There has been much said about the vile comments of Vice President Joe Biden regarding who is black if not voting for him. His words are not necessarily too cavalier but instead aligned with a perspective of entitlement and privilege. This is perhaps unconsciously permitted by some within his circles, which is a more disturbing point that I want to raise with my elected brothers and sisters regardless of party, especially congressional Democrats. The real tragedy of it is this: African-American votes to one party have resulted in crumbs that have relegated our community to economic placeholders, stagnating while watching the wealth gap steadily increasing. Unless there is a demand for real economic inclusion and participation, the numbers and issues in our community will continue to be devasting. In order to help meet the economic challenge within our black business community, the African American Alliance of CDFIs CEOs recently pushed Congress to carve out some of the CARES appropriations to support black-owned businesses. This request detailed that 20% of the round two appropriations distributed to CDFIs (community development financial institutions) go specifically to CDFIs managed by African-Americans, providing capital to black businesses and increasing the capacity of those under-resourced CDFI organizations. The result was, sadly, not surprising—the power brokers dampened the voices of black legislators who understood the severity of the issues and the need to be heard, using the
frustratingly frequent excuse of “not the right timing.” Frederick Douglass’ words still remain
true: “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” If the vote consistently goes a certain way and our community continues to suffer as it is—disproportionate in everything including most notably education, health, and wealth—then what are we doing?
The prophet Habakkuk raised the question in the midst of turbulent times: “How long?” We can raise the same question today, amid this pandemic that is reaping destruction in our community. How long will we continue to allow our votes to be packaged with no return? How long will we continue to allow crumbs for most and rewards for a few? How Long? The following article in The Washington Post should raise the alarm and move all who have access to power to usher in a meaningful paradigm that will make our vote not for granted but for the community and not individual prestige: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/25/black-minority-business-owners-coronavirus/.
I write this from an aching heart of disappointment, seeing our communities suffer and power brokers do nothing. I am nobody, trying to tell somebody it is time to do something that will change instead of maintain things, while our brothers and sisters die because of the bulging gaps that are decimating our communities. I leave these powerful words by Dr. King, as they relate strongly to the pandemic of silence that has paralyzed our communities. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
Lenwood V. Long, Sr