High Stakes Politics — August 2015

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman August 26th, 2015

“I’ll see your two Blacks and raise you two more.”

The vast majority of the news is centered on politics, specifically, the 2016 Presidential race, which is fourteen months away. Black people are being sucked under by a whirlpool of nonsense on TV news outlets, newspaper and magazine commentaries, lectures, and even some protests. Candidates are already going across the nation giving speeches, and the first presidential debate by the red-tie and blue-tie gangs, has already been conducted. Hmmm. (When these politicians are on TV they always wear red or blue ties; and we are divided by red and blue states. The Crips and Bloods must be proud.)Red Blue Ties

Talking heads on news shows are so giddy about the political possibilities, and it is obvious that they see the upcoming election as simply “fun,” as one commentator said. Is it fun for Black people? Are you having fun yet? I doubt it. You’re too busy trying to make ends meet, that is, if you even have any ends in the first place.

Folks are making millions of dollars on the political hype, hysteria, and histrionics, while most Black folks are falling deeper into the abyss of economic despair and desperation. Just think about it; all the cable news shows are replete with political clap-trap—morning, noon, and night. They never highlight economic solutions for Black people, never feature conscious Black people as guests on a regular basis, and never move beyond the mundane discussions and point-counterpoint arguing that takes place between and among so-called experts and intellectuals. Of course, no problems get solved in that process.

Here’s the caveat for Black people: As I warned in 2007, watch out! The “okey-doke” is afoot. While political discourse is dominating the news, real issues that connect to Black economic growth and power are given very short shrift. Each news channel has its own Black faces, none of whom is able to go “off the plantation,” to speak directly to the important issues relevant to Black people. They consume hours of air time doing their best imitation of Pavlov’s dog, salivating over their preferred candidate and offering milquetoast assessments to Black issues, mainly through a political lens, as if that will solve our problems. I have a strong stomach, so I can watch some of their political chitchat.

Black Lives Matter (BLM) is certainly disrupting the political business-as-usual process these days, but they are waiting for the candidates to give them a plan through which Black lives will indeed matter. The candidates give them scripted rhetoric but no specific public commitment regarding real change. Asking politicians to do the right thing will only keep us waiting for another fifty years; we must demand what we want, very specifically, and get a verbal and written commitment from them before we give them our votes.

Politicians are many things, but one thing most of them are not is stupid. They will say whatever makes us feel good; they will dodge our issues or simply ignore us; or they will do what Hillary did when the brother in BLM “asked” what she would do to help. She turned the question back on him, saying, “You tell me what you want.” She was absolutely right.

Presently, politicians control the game. We must start and control our own game. They have no reason to deal with our issues vis-à-vis police brutality and other inequities because there is no price for them to pay for not supporting us.

Where is their indignation about what happened to Sandra Bland and more recently Charnesia Corley,Corley who was humiliated by police officers who forced a cavity search on her in a gas station parking lot in Harris County, Texas, in plain sight of passers-by? All Black people are hearing is the same political rhetoric that we hear each election cycle; but whose fault is that?

Most politicians only value Black folks when it’s time to vote. Ann Coulter said, “Our Blacks are so much better than their Blacks,” in her defense and support of Herman Cain. We are just pawns on their chessboard, chips in a high stakes poker game.

The solution is grounded in economics, the same weapon other groups use to gain political concessions. I recently posed two questions to a Black Republican who recruits Black voters: What will Black folks get if we all vote for the Republican candidate? What will Black folks lose if we do not vote at all? He could not answer those questions. The same questions apply to the Democrats, but more importantly they apply to us. More specifically, we must stop “asking” and start demanding—with the collective power to reward and punish.

We can win this fight; we simply have to use the right weapon. You cannot properly defend yourself in a gun fight if your weapon of choice is a switchblade.



Happy Birthday, Marcus Garvey — August 2015

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman August 15th, 2015

By: James Clingman

Happy Birthday, Marcus Garvey! 08/17/2015
This is not a history lesson; it is simply about homage, recognition, and appreciation of a Black man who loved his people so much that he sacrificed beyond what most of us would say is reasonable.

Marcus Garvey cared so much about his people that he kept coming back, even after being stymied and stigmatized by the white establishment as well as by some of his own people. After all of the negative experiences he suffered at the hands of his enemies, he kept coming back to fulfill his mission of raising the consciousness of Black people, organizing Black people, and leading Black people to economic prosperity. He even promised to come back in death as a whirlwind or a storm, bringing with him millions of Black slaves who would aid us in our fight for freedom and keep the pressure up until we have succeeded.

When you think about how hurricanes that hit the United States originate near the African Coast, it makes you wonder if Brother Marcus is not fulfilling some of his prophecy. In addition, considering the debacle that Firestone Tires suffered with all of the lawsuits against it a few years ago, I wondered then if Marcus was taking his retribution for that company’s role in thwarting his work to connect Blacks in the U.S. with our brothers and sisters in Liberia and West Africa via the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). What goes around comes around. Right?

