Uncle Tom: My People Who Are Called By My Name

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

I don’t know about y’all but I am happy elections are over, at least in South Carolina they are. Payouts and gift cards for supporting candidates, who seldom deliver on their promises, days are over. Sellouts in black communities will be called out. You do a disservice to your people, people who look like you, by accepting a few pieces of silver or $25 gift card to pass out flyers and knock on doors. Your candidate won, now what? Don’t think about calling your candidate for assistance with a problem at your job, child’s school or in your community. You accepted pittance for your service and as far as your candidate is concerned, you were paid in full.

Elections bring out “true colors” in folks. Don’t act like y’all don’t know what “true colors” mean. “True colors” have more to do with an individual’s true personality rather than their pigmentation. It’s about who a person really is as opposed to who a person is thought to be.

It’s been awhile but I remember reading back in middle school “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Stowe was an abolitionist and a Christian who wrote about the realities of slavery. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was centered around the horrors of slavery. It was intended to show Tom and the characters in a good light. The book was later turned into a play that stereotyped black people. That was not Stowe’s undertaking.

According to Wikipedia, it was “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” stage productions that depicted black women as “mammies” and black men as “Uncle Toms” who were faithful to their masters. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written around 1851; And, 167 years later, Uncle Toms are still among us. Toms come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They sit in on community meetings and slip out before meetings are over to let “massa” know what’s going on. Toms still dance for coins and positions, laugh at jokes that aren’t funny and scratch where it doesn’t itch. There was a whole lot of “Toming” going on during the elections. This practice has got to STOP!! Candidates will use you to elevate them into office and when they get what they want, kick you to the curb!!

The rationale behind the vote is “if candidates courted my vote before being elected, then my reasonable expectation after they are elected is to continue the courtship.” I expect response to calls, attendance to community invites, services to my community and assistance with issues.

Needless-to-say, I am not surprised by the Charleston County School Board election given the dollar amount spent by billionaire backers and proponents of Charter Schools. Supporters of former Mayor Riley’s Coalition for Kids endorsement of Board members, who sat on the Board while minority student(s) were sexually abused, showed their “true colors”. There is no way that I would sell my people out or vote for candidates who do not value every child and every constituent equally. Black people, beware of Uncle Toms who look like you and are called by your name.

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