Are we about to see an African-American version of the Tea Party? A town hall meeting about gun control hosted by Al Sharpton may have planted the seeds for a revolution that includes “Tea Party” style meetings for the black community. Gun control was hardly the topic of discussion during the town hall meeting, with attendees choosing instead to address broader problems such as the foreclosure crisis and shortage of jobs. Some of those at the meeting even hinted that African-Americans had been duped into voting for Obama simply because he is black.
“The manner in which we have been voting needs to change,” said activist Wendy Pearson. “I’m here to say to you that we have been trained to vote in a specific manner… we need to start looking at the manner in which our elected officials have been voting… if they have not voted in a manner that is beneficial to you, yours, and your community, then you need to start voting them out.”
Paul McKinley of V.O.T.E. (Voices of the Ex-Offender) even went so far as to call the NAACP “poverty pimps” who are “part of the problem and not the solution” in this country. “Stop blaming just anybody for the violence in the city of Chicago. Blame the right people, not just white people, but the right people,” he said. “Because it’s not just white folks a part of this.”
It remains to be seen what grassroots action will be taken from the meeting, but the overwhelming consensus at the meeting was that job shortages and youth violence go hand in hand. “When you give a person a job, you give them a purpose to stay out of trouble and a goal to work toward,” said Diane Latiker, founder and executive director of Kids Off the Block. “Our young people need this, especially during these hard times. If you wake up in the morning with nothing to do, you will go out and find something to occupy your time, and usually, for youths, it’s violence.”