Raising Money or Just Raising Cain?

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman February 8th, 2016

Bernie Sanders raised $20 million with the average donation being just $27.00. What is wrong with Black folks? For decades conscious Black leaders have cajoled, encouraged, admonished, and begged us to raise money among ourselves, a small amount from a lot of people, you know, the way Marcus Garvey did, which we love to brag about but never emulate. What we have done instead is raise a lot of Cain about our collective economic predicament.

Why do we cloak ourselves in Garvey’s legacy of rallying millions of Black people and raising millions of dollars from Black folks but do not pick up where he left off, by pooling some of our tremendous annual income to help our own people?

A massive pool of Black dollars could leverage reciprocity from politicians and from the marketplace. If we were as serious about action as we are about our rhetoric, many of our problems would be solved in a “New York minute,” as they say. But it seems we’d rather just call radio talk shows and voice complaints about what the White man won’t let us do, or what he’s doing to us, or how corrupt his elections are, how we should pack up and leave (with no money, at that), and a myriad of other Black economic and political woes.

We sign online petitions in support of some cause or another; we send letters to our representatives in DC; we do our obligatory marches and demonstrations; we celebrate historical events and fawn over memorials of fallen Black heroes. Some of that is fine, but if those actions are not backed up by economic muscle, they will not advance us one iota.

If Bernie Sanders can raise $20 million in $27.00 increments, why can’t we do the same thing? I’ll tell you why; Black dollars don’t make any sense. We are so focused on the current political prospects of this candidate or that one, and we have lost complete sight of what is really important—and vital to our future: economic empowerment. Sometimes I think Black folks have lost our ever-loving minds, well some of us at least.

On the other hand, I am proud to be a member of the One Million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors (OMCBV&C), a group of folks from thirty-five states who are not just talking about pooling resources but are actually doing it. Together we have made a real difference in the lives of various Black folks; we have supported Black radio by buying advertisements and sponsoring individual shows, in addition to just listening and calling in. We support Black owned businesses by buying their products and services, and we are committed to a collective approach to obtaining reciprocity in the public policy arena by voting as an unwavering bloc.

We are dedicated to one another and to our collective goals and objectives, and we will not break ranks simply to please some politician, nor will we succumb to their attempts to buy us off. Our funding pool is from the “work of our own hands,” as Martin Delany taught us. DelanyOur resolve is built on the shoulders of those strong elders who have made their transitions. We are organized and well on our way to becoming the largest group of conscious black people in this nation.

Most importantly we are about action not rhetoric. We are willing to make the requisite sacrifices necessary to reach our goals of economic and political empowerment, and we have demonstrated that willingness through our actions.

Let’s face it; Black folks have little or no chance of achieving the many things we discuss unless we are organized and prepared to utilize our collective leverage to obtain reciprocity from the system in which we find ourselves. When are we going to follow through on the solutions we put forth in our conversations? As I wrote some time ago, “What is the result of our rhetoric?”

Politically and economically, we are in last place. Are we so complacent about our position in this nation that it has caused us to be paralyzed, frozen in our tracks, even at the thought of moving forward? Raising Cain instead of, or at least in addition to raising money to help ourselves, is a hopeless strategy for empowerment. Imagine one million conscious Black people pooling our money to fund the Harvest Institute or the political campaign of a candidate we “decided” would run. Our schools, museums, media, financial institutions, conferences, businesses, co-ops, movements, foundations, endowments, and any other Black owned entity could all be funded by a committed group of conscious Black folks.

Bernie did it; what’s holding us back? As the old saying goes, “There’s nothing between us but air and opportunity.” Go to www.iamoneofthemillion.com and let’s start taking care of ourselves. We can start with $27.00 each. 20150815_19060120150815_190657



Political Decisions vs Political Choices — January 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman January 30th, 2016

Picture this headline:

“Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders win respective primaries.”

Let that Marinate for a moment before reading any further.

