Political Refuge — April 2015

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman April 17th, 2015

“Who can I turn to, when nobody needs me? My heart wants to know, and so I must go where destiny leads me.” Listening to an old album by the Temptations, “In a Mellow Mood,” Mellow moodmade me think about the political trick-bag Black folks are in now that Barack is on his way out and the focus is on 2016 presidential candidates.

I thought about how Black folks are nowhere in the political conversation, neither on the Democrat nor Republican side. Based on the last mid-term election, after which pundits said the emphasis must now be placed on White men and Hispanic voters, Blacks find ourselves on the outside looking in, asking, “Who can I turn to?”

Politically, Black voters are obsolete—no longer needed, and in some cases, no longer even wanted. Who can we turn to, now that’s over? Terms like the “middle class,” “minorities,” “LGBT,” and other nebulous classifications do not identify a group of people who have been in the nation since it began, and do not address our needs or our deserved compensation, in some form or another, for our labor and the wealth generated thereof.

Oh we are good little boys and girls when it comes carrying the water for the Democrats for the past 80 years or so. We are so docile and compliant as we traipse to the polls every four years to choose from the two persons put in front of us by the real powers in this country. It’s nearly always a case of voting for the lesser of two evils—and sometimes the evil of two lessers. But we continue to rely on a corrupt political system to do right by us.

We are so good at crying in front of statues crying at mlk1crying at mlk2and on bridges and at gravesites; we are great at listening to rousing speeches that cause us to feel good but never make us go out and “do good” for ourselves. We are so captivated by many of those for whom we vote, and we really believe they will work for us when they get to Washington, rather than work for themselves. Our naiveté is off the charts when it comes to politics, which is now causing us to ask, “Who can we turn to?”

What is our “destiny,” as the words of that song imply? Where is destiny leading us now? Well, here is what Martin Delany said in his book, The Political destiny of the Colored race on the American continent: “No people can be free who themselves do not constitute an essential part of the ruling element of the country in which they live. The liberty of no man is secure who controls not his own destiny. For people to be free they must necessarily be their own rulers.”

Delany

Will we follow Delany’s lesson or will we continue to be swayed by U.S. Representative, John Lewis, who says the vote is “sacred” and is the “most powerful” weapon in a democratic society. Will we follow the likes of the “Five M’s,” Marcus,Garvey Medgar, EversMalcolm,Malcom X Martin,th_martin and Maynard,Maynard or will we continue to slobber over many of today’s politicians who have overstayed their time in office and who have not nor will do anything that specifically benefits Black people?

Abraham Maslow said, “If a hammer is the only tool you have, every problem in front of you will look like a nail.” As the new political season gets underway I reiterate, although we have a trillion other tools, called dollars, the only tool we have relied upon has been the vote. Thus, we now face a political climate that has absolutely no concern for the Black electorate because they already know what we are going to do.

Hillary is the likely choice for Blacks now, even though she will not commit to issues that directly benefit Black people, just as the ones on the Republican side will not. Unless we organize a critical mass of Black people, willing to be politically independent, vote (or refuse to vote) as a bloc, and leverage our dollars against a political system that has no regard for us, we are doomed as it relates to public policy.

Another song on that Temps’ album, our political swansong, says, “What now my love, now that you’ve left me? How can I live through another day? Watching my dreams turn into ashes, and my hopes into bits of clay. Once I could see, once I could feel, now I am numb, I’ve become unreal. What now my love, now that it’s over? I feel the world closing in on me. No one would care, no one would cry if I should live or if I should die.”

Better yet, why don’t we all join in a chorus of “What kind of fool am I”?

 

 

Creating Conscious Millionaires — April 2015

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman April 11th, 2015

Black folks have the ability to create our own conscious millionaires. We have certainly done it for others for a long time now. Conscious Black millionaires would most assuredly use some of their money to assist the Black collective; conscious Black millionaires would not hesitate to use their resources to help empower our people; conscious Black millionaires would not be afraid to espouse the principles of economic empowerment and then use their money to support it.

This is not a pipedream, folks. It can, should, and must be done. To make real progress, we must move beyond rallies, speeches, protests, philosophy, pontification, intellectual rhetoric without commensurate action, and mere symbolism without real substance.

Every rational person knows that at some point, everything we do to challenge injustice and to obtain the economic and political reciprocity we seek and deserve, will require money. Look at the amount of money spent on travel and accommodations to attend all the marches and demonstrations of the recent past. It would have been better spent on legal battles in the courts and placing initiatives on local ballots across the nation.

Everything we need to accomplish will, at some point, cost money. Who should fund the initiatives we take on to deal with inequities and unfairness against Blacks? Who should benefit from the dollars we spend to accomplish our goals? As Ken Bridges would say, “That be us, y’all.” Ken

The revolution will not be televised, but it must be financed, and we should benefit economically from our expenditures and activities associated with our fight for freedom. Currently our dollars are benefiting everyone else as we run for freedom, as we protest, as we demonstrate, and as we conduct our conventions and other meetings around the country. I recall how proud I was when I attended the Bring Back Black meeting, in 2007, at the Black owned and operated Dudley convention complex in Kernersville, North Carolina; a Black caterer prepared our food, and everything else that could be done with Black vendors was done. It was the same at our MATAH conferences, 1998-2002.

