JAMES WRIGHT WRITES

Why D.C. residents should be mad

Posted in Uncategorized by afronews on April 1, 2009

When I first moved to Washington, D.C. in 1987 I was surprised to find out that the city did not have any representation in the U.S. Congress. I knew there were no senators but I thought that the representative had a vote. 

 Considering that I was a Free South Africa activist and writer out of college in Texas, I believed in human rights and all that good stuff. Imagine my shock when I found out that Walter Fauntroy, the D.C. congressman’s could not cast a vote on behalf of residents of the city on the House floor.

I said to myself, some is wrong here!!

What really bothered me was the fact that D.C. residents were’nt up in arms. I mean, D.C. residents pay federal taxes. Let me say that again, D.C. residents pay federal taxes. And they have no real voice on how that money is spent. D.C. residents can go to war and have the same obligations as other American citizens, except that they do not have a voting representative in the U.S. Congress.

What really bothered me in 1987 and even now, nobody is angry about it. Seriously!! While D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the city’s Warrior on the Hill, fights like a junkyward dog for the city, the residents seem to be a sleep. Is there activism on the issue of voting rights and statehood-yes. But what is really needed is a serious effort to inform the rest of the country and the world about how the citizens in the city are disenfranchised. There needs to be civil disobedience as well as a public relations strategy to combat this injustice.

However, if you bring up a strategy such as not paying federal taxes or preventing Capitol Hill from getting city services, D.C. residents cower and say that they don’t want to make folks on Capitol Hill mad. Well…the founding fathers of this country made plenty of people in Great Britain mad when they stood up for their rights. Sometimes you have to make powers that be mad in order for them to do the right thing.

But this goes back to what I was writing about in an earlier blog: leadership. The leadership in the District, other than Eleanor, is too passive. They go to too many cocktail parties and act too bourgeoise instead of getting into the grassroots and taking to the streets. The leadership of this city, not necessarily elected officials, need to make statehood a priority.

The time is right for D.C. to move forward in its quest for political equity. President Obama supports D.C. statehood, both houses of Congress would support statehood if there was an up and down vote and I would venture to guess that the American people would support statehood if they knew what the situation was.

The 800-pound gorilla in the room-the Blacks in Washington-is no longer a reason to deny D.C. its rights. Simply put, color should not be a barrier to a citizen exercising their rights. Remember, even when D.C. reached its peak of 71.1 percent Black in 1975, the city had hundreds of thousands of Whites in it.

In other words, by denying Blacks in D.C. their full rights, Whites are also being disenfranchised.

Retrocession into Maryland is a dumb idea. The people of Maryland don’t want it and neither do District residents.

There should be a full throttle move toward the District of Columbia becoming the state of New Columbia. This effort should be led by people in the grassroots not the elected leadership.

If a vote in the U.S. House leads in that direction, then so be it. Either way, people in the District need to get mad and do something.

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