The Covenant with Black America: A Review
By Dell Gines
The Covenant with Black America, a book of essays on the condition of us Blacks in America compiled by Tavis Smiley, was one of the most disappointing books I have ever read. Based upon the hype, the fact that it was selling out and needed to be special ordered, and the projected transformative content, I had hoped that this book would be something new and unique with the power to transform Black America or at least provide a critical plan of attack. I was wrong.
If you subtract out the excellent statistics that are provided with each chapter you are left with absolutely, well nothing. You are left with nothing new that is as every chapter is a regurgitation of old ideas that are 95% government expansion and bureaucracy creation based. When personal or community solutions are posited they are done so in a hap hazard fashion with nothing provided in the way of real grassroots organization. In fact because it was so government centric in its solutions is exactly WHY I was so disappointed. With seemingly no strategic aim or destination that says...
1. We Should Be There
2. Here is How We Will Get There
3. These Are the Resources Needed
4. This is When It Should Be Accomplished
...the book read more like a collection of topics illustrating inequities as opposed to a true solution based revolutionary manual for us Black Americans.
If a covenant is a binding agreement and that covenant is with Black America, and the book is addressed to Black Americans, it was my (obviously wrong thought) that it would be a book about us swearing to ourselves that we would make a difference amongst ourselves for ourselves and by ourselves first an foremost. That although we recognized the ultimate necessity to create change in our government it didn't supercede our need to create change FUBU style (for us by us) first on a large scale. Ceding virtual God status to the government for the holistic transformation of our people the book in effect minimized the power that we have to create change, not enhance it.
The lack of any real tools provided in each section of the book that concentrate on grassroots organizing, strategic community planning, rebuilding faith, love and trust, self-policing, self governing, and economic development amongst ourselves makes the book functionally weak. Instead of a Garveyistic ˜Africa for Africans', a Booker T Washington artisanship emphasis, a Nation of Islam nationalistic religious self-help, a Stokely Carmichael "Black Power" or a Dr. Claude Anderson Powernomics, instead I got a liberal lesson on the 1029 ways the government should expand and serve us "poor ole blak folk, cuz we be so brokin don".
Until we recognize that internal strength and the competitiveness of our communities is the only way to defend ourselves from external conditions that work to destroy us then we will always be stuck waiting (as a minority in a democracy) for those who do not have our best interest at heart to help us up. Some may hope on the altruism of the modern predominantly caucasian male politician to help us, but I for one will not hold my breath.
So in the final analysis the Covenant with Black America was not a Covenant with Black America at all. In reality it was a request for the government to be the Black man's Jesus. I reject that, and still hold to the Powernomics principles of Dr. Claude Anderson as the most relevant work to come out of modern black leadership in the last twenty years.
To learn more about the book visit the website: http://www.covenantwithblackamerica.com/