Black America, let’s talk about the Congressional Black Caucus.
Last night, Jamaal Bowman achieved a resounding victory over 16-term Congressman, Eliot Engel, in spite of not having the support of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Words can’t describe the excitement I’m feeling this morning. I woke up feeling rejuvenated and excited. Jamaal Bowman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), and Mondaire Jones’ victories in Tuesday nights’ New York Primaries were music to my ears. These successes, along with Charles Booker’s possible victory in Kentucky, have given the Progressive left in America much to be excited about. Today, however, I want to focus mostly on Congressman-Elect Bowman’s victory because the Congressional Black Caucus did not lend him their support.
I wish I could say that I was surprised by this. I wish I could tell you that the Black #Resistance heroes of Twitter could be relied on to act in our best interest. You have no idea how much it pains me that we cannot count on them. Nevertheless, here we are. The Black Political ruling class has shown you exactly who they are, so believe them. Surely, Engel wasn’t that bad, right? Bowman and Engel must be advocating for the same things, but Engel is just an old white Jewish version of Bowman, right? Unfortunately, no. Engel voted for the Iraq War, against the Iran Nuclear Deal, and in favor of furthering Saudi Arabia’s military arsenal for them to unleash on Yemeni civilians. You’d think that a hawkish history such as this would make the Democratic Party eager to rid themselves of him, but you’d be wrong.
Not only did they try to save him from defeat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who’s facing her own Progressive challenger in Shahid Buttar, enabled his hawkishness by allowing him to serve as the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. What’s possibly the most damning indictment of Engel being unfit to serve a district of majority Black and Brown people was his hot mic’d statement from a few weeks ago where he stated, “if I didn’t have a Primary, I wouldn’t care,” in reference to giving a speech during the protests and civil unrest over systemic racism and police brutality in America. It’s no wonder that this man was soundly defeated by someone who was on the frontlines of those protests, and who has seconded the demand of many activists to defund the police. The question now is why didn’t the Black leadership in Congress support the eventual winner here?
This reveals the true nature of not just the majority of the Black power structure, but of most of the ruling class. They’re more invested in preserving their own positions of power than they are in fighting for you. We’ve been told that ‘all skin folk ain’t kinfolk.’ We’ve even repeated it time and again, but I fear that most of us have not yet embraced the reality that most Black people in power aren’t truly fighting for us. Most of the names that supported Engel didn’t surprise me, such as Jim Clyburn, who’s mostly responsible for Biden’s Presidential Primary victory, and Pelosi, as mentioned earlier. However, I was bitterly disappointed by the fact that Civil Rights icons Maxine Waters and John Lewis decided to support Engel over Bowman. The iconic ‘reclaiming my time’ clip is what comes to mind with Waters, maybe we need to reclaim our time from her and primary her next? John Lewis’ role in the continued fight for Civil Rights cannot be denied, but perhaps his time in the sun is over, and we need to send him off to an early retirement?
Their biggest fear isn’t the continued oppression and exploitation of Black people; instead, it’s losing their positions of power. They fear that if we’d come after Engel, then they’ll be next. What they’ve failed to realize is that, if they simply show moral decency and ground their careers in justice, equity, & fighting for the working poor, then they’ll have nothing to worry about. If they center their fight on the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed, then we’ll support them along with the Progressive insurgents such as AOC & Bowman. Most importantly, if they’re truly down with the causes of Black Liberation and working-class revolution, then they’ll support Progressive insurgents over their ‘friends’ that further the oppression of the very people that they claim to fight for. Engel should have been disqualified from having their support due to his hawkish record. He definitely should have been disqualified after his soundbite about him only caring because he had a primary. The fact that none of these things were deal-breakers for the Black ruling class shows us that it may very well be time for us to turn our canons of liberation onto them as well.