What We Should Really Be Talking About During CBC Weekend

Too often, the focus is on partying with people in suits rather than real political engagement. It's time to put the "conference" back in the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Conference.

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My fellow reception hoppers and I do have the capacity to do more. We did it during the Obama campaign, when the pure exhilaration of the whole thing made knocking on doors in the suburbs or phone banking at a stranger's home more compelling than mingling in a dark lounge. With guests high on hope and change, the conversations at debate parties were naturally on-topic.

We're not going to have another first black president, so what will it take to draw us back into the important drudgery of political engagement, both formal and informal -- following and debating the issues, making phone calls, and gluing ourselves to C-SPAN tapings of panels and town halls as if they're the Superbowl?

"Put the conference back in CBCF-ALC" doesn't have the same ring as "put the Christ back in Christmas." Nevertheless, we would do well -- for our own personal reasons and for the issues that motivate to us -- to remind ourselves to include some substance with all the style, this week and beyond.

When my future children ask what I was doing during what's known as one of the most important gatherings of African-American leaders in the nation, I don't want to say I was holding a seat for a friend at the bar. So I'm going to take another look at the schedule, this time focusing on the events that occur while the sun is up. Now, to find an outfit ...

Jenée Desmond-Harris is a regular contributor to The Root.

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