By E. Faye Williams
Throughout my life, I have been blessed with family and friends who have admonished me to be a critical thinker. I was challenged not only to think, but to think with clarity, appropriate urgency, and logic. The old idea of being one who thought “while others were sleeping” was not lost on me. In fact, preemptive thinking has saved me from misfortune “a time or two” — both personally and professionally.
Because of the life of organizational leadership that I now live, I commonly spend a great deal of time thinking about the subtle and not-so-subtle statements made by political leaders. Others may find it too time-consuming to analyze every errant statement made by politicians, but, with the ever-increasing racial hostility in this nation, I find it essential.
A great example of this is the statement made earlier this year by the Senate Republican leader. Mitch McConnell told the world just what he was thinking about African Americans. To instill fear and terror in the minds of white people who might be thinking of not voting, in a moment revealing his true feelings, he warned, “African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.”
As a former civics teacher and political candidate, this statement was wildly offensive. The long-standing tradition in this nation’s political process has been for political parties and politicians to articulate positive policies and positions which will influence voters to vote for them. This rapidly disappearing tradition has been replaced with exclusionary rhetoric, racial animus, and hatred fueled by the desperation of “losing something those who are undeserving.”
Did Mitch infer that African Americans are not real Americans? Yes! Did Mitch tell whites that African Americans would vote against the interests of “real” Americans? Yes! Well, Mitch, we are not easily fooled! We know the reason that you oppose anything you consider beneficial to African Americans. It’s also a sure bet that your Republican cronies are going to oppose it because they, like you, don’t think we are Americans!
Neither you nor any of your like-minded lackeys will ever acknowledge that we African Americans pay a substantial portion of your salaries with our tax dollars while most of your industrialist/business cronies pay little or nothing.
Tell us Mitch, what makes one American? Is it white privilege? Is it the size of your bank account? Does our blood sacrifice in times of national conflict mean nothing? Or what about our 200-plus years of free labor building an economic juggernaut heretofore unknown to the world?
Consensus agrees that your party members embarrassed themselves during the confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. I’m sure that questions like “What is a woman?” or disparaging her for judicial decisions that are/were consistent with those of her peers was not because she was a woman. Since she is an African American woman, was it because your party didn’t think she is an American?
Is Sen. Tim Scott an American or do you give him a pass because he votes with you — even when his vote is against African American interests? How will you reward Sen. Scott for voting against the confirmation of a Black woman whose brilliance on the subject of American jurisprudence runs circles around every member of your party who was in the room when her confirmation vote was taken.
Mitch, despite your lame justifications, we have given great thought to you and yours. We are not fooled, and you need to re-educate yourself to the reality that we, too, are Americans!
Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women.