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Shades of Gray
By: Kassandra Wright
Harry Belafonte tells the story of how Rev. Dr. King shared with him personally shortly before his assassination that although our hard fought battle for civil rights and integration in this country had been won, he feared that we had integrated into a burning house! Wow, what a profound statement from someone who had spent all of their adult life struggling for peace and reconciliation within a nation that refused to recognize African Americans as human beings let alone citizens. We who are the beneficiaries of the very freedoms that Dr. King and others fought and died for can scarce imagine the depth of sacrifice that Dr. King and so many others made to bring about or more civilized nation. Since that time we have powerfully evolved in ways that it would take more time and paper for me to speak about, both positively and to our disadvantage. Today, in the age of President Obama the question has been posed over and over again what is the Black agenda?
From my perspective, a Black agenda doesn't exist anymore in terms of the prophetic, and prolific political influence African Americans enjoyed under the leadership of those involved in the civil rights struggle, not that we are post-racial, but the times they are a changing and the paradigm has shifted. The reality is that the world never has been Black and White and in the 21st century we are living in a society that has rapidly become a global village for persons from all over the world in case we haven't noticed. Nevermind the fact that the founding fathers of this nation never intended for African Americans or any other so called minority to fully achieve "their idolized" American dream in the fullest sense anyway. As Dr. King so eloquently put it and I paraphrase "America wrote us a bad check-that came back stamped insufficient funds".
Where was I, oh yeah, we have evolved, but what we don't realize is that this nation has dramatically evolved as well. Again, the world is no longer Black and White, but multi-colored and cultured and there are, as my friend Audrey would say-"shades of gray". One shade of gray in our 21st century global society is the fact that all of our Agendas are tied up in a nation gone Corporate a nation that has become one big multi national, Corporate Industrial Complex driven by greed and power.
Think about it just about everything that pertains to our quality of life and lively hood is ultimately governed and controlled by certain corporate conglomerates. There is the Prison Industrial Complex driven by privately held companies who specialize in building and operating prisons earmarked for Blacks and browns, controlling and holding the law and justice hostage, There is the Medical Industrial Complex that determines in many cases whether we live or die, but definitely determines the rates will pay for healthcare and the quality of care we receive.
There is what many of us are just becoming aware of and is also tied to the health of minority people, the Food Industrial Complex-for those who have seen the documentary Food Inc., you know that they tell us that we can have it our way, but the reality is they are having their way with us, robbing us of our health and wealth, The Religious Industrial Complex-a product of conservative, so-called Christians who are anti-abortion, anti-homosexual; anti-this, anti that, anti anything that is not just like them.
Then there is the Political Industrial Complex-backwoods Tea Partiers and their confederate cousins trying to take us backward to the days of Jim Crow through racially profiling and discriminating against Blacks and browns (not just in Arizona), and last but not least the Media Industrial Complex-Specifically, the news media that specializes in propaganda, smoke and mirrors, sensationalism, downright mind control and half truths!
In the midst of all that is going on, African Americans have been and continue to be disproportionately affected by all of the above-(Malcolm X once said if America has a cold, that means Black folk got pneumonia), the provocative and soul stirring question posed by our brother Tavis Smiley may be reasonable, just not as relevant to mainstream America (Black and White).
In the midst of a world being driven by a small percentage of greedy and selfish corporate executives, one does wonder where are the beacons of social, political, and economic justice today? I confess that I too have wondered as we enjoy seeing one Black man in the White House, but thousands in the big house, what is the Black agenda, the brown, the yellow, the red, and the poor people's agenda?
Where is the agenda of those who are being disenfranchised and disinherited one more time? My short answer is there is no Black agenda. At this point corporate greed, power, and consumerism have moved our nation beyond Black and White to haves and have not's and we now find ourselves living within shades of gray. To our Latino/Latina brothers and sisters in continued struggle for justice I have two words: La Raza.