Now, what is your reaction? Faced with those two choices, what will you do? For whom will you vote? Will you vote at all? Or, will you go to either (or both) of the candidates and make demands, insisting that unless they support your positions publicly and in writing you will not vote for them? No matter who ends up on the ballot, our choice for President will be based on decisions made by others.

Some people use “deciding” and “choosing” interchangeably, and in some cases that’s fine. But in politics, it’s intellectually dangerous and comes with negative results for the electorate. Remember George Bush’s words, “I am the decider”? That was his way of saying I have the final say. Like the President, the Supreme Court decides; political handlers, donors, and operatives decide. The electorate chooses, with the exception of the 2000 election where the Supremes decided who would be President.

The necessity for [strict scrutiny] becomes evident when we consider that major parties, which by definition are ordinarily in control of legislative institutions, may seek to perpetuate themselves at the expense of developing minor parties.
Justice Thurgood Marshall

What about Black folks? As I wrote last year (“Spectator Politics”), Black folks do not have a say in who wins Iowa and New Hampshire, which are the primary indicators of who gets the final nomination for President. Why would candidates spend millions of dollars to win those two small states? Iowa has a 91% White and 2% Black population, and only 6 electoral votes; New Hampshire has a 93% White and 1% Black population, and only 4 electoral votes. By the way, the third state to vote is South Carolina, which has a 28% Black population and 9 electoral votes.

The bottom-line in this exclusionary process that takes place during the run-up to the Presidential election is this: The majority of the electorate is only left with choosing among, and later between, the candidates decided upon by a hand-full of powerbrokers and opinion leaders.

Listen to the speeches and watch the debates, and you will see a glaring absence of rhetoric about Black issues, such as those listed in the political platform of the One Million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors (OMCBVC). Lip service and posturing are the rules of the day for candidates who want the Black vote. The bar for their response to our needs is insultingly low. Just say, “Yes, Black lives do matter,” and you got Black votes. Just say, “I am for voting rights,” and you lock up Black votes. Just mention “MLK’s Dream, or Rosa Parks’ refusal, or the Selma Bridge, and the Black votes are in the bag—mostly the Democrats’ bag.

Bernie Sanders, according to an article written by Ta-nehisi Coates, said, the likelihood of reparations for descendants of enslaved Africans in America “is nil…I think it would be very divisive.” That’s a real interesting response in that reparations for Jewish people were not deemed “divisive” by Sanders. Barack Obama does not support reparations; Hillary Clinton and all the Republican candidates do not support reparations. So Black folks “ain’t got nothin’ coming.” Surprised? I doubt it.

What do we do? Well, we must first understand that in politics there is a difference between choosing and deciding. Then we must organize ourselves into a “deciding” force rather than continue to be a “choosing” afterthought.

How do we do that? By joining the OMCBVC and reaching a critical mass of Black folks who are willing to play politics to win by leveraging our votes as a bloc, and by combining our financial resources in order to leverage our dollars within the political campaigns of prospective candidates.

Ice cream moguls, Ben Cohen’s and Jerry Greenfield’s support of Black Lives Matter and their ties to Bernie Sanders in Vermont, notwithstanding, Charles and David Koch, Sheldon Adelson, George Soros, and all the rest of the puppet masters whose money controls politics, show us that we have very little decision-making power. What we have at this stage of the game is the ability to choose from the power-brokers’ decisions.

Beyond the superficial, Black folks’ issues are not being discussed by any candidate. But why should the candidates deal with us? They are courting virtually all-White audiences in the two states they want us to believe will ultimately determine our next President. When the game comes to South Carolina it will change a little; we’ll see Black church visits, gospel hymns being sung, and arm-in-arm prayer, which always turns us on and captures our support.

I implore you, if you are a conscious Black voter, to join the movement that is focused on bringing about a significant change in how public policy is determined. Go to www.iamoneofthemillion.com and sign up. We must be deciders, not choosers.