Marcus Garvey was principled, he had backbone, and he was fearless – all because he loved his people dearly. Love is the most powerful weapon we have. If Black folks had “Marcus Garvey Love” for one another, imagine where we would be as a people.

Brother Garvey’s life should be celebrated just as other icons of the Black experience are commemorated. How can we continue to leave him out? After all, Garvey did what many of those we honor each year only talked about; he demonstrated the viability of economic control of our resources. Garvey showed our people how to pool our dollars and how to do for ourselves; he carried us to new heights, collectively, by utilizing our own resources to build the UNIA and numerous Black owned businesses.

”More and more Blacks realize that simply subscribing to civil rights is not enough; they must have economic control. I think this is becoming a greater and greater realization in America.”  Dr. Julius Garvey, son of Marcus Garvey.

Julius Garvey and Nijel
Ironically, it was Brother Garvey’s dedication to true nationalism that led to his demise by those for whom he so valiantly and relentlessly fought. Unfortunately some Blacks were jealous and envious of Marcus’ ability to rally the people, to get Black people to raise huge sums of money, to march and demonstrate in overwhelming numbers, to turnout the vote in unprecedented fashion, and to deny the takeover of the UNIA by “outsiders.” Black “leaders” of his time even came up with a “Marcus must go” campaign. Can you imagine that? I certainly can; been there, done that. Anytime a strong Black man or Black woman stands up for our people, it is almost inevitable that another Black person will lead the charge against them.

Too often we forget, if we ever knew it at all, the importance of our brothers and sisters who stood tall on our behalf. Marcus Garvey, born August 17, 1887, is certainly deserving of our recognition and our honor. His words, “All I have I have given you,” are exemplary of this man’s love for us. We should be proud of his accomplishments, and it would be wonderful if we would emulate his spirit, his love, and his tenacity as we make our way to economic freedom.

I will close with a portion of Marcus Garvey’s letter from the Atlanta prison to which he was sent as a result of trumped-up charges and a “kangaroo court. He was later deported.

“I have sacrificed my home and my loving wife for you. I entrust her to your charge… I have left her penniless and helpless to face the world, because I gave all, but her courage is great, and I know she will hold up for you and me… After my enemies are satisfied, in life or death I shall come back to you to serve even as I have served before. In life I shall be the same; in death I shall be a terror to the foes of Negro liberty. If death has power, then count on me in death to be the real Marcus Garvey I would like to be.”

The appropriate way to honor Garvey is by practicing what he did. Honor him by following his example for self-empowerment. Happy Birthday, Marcus Mosiah Garvey!



Sol-U-tions — August 2015

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman August 9th, 2015

With as much meaningless and non-redeeming information being discussed on radio and TV among Black folks, I often wonder if we even want to hear solutions to our problems, much less do anything to help solve them. It seems we want to spend most of our time posing silly questions and discussing issues that lead to yet another problem. It is apparent, and obvious in some circles, that many Black folks simply want mindless, no-reason-to-think, and no-reason-to work topics of discussion in their public and personal discourse. These brothers and sisters should take a new look at the word, “Solutions.”

The most important letter in that word is the “U.” It is amazing how many of our people love to talk about our problems and, not as often, the solutions to those problems and never raise a hand or spend a dollar to solve the problems about which they speak. All the rhetoric in the world will not solve our problems. We must be willing to work on the solutions.

There is a role for each one who wants to work on solutions, however, too many of us sit back and say what needs to be done without coming to the realization that the “U” in solutions means “You.” The word, “solutions” is speaking directly to you; it is asking what are “U” willing to do to effect appropriate change for Black people?

We often hear brothers and sisters say what “we need” to do, but many of them aren’t doing one thing to help achieve what they say “we need” to do. If we would simply charge ourselves, as well as to others, to get to work, the “U” in solutions would take on a more personal aura. Standing on the sidelines and pointing out what Black folks need to do, without bringing your resources to the table, increases the load on those doing the work.
The 20/80 Rule says 20% of the people in a group do 80% of the work. We do not have the luxury to comply with that rule within our movements and organizations. Our issues require an “all hands on deck” approach. There is something each of us can do, but the first step is to look at the “U” in the solutions we propose.

