When Ted Hayes announced his intention to join with the White supremacist Minutemen organization, he became the latest in a long line of opportunists, fortune seekers and ordinary Uncle Toms who are willing to do the bidding of Black America's enemies.
The quickest way for Black people to find fame, fortune and good press is to publicly denounce what is in the best interest of their own people.
Hayes' moniker is "homeless activist." He began cashing in on his local renown in Los Angeles when he campaigned for President Bush in 2004. As a reward he became the subject of fawning coverage in the Wall Street Journal. The Journal was pleased not only to find a Black Republican to promote, but one with locked hair whom they dubbed the "Rasta Republican."
Now Hayes is the toast of FOX News, having formed the Crispus Attucks Brigade and declaring his intention to join the Minutemen along the border between the United States and Mexico.
The Minutemen claim to be upset only about the illegal nature of immigration — but self-described White supremacists have promoted the Minutemen and their effort to patrol the border. Confederate and Nazi flags have been proudly unfurled at Minutemen events.
Black people marching arm-in-arm with White supremacists is the ultimate insult, a sign that Black leadership has utterly failed to create an agenda that is of any use. Nature abhors a vacuum, and Ted Hayes and company are happy to fill it.
The activism in the mostly-Latino immigrant community has created resentment among African Americans, a group who should see the opportunity for allies on a host of issues.
Most of the resentment towards immigrants is caused by fear of competition for scarce jobs and resources. The magnitude of the activism should tell us that this sea change in the demographic and political landscape need not be detrimental to Black people.
At a time when thousands of well-paying blue-collar jobs are disappearing, the need for labor activism should be obvious. The need to work with other groups who are willing to march en masse should be obvious.
Hayes may be a true believer in the nativist cause, he may be crazy — but he isn't completely stupid. Naming his group for Crispus Attucks may give him credibility with the credulous. Attucks was a Black man who was the first to fall in the Boston Massacre in 1770.
Hayes has made good on his new notoriety, spouting statements so foolish that even Sean Hannity of FOX News sees the need to rephrase and clarify.
HANNITY: You're under fire for saying the biggest threat to Blacks in America since slavery is illegal immigration. …
HAYES: Absolutely. Because it's true.
HANNITY: … What did you mean by that for maybe somebody who didn't understand what you meant?
HAYES: If this illegal immigration process continues, it is going to completely destroy us.
HANNITY: You use the words "biggest threat to Blacks in America since slavery," and people are offended that you said that.
HAYES: Yes, because it's destroying us. We're dying as a people, and they're doing it in the name of our civil rights.
They're invoking the name of Martin Luther King. They got nothing to do with that.
HANNITY: In other words, you're saying the moral comparison is unfair?
HAYES: Yes, it is. They cannot be claiming what they're going through is the same as slavery. We are immigrants, not by choice. ... And we've been struggling from slavery through Jim Crow and 40 years of social welfare. It's destroyed our people.
Like the broken clock that is right twice a day, Hayes is correct that Black America is struggling. The struggle is not caused by day laborers looking for work at Home Depot. It exists because corporate interests who once employed millions of Americans and paid living wages no longer do so.
It took a group of newcomers to remind us what is at stake in this country. They are the marchers we need to join, not White supremacists — and certainly not Ted Hayes.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly on www.blackcommentator.com.