By Detroit Branch NAACP President Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony
A reporter asked me the other day in preparing for the Democratic Candidates Forum, what do black people want? It is not the first time I’ve been asked such a transparent question. Black and brown people are Americans, even though many don’t want to recognize that fact. We didn’t fall out of the sky like manna from heaven. Black folks, originally brought here on slave ships, have fought for and earned every right and privilege America has to offer. We are not some American aberration, nor are we a figment of American imagination.
Quite frankly, we want the same damn thing that every other American wants.
- First, we want to win!
- We want a President with an administration that respects us, not just in word but in policy.
- We want a President that does not lie or divide the people against each other.
- We want a President that works to make us better people, not bitter people.
- We want a President that will advocate not only for the middle and upper class, but who will also remember the plight of the poor and those left behind.
- We want a President whose cabinet will have folks that not only look like us but who are advocates for our community.
- We want to keep and expand our health care. Don’t end it, fix it!
- We want excellent schools that educate our children with good teachers and adequate funding, right in our own neighborhoods.
- We want police officers that respect the rights of black people and won’t kill us when stopped on the street, walking in a park, or shopping in a store.
- We want access to finances and to capital to buy homes and to fund our businesses.
- We want neighborhoods that are safe, beautiful, and secure.
- We want our retirement programs and social security to be preserved when we get ready to use it. It is our earned money. It is not a special federal grant.
- We want to be able to send our children to college that is affordable and won’t suffocate them with endless debt after graduation.
- We want jobs and opportunity for those inside the neighborhood and those returning citizens coming back to the neighborhood.
- We want an environment in which our children will be able to get clean water, breath fresh air, and enjoy the beauty of nature for future generations.
- We want America to treat people seeking asylum in this nation humanely, with dignity, and proper care, not in cages but in communities We want fair and open elections without voter suppression or intimidation.
- We want a nation that is respected around the world, not one that is rejected because of its behavior in the world.
- Finally, we know that we deserve reparations after 400 years of disparaging treatment, racism, income inequality, unequal opportunity and blatant discrimination. This is not new. Other groups have received such compensation to repair past injuries – Japanese Americans, Native Americans, Jewish Americans, and others. Most of us are not limiting our vote to this one issue. For many, that is not a deal breaker. For some it could be a deal maker whether it comes in effective policy or a paycheck that we never received. The bottom line is we want a future that is economically sound, politically empowering, justice oriented, and people prioritized.
These things are not hard. It is not about your personality. It is about your policy. One can have all the personalityintheworldbutifyouain’tgotnopolicy,can’timplementnopolicy,can’tunitefolksaround your policy, in the words of the King of Soul James Brown, “You’re just talking loud but saying nothing!”