Archive for January, 2008

Please forgive us, Martin — January 2008

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman January 4th, 2008

As I write this article on the eve of Martin Luther King’s birthday, I am sickened by the fact that so many Black folks have gotten and are still getting so much from MLK’s work, but so few have been willing to do what MLK did. I am appalled by the banter between the Obama and Clinton campaigns regarding what MLK did and what he said. I am outraged that, yet again, for the 40th year, many of the Black folks laying claim to Martin’s legacy, that is, getting in the trenches and getting something done, are those who continue simply to pontificate on MLK’s righteousness, strength, and fearlessness. All of this, mind you, with not a bead of sweat on their foreheads, and not a wrinkle in their white shirts, silk blouses, and tailored suits.

An article in my book, Black Empowerment with an Attitude, titled, “O.K. Martin, you can go back to sleep now,” recounts our annual condescending, obligatory, MLK Day charades. This year, which marks the end of the fourth decade after his death, we have turned it up a notch. We have resurrected Dr. King this time in the name of pure politics. The Democratic Party is in self-destruct mode over, of all things, “Race.” Yes, the Clinton-Obama candidacies have turned out to be a race about race. And to make matters even stranger, they are using the name and work of MLK to make their cases.

Divide and conquer are at play in a big way in 2008. By the time it’s all over, we may be looking at another Republican who wants to keep us in Iraq and make forays into Iran. If the Dems keep fighting old, and I do mean old, John McCain will waltz into the Presidency, probably with Joseph “Benedict Arnold” Lieberman as his V.P. How stupid are the Democrats anyway? A better question is: How stupid are we, Black folks? We are divided, to the extent of spilling blood, over two Democratic candidates for President, while once again, for the umpteenth time, the “Black vote is critical to this election.”

We have two Black billionaires, one for Hillary and one for Barack, trying to sway us to support their guy or gal, as we, the Proletariat, sit in the peanut gallery and the bleacher seats, watching it all play out. The sad part is that we think we have some skin in the game. Just what will Black people win if any of these candidates is elected? We may not need to ponder that question for too long though; these guys are spending millions to get the job, which by the way, could be better spent on something that would help the poor and disenfranchised.

The notion that Martin Luther King, Jr. is being inserted into this political race is insulting to his work and his legacy, but it will continue I am sure. They are going to get all the mileage they can from “The Dream” this year. They will recite, “I Have Been to the Mountaintop” so many times it will make our heads swim. They will invoke his name, but they will never do what he did. They will traipse out U.S. Congressman John Lewis and recount his Bloody Sunday experience. They will cite the fact that April 4, 2008 will be the 40th Anniversary of MLK’s assassination. No stone will be left unturned, folks. They will vie to see who can be the best MLK sympathizer and who can give the best sermon or speech.

It is amazing that those who use MLK to achieve their personal advancement seldom use anything beyond the two quotes cited above. I often wonder why, for instance, they never talk about the part of the Mountaintop Speech in which king said, “…we’ve got to strengthen black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank—we want a “bank-in” movement in Memphis. So go by the savings and loan association. I’m not asking you something we don’