Obama plans on running. One of my colleagues sends me an article. Turns out he doesn’t exactly move “civil rights leaders”. Now I put the term in quote because while the article talks about civil rights leaders in the aggregate it only quotes a few.

While this type of article is usually written to fill space rather than impart insight, there is likely something here. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and others have a vested interest in maintaining their status as black brokers…hence the talk about “taking the black vote for granted”. And to be fair even though I am very excited about the possibility of Obama running, he is light in the ass on policy prescriptions. I’m not just talking about Affirmative Action or racial profiling, I’m talking about the tax code, the environment, etc. etc.

But this position along with the few posts that Temple3 has begun to write on the subject, have me thinking about practical ways that black people can take back their political agency from brokers on the one hand, and white supremacists on the other. And the term “open source black politics” came to mind.

The foundation of democratic politics is transparency, accountability, and agency. The black leadership model as currently posited exhibits none of these traits. No transparency–all the deals are backdoor and privatized. No way of removing a black leader like Sharpton from his post (or even if he was elected, uncovering his deals because of the lack of transparency), so there is no accountability. And even the language of “a black vote” combined with a general unwillingness to compete over offices at any level, translate into a lack of agency.

People should have the power and the ability to aggregate at whatever level they see fit, along any axis that works for them. They should have the ability to not only elect individuals, but to examine their deeds and to hold them accountable. Finally they should have the space to debate, to propose, and to develop consensus.

Black Power in the 21st Century must emanate from open source politics. If it doesn’t start from pre-existing social networks that can be easily activated using present day technology and politics, then we may as well be talking about the Second Coming.

Some tools to consider.