As a member of the Black Community, Clergy and Labor Alliance (BCCLA), we created a Candidates Covenant between the Black community and those seeking public office.
BCCLA, an independent and social activist organization dedicated to representing, promoting and protecting the social and economic interests and well-being of the Black community and Black workers, reaffirm our profound and enduring commitment to racial and social justice, cooperation and struggle for common good and our belief that everyone should have a good life and the opportunities, access and capacity required for this. Of necessity, this requires and includes a quality education, good jobs with just wages, and/or sufficient income, from other sources, adequate and affordable housing and health care, a safe and healthy environment, and security of person and community.
We recognize the critical role the political process plays in this and the need for communities and candidates to come to agreement to realize the interests of both and to cooperate in pursuing and achieving common good. In the past, however, too often politics have been essentially transactions of convenience for candidates and community leaders and/or personalities without adequate involvement of the community and concern for its interests. This has led too often to, confusing and conflating class interests with mass interests, group concerns with community concerns, and personal benefit with collective benefit.
The character of the times and the urgency of the situation demand that we do things differently, definitely better and with greater concern for the Black community interests and the common good. In this critical moment in our history, we have come together to propose and strive to put in practice a covenant-based politics which is ethical in foundation, inclusive in form and people-focused, beneficial and practical in content.
We hold the position that support of any political candidate must be based on mutual respect, mutual benefit and the common good expressed in mutual commitments. Thus, political candidates who seek our support must recognize and respect our interests and endorse our list of vital interests and agenda. Below are a minimum list of vital interests and terms of mutual agreement.
* A living wage requirement for all US citizens;
* Equitable representation of Black workers in jobs with contracts and/or taxpayer funded projects;
* Increased emphasis on recruiting, training, hiring and retention practices to facilitate equitable representation of Black workers in every contract and/or taxpayer funded project;
* Support “Ban the Box” legislation to remove employment barriers for the formerly incarcerated, with special programs for reentry residents, including training and mentoring programs;
* Maintenance of the current equitable number of African American city, county, state and federal employees;
* Appointment of Black senior advisors in the areas of education, economic development and human services;
* Investment in banks that provide foreclosure relief/assistance programs based in the Black community;
* Expansion and funding of “First-Time Buyer” programs focused in the Black community;
* Support for rent control, affordable housing, mixed-income and mixed-use development in “under-developed” areas and communities;
* Development of “Commerce Centers” along main transportation routes throughout the Black community;
* Restoration of transportation services to ensure continuous public transportation routes throughout the Black community;
* Increase and improvement of accessibility of Small Business Loans and Small Business Assistance Centers in the Black community;
* Establishment of subsidized “Business Rent Control” in historical African American communities and commerce centers;
* Partnership with and promotion of Black Business Commerce throughout the United States;
* Ensuring a high quality education is available to every Black child in every neighborhood through the allocation of funds and resources necessary to meet their specific needs, including students speaking non-standard English-just as the federal government does for bilingual students;
* Engagement in the policy areas of teacher effectiveness, evaluations; and accountability;
* Adequate resources to schools most in need;
* Funding comprehensive social services, especially for Foster Care youth;
* Investigation of public claims of police brutality, corruption, discrimination and racial targeting, within individual law enforcement agencies;
* Contract with community based organizations to provide cultural sensitivity training to law enforcement agencies;
* Improvement in the community complaint process to ensure transparency and a timely response regarding police misconduct;
* Improvement and expansion of gang prevention/intervention programs;
* Increase in youth engagement programs;
* Development of a comprehensive, cultural specific “Health Initiative” that focuses on the major health issues disproportionately affecting the Black community: heart disease, HIV/AIDS, hypertension, diabetes, mental illness and cancers;
* Resources to develop and implement culturally competent and comprehensive health service centers within school communities.
This covenant will serve several essential functions which aim not only to achieve concrete policy and political goals of community and candidate, but also to create a new way of political thinking and political practice.
First, the covenant will serve as:
(a) a rating system for candidates.
(b) a basis for community support or non-support of a given candidate.
(c) a central point of reference for community conversations and media initiatives that the Black community will launch to cultivate community commitment to this covenant process and its terms and to foster expanded community engagement in this process in support of these goals and those who embrace them during and after elections.
It will thus serve as an essential foundation for holding ourselves and others accountable for practices and policies which achieve particular and shared goals.
Finally, this covenant-based process of expanded political education, mobilization and participation, based on informed choice, clear terms, and mutual commitment, will be of shared benefit to both community and candidate. For it will serve to open and expand a critical way to a truly cooperative effort for common good, i.e., building and sustaining the just and good country and society we all want and deserve to live in.