If you are serious about economic empowerment, you must dismiss the empty rhetoric of pandering politicians, the transparent ramblings of self-righteous religious pretenders, the oratory of warmongering money-grubbing government officials, and the unbounded pronouncements and musings of speechifying intellectuals. If your leaders are only talking about the problems and have nothing to show for their monologue, such as a genuine plan of action, an institution they have established to deal with the problems they decry, or a movement that will help you economically, you must not follow them. If you are serious, be a leader not a lemming.
Being stuck in a morass of political clap-trap is definitely not conducive to Black people making headway to being truly empowered. Unfortunately, we are swamped with the daily cacophony of political experts who cannot wait to make their points before another panelist is finished speaking, which ends up in a rhetorical free-for-all that results in no one’s point being heard. Why such emotion when it comes to an individual’s support, or lack thereof, for a particular candidate? I guess it makes for good ratings.
Unless we change our political ways, it really won’t matter who wins because Black people will continue to get nothing specific from any one of the candidates. Instead of us getting what is right, we will always get what is left; we will get leftovers, scraps, crumbs, from the tables of political aristocrats whom we created by putting them in office. The relative few oligarchies that rule over us will maintain their positions regardless of who the President is, and we will be the latest group that, having no bread to eat, is told to eat cake instead.
Getting what’s right from the political system and those who write public policies requires action, work, sacrifice, and resolve. It will not happen simply because it ought to; it will only happen if we make it so. It will only happen if there is a price to pay by those in charge for not giving us what’s right. The original Tea Partiers knew that when they tossed British tea into the Boston Harbor.
If we fail to organize a critical mass of Black consumers and voters, about one million or so, and leverage the collective power within such a group, we will never see the reality of reciprocity in the marketplace and quid pro quo in the public policy arena. This is something that can and must be done, not by “all” Black people, which will never happen anyway, but by a relative committed few of us, in order to get what’s right rather than what’s left.
Settling for leftovers will keep us in a subservient position, begging for what we need but continuing to buy what we want, buying more than we sell and consuming much more than we produce. We will never build the leverage we must have in order to make a positive difference for our people.
So as we fight for what’s right for Black people, as we seek reciprocity, fairness, justice, and empowerment, we must focus on us first, and make sure we do what we must for ourselves first. As we seek the largess of corporations with which we do business every day, and as we petition politicians for redress and repair in return for the centuries of mistreatment to which we have been subjected, we cannot afford to be reticent and complacent.
You may ask, “How do we achieve those things, Jim?” Well, as a friend of mine, Peter Block, titled one of his books, “The answer to ‘how’ is YES.” We must agree to say yes. Not “yes we can” but “yes we will.” We must be resolute in our demands and back up those demands with the power to reward and punish.
Our fight for reparations, for instance, gets diverted by the “How?” Let’s make the answer “Yes.” In the past 200 years Blacks and Whites have advocated for “reparatory justice” for people of African descent; we must take up the gauntlet and make it a reality.
“For the first time in the history of relations between people, a precedent has been created by which a great State, as a result of ‘moral pressure alone,’ takes it upon itself to pay compensation to the victims of the government that preceded it. For the first time in the history of a people that has been persecuted, oppressed, plundered and despoiled for hundreds of years in the countries of Europe, a persecutor and despoiler has been obliged to return part of his spoils and has even undertaken to make collective reparation as partial compensation for material losses.” David Ben-Gurion comments on German reparations for Jewish people.
“Moral pressure alone” is not enough for us to get what’s right rather than what’s left.