Last week was the 41st Annual Legislative Conference for the Congressional Black Caucus. The conference was filled with panels, author talks/signings, and direct contact with Congressional Black Caucus members to discuss the ills of the Black community and things that can be done to fix it.
But you probably didn’t hear about that. You probably heard about “CBC Week” and the CBC PARTIES.
Admittedly, I had been a bit skeptical of heading to what some folks refer to as “Political Freaknik.” I had heard lots of commentary on CBC Week but hadn’t experienced it myself. Having gone to a lot of other non-Black conferences in the past, I felt that I would be remiss not to attend CBC Week when the opportunity came along. Even as the event was coming closer I found myself criticizing the CBC. But after hanging out a bit at the conference I had a weird “Aha” moment.
More coverage of the CBC Convention here.
While on-air, a young lady came by the Blacking It Up Booth and gave me a button with a QR code and the CBC logo telling me all of the events that were going to be happening. I casually mentioned this to the Jomo K. Bellard, the senior communications consultant of the CBCF.
“I’m sorry,” Bellard said. “Can I see the button?”
After a few moments he said: “This isn’t us at all. I have to sue these people.”
Soon after having a few more conversations with him and checking out the events that were happening I realized that the CBC had nothing to do with what even the hip hop radio stations were calling “CBC Week.” The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation does three things: a Conference (which does not include parties); a scholarship/internship program (the largest of its kind on the Hill); and publications dealing with the the mission of the CBCF. I was corrected even when I mistakenly referred to the CBC and the CBC Foundation as being the same.
I had to take back a lot of my random outsider commentary.
Now there are various critiques to give the CBCF conference as a whole. But there are also a lot of kudos to give as well. The platform given to allow for this type of national conversation with members of congress is great. The attempt to have varied panels with experts and wide range discussions focused on action is great. And now — although a bit late — an attempt to engage an audience that isn’t already indoctrinated into the CBC way via social media and independent media platforms (such as my own show) is great. And honestly, the Conference is only as good as the folks that come to make it it good. Those who come for Political Freaknik aren’t helping make the difference. Those who show up simply to hear themselves talk isn’t making a difference either (because there were quite a few of those). The CBCF Conference is a platform for change — not the actual change itself or the problem with everything.
A lot more of us should use it
Elon James White co-hosts the widely popular podcast Blacking It Up! which airs live Mon-Thurs 1:30pm ET. Follow Elon James White on Twitter @elonjames