By Vincent L. Hall
It may not seem like it, but Boyz in the Hood turned 30 this year. The late John Singleton, a filmmaker who changed the game, released his debut project in July of 1991. The epic is a cultural guidepost for anyone who wants to understand life in the “hood” during the 1990s.
2022 could be the bloodiest campaign season our community has seen in at least two decades, which made me recall the movie. We will have heated races in the 30th US Representative, District Attorney, and several county judgeships contests. Black folks and the Democratic Party must proceed with caution.
This election cycle cannot end with us cannibalizing our own. In the words of my former Pastor, Reverend Mayor Ronald Jones, “If you get your way, get on with it. If you don’t get your way get over it.”
Let me share a page from my upcoming book to evoke some history into my political caveat. Hopefully, it will be in print before 2022 ends. The book chronicles my observations while riding shotgun for 35 plus years for my brother and mentor, John Wiley Price.
Here’s a snippet!
“After 20 years and a running gun battle, ‘they’ decided to put up a credible candidate to run against John in the 2004 campaign. Charles Rose, a savvy political operator and a leading voice in the Progressive Voter’s Leagues, got the assignment. All bets were off. He was Justice of the Peace by now but as arrogant and irascible as ever.
Much of his ire stemmed from John’s conservatism on the court. When John agreed that two JP courts would consolidate to save money and create convenience for his constituents, the word on the street was that John was taking potshots at specific rivals. With that kind of hostility as a backdrop, we knew the next 90 days would be pure chaos. They were!
We’d had a few very tense campaigns in our history, but none nastier or more gut-wrenching than this one. This “Main Street melee” featured late-night yard sign destruction, two-way threats of violence and intimidation, and much more. We hammered and affixed yard signs near the tops of telephone poles using 10-foot ladders.
Someone rented a hearse and repeatedly drove it around and in front of South Oak Cliff High School. There was no corpse in it. It contained no casket. The thematic thrust was to portray the political death of John Wiley Price’s reign in Dallas.
This cortege, had a “funeral car” set to escort the five-termed Commissioner to his final resting place. In true “Black dramacidal” fashion, both cars faced Laurel Land Cemetery’s northern gate. It was less than a mile away.
Parenthetically, that was the period of Black Dallas politics that I long to resuscitate. There were a lot of political props, pundits, passion, and participation. Professional political analysts believe that most Americans are more easily motivated to vote against someone than for someone. Creating hatred is a time-tested voting strategy.
This election cycle’s oven was set so high that White folks way crosstown were being singed by the heat of the political battle. The bible’s “fiery furnace” was tamed compared to the heat we lived under in this one.
Every day was hell!” Ask publisher Cheryl Smith, she’s old enough to remember! LOL
When it was all said and done, John prevailed, but battle scars in our community take longer to heal if they heal at all. To this day, some people refuse to speak to me.
Dr. Jones’ admonishment taught me to bury political hatchets. Our lives and the inequities we are burdened with are heavy enough. Death cannot be the only cure to our conflicts.
The moral to the Boyz in the Hood story came in the final scene. “Dough Boy” sobered from his anger and realized that the murder of his brother, Ricky, and the ones he committed were senseless. Our community must endure the next 90 days without a fight or someone getting shot; literally and figuratively.
Campaign and vote for the candidate of your choice. Be passionate and persistent to the end. But Black Dallas ain’t big enough to be splintered.
And oh, by the way. John and Judge Rose made earnest peace because, in the end, all they ever had was one another.
Vincent L. Hall is an author, activist, and an award-winning columnist.