Entertainer Harry Belafonte recently made some vicious, vile and disparaging remarks about Secretary of State Colin Powell during a San Diego radio interview.
Belafonte made a belittling and mindless comparison between Powell and a slave who lived in the plantation house and curried the master's favor. Clearly implying Powell was such a slave to President George W. Bush, he said a slave had to be a willing lackey and serve his master's whims if he wanted to continue living in the plantation house. He continued his acidic diatribe by making the assertion that the Bush Administration was not diverse. Belafonte saidÝPowell "serves to give the illusion that the Bush Cabinet is a diverse cabinet."
I guess Powell, Education Secretary Rod Paige, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and all the other minorities in the Bush cabinet are illusions, too.
These comments came from a man who made his fame and fortune catering to the musical tastes of white Americans back in the 1950s, during the height of segregation. Go figure! His comments are the type of unnecessarily divisive and hate-filled rhetoric that has sent the modern civil rights movement off the political cliff into the abyss of irrelevance.
Many Americans are resentful of the incessant accusations of racism by self-anointed, self-appointed black leaders. This resentment increases when miscreant acts committed by certain black Americans are tolerated. Many black Americans, myself included, are tired of this pathetic behavior.
With apparently nothing better to do than disparage fine black Americans such as Secretary Powell (a combat veteran and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs), Secretary Page and Dr. Rice just because they're black conservatives, Belafonte and others like him need to get a life and find a better hobby. Belafonte's antics confirm that I made the right choice when I embraced conservatism a decade ago.
Black conservatives are often called, among other things, "race traitors" simply because we hold a differing viewpoint rather than following the established dogma of victimology. But the question that comes to my mind is, who are the real traitors here?
Why have the vast majority of black Americans beholden themselves to a political party that seems unwilling to share any substantive political power? The Congressional Black Caucus is all well and good, but they've often been hostile to black Republicans like J.C. Watts and Gary Franks. They were never welcome in the Caucus. Why? It was simply because they are Republican.
Despite the steadfast political allegiance of black Americans to the Democratic Party, has there ever been a black Speaker of the House? Has there ever been a black chairman of the Democratic National Committee? Current Democratic chairman Clinton crony Terry McAuliffe called black Americans "colored" during his acceptance speech in 2001. Say what!? That term hasn't been used since my parents' youth when they lived in the South. This is supposed to be someone whose party represents the interests of black Americans? I think not.
After 40 years of lip service, liberals are being placed on the scales of integrity, and I find them wanting. The same issues that are being griped about in 2002 are the same issues from 1972, 1982 and 1992. In order to truly succeed, urban blacks need educational and economic opportunity to compete. They don't need the same old tired rhetoric from the same old leadership. My late grandfather taught me that talk is cheap/ The older you get, the less value it has.
Urban black children must grow up in safe neighborhoods, free from the worry of drugs, crime and gang violence. They should be able to graduate from good schools with the ability to read and write well so they can compete in the global economy. Until black Americans can achieve the sense of self-respect and accomplishment that comes from succeeding on one's own merit and not via government handouts and set asides, the intellectual and economic enslavement of black America will continue. The master will continue to be the all-compassionate left that claims it wants to help.
Who's sold out whom here? You can decide
that for yourself.
(Jerry Brooks is a member of the National
Advisory Council of the African-American leadership network Project
21 and a former television/radio/print political commentator in
Portland, Oregon. He can be reached at [email protected].
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.