Anti-Destruction Is Not The Same As Construction: The Vote For CommUnity 1st And The Process of Community Building

“Honest and earnest criticism from those whose interests are most nearly touched,- criticism of writers by readers, of government by those governed, of leaders by those led, – this is the soul of democracy and the safeguard of modern society” W.E.B. DuBois

Some extraordinary things occurred during the state primaries on September 13th, 2018, in Southeast Queens. First, we witnessed a viable campaign not centered on voting for an individual, but on voting for a concept and a philosophy. Second, we witnessed a viable campaign that didn’t focus on money, but focused on people. Third, we witnessed a campaign that resisted the rabid and persistent misinformation that is all too prevalent in black communities. The construction of a black community continues.

We ran a viable campaign void of the rampant individualism we see too often in society in general, let alone the modern political campaigns of today. With the simple yet powerful slogan of “Fighting For The Black Community” and campaign website domain name that focused on a group as opposed to the name of a single individual, we tapped into the subconscious of a community and people that feel so misused and ignored that apathy and mistrust are all but inevitable. A community to represent the community. The campaign made visible the members of Southeast Queens who wish NO LONGER TO BE INVISIBLE. In an age where we have plenty black politicians, but virtually no Black agenda, we started a needed conversation. The construction of a black community continues.

Not only did we not take or seek money on our way to almost 3,000 votes (unheard of, for challengers in State Assembly races in Southeast Queens), we turned away donations. The philosophy was “PEOPLE > MONEY.” People and their talents coupled with their votes win elections in a just democratic society, not money. The dependence on money is crippling our political system, because politicians are more concerned with who donates to them than who who votes for them. In order for alcoholics to beat alcoholism, they have to quit “cold-turkey,” the same is with our political system and the corrupting forces of money. Until we beat the dependency and disease we have to remove all money from politics. Hopefully, we’ve started the ball rolling. The construction of a black community continues.

During slavery, a slave learning how to read was an illegal act. Then from the 1860s to the 1960s, the educational system controlled what you read. A student could be suspended from school for reading certain books. Now in the modern era, we are given the wrong thing to read. We are miss-educated and misinformed. False information circulated about the unlawfulness of my ability to run for public office and concurrently hold the position of president of a 501(C)3, as I do serve as president of St. Albans Civic Improvement Association, even in the light of Robert Holden being President of Juniper Park Civic and running for NYC Council only 9 months prior. Fortunately, the black community resisted this miscarriage of justice and things have returned to normal. The construction of a black community continues.

When a parent does something good for his/her child, the parent is not doing something bad to someone else child. When we advance black community, we do not impede the progress of other communities. To promote construction of a black community is not the same as stopping the destruction of black communities. The former in proactive and the latter is reactive. Let us be proactive. If we cannot advocate for ourselves then we cannot advocate for anyone else. The construction of a black community continues.

Oster Bryan


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