Remarks to the Bartlett Club
On Thursday, June 16, 2010 Kokayi Nosakhere addressed the esteemed Anchorage Bartlett Club. This is the text of his remarks.
THE THREE ENEMIES OF DEMOCRACY
My name is Kokayi Nosakhere. I am a community activist and I approve of the following message. (Received laughter.)
I’m thick-headed, however, I’m learning.
I’m learning that the enemies of democracy are apathy, fear and ignorance.
Every time someone asks Americas to actually act like Americans they run into a wall of apathy, fear and ignorance.
By apathy, I mean those tired arguments you hear if you’ve ever knocked a door on a campaign. “I don’t vote.” Why? “Because my vote doesn’t matter.” With the ‘are you kidding me?’ tone in your voice: You vote for the President, right? “Well, yeah, of course.” Then why not for local races? “Because it doesn’t matter. Politicians are going to do what they want to do no matter what I say!”
I do not understand this. This is not the concept of American that was given to me, such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass. Both were incessant agitators. The concept of American I inherited was one of providing constant – absolute vigilant guard against the erosion of even one gain in political power. What did the heroes of the Civil Rights movement do except fight for the right to vote? To participate in the decision of where mandatory tax dollars go.
For some reason – or someone or some-bodies or some agencies – the concept has seeped into the American mind that voting is a cultural pastime, no different than participating in a Super Bowl party. Voting is a four year event. Like the Olympics. The masses of Americans appear to be saying – now, in between times – please don’t bother me with politics. I don’t want to know who’s getting what governmental contracts. I know they are not going to me. What else do I need to know?
You need to know that a democracy works through the sweat and tears of the People. This is the Bartlett Club. You’ve heard it all before. Politicians come in and out of that door. As a community activist, I join the chorus of Populism. Just like John Edwards reminded us during the last Presidential cycle: there are two Americas. One rich; the Ruling Elite. And one poor; the masses of citizens. Being numerically in the superior, if the masses untied behind any one idea, the Ruling Elite is at the mercy of that expression of unity.
However, the unity is thwarted due to the enemy of fear – fear of the OTHER. The other is another old American Tradition. Since Aristocrats first tried to settle this New World, the original “others” was the common man. Why? Remember the Aristocrats had the money and the leisure time to go on adventure. Everyone else was impressed into such foolhardy enterprise. When commoners became valuable due to starvation and uncertainty the Native American became the other. So on and so forth. Until today we are back at almost pre-Civil War type-animosity over class.
And, so our fear of tomorrow prevents the masses from uniting behind a shared vision. We distract ourselves from our fear through voyouerism – through passive entertainment. Isolated in our avoidance of the uncomfortable reality of the 21st Century we absorb the concept(s) of OTHER presented to us by such media megaphones as Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and Jim Miller. The other becomes the object of our wrath and anger; the reason why we feel with all the work we do we cannot seem to earn enough money to enjoy BEING an American.
Because we need that escape, we choose to remain ignorant of the fact that the other is just another American trying to feed his children too. Any animosity is the result of a rhetorical trick. You were taught through media images to dislike what you told yourself you didn’t need to know about.
Our enemies are apathy, fear and ignorance.
As a community activist livicated to addressing child hunger in America I understand that I must fight against the deen of noise produced by this world’s economic driven greed, but do I also have to fight YOUR disbelief in the cause?
I have had to suffer hearing people tell me, “Child hunger, that ain’t never gone change. You gone always have hungry children.” Why? While I agree with Jesus that we shall have the poor with us always, do they have to be hungry. John von Hegel’s answer was no. That’s how we got food banks.
It is more than possible for us to respond to the challenge presented with feeding our children. Right now, the federal government is not giving a helping hand. Under the guidance of Rep. Jack Kingsley, $800 million was cut from the WIC program. Depending upon how high food prices rise somewhere between 325,00 to 475,000 American families will be effected. That means denied WIC benefits. This is done through paper. Form letters. So there are no emotions attached to this governmental duty.
Such treatment feeds our first enemy: apathy.
Then the projection of the other, which in this case is the government. The government doesn’t care about me. Then isolated in ignorance. Now, if you try to catch up to that citizen to explain how her lack of participating directly led to democracy mistreating her, her ears are already closed.
The By2015:AMERICA movement seeks to reach out to as many courageous Americans who DO REMAIN to join in a grassroots movement to feed all of America’s children by 2015. The infrastructure exists in America to do so. We just have to use it. I explained how on March 2, 2010 at the IGNITE show. Google it.
We know how to overcome apathy, fear and ignorance. However, it does mean we give up lipservice and actually act like Americans.
We have 19.5 million children to feed.
This is our challenge. I intend to meet it. I hope you join us in addressing child hunger during the next Presidential Administration. I don’t care who’s President. I care about who is feeding children.