The Philadelphia City Commissioner who manages to acquire more than $100,000 of taxpayers’ dollars a year despite not working is enabled by a diminished communal efficacy among Blacks.
The Philadelphia Negroes, a groundbreaking sociological study of the African-American people in Philadelphia commissioned by the University of Pennsylvania in the very late 1800s and authored by W. E. B. Du Bois, was the first in-depth look at the Negro people in an urban environment: how they lived, socialized, worked and engaged in the politics of the day.
Philadelphia was then, and is now, the most unique place to study the conditions of African-Americans, given the City’s unpleasant racial history, the mass of the aforementioned race and, in the present, their population dominance of high offices.
When the study was commissioned, African-Americans had no political clout, though some had managed to navigate into the upper-class, albeit, “numerically small and socially of little weight,” as Mr. Du Bois noted.
The present day, however, illustrates a picture worth equal scrutiny. Even with the majority of important bureaucratic roles occupied by African-Americans, the race, at large, remains – as Mr. Du Bois noted in his study more than a 100 years ago – isolated from the larger, mainstream social groups and its offerings, whether it be cultural, culinary, communications or otherwise.
It was believed that the latter would’ve been mitigated by the former, but even after three African-American Mayors – the first one elected oversaw the mass murder of a black family and was re-elected – the maladies highlighted in the study persist today in Philadelphia, and, to a degree, it’s worse, because the assumption of black political power to eradicate black struggle has proven false, thus requiring the race – or at least those within it who possess the agency to navigate society – to both grapple with a damning reality, while reworking a strategy to obtain shared equity for all in a multi-billion dollar rich City.
However, the African-American mayors, neither in the past nor in the present, should shoulder all the blame for long-standing issues that face their people, as other branches of government and positions within the bureaucracy were, too, and are now, occupied by those within the historically oppressed race. Focusing exclusively now on the present day, I would argue that no other government position held by an African-American in Philadelphia is more worthy of scrutiny and shaming than that of the City Commissioner, whose job is to oversee fair and free elections, while informing and engaging the electorate and encourage them to occupy the ballots on the appropriate Tuesdays.
The Philadelphia Negro who currently holds that office – there are three City Commissioners, only one is black – is Mr. Anthony Clark, a gentleman who, in addition to not voting in years – including the special election held in the City last Tuesday which won’t be publicly verified – rarely shows up to his office at City Hall, despite collecting more than $100,000 a year for his service, or, more accurately stated, the lack thereof.
This truth, given the recent commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, is hard to stomach. Yet, what’s more repugnant is that Mr. Clark won his primary re-election bid and is rarely subjected to public shaming by either his colleagues or constituents.
The more than forty percent of African-Americans who live in Philadelphia are not concerned with a member of their race disgracing a rich legacy of civic involvement, let alone collecting their tax dollars without providing a service. The Negro District Attorney has no motivation to act upon a clear violation of an oath of office, not to mention what is, regardless of semantics, a six-figure heist.
The Mayor spoke against Mr. Clark briefly at a Voting Rights Act press conference at City Hall but didn’t call the lazy man out by name.
Black voting rights group in the City aren’t up in arms, mainly because there are either none to be found or the ones which do exist are devoid of a significant footprint which makes them visible to the mainstream.
For clarity, Mr. Clark’s derelict of duty and habitual laziness shouldn’t cast a generalization over the entire Black community, though their widespread dismissal of this issue speaks volumes to a diminished communal efficacy.
After publishing the Philadelphia Negro, Mr. Du Bois learned that merely being born in a group “does not necessarily make one possessed of complete knowledge concerning it.”
And more than 100 years later, after daily interaction with Philadelphia’s African-American population, I can state that being born to a group does not make one, when they reach a position of privilege, power and, more pointedly, political importance, obligated to serve or lead in the spirit of our ancestors nor occupy their seat forthrightly for the collective. And at the same time, being born into a group does not make one, regardless of status, accountable to the others.
As Philadelphia is concerned – and I’m sure similar observations in other cities will produce the same results – black is just a skin color, and no longer a creed of collective achievement and accountability.
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Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
Photo: Philly.com/C. Norris – Copyright 2015