In the wake of the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy please listen closely to the words of those who pay tribute to this man. Beyond the accolades for the man himself, I want you to listen out for how BLACK PEOPLE are portrayed in these references.
The most common reference that I am hearing when the speaker ties Ted Kennedy to his impact upon Black Americans is the following string of words:
THE LEAST OF THESE
As the various individuals tell the word their appreciation for what Ted Kennedy did for Black people they reference the Black community as a force of "have nots".
For many in the Black community this is an acceptable characterization ------- AS LONG AS ---- it is made in a CONJUNCITVE form.
"Black People are poor............BUT ONLY BE CAUSE ..........."
- We were KIDNAPPED from our native lands and stripped of our culture
- We were ENSLAVED (They say "We were slaves")
- We were VICTIMS of Jim Crow
- - Socially Stratified To The Bottom
- - Economically Marginalized
- - Academically Stunted
- - Physically and Emotionally TERRORIZED
- - By-Passed By The Medical Establishment when we needed By-Pass Surgery
- We had the one VALUABLE ASSET that we did possess suppressed - OUR VOTE
THE PRESENT ARRAY
If you allow these establishment figures who are now in power largely due to the civil rights fights of the past to frame the issue they are going to focus on this past. Despite the fact that they now control every single major institution that our people look to for necessary civic services - they functionally escape scrutiny for their actions today by prompting the masses of skeptical Black people to look at the past.
In truth their goal is to garner a "PERMANENT APPRECIATION" for all that they have done in the past so that they remain untouchable in the present. Anyone asking them questions in the present will be told WHERE THEY WOULD BE TODAY had it not been for their works in the past.
There is little need to mention how such a template fits nearly perfectly upon the typical "power relations" construct that is found between "Powerful Man meets Poor, Attractive Woman" and reminds her how poor she was before he graced her with his presence. Without him - she would likely go back to being "The Least Of These".
The goal of the controlling power, again, is to avoid having the present arrangement that he has tendered per his control come under scrutiny (ie: the wife found him cheating on her) - instead he seeks to PUT HER IN CHECK by reminding her how much she was NOTHING before him. A poor, battered and abused figure who would not have been allowed to blossom even to her present stage were it not for HIM.
A GLASS HALF FULL
What the controlling agent who seeks to remain the point of relevance in the life of the resource in question will steadfastly avoid consideration of is the inspection of: WHAT IS THE FULL POTENTIAL OF THIS RESOURCE AND IS HE NOW THE BINDING AGENT PREVENTING IT FROM GROWING DUE TO HIS CONTROLLING NATURE?
Would this centralized power be willing to admit that his job is done in defending the "Least Of These" against this previous threat and thus be willing to MOVE OUT OF THE WAY as a new regime comes to power to address the problems of the day?
I previously noted my surprise to see the Southern Christian Leadership Conference hold a protest down Auburn Avenue in Atlanta in which the subject of their protest was not a "White man who had lynched a Black". Instead they were protesting against "Black on Black street violence and gangs" which had been assaulting the Black community during this day, which I call "The Bloody Summer". Whereas the establishment player is still focused on the "old enemies" - there has grown a new threat to the safety, security and property of Black people. He comes from within our own ranks.
Today these old guard operatives count as one of their finest achievements the placement of the array of Black and Progressive Leadership (of any race) in power over the Black community and the Nation. In their view we are to have our happiness directed toward the PRESENCE of these people in power. The point that is diminished is the key question about "WHAT IS OUR COMMUNITY RECEIVING IN THE WAY OF A MORE PRODUCTIVE ORDER AS A RESULT OF THEIR PRESENCE?"
I purposely said "More Productive Order" rather than "What are we RECEIVING" because this is a very sensitive topic for me.
It is obvious that some people make no distinction between "What did the Black Community GET from the external political institutions to our community so that we might be allowed to eat for another day" versus "What did our community leadership do to clear the pathway from discrimination and overt sabotage so that our people can operate as the main agents of our own development?"
How Do A People Become The "UN-Least Least Of These"?
The key point that I am making with the line of inspection above is that there are some distinct processes that a people must follow in order to shift their thought that some central authority must be positioned in place so that they are "taken care of" over to:
There is a necessary way of thinking in which the people are expected to create an alignment of their aggregate thoughts, actions and enforcements by which a certain, more productive outcome is expressed from their efforts to sculpt these "directed outcomes" per their continuing management.
In summary - what we are seeing is a serious battle between "human resource management" theory. Some believe that all men should be assured of a certain minimum standing and the society should provide a "fault free" set of services to ensure that this occurs.
Others, including me, see the need to have a set of outcomes clearly articulated and that the task of the collective is to MANAGE themselves so that THESE DESIRED STANDARDS are delivered to them UPON THEIR OWN BACKS. The very fruit of their finely manicured garden is this "standard of living" that I speak of.
The way that a group of people become the "Un-Least of These" is to employ their minds with the knowledge about the part that they play in achieving this higher order and then to erect a cultural infrastructure that guides them toward the right direction and which closes off wrong turns that lead them astray.