Saturday, February 24, 2007

Young Democrats in Detroit Need To Step Up by Akindele Akinyemi


I was in Downtown Detroit today with both the Nation of Islam and the Michigan Democrats at Cobo Hall. I was more into the Nation of Islam than the Michigan Democrats.

I went to the Michigan Democratic Convention for networking purposes. I feel that it is important to build relationships with people on the other side of the aisle. After all, Detroit is a liberal city with liberal viewpoints as I saw in the Black Caucus this morning.

Why do the Michigan Democrats even have Black Caucuses I have no clue? They never talk about anything relevant to Black people, issues affecting Black people or even pushing for younger Black Democrats for leadership positions.

I mean how come we are always talking up the same things in the Michigan Democrats? I heard Sen. Debbie Stabenow speak and while she bragged about how the Democrats swept Michigan she failed to deal with how Gov. Granholm is preparing to release 5000 prisoners within the next year. Is this the Democratic way?

But my biggest gripe is the lack of young people in the Michigan Democratic Party in key leadership positions. Everything is controlled by unions and if your are not in the union clique then you do not get recognized. Especially young African Americans who are just beginning in politics. There are so many urban conservatives in the Democratic Party that it is not funny.

My advice to the young brothers and sisters in the Democratic Party is this. While they talk about unions and give tributes to Congressman John Conyers (like they did this afternoon) how come this party never talk about wealth creation for young Black families? Hmmm. They always talk about how government is supposed to talk care of the poor yet they never talk about how to EDUCATE the poor NOT to be poor. Sounds like 21st century slavery?

I strongly acknowledge the fact that young adults in the Democratic Party who live in Detroit want to make a difference. I think what needs to happen is first let us break the stereotypes of Black Republicans. When I walk the room today going to different caucuses I was surprised of how so many Democrats read my blog. The blog is the talk of the town. That's great but sometimes I need feedback from Young Democrats. Many walked up to me and said why are you here at a Democratic function? My response? At the end of the day I am still a Black man and you are a Black woman. That is why. Regardless of what party we belong to we still must work together as one. Young Democrats can show me grassroots organizing while Young Republican can show them why real economic development and educational choice are important in our community.

Again, I still see fear and confusion on the faces of our young brothers and sisters in the Democratic Party. When I hear sisters upset because they want to settle down and have a family, push for educational choices, lower taxes, and even believing in regionalization that demonstrates to me that they are aware of what is going on today and not listening to the old heads.

Allow me to give you some advice on this. Respect the John Conyers and Carolyn Kilpatricks of the world. Reject their old ideologies on how government should be given to the people. Respect your elders in the Democratic Party but give tributes to each other as young people for YOUR hard work. While we are giving Congressman Conyers a tribute (which I don't mind because I don't give a damn) how come brothers like Donnell White and Brandon Jessup did not get any props for their continued hard work in the NAACP? What about Marja Winters (who I still think she is one of the greatest speakers in this community)? Did anyone give Korey Hall for moving up to Stabenow's office? What about my sister Kim Trent who is running Southeast Michigan for Granholm? Ann Glaspie for her organizing efforts? Kimberly Hill for building relationships in the faith based community? Tonya and Nate Philips on the International Detroit Black Expo efforts on economic development along with Ken Harris?

What about Nikhol Atkins for keeping it real as always? Rev. Charles Williams for his activism? Even China Cochran and Jenean Bryant for even organizing the event FOR John Conyers this afternoon? Did anyone thank them for their efforts?

Not to mention elected officials like Reps. Coleman A Young II, Bert Johnson, Shanelle Jackson and Sen. Tupac Hunter and Buzz Thomas.

These are the ones that Democratic leadership should be turning to. Not old people who are ready to lie down in the coffin.

Affirmative Action no longer exists in Michigan. Why are we still crying? It was the Democrats who got rid of it. So now what is the next step? Young Democrats should be pushing for our youth to become more serious about education, wealth creation and investments.

I am so tired of seeing the same damn people running the same damn show in the Democratic Party. The same unions. The same agenda. Bush this and Bush that. Meanwhile, you have young people in this party that are ready to connect with brothers and sisters in the Republican Party. However, the old people have instilled so much negativity and stereotypes that it is consciously difficult to make those things happen on a regular basis. I know. I can see it in their eyes.

And I defiantly urge Young Democrats in this party to stay away from "The Urban Agenda." This is an annual agenda that old heads in the party put together for their "legislators" to follow. In other words, it is a feel good agenda for Blacks. You do not need an urban agenda. What you are looking to do is an urban execution. We already know the problems. Where are the solutions?

Young Democrats should be pushing faith based initiatives to build family relationships as well as relationship building in the community. I thank my sister Kimberly Hill for taking the lead on this. This is why I worked on her campaign last summer. She was the only one I have met in the Democratic party under 35 that understood the importance of revitalizing the community by utilizing the spiritual first. Other need to follow and join in.

The old heads in the Democratic Party rarely speak about economic revitalization as it pertains to us. Young Dems can take the lead on this issue and even come up with results if they work together.

Do not become a mouthpiece of ANY religious or civil right leader in this party. Become innovative and creative. Come up with ways to solve the educational crisis. Even if some of us may not agree with your solution at least YOU HAD A SOLUTION!!!!!

If Detroit wants to continue to be a Democratic city with a Democratic base it needs people in office with moral, educational and family values. It also needs political balance. Gone are the days of where we need to bring in dollars into the city. It is not about Detroit. It's about the region. Why? Because Black people live regionally now and will never move back to Detroit. This is a reality we have to accept.

I feel that Michigan Democrats cannot and will not ever become a force until they allow young people in that party to really be recognized. Especially young Black people, who are the base vote of this party as well as the future. I urge those young people in the Democratic Party, who possess real core values, to reach out to your brothers and sisters in the Republican Party. There are more Black Republicans than Robert Shumake in the community. We are here ready to build with you.

But it is up to you to see what is behind door number 1. You will be surprised to see how we are all connected on different levels but moving in the same direction.

Your move Young Dems!!!!!

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