Reclaiming my time

By House of Representatives photographic studio -, Public Domain,

Rep. Maxine Waters



Amidst the campaign slogans, the fake narratives, the pot shots and bold lies are the truth.  Can you find it?  Are you looking?

Political seasons are infamous for casting a “spell” over communities, causing the union of unlikely allies and the division of longtime partnerships. Trust is often times broken, leaving irreparable damage well after the Election Day results are announced. Can minority communities, specifically racially labeled black communities, afford this price within itself?

It is easy to become mesmerized by the “excitement” of rooting for a candidate, an individual many times “blessed” by that person’s associated political party. In many ways, society teaches its citizens that cheering for teams is the American way.

As “fans,” we do not hesitate in interpreting “referee” calls in whatever fashion beneficial to our sides.  Emotion and money are the controlling forces that occasionally lead to injury for individuals who dare to cheer for “the other side.”

Sporting events are supposed to be fun escapes to the stresses of the world, right? They are no big deal until those same win-at-all-cost behaviors stray into episodes such as police brutality or sexual harassment or unequal pay or political propaganda and you find yourself on “the other side.”  Everyone is linked to something that is or has been on “the other side.”  Some find security in assimilation.  Others are not as “lucky.”

Political parties are interesting creations in that they were not created with the membership of most people in mind, yet many people have integrated into its systems and behaviors of hatred for those on “the other side.”

Most people have not read and do not understand party platforms. Many of those who have do not agree with party agendas in their entirety. Still, those in racially labeled black communities struggle to hear its leading concerns addressed explicitly with them in mind even though black women have high voting rates–at times higher than any other racial or ethnic group nationwide–and the black vote has decided numerous elections.

Meet the U. S. Representative for California’s 43rd congressional district Maxine Waters.  Waters is a member and the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.  She is the most senior of the current 12 black women serving in the United States Congress. Recently Waters illustrated how to not lose focus in the midst of societal-approved “escapes.”

Steve Mnuchin, the Secretary of the Treasury, was testifying before the House Financial Services Committee of which Waters is the ranking committee member.  After confirming from Mnuchin that he was in fact familiar with a May 23 letter she and several Democratic committee members sent to him, Waters wanted to know why she had not received a response.

Could the failure to respond be related to her gender?  Could it have been related to her race?  Could it have been related to her political party affiliation?  Could it have been related to any combination or all of the above?  Possibly.

Wanting to know why, Waters stated, “Given your department’s statement that the agency takes responsiveness to congressional requests very seriously…is there some reason why I did not get a response to the letter I sent May 23?”

Mnuchin attempted to waste Waters time—-literally—-with kind words, appearances of confusion, and challenges, but Waters was not distracted. His numerous attempts to consume her time for questioning were met with an unwavering, repetitious rejoinder of, “Reclaiming my time!”

Eventually, Waters reminded Mnuchin, “What he (meaning the chairman) failed to tell you was when you are on my time, I can reclaim it.”

What if minority community members were purposeful in their points of inquiry regarding their interests–- collectively and individually–-as Waters?  What if their focus was as steadfast as hers when temptations to distract from obtaining equity, equality, and advancement arose?  What if they displayed bold behavior to keep the main thing the main thing, even when they are the only one(s) doing it?  What if such strength made the world better for everyone?

Is it time to reclaim your time?

Keisha Bell is an attorney, author, and public servant.

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