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Reply to "Clark Enters Race"

There is a group called "Blacks 4 Clark" already. Read this moving letter sent into the Editors at

Dear Africana Editor,

In the past, African American voters were easy. All a politician had to do was deliver a tearful speech about civil rights and show that he knew at least three words of "We Shall Overcome" or "We Are Family." An on-stage wiggle (on beat or syncopated, didn't matter) was all it took to cinch the majority of the "black vote." Post-inauguration, tearful hymns could give way to "political reality"; the walk could safely decouple from the talk and the Electric Boogaloo could become the Beltway Slide. It was all part of the game.
We should be tired of it. After all, the rest of the country got tired of it years ago. In fact, they were so tired in 1999, that Americans of every demographic settled for Bush the Lesser and called it a night. Small wonder we were caught napping in 2001, until the Mother of All Wake-Up Calls. Yet, even then, we were not led, we followed. Now, having followed this Administration down a dark and cluttered alley, we're wide awake and wondering what to do with nine un-electable candidates. We need to find somebody to love in this time of cholera, because voting Republican is not an option.

So, what is the average African American voter to do?

Let's start by recognizing that no white politician will ever experience the trials or tribulations of being an African American. Not one can look at Oprah, the most famous black woman since Cleopatra, with the same combustible mixture of pride and envy. Not one despairs of yet another "OJ," "Jayson" or "Kobe" or experiences the impulsive desire to slap them silly, because they should have known better! We know this, yet we continue to ask white politicians to be black for a day. And, black politicians to be blacker every day. Why then, are we still amazed that our Kmart shares don't return Saks Fifth Avenue dividends?

I propose that African Americans start standing firm and vote for the Best Thing, instead of settling for the Next Blackest Thing. We need to stop accepting involvement in the Civil Rights Movements of the 1950s and 1960s as a proxy for present day action on issues vital to the well-being of our culture, our children and extended-family overseas. We must start refusing aspirin, when what we need is a surgeon.

We have to stop asking white candidates to put on black face for a few hours on some stopover to somewhere else. They need to be with us and talk with us. We have to stop bullying companies into doing "the right thing," when their right thing has never been our right thing. To do this, we need to put our whole bodies inside the door, not just our feet. We are not outsiders in this country, and it's time we stopped short-changing our children by being so damned easy.

Wesley Clark, a General of four stars, is not likely to get up on stage and wiggle his hips. He's not going to enthrall the choir with tales of his days as a Civil Rights marcher. No: you're not going to get someone who is blacker than Dean on the day. What you're going to get is straight logic, straight talk and someone who walks a straight line. We'll get substance from this man, who already has plenty of style. He might sing a few hymns, but you can be sure that he will know the words.

Wesley K. Clark has vision and a track record of leadership. He has always stood up for our sons and daughters in the military, because he knows that "best" means the most competent, and "brightest" has nothing to do with skin color. He is a soldier for equal opportunity because every child needs to be brought forward to explore her potential, not pulled up from behind like somebody's stepchild. African Americans who are ready to participate in a post-Bush, post-9/11, post-Bush America will be able to stand tall because of what they can do, not fall because of who they are.

Wesley Clark doesn't have to scare the country into submission, because he's a man who plans. He's going to have a road map through the minefield of unemployment, homeland security, health care and education. He's a man who believes in human intelligence and believes that humans need to act intelligently. He understands the meaning of "global village," and he wants to make sure that this village is green and fruitful for our grandchildren's grandchildren. He will not walk it alone and he will not half-step.

As President, Wes Clark will create and foster an environment in which African Americans can thrive, not just survive. This is not trickle-down voodoo economics, but solid financial planning and fiscal responsibility. Black enterprise will not just be the name of a magazine, but a concept that goes hand in hand with American prosperity.

As the Reverend Al Sharpton has already started to do, the eight other Democrats should recognize that their consolidated knowledge, experience and political savvy can rescue the White House for America. They should unite behind Wesley Clark: one for Vice President, the rest as his Knights of the Round Table.

So, don't ask Wesley Clark how black he can be, because the real question is how black we can be when driving, walking, shopping, playing and working in America. At the next CBC debate, we hope he's there. We hope he's there, with colors flying.

Regina Mullen
Director, Blacks 4 Clark

Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods, or tactics, or strategy. We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as free humans in this society
Malcolm X, 1965