On Sunday while my pastor was preaching about stepping in the spirit, he said something that really resonated with me. He said, “The evil systems are stumbling blocks trying to trip us up.”
While he was obviously speaking from a spiritual perspective, the statement is applicable to many things. As I was taking notes, including the aforementioned quote, my mind went from church (just for a brief moment) and I thought of the tea party movement. So much so that I feverishly drew a box around the words “the evil systems are stumbling blocks trying to trip us up” and in big letters I wrote “tea party” so I could remember the association of the two as I wrote this week’s editorial.
I’ve been bothered by the tea party movement for quite awhile now – ever since it really began to increase in popularity and in my opinion become more racially charged. However, while the movement bothered me, I was slow to say too much about it publicly because 1.) I wanted to make sure I wasn’t pulling the race card unjustly (I hate when people do that) and 2.) I wanted be certain that there was an abundance of factual, researched information that supported my theory.
This week the NAACP released a very comprehensive 96-page report by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR), which detailed various associations between tea party organizations and hate groups in the United States, including white supremacist groups, anti-immigrant organizations and independent militias.
While not all tea party supporters are racists, the IREHR report found that many of the organization’s leaders have direct ties with white supremacist groups. The data also shows that all of the national tea party entities have had problems relative to racism, extremism and intolerance.
Whenever I watch some members of the tea party on television, I can’t help but read between the lines of what they are really saying. For instance, “Let’s take our country back” in my opinion means this country belongs to white people, but others (Barack Obama) have taken it from them and “They have gotten out of control” means that because Blacks and other minorities are constitutionally considered equal, we’re now out of white control.
The tea party reminds me of a time years ago when white, male conservatives controlled this country. A time when Blacks were in bondage as slaves, racial injustice was at its peak and Jim Crow was still alive. The tea party of today reminds me of a time when Blacks were colored and women’s liberation was a far-fetched dream.
The IREHR report provides amazing instances of racism and extremism within the tea party movement, as well as parallels between today’s tea party and the Ku Klux Klan of yesterday. As a matter of fact, many of the tea party factions are considered modern day KKKs … that’s incredibly disturbing and scary.
If we don’t stop the tea party from gaining momentum, then the future of this country is at stake. We will find ourselves moving backward rather than forward. That is why we all must exercise our right to vote on Nov. 2. Conservatives are planning on the complacency of Blacks to ensure the election of tea party candidates. In other words, they think that Blacks are content enough with Barack Obama as president that we don’t have to vote in the upcoming general election. They think that we were only motivated enough to get him into office and that no other election (except his possible reelection) matters.
We have to prove them wrong. The change that President Obama so famously talks about didn’t stop once he was elected. Change is ongoing. We have to keep implementing change and that means more than just having a Black family in the White House.
Change means electing local and state officials who you feel best represent your views. Change means being involved in the political process – not just during the highly-publicized or the most contested races; change means being involved always.
I received an e-mail this week that reminded us that only 90 years ago – in 1920, women were allowed to vote. And although Blacks were given the right to vote in 1870 with the passing of the 15th Amendment, obstacles remained in our way, making casting our vote virtually impossible. It wasn’t until the 1965 Voting Rights Act that we were actually able to vote without some prerequisite or procedure that often denied us the right to vote.
Don’t take the tragedies and triumphs of the past for granted by not voting. Be sure to exercise your right … vote on Nov. 2.
You can e-mail comments to Shannon Williams at ShannonW@IndyRecorder.com.