The Show, The Afterparty, The Hotel: An Opinion On Representative Politics

It took me a minute but I am finally pinning the next post in the Race and Behavior series. So without further delay, let’s get into today’s post. Now I know you are probably thinking, what in the fresh hell is this girl about to say. Jodeci is no joke! Don’t worry I got you, plus this was hands down my favorite 90s R&B group so I promise not to disappoint. Today’s song choice is none other than their 1995 debut single from their highly anticipated third album, The Show, The Afterparty, The Hotel’s, “Freek‘n You.” Now while I won’t be discussing sex AT ALL! I will discuss how representation politics is akin to getting “freek’d.” 

So what exactly is representative politics? Simply put, it is where an elected official(s) represents a group of people and are in-turn given the power to put forth policy initiatives and act on behalf of the people. The whole idea is that said elected official will act in the best interest of the represented, but this agreement doesn’t always deliver a solid return on investment. This is likened to a bad-ass relationship where you are doing all of the negotiating, compromising, and accommodating. Yes is the sex bomb, for sure! Do they make you feel special? Of course, most representatives talk a good game, but after it’s all said and done, what are you left with? A broken heart, empty promises, and a lower balance in the bank account. 

With a pending presidential election looming, we have seen all manners of folks within the political landscape claiming to hold the best interest of  citizens in an effort to garner their votes. But, have we gotten away from what’s important? Year after year there seems to be less understanding of  the leverage Black people have at the polls. The real power cannot be found in representative politics, been there done that. Our power can only come from coalescing around one another for a common cause that comes from making individual informed decisions.

We must remember that despite massive gains in political representation, Black-Americans are still experiencing major gaps in America and seem to still come out on the short end of things. For centuries, Black America has been overly invested in racial equality and social justice, and rightfully so. However, this obsession has unfortunately led to the wool being pulled over our hours in many instances. We can no longer afford to behave like lost sheep. It has left us with a growing wealth gap, higher rates of incarceration, poor-performing schools, inadequate healthcare, and challenging economic opportunities. 

While there has been an overall increase in Black leadership the stats are still dismal with only a few black senators and no black governors.   With regards to holding political office, the gains we have experienced in Black leadership are oftentimes ineffective and symbolic at best, especially when examining state and local politics.  Compromisation always seems to get the best of our leaders with little to know return for their constituents. 

So why do we continuously seem to find ourselves in situations where our voices have been suppressed, our needs overlooked, and our resources (i.e. votes) exploited?  Well, I have an unpopular opinion, but I’ll share it anyhow. Political representation is the hook, line, and sinker that has been used to “fool” Black America. This tool has been widely used to exploit and manipulate the Black vote by giving us, the following: 

The Show = the polished candidate that straddles the fence and appeals to the black community, ya know, educated and well-spoken enough to garner the support of the institution, yet cool enough to appeal to the community by speaking their language, listening to their music, and “identifying” with their culture.

The Afterparty = this is where the potential candidate-elect gases everybody up. Chock-full of colloquialisms, charisma, and grandiose ideas, they are in full-representative mode! This is where hope and inspiration are drummed up and even you too, if but only for a moment, believe in the possibility of change. 

The Hotel = this is the E-True Hollywood Story of sorts, the TMZ or The Shade Room-worthy antics that many candidates engage in behind closed doors both literally and figuratively that do nothing to advance the concerns and lives of the black community. Andrew Gillum got caught in a hotel with prostitutes and drugs, Bill Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act into law during his administration. The legacy of this bill disproportionately impacted black people by increasing incarceration rates and imposing higher sentences. This also gave-way to the prison industrial complex which ultimately incentivized state and local governments to build more prisons to obtain federal dollars. Going back to my stance in my previous post that Black-Americans are a tool and looked at as disposable-machinery only good for capitalist gains.

We must also abandon this mindset that assumes that another black person will have our best interest at heart because they are black too. We must remember that all skinfolk ain’t kinfolk and that we are not a monolith. We all come from different schools of thought, backgrounds, educations, and socio-economic statuses. No matter what side of the aisle you stand on, America is simply not ready for a high representation of Blacks in government or political leadership. She has fought like hell to keep the Black presence to a minimum since the mid 19th century when the Repbulicans sought the abolition of slavery and reconstructionism. I mean after the election and re-election of the 44th President of the United States, America was surely ready for its Kumbaya moment, right? 

My point, Black folks have been getting screwed for FOREVER, like legit, from the Democrats to the Republicans, we have been let down and left behind by multiple candidates in their attempts to get elected. So why continue in this one-sided relationship? There. Is. NO. Benefit. The next time you are being solicited for your coveted black vote, remember these lyrics, but listen for the underlying bullsh*t:

What must I say?

What must I do?

To show how much

I think about freek’n you, you, you

Then put it on replay because once elected, the recurrence of being freek’d will be on repeat, at least until the next election cycle. 

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