Rahim Islam is a National Speaker and Writer, Convener of Philadelphia Community of Leaders, and President/CEO of Universal Companies, a community development and education management company headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. Follow Rahim Islam on FaceBook (Rahim Islam) & Twitter (@RahimIslamUC)
The Presidency of United States has been hijacked by a lying madman (Donald J. Trump). Millions of democratic and independent voters who voted for him were hoping for the best, while disregarding his terrible temperament and a history of terrible behavior. Many believed that once in office he would pivot and act, “presidential,” and not be the badmouth buffoon that he was portrayed to be.
They were all wrong, and are now suffering from what many are calling “buyer’s remorse” because Donald Trump is not only NOT presidential, he’s not even civil – I don’t know any elected official that could survive politically acting the way Donald Trump has. His actions are similar to that of a third world bully dictator, and in less than six months his presidency is under one of the most shocking investigations ever undertaken. At the same time, he’s doing everything to obstruct the legislative process. When this investigation is all said and done, Watergate will look like child’s play and every American will be hurt by his actions.
We should not be fooled by the chaos being generated by Donald Trump. With the Republicans in control of the House, Senate and the White House, they are using these antics to create a distraction to turn back the clock on every achievement by minorities in this country, including the Black community. Issues like voting rights; affirmative action; civil rights; health care; class action suits; death penalty; mandatory sentencing; freedom of speech and freedom of religion; and so many other issues are under assault. Now, with the Supreme Court having a conservative majority, any loss could become permanent.
Don’t listen to the rhetoric and the buffoonery of Trump. Look at the policies and the budgets being proposed. There are massive tax cuts for the rich, while at the same time historic cuts to Medicaid, Social Security, HUD, Department of Education and other entitlements while increasing spending on military, which was already the world’s leader by far. All of these cuts will impact our community far more than any in the country. The Republican right wing is on a mad tear to cripple the Black community. They are making it nearly impossible for our community to build the capacity to defend itself.
So much is going on, and no matter how you view things, this climate, it is not good for the Black community. I don’t see any evidence that the Black leaders are doing what is absolutely necessary to combat what can only be perceived as a hostile environment. The Black community is already at the bottom of the economic ladder and everything that comes down the ladder will hit us the worst, and for those that believed things couldn’t be any worse, just wait. Where is the Black leaders, and why are they not mobilizing like so many other groups?
Even though the healthcare issues are so critical to the Black community, I have not heard one Black leader speak directly on the impact repealing Obamacare will have on the Black community. It’s almost like we don’t even care. This is an indictment against the Black leaders and not the common people. The Black community has been extremely damaged by just living in a society that promotes and nearly guarantees that the Black community is inferior and the White community is superior which is reinforced economically on a daily basis.
There are just too many of us that struggle with life, which distracts us from having the capacity of defending and advancing our community – it is nearly impossible for the average person to focus on both. The Black community is currently on a “human hamster wheel.” We have much activity but hardly any progress. The common Black man is just overwhelmed by a life with numerous perspectives and can’t respond without real leadership. Thank God for the daily dissension being exhibited by the people with extreme disabilities – they have been on point and have been demonstrating. Their efforts have kept Obamacare intact to date, but these people will not give up.
The Black community is not making the progress that our ancestors envisioned once we were able to secure the right to vote and to remove laws that directly discriminated against us. Our current leaders have failed us – many Black leaders have been lulled to sleep to believe that they no longer have an enemy, but the whipping continues. The enemy is no longer the KKK and racist laws and policies. The enemy has been buried deep into American institutions and American systems utilizing unfair and unachievable standards called the status quo.
The Black community needs you now more now than ever before and I question, what are you doing? The question is rhetorical because I know what you’re doing – NOTHING. Yes people are doing things. The NAACP, NAN, Urban League, and Rainbow Coalition are all doing something, and most of them recently held their annual conferences. What would be different if all of them came together to consolidate their capacity to become stronger given the overwhelming challenges that we face – but that’s not even considered. Not only should this happen on the national level, but it must happen on the local level as well.
The problem is that most Black leaders actually believe that the work they are doing individually can DEFEND the many issues facing the Black community (i.e. mass incarceration, economic disparities, gentrification, demise of Black Family, poor education, assimilation, etc.) as if defending alone will guarantee our liberation. The issues that the Black community face are too many and too great to continue to operate as individuals, and believe that this was a successful model.All of the demographics point to the reality that this strategy is not working. Defending is just one aspect of the liberation. It is impossible to obtain liberation (freedom) until we are able to ADVANCE our economic agenda, which requires that America compensates the Black community for nearly 400 years of absolute and inhumane oppression – this will take a real coordinated and collective effort which just doesn’t exist with Black leaders.
Brothers and sisters, we have work to do and no one will give it to us, unless we earn it. Earning it requires that we take one step at a time. There are no short-cuts. We can’t erase our reality of being nearly 400 years behind economically, and we’re not going to get out of this mess overnight. We can’t skip through the process – we will have to go through the pain of the struggle (learning curve). Earning it will require that we do something that we have not been able to master and that is working together “Functional Unity.”
Given our current challenges, the Black community has been unable to aggregate and align its limited resources (i.e. human and financial) in any meaningful way to have any real impact. Any solution must involve a significant level of organizing the Black community. The problems we face are interconnected and interrelated and cannot be dealt within existing “individual” and “silo” strategies. They will require collective and comprehensive approaches if we expect sustainable improvement and progress.
The issues we face are severe and real, and the impact is also severe and real. Today, the Black community is under attack at every level and at the highest level of government. This has not pushed us to some level of unity – there is no evidence of a plan of action and/or strategy. We’re lacking togetherness, we’re lacking “functional unity.” This is not some “sexy” mantra, this is a necessity. I conclude that we all have been damaged by the American experience. This damage can be truly seen in our inability to do what any thinking group would do given the overwhelming challenges we face, the long-term nature of any solution and our very limited resources – work together.
Today, our challenge for our community is to establish “functional” unity amongst our leaders by any means necessary. Today, our challenge is to fight as hard as we can against dis-unity; deep level of hopelessness; fear; and distrust that have collectively paralyzed our Black leaders. Today, it’s not what they are doing to us, it’s what we’re not doing. We must stop making excuses why we refuse to come together because no one will do for us what we must do for ourselves. Our generation is at a crossroads, and so much is at stake – we also have a chance to do something great and mighty.
Many times, when we call for “unity,” we are calling for something that is unachievable, especially at the stage we are at. Why? Many of us believe that unity is when we are all doing the same thing at the same time and not taking into account the vast diversity and interest within our community – we’re not a monolith. We are diverse in our thinking and our solutions will require a hefty dose of dialogue and compromise. Our unity must be based on our collective interest, and what is happening or not happening to our community. Our success will not be achieved by an individual or one organization – it will only come when Black leaders begin to work together (functional unity).