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Plantation Politics

By: Dr. Jonathan McReynolds

There is a historical narrative about a man by the name of Willie Lynch. Willie Lynch was a slave owner from Jamaica; who supposedly came to the banks of the James River in Virginia and instructed slave owners on how to solve their slave problems. The core of Lynch’s message was to control the slave population. The master must keep the slaves fractured, divided, destroyed, filled with fear, distrust, and envy. This historical event has been debated as to if it was a historical fact or not? Regardless of if it was a historical fact or not; one thing for sure is the philosophy of this event has been a horrific concrete reality of black America.

One of the systemic problems that we have faced as black Americans is this paradigm of fear, division, distrust, and envy to name a few. This is in addition to the immutable barriers of structural and institutional racism that have become an irrevocable part of the core of our nation. Black Americans in 2021 still suffer from “Plantation Paradigms”, which are counter-productive to our advancement as a people. No area of our existential experience has been immune from plantation paradigms. They exist in politics, church, social life, economics, and even in family life. True liberation, exaltation, and transformation of our people will only happen when we liberate ourselves from these paradigms. Liberation from plantation paradigms is something that we can only do for ourselves. White people, political parties, etc. do not have the human capacity to do this for us. This is because we control our minds. The Apostle Paul charged us to renew our minds due to the wickedness and toxins of the world, which we face. While I adamantly assert that institutional and structural racism are very real and represent a major barrier to our progress. I also assert that our behaviors of plantation praxis also represent a major barrier to our progress.

The issue that we refuse to face in our community is black-on-black antagonism. Those who oppose our progress have very little work to do as they have conditioned many blacks through plantation tactics, behaviors, and paradigms to do their work for them. Some blacks have engaged in the repetition of oppressive behaviors that have been thrust upon us by a racist white culture. Locally, our oppressors have learned if they just drop an ounce of blood in the water that elements of the black community will circle like sharks and finish off the kill.

I have watched this play out over the last few years. We can objectively look at the issues surrounding community leaders, the Mayor, Police Chief, Attorney General, School Superintendent, and others. I declare that all were deliberate targets of those who perpetrate racism and control tactics in our community. They all were systematically targeted because of their capacity to bring forth transformative change in our community. Oppressive elements in all cases launched overt and covert attacks and in all cases, blacks who are in bondage to plantation paradigms and praxis attempted to finish the kill. I use the word “attempted” because I am a man of faith and I believe God’s word when it says, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper” and “If God is for you then who can be against you”, thus I believe in FAITH that all who have been attacked will prevail and thrive in the end. Furthermore, I will say publicly that I will do all within the scope of my power to assist and fight in their struggle for victory. However, we must be aware that we can’t assist plantation practices and powers as they attempt to attack and obstruct our progress. I am not excusing any behaviors, decisions, or outcomes that were not proper. However, I am saying that we as a people in our community must stop attacking individuals over attacking the institutions and structures that are the root problem and the real enemy to our people.

For example, I stated in the Democrat Chronicle that Daniel Prude was murdered. That was a strong statement that some leaders would not make. However within the scope of my statement I’ve always stated the focus should be on the system and those who directly handled him. I don’t believe the focus should have ever been to perform a public revolt against the Mayor, Police Chief, and Attorney General who are black figures, who held the power to bring transformation.

I believe in doing so we once again play into the hand of plantation oppressive powers that turn us against our own and deflect attention from the racist structures and institutions that facilitate oppressive behaviors toward our community. Why protest against a black female mayor who has worked for our community? Why protest against a black police chief who rose from among us and stayed engaged with us? Why protest against an Attorney General who had to work within the constructs of a rigged Grand Jury System that would not have convicted regardless of witnesses, hired experts, etc.? Furthermore, our city school district has been in an abyss of dysfunction since the late 1970s, so now we want to crucify a Superintendent twelve months into a job of trying to fix a forty-year issue?

