It has been widely reported, President Barack Obama was re-elected last week by capturing the majority of the minority vote.
In response, the Molefi Kete Asante Institute, in conjunction with Afrocentricity International, hosted a lively political forum for a distinguished panel to not only vent on issues pertaining to African-American people, but also galvanize those who attended to be more active in shaping policy.
“It’s easy for us to complain,” said Ama Mazama, Ph.D., Provost of the Molefi Kete Asante Institute, who moderated the discussion to a room filled to capacity. “But we don’t do anything. We go home and turn the TV on and complain again about how racist the system is.”
The panel included Molefie Kete Asante, Attorney Michael Coard, and State Rep. Dwight Evans.
The discussion addressed what the panelists would like to see happen over the next four years.
“The agenda, regarding the president and where we should go. The number one issue I see is the question around economics,” Evans said. “There is only on issue that transcends all cultures, and that is the economy.”
According to Evans, the discussion on the economy should not only focus on macro-level issues, but also include micro-level issues in order to address “communities that have been left out, communities that are not engaged.”
He said in order for the economy to grow, every citizen from all economic classes need to be included in the discussions.
“The issue of poverty wasn’t raised, or mentioned during the whole election,” he said. “Everything was focused on the middle-class.”
Coard cited the ineffectiveness of the two-party system in tackling issues that directly address racism.
“There is a need for human rights for Black people,” he said. “There is a need for the end to the death penalty, there is a need to end police brutality.”
Race is the most pressing issue facing Black people, according to Coard.
“The best solution for Black people is to take a page out of the Black Panther parties ten-point program. We will focus on four of them, full employment, decent housing, education, and justice,” he said.
To that end, Coard is organizing a program called “The Ten Pointers,” and this group will do all they can to place these issues on the presidents plate.
“I’m inclined to believe that President Obama will do the right thing,” he said. “I am a proud product of affirmative action. The president appoints federal judges, not just the Supreme Court, but the Circuit Court of Appeals. So, we want a president who will support affirmative action. Don’t stand on the outside, we black folks need to become a first political force.”
Asante saw education, namely reforming the public education system, as extremely important.
“We still have the highest number of students in special education,” Asante said. “They put them in special ed, and detention and all of this prepares them for the prison system. We have not interjected ourselves deeply into this issue to fundamentally raise questions.”
Asante touted the need for a new movement around education, “that will take front space as an agenda item in the national news.”
Other topics discussed included international policy, grassroots organization, and the need for more political activity from Black people. When the discussion closed, the chief message was loud and clear, and summed up by Coard.
“Do what your enemy doesn’t want you to do, and your enemy doesn’t want you to vote, or to be politically active,” he said.