(Black Agenda Report) -- “If we don't do something real soon, I think you'll have to agree that we're going to be forced either to use the ballot or the bullet. It's one or the other in 1964. It isn't that time is running out -- time has run out!” – Malcolm X, “The Ballot or the Bullet,” Cleveland, Ohio, April 3, 1964.
A half-century after the man once known as Detroit Red spoke those words, the last grains of sand are trickling from the hour glass of what has passed for democracy in America. The principle of one-person, one vote – or any meaningful franchise, at all – is no longer operative for the majority of Black people in the state of Michigan, whose largely African American cities are run by emergency managers accountable to no one but Rick Snyder, the venture capitalist in the governor’s mansion. The same bell is tolling for every urban center in the land, as hegemonic finance capital creates the template for direct corporate rule through the systematic destruction of Detroiters’ citizenship rights.
The 82 percent Black metropolis has been reduced to a Bantustan in both the economic and political senses of the term. Surrounded by some of the richest counties in the nation, the impoverished city exemplifies a national racial wealth gap that is more profound than that which existed in South Africa at the height of apartheid, as detailed by Jon Jeter in this issue of BAR (See “Worse Than Apartheid: Black in Obama’s America”). The Emergency Manager law, passed by the Republican state legislature after rejection by voters in a referendum, makes the Bantustan analogy complete, with a Black corporate lawyer overseeing the dismantling of every mechanism of local democracy. Kevyn Orr’s ascension as plenipotentiary of Wall Street is also the ultimate logic of the most vulgar current of African American politics, which seeks only Black representation at the highest levels of power, no matter whose interests are served. Wall Street long ago scoped this Black weakness, and has exploited it at every political level.
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