I am sure that just as I would make some different decisions in reflection they would as well. However, we must learn as a community the real source of our oppression over allowing our oppressors to lead us into directed fighting.

The Wizard of Oz had a scene when it was discovered there was a man behind a curtain that was orchestrating events against Dorothy and others. We must fight with an awareness that locally there are forces behind curtains that work to hinder our progress. We must declare that we shall liberate ourselves from plantation paradigms.

I know that some will focus on the individual micro aspects of my statements based upon their desire for individual battles that lead to individual self-glory. However, the challenge is to look at the macro picture. Some tend to focus on fighting those who work in the field rather than focusing on the plantation owners. I contend that we need to liberate ourselves from plantation paradigms and fight the plantation system. When one of our own misses the mark; then call them behind closed doors and have it out. However don’t allow us to be used by our oppressors to bring down our own for them in exchange for an interview, 10 minutes of fame, or a promised political future.

The relevant question becomes how do we eradicate ourselves from plantation politics?

1. We must eradicate blind loyalties to any political parties or politicians. We must ask ourselves what has a party or politician produced in order to earn our support? I am not advocating for any party or candidate but let us ask ourselves some hard questions? The black community has been a faithful voting block for over 60 years. The democratic party has produced programs for everything under the sun. Some have worked and some have not worked. However, currently, we have policies that have emerged that support legalizing marijuana, which the legalizing of any social vice always hurts black communities greater than anyone else. Consider how many liquor stores exist in urban communities vs. suburban communities? Now we have legalized marijuana and looking to create shooting galleries in addition to trying to teach sex education to kindergarten and early elementary students that have a pedagogy that is not consistent with our moral history.

We live in what has been rated as the worst US Congressional District for blacks in America yet some refuse to even consider leaving the Democratic Plantation because it’s what we have been accustomed to or trained to do. There are flaws in both majority parties. Some Democrats practice the soft-racism of low expectations because they feel we need programs, hand-outs, and big government oversight because we don’t have the capacity to provide for ourselves. Then we have a Republican Party that has been hijacked by Donald Trump and saturated with a white nationalist influence that intimidates conservatives who share many of our social values to bow down rather than to stand up. The 2022 election cycle will be interesting and informative regarding our local black community. Does it look like we will have some clear choices between a vote for the plantation or a vote for a new day?

2. We must engage in self-education on policies, politicians, and community leaders. We can never bring down the plantation if we don’t educate ourselves on policies. We must ensure the people that we support are not implementing policies that are not aligned with our values, progress, and agenda. The policy is more important than personality. We as a black community must not allow the media to determine our leaders. We must recognize that anyone can call a press conference but hosting a press conference doesn’t make a person a leader. We must also ensure that if we are calling for a politician to make a change we must first educate ourselves on government and ensure that it is even possible under the law. We must stop voting for a party and voting for individuals that support our progress and agenda. I always have and always will support candidates from multiple parties based upon their perspectives and policies.

3. We must cultivate solidarity in the struggle. We as a community will never share the same perspective on various issues. However, we can share a common goal of empowerment and liberation. We can’t continue to do the work of the “massa” and take each other out. We must learn to possess solidarity in goals and the struggle. We shouldn’t have to fight each other before we can engage in fighting those who oppress our community.

I came incredibly close to entering a political race in 2022. However one of the things I had to consider is that my greatest opposition would not be from someone on the ballot. Rather my major opposition would be from within a small element of my own ranks. I would have a social-political dilemma similar to what the Rev. Dr. Vernon Johns faced in Montgomery, Alabama in the pre-civil rights era. Thus we must endeavor to empower and encourage others in the struggle even if we don’t agree on every issue.

My hope and desire are that collectively we can be liberated from plantation politics and paradigms that hold us back. We need to liberate our mindsets to stay focused upon the struggle of structural and institutional racism that impacts us and those who are the high-ranking opposers of our progress.

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