The People is our section for all opinions concerning Black Chicago. In this opinion piece, West Side native Antwan Dobson encourages Black people to hold their political representatives accountable.

It seems as though the new “trigger” phrase we hear a lot these days is Black Lives Matter (BLM). The one instant rebuttal you are more than likely to hear from the opposition is “All Lives Matter.” When I hear that, it makes my soul tremor.

I reckon the words Black, lives and matter were in existence long before the organization. However, Black Lives Matter does not mean all other lives do not matter. When you hear the mantra Black Lives Matter, it is a cry for help. It is a feeling of hopelessness, anger, frustration and determination all wrapped up in one emotional package. Honestly, when the response to BLM is All Lives Matter, it makes one appear to be grossly out of touch, dismissive and — yes — even racist. This obtuse mindset seems as though Black people can’t think for themselves. Black people do not need a leader to speak for all of us. The captain-save-a-hoe must stop.  

Have you noticed when someone makes a stupid, insensitive or racist comment, the common protocol is for them to go to a notable Negro — like Rev. Jesse Jackson — and make an apology? As if all Black people are led or influenced by a bought-and-sold preacher, a community activist or a poverty pimp hustler. The right thing for them to do is to go directly to the people they have offended. If the offender is sincere in their apology, let that sentiment illuminate.     

Left Wing or Right Wing has nothing to do with the progress of Black people

We cannot rely on any political party to bring about the fundamental systemic change that is necessary for Black people to survive and thrive. History, and at times, current events, have taught us that the ideological distinction between conservatives and liberals is blurry at best. The Republican Party is all about crushing labor and bargaining units, paying less-than-livable wages, being strongly pro-corporate and appearing to be anti-working man or woman.  

The Democratic Party promotes dependency and has an infatuation for funding failed social programs, and a record of taking Black voters for granted, making big promises but throwing us scraps from the table instead of a seat at it.  Both parties have a tendency of crushing the middle class in part, because the conservatives are in love with lowering taxes for the country’s top earners, while the liberals’ go-to tactic is to raise taxes that tend to hurt  middle-class taxpayers the most. 

Please do not get me wrong. I am all for helping people who are in need in the name of humanity. However, if we are having an honest conversation, we know anti-violence programs are not working because we can see violence continues to plague our communities. The individuals who are committing the crimes are not the ones who are participating in these programs. So where are the measurable tangibles for all the dollars spent on these programs?

Leaders from both political parties would love for us to think they are archenemies, when in fact they are often in the same bed. There is a stark difference between working across the aisle with one another and grandstanding and political posturing in an effort to appear you’re an advocate for your constituents. Stop the madness.

Remember the original reason why Black People were brought here

It should be no surprise why black people are being treated the way we are. JUNETEENTH, anyone? We were brought here as property. We were free labor to the slave master. In the words of Angela Rye: WE BUILT THIS JOINT FOR FREE!

Black people were and still are, in more cases than not, treated as second-class citizens. The Declaration of Independence was not meant to afford Black folks life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Just in case you forgot, Black people just got the right to vote comfortably in 1964. That was only 56 years ago. Don’t even get me started about the Three-Fifths Compromise of 1787, where only three-fifths of the U.S. slave population would be counted for the purposes of taxation and representation in the House of Representatives. So stop acting brand new! Many people wish we weren’t here…although we were forced here.  

We have to break the chains of mental slavery and do for ourselves. It is time to look out for one another’s well-being. It is time we hold our elected officials accountable — and VOTE! There is no need to whine about the political system if you don’t exercise your right to vote. Don’t settle because there are a few Black people in influential positions; that is not merely enough. 

We have a long way to go, but we have to at least start down a different path. It is obvious the path we have been traveling has gotten us anywhere. Black people will never make progress on pipe dreams and loudmouth individuals who are making noise but saying absolutely nothing!  

In the words of economist and author Dr. Claud Anderson, the building blocks to success include the following: Build an economic structure. Become politically savvy. Pay attention to your legislative and judicial branches of government. Control the message with like-minded media outlets…buy or lease media networks.  We need to inform our people. We need to love our people as well. It is not going to be easy but we must start somewhere. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is insanity (Albert Einstein.) Be well my brothers and sisters and GOD Speed to you all.

Headshot of Antwan Dobson
is a lifelong Chicago native, born and raised on the west side. He is a 16-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department, who has dedicated his life to public service through vocation and avocation. He holds a Masters in Public Policy Administration from Northwestern University; and a Masters in Public Safety Administration and Bachelors in Fire Services Administration from Lewis University.