The Economics of Water — January 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman January 23rd, 2016

“Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink.” Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

I can hear the backroom discussion now. “We can save money if we stop taking our drinking water from Lake Huron and start using water from the Flint River instead.” Those may not be the exact words, but the leaders of Flint, Michigan, including the two recent Emergency Managers, City Council, the EPA, and the Governor, have caused a catastrophe.

Money is the common theme among the perpetrators in Flint; it is always lurking in the shadows of the many problems facing Black and poor people. Now, in a city that is approximately 60% Black and has a 40%+ poverty rate, money trumps life again. Money trumps the long-term effects on more than 8,000 children, many of whom will grow up suffering from the physical, cognitive, and emotional illnesses caused by lead poisoning. As one person said, “Everybody in the city has been poisoned, everybody.”

Sophia A. McClennen (Salon.com ), wrote, “The story of Flint is the story of what happens when profits are more important than people. What Michael Moore captured in his movie, Roger and Me, Michael Moorewas a clear prelude to what is happening [in Flint] today. First, Flint residents lost their jobs. Twenty-five years later they have lost their water and their health. There are ten dead…from Legionnaire’s disease in Flint and countless others with serious illnesses from contaminated water.”

Politicians are playing games with this emergency, and trying to garner votes from it. Remember Rahm Emmanuel’s quote? “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” Where is the “opportunity” in this crisis? Was the slow response to this crisis really just an opportunity to get more money?

This is far from being about what party is in charge. Some folks are blaming the Republican Governor and some are blaming the city council, on which the Democrats hold a 7-1 majority. But so what? The damage is done; the right question is “Now what?”

Many people have marshalled their forces to assist the people of Flint, first, by bringing water. The Feds have granted a measly $5 million to help but the POTUS, who went to nearby Detroit ObamaUAWbut did not go to Flint, denied the request by the governor to declare the situation a “major disaster,” which under law applies to natural disasters and “certain other situations.” Isn’t this a “certain other situation”? Isn’t it just as important as getting water to Katrina victims and providing healthcare for Flint’s citizens? I guess, once again, the money from the UAW trumps the voters in Flint.

It would be great to see our doctors, psychologists, attorneys, scientists, engineers, and technical personnel lend their talents to help, like we do in other countries. In light of this terrible situation, Flint is in need of all the services, assistance, contributions, and prayers that we can muster. By the way, so are the folks in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, where the citizens are suffering from all sorts of diseases and untimely deaths because of the still lingering effects of the BP oil spill. (See article written by Earnest McBride: www.jacksonadvocateonline.com

The lawsuits will come and the money from the taxpayers’ coffers will flow, money that could have been used to prevent the problem in the first place. The long term health ramifications of lead poisoning are irreversible but manageable if the funds to do so are available. The State of Michigan, as it deals with myriad financial issues, will now have to pay billions for its neglect and lack of concern for poor people.

Beginning with Idlewild in 1912, IdlewildMichigan has had issues with Black/White relationships, social/environmental justice, and economic progress, which provides a context from which to view Michigan’s current predicament, Detroit and its recent economic woes notwithstanding.

In Benton Harbor, with a 90% Black population, Edward Pinkney was imprisoned for fighting for social and economic justice, another example of money trumping what is right. Pinkney The NAACP abandoned brother Pinkney and opted, by its silence and lack of advocacy on his behalf, chose the path of least resistance, and who knows what they received from the Whirlpool Corporation in return for their silence? Once again, as it has throughout the nation, the NAACP manipulated the local election to get rid of Pinkney as President. whirlpoolHe went to prison and Whirlpool got an NAACP award. whirlpool 2

Three of the five great lakes, Michigan, Huron, and Erie, virtually surround Michigan. For folks in Flint to have to drink water from the Flint River in order to save money is reprehensible. “Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink.” To all of you “Civil Rights” advocates: What could be a greater “civil right” than having clean water to drink?