Every convention cannot do that, but if we create conscious Black millionaires, some of them would do what the Founder of Compro Tax, Jackie Mayfield, Mayfielddid in Beaumont, Texas. He and Brother Yusuf Muhammad built their own convention center. Yusuf They are, indeed, conscious Black millionaires and, like others that I know, they are not only taking care of their families, they are also doing a great deal to help others, via business opportunities and philanthropy. Many are unaware that they helped Maggie and John Anderson in their efforts to get the Empowerment Experiment off the ground. No fanfare, just quietly and humbly paying it forward, the way conscious Black people do. Is Compro Tax preparing your return this year, or is your money going to one of those companies that do nothing for Black folks in return?

Imagine the progress we would make by creating millionaires like Jackie and Yusuf. The good news is that we can do it merely by putting our financial support behind the efforts of a conscious brother or sister who has demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice and walk the walk when it comes to the overall empowerment of Black people.

Creating conscious Black millionaires is one of the objectives of the One Million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors Campaign. We know that simply by issuing a call for our members to purchase one pint of Ice Supreme from Ashiki Taylor’s ashikicompany we would have a conscious millionaire. The same by buying one t-shirt from a Black company, one book from Dr. Rosie Milligan, one pound of Nefertiti Coffee from Roger Madison’s Izania marketplace, one product from Keidi Awadu or Bob Law’s Namaskar Health Foods, or even a couple of rolls of toilet tissue from Freedom Paper Company. C’mon y’all; this is not difficult.

Those folks will use their resources to assist us in our fight for empowerment. They will do it because their consciousness will allow them to do no less. Conscious brothers and sisters consider it their “reasonable” service to support one another, to contribute to one another’s causes, and to let their actions speak louder than their words.

We have created a lot Black millionaires by buying their products. Don’t you think we should be able to look at their work and see a reciprocal benefit to Black folks? There should be some collective gain. Have they given us a return on our investment? Or, have they and their friends and families been the only ones to gain? Stop supporting shysters, hustlers, and hucksters.

Let’s use more of our money to create “conscious” Black millionaires. Imagine the possibilities. Go to www.iamoneofthemillion.com, sign up, and let’s get started.

 

 

One Million Strong! Where are they now? — April 2015

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman April 4th, 2015

Having seen how Black people are mistreated in this country, not only historically but presently, I thought about that gloriously perfect day on which more than one million strong Black men stood on Washington’s Mall loving, trusting, and respecting one another. I thought about those I met that day, not having seen them since, and relished the notion of over one million strong Black men coming to the rescue of our children; I smiled at the thought of us standing up for Eric Garner and all the others; I beamed at the image of our brothers taking up the mantle of the legacy left us by the likes of Marcus, Malcolm, and Martin. Where are they now, I wondered.
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In the nearly twenty years since “The” Million Man March (MMM), we have seen many events that continue to let us know our lives are less valued than the lives of others. We have seen murders, abuse, beat-downs, abandonment, injustice, and intimidation by the authorities and by regular citizens of this country against Black people. We have been put on notice by the courts and the penal system that we count for nothing more than another occupant for an $80,000 prison cell and $30,000 annual upkeep. We have been given a reality check, and the point has been made, repeatedly and with emphasis, that we do not count. Even when we returned from the MMM, the media said we were only 425,000 strong, obviously they were still counting each of us as three-fifths of a man. Where are those men now?
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The abuse of Black life is not waning, rather it is on the rise, from both outsiders and insiders, those who hate us and those among us who are selling us out and acting just plain foolish and trifling. We are being killed and imprisoned at an alarming rate while we stand idly by in our respective cities and do little or nothing to curtail the violence against ourselves and the violence perpetrated against us by this evil corrupt system under which we live. Where are the million strong?
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A few years ago, the newest and latest weapon of choice for zealous police officers, which was also a huge money-maker for Rudi Giuliani’s boy, Bernard Kerik, was the infamous 50,000-volt “portable electric chair” known as the Taser. It killed Black folks across the country, but we failed to come out by the millions to protest this cash cow, this so-called less-than-deadly weapon, and now there are actually laws on the books that allow it to be used on 7 year-old children.

Tasers are passé; guns and chokeholds are in vogue. Now, in light of all of the dreadful statistics about Black people, if we ever needed a million strong Black men (and women) we definitely need them now. Where are they?
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If you attended the MMM, if you supported the MMM, if you wanted to go but could not, if you participated in some of the post MMM initiatives, if you were too young and could not go because of school, I want you to do something now. You are twenty years older and, I trust, twenty years wiser, twenty years more experienced, twenty years more committed, and twenty years tired of the rhetoric regarding “what we need to do.” Whether you know it or not, or even believe it or not, you are part of the group that will take Black people to a higher level of responsibility, respect, and commensurate action vis-à-vis those alarming statistics found in all the reports and most recently in the Urban League’s State of Black America Report.

