Apostle Christopher Coleman tell the congregation at Wesley UMC in downtown Charleston what Godly men should be about. A lot of brothers should have heard that message.

The Democratic primary races for the Charleston County Probate Court Judge and Register of Deeds slots caused a lot of hard feelings among Black folks. I’m saddened and disappointed about that!

First, we should be able to disagree without being disagreeable. More importantly, the whole point of the Civil Rights Movement was about providing individuals the right to vote for whomever one chooses. I’m saddened that so many who profess to champion those civil rights so readily would deny others the right to exercise them.

My folks taught me every smiling face ain’t smiling with you. I’ve come to understand that has many applications. Sometimes it’s not enough just being Black. Show me what you’re workin’ with.

I congratulate Stephanie Ganaway-Pasley and Michael Miller on their primary election wins. But their work is only beginning. If they’re successful in November – and the odds in their favor look good – their tasks will be monumental.

But this ain’t about those two. This is about all those who sit on the sidelines watching the game when they should be participating as players. A lot of people broke friendships over who’s qualified and who’s not regarding the primary elections. I think that’s a legitimate concern. Qualification determines whether in individual can be effective. That’s important!

I talked to a friend about that prior to the elections. He said, “Man Barney, the issue of qualifications is what white folks used to deny Blacks the opportunity to occupy positions in the past.” And he’s right! But that doesn’t mean qualifications don’t matter.

There’s a difference between denying opportunities to qualified people and giving opportunities to unqualified people – which is what white folks did in the past and continue to do today. It bothers me that some Black folks would perpetuate that injustice.

I offered to my friend that the real issue in the June 12 primary elections was not about the Black folks who so unselfishly offered themselves as candidates giving rise to questions about qualifications – the real issue in the elections was that so many unquestionably qualified Blacks refuse to step up to the plate and fulfill their responsibilities to those who sacrificed so much to enable the lifestyles they enjoy!

There is no shortage of people in the Black community who have the talent and ability to serve in public office. But too many of them won’t step up to the plate! I see Black folks with well-paying jobs who live in big modern homes and drive late model expensive cars. Too many do nothing to put anything back. They give nothing back to our community.

As we fight amongst ourselves, others use our inner conflicts to their advantage. Those who rule our society are recreating an infrastructure that will disenfranchise future generations of Black people.

I’m no Mark Sanford fan, but I liked some things he did. He had more Blacks in his administration than any other governor, including the Democratic governors! Sanford’s loss to state Rep. Katie Arrintgton concerns me. She won on the platform that she would support President Donald Trump.

One political commentator said the Trump administration, and its American supporters, in many ways is similar to a cult. What’s worse is that the cult leader is dishonest, irrational and erratic. Complacency is the enemy because it could take many elections cycles to rid our government of the cult members.

In the interim America may see demons unleashed that fan the flames of intolerance, encourage violence, embrace indecency and cruelty and abandons its citizens.

Jeffery Boney in his column published in the June 13 edition of the Charleston Chronicle offered that political support fueled by familiarity and connections with the candidate must be replaced by a candidate’s ability to develop solid policies that help the Black community. We all know numerous Black elected officials who during their terms in office have developed no policies that help our community.

“Now if members of the Black community would be completely honest,” Boney wrote, “they would admit that a lot of these elected officials often are treated like high-profile celebrities rather than public servants who have the power to advocate for substantive policies that can literally change the economic landscape and quality of life of their communities. Ask yourself, when was the last time your elected official drafted any policy or advocated for any legislation at the local, state or federal level that positively impacted you?”

I know that there are talented people in the Black community who can do those things. They just have to get off the couch and get involved. They owe that to their community.

I heard something that said the windshield in your car is much wider than the rearview mirror because it‘s important to see more going forward than looking backward. There are those in the Black community who have the vision to take us where we need to go. We’ve got to identify them, encourage them to become more involved and then support them when they get involved.

Our country and our community are in a dark place. This is not the time for inner strife. The June 12 elections are over, the choices have been made. We must look ahead, identify the opportunities that come with those choices, help those chosen to implement strategies that benefit our community and identify others to follow them.

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