Unrepresented by our Representatives — January 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman January 18th, 2016

Does it really matter who wins the Presidency? How can it matter to Black folks, considering the way we “play” politics? We have no power, no leverage, and little or no influence in the political arena, and even worse it seems we are reluctant to do what it takes to gain any political clout. So why do we care so much about the upcoming election?

Having “played” this political game for more than fifty years now, getting thousands of Black folks elected to public office, and even a Black POTUS, we are still far behind and even nonexistent in serious public policy discourse and legislative initiatives. As we face yet another “most important election” of our lifetime, what are you willing to do to improve our political situation in this country? Hint: Handwringing won’t help.

Is our political strategy, “I got plenty of nothing, and nothing is plenty for me”? Or, “You got to give the people, give the people what they want”? Do we even have a strategy other than listening to flowery words from politicians and watching them give speeches and participate in debates?

We, the bi-polar electorate, have empowered an aristocratic class of pompous, self-righteous, lying, condescending, affluent, aloof, money-grubbing, narcissistic, insincere, unconcerned, yet powerful individuals that many of us hold in high esteem, for reasons unbeknownst to me. They play with our emotions and draw on our sympathies, the result of which is a never-ending roller coaster ride. Even sadder is the fact that many of us believe they will save us.

All the incumbents and candidates need are a few nice sounding phrases to make us think we are in high cotton. To make matters worse, Black “leaders” once again are telling us to vote, but they are not in specific discussions about who to vote for and why. Oh yeah, I forgot; the NAACP is “nonpartisan” (yeah, right) and cannot endorse or support any candidate. How convenient; and what a joke that is.

The vast majority of Black folks are already in the tank for Hillary; anyone can see that. Black organizations will feature her at their conventions, and preachers will invite her to their pulpits. On the other hand, Bernie is courting Blacks via his Black lives matter rhetoric, and Trump is saying how much Black people love him, while the other Republican candidates are reluctant to seriously lobby the Black vote—including Uncle Ben. We are merely props for a circus act.

The day after the SOTU many of our people were more interested in what Michelle Obama wore than what her husband said—or did not say. She wore a dress originally priced at $2,095, made by Narciso Rodriguez, a non-Black gay designer, and we went bonkers. Preceded by Michael Kors, Azzedine Alaïa, Jason Wu, Barbara Tfank, Rachel Roy, and Isaac Mizrahi, I must ask if there are any Black designers’ dresses good enough for the SOTU soiree? (It’s called “Product Placement” in marketing parlance; the Rodriguez dress sold out the next day at Neiman Marcus.)

Where does all of this political high drama leave us? Our unemployment rate is still double that of Whites, and we are not creating jobs. Our health is the poorest in the nation, especially with illnesses like diabetes, and we don’t own a dialysis center. Our education is substandard, and we are not establishing our own schools. We are disproportionately incarcerated, but we are not selling anything to the prisons. Many economic solutions are in our hands.

And here’s a political solution: “If you want equity, justice, and equality, you must…become irritants, become abrasive. Your political philosophy must be selfish and pragmatic. You must start with the premise that you have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, just permanent interests.” William “Bill” Clay, U.S. Representative (Missouri)

We have set politicians up as kings and queens, the price for which can be found in 1st Samuel, Chapter Eight: “This is the way the kind of king [you want] operates. He’ll take your sons and make soldiers of them… regimented in battalions and squadrons. He’ll put some to forced labor on his farms, plowing and harvesting, and others to making either weapons of war or chariots in which he can ride in luxury. He’ll put your daughters to work as beauticians and waitresses and cooks. He’ll conscript your best fields, vineyards, and orchards and hand them over to his special friends. He’ll tax your harvests and vintage to support his extensive bureaucracy. Your prize workers and best animals he’ll take for his own use. He’ll lay a tax on your flocks and you’ll end up no better than slaves. The day will come when you will cry in desperation because of this king you so much want for yourselves. But don’t expect God to answer.” The Message Bible

Unnerving, isn’t it?