I want you to go www.iamoneofthemillion.com and add your name to the list, that is, if you are conscious and committed. one million2Let’s begin the process of recapturing the strength and resolve of one million Black men who were so intimidating that the federal government virtually shut down the day we came to town. This time, however, I want us to demonstrate that same strength by turning it into real power. How? Sign up, and then follow through on the simple but vital criteria for membership in this growing and august body of Black people.
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Please recommit, not only to the spirit of what we did in DC twenty years ago, but also to the charge given us that day: to leave that place and do something to help our people. We must reconnect, stay connected, and aggregate our resources in support of one another. We must share information, work cooperatively, take control of our destiny, stand against unrighteousness, and not only say “enough is enough,” but do the work that will give substance and real meaning to our words. Where are the one million strong? I was there, and I am still here, committed and working twenty years later. Where are you? Scan_Pic0059

 

 

Between Barack and a Hard Place — March 2015

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman March 21st, 2015

The “experiment” that featured a Black man in the White house is on the downside now. Folks in the Obama administration are busy looking for their next job and jumping ship faster than rats. But you can’t blame them; that’s the way it is in politics. You ride your horse as long as you can and then you find a new horse. That’s just what folks in Presidential administrations do. The question is: What horse will Black folks ride now?

With Barack, came new line-dances at the clubsline dance, new phrases, and new “hope” that would finally move Black people to the front of the line for a “change.” We were large and in charge, big-ballers and shot-callers, cool and stylish, but we soon found that we were not really running anything. Having bet the farm on our horse, we now look on in agony as he comes down the home stretch. We want to move the finish line a bit farther down the track because we don’t yet have the victory, and it looks like we’re not going to get it. All we can hope for now is just a little more euphoria before November 2016.
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Right now many Black people, “sheeple,” as some are called, are between Barack and hard place. We don’t know if we are pitching or catching. As that Richard Pryor movie asked, “Which way is up?” We invested nearly 100% of our political capital in our current President, thinking we would get a decent ROI (Return on Investment). Unless there is a drastic uptick in the next few months, our investment will be lost forever, because we know this experiment will not be done again for a long time.

Between Barack and a hard place means that Black people, collectively, are now without a comfortable place to turn, without someone we can look to for hope and change, and without what we considered to be a foothold in politics. Being between Barack and a hard place is causing anxiety, doubt, and even fear among some of our people.

Being between Barack and a hard place will make many of us revert back to our political ways by staying on the Democrat’s wagon because the Republicans ignore us and don’t like us anyway. We will rationalize our allegiance to the same party that takes us for granted, however. And some of us will opt out of the system altogether because we are so frustrated and angry at how the previous two terms went down.

It’s very uncomfortable being between Barack and a hard place. To whom will we turn? Will Hillary help us? Will one of the Republican candidates help us? Maybe Doctor Ben will win and come to our rescue. Dr Ben What are Black folks to do in 2016 as we now find ourselves wedged between Barack and a hard place with no wiggle room? Maybe we could “apologize” to Hillary for abandoning her in 2008; maybe we could do a public mea culpa to the Republicans. After all, we need someone to turn to now, right?

Well here are a few thoughts: Maybe we can now turn to ourselves; maybe now we will fully understand the error of our ways and make appropriate change; maybe we will finally work together as a solid bloc to leverage our precious votes against the 2016 candidates; maybe we will understand that no matter who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Black folks still have to be vigilant about our political and economic position in this country; and maybe, as we struggle to remove ourselves from between Barack and a hard place, at least a small percentage of us will organize around economic and political empowerment.

The Barack experiment was cool. He sings like Al Greenal green, dances like the steppers in Chicago, shoots three-pointers on the court, plays golf with Alonzo Mourning, and even gets his preach on when speaking to Black audiences.Obama pulpit In other words, Barack could make us feel real good, so much so that we kicked back, relaxed, and waited for him to fix our problems, to speak on our behalf, and to give us the same deference he gives to other groups. Now, we find ourselves between Barack and a hard place—no turning room, very little breathing room, and much uncertainty about our future in the political arena.

There will be a new sheriff in town in January 2017, and our guy will stand there with him or her to give congrats and well wishes right before he rides off into the sunset, back to Chicago, Hawaii, or wherever, to enjoy the fruit of his labor, and I do mean fruit. He and his family will be well taken care of, but most of our families will be in the same or worse condition, having been stuck between Barack and a hard place for eight years.

What can we do? Glad you asked. Join the One Million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors. Just go to http://www.iamoneofthemillion.com and sign up. Economic and political powers respond best to leverage. There’s a lot of leverage in one million voters who control millions of dollars.