I used to teach in my business planning class that ideas are a dime a dozen; everyone’s idea is the best thing to come along but, unfortunately, those ideas go to the graveyard with the person because he or she never moves to the action required to bring the idea to fruition. Economic freedom takes work and it takes sacrifice, as Bev Smith said on her show one evening as she interviewed a young rising star named Marcus Jackson, from Philadelphia.Marcus Jackson

Jackson heads the State of Pennsylvania contingent of the One Million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors (OMCBV&C), and he spoke eloquently, coherently, and practically about the need for Black folks to consider their individual contribution to our quest for political and economic empowerment. Bev Smith was obviously taken by the young man as she offered her response by first agreeing with Jackson’s contentions and then by telling her audience that his is the example they should emulate. She said, yes, it’s hard work, it does require sacrifice even to the extent of not getting paid for your time, but if we are ever going to end up where we say we need to be in this nation, those sacrifices must be made—on an individual basis on behalf of the collective. Right on, Bev Smith!
Bev Smith
Marcus Jackson, 31 years of age, and others in his age group within the OMCBV&C, are leading the way to true empowerment, uncompromising in their political and economic positions, and willing to go that extra mile and spend that extra dollar toward that end. They proudly declare “I am one of the million!” and they understand the work they must do and the sacrifices they must make for our people, just as 32 year-old David Walker, 36 year-old Malcolm X, 33 year-old MLK, and 30 year-old Marcus Garvey did, as he set out for the U.S. to meet with Booker T. Washington and take up the economic empowerment mantle.

The “U” in the solutions most of us speak about is the key to our advancement, to achieving our goals, and empowering ourselves. It all begins with “U.” The OMCBV&C, with members in 31 states, is the key organizational movement that is doing the work necessary to move us beyond the problems and closer to impactful life-changing solutions. It’s not yet at the one million mark, so there is still room for “U.”
Go to www.iamoneofthemillion.com and read the information; if “U” find something “U” like, sign up and add your “U” to the solutions to our problems.



Requiem for Sandra — July 2015

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman August 1st, 2015

Sandra Bland is dead.

While many are concentrating on “how” she died, we must also face the reality of “why” she died. All of the circumstances surrounding her death notwithstanding, Sandra is still dead. I cannot help but think that along the three-day period from her arrest to her final moments in that lonely and frightening jail cell, there were opportunities to rescue her from such a horrible experience and tragic end.

This is not a rehash of all the conversations, utterances, conjecture, and theories put forth after Sandra died. Rather, this is a simple critique of what we all saw on video and heard from Sandra herself when she called someone to let them know her current status having received a $5,000.00 bond. To say the least, she was totally frustrated by entire situation.
Why Sandra Bland died is also obviously connected to who played a role in her death, whether directly or indirectly. Where were the intervention points by which Sandra’s three-days of horror could have been stopped? Was there any way, leading up to her demise, for her to have survived?

She should have never been arrested in the first place, but after she was, what could have been done? My initial inquiry would be directed toward the person who shot the cellphone video, the one to whom the cop said, “You need to leave.” The bystander replied, “Is this public property?” That person obviously had enough backbone to refuse to leave and even question the officer’s order; but did he make any attempt to see what happened to Sandra after she was taken away thanking him for recording the incident?
In such a small town, where I am sure the news of Sandra’s arrest got around pretty fast, I wonder if anyone at her new employer, Prairie View A&M University, knew about the incident on the day it took place. If someone did know, did they follow up to check on Sandra and make an effort to help her?

Surely there are a couple of Black lawyers in Prairie View as well. I am not a lawyer, but I know there is something called “habeas corpus,” which directs a person, usually a prison warden or jailer, to produce the prisoner and justify the prisoner’s detention. If the prisoner argues successfully that the incarceration is in violation of a constitutional right, the court may order the prisoner’s release. Am I misinformed about that legality?

Finally, there was the $5,000.00 bond, which called for ten percent to be paid—a measly $500.00—for Sandra to be released. Does anyone believe that $500.00 was such an enormous amount of money that Black folks in Prairie View could not raise it to pay her bond? Even the full $5,000.00 could have been put up by a group of people until Sandra’s family was able to send it or bring it to the court. Now we have to live with the fact that a major reason this young lady died is the lack of $500.00! Surely her life was worth far more than that.
To have allowed her to stay in a cell for three days with no one checking on her from the outside, no one pursuing legal avenues to see and speak to her, no one willing to put up the miniscule bond for her release is embarrassing, irresponsible, and unconscionable.

We let Sandra down by failing to rescue her. Every photo I found of her contained a beautifully brilliant smile. The only ones in which she is not smiling were taken after she was arrested. We helped take her smile away.
Since mid-July 2015, according to an article written by April V. Taylor on Kulture Kritic, five Black women have died in police custody. They should not be treated as mere conversational fodder for talk/news shows. We have a responsibility to be more proactive when these issues arise and not wait for our brothers and sisters to lose their lives before we act appropriately.

We may not like it and we may not agree with it, but Black folks are part of the “why” Sandra Bland met her demise. There are practical things that could and should have been done, not only by Black folks but by anyone interested in the fate of that young woman. We must admit that, learn from it, and act before other tragedies occur.
Now that Sandra Bland is dead, many are wringing their hands and saying, yet again, how outrageous this is, how they are fed up, how this must stop, and how things must change. A lot of good that’s doing for Sandra Bland now. We are always late when it comes to dealing with these kinds of issues. In this case we were three days late and one sister’s life short. Sandra2Sandra9