by Dr. Boyce Watkins
I’d like to say thanks to the legislators in New Mexico for allowing me to address the New Mexico State Legislature this week. One of the points I made during the speech is that no matter what our political affiliations happen to be, there is room for common ground. I’m not a conservative, but some of the people I respect the most in this world (i.e. Colin Powell) are Republicans. I personally believe that liberalism has sold black Americans short over the years, but the Republican Party’s commitment to racism has left many of us feeling unwelcome.
At the end of the day, my agenda is very simple: 1) Confronting growing poverty among black American children, 2) Ending the mass incarceration holocaust that has led to a spiral in single-parent households (when you hand out 150 years sentences for simple drug possession, there are going to be far fewer men for women to marry), 3) Confronting astonishing levels of black unemployment (which would lead to riots if this were happening to white people), 4) Fighting grossly unequal educational systems that serve as reminders of Jim Crow, and 5) Drawing attention to the piles of dead black children in urban neighborhoods around the country (I refuse to cry for 26 children at Sandy Hook if I can’t cry just as hard for hundreds of children who’ve died on the South Side of Chicago).
When it’s all said and done, black America is in a rebuilding period. Truth be told, we deserve reparations for both slavery and the War on Drugs, each of which was designed to destroy, deflate and devastate our communities. If you want to annihilate a community, you kill the family. If you want to kill the family, you can start by getting rid of the male. That is what has happened in black America, and as a result, we have the mess that we see around us right now.
We must keep this matter at the forefront of the minds of politicians and anyone seeking our vote. We must also chip in with our own families and the children around us to create a better day for the future. As I shared with Min. Louis Farrakhan this week: We must become fanatical about educational achievement, we must insist on finding paths toward economic independence and we must set the highest expectations for our children. It’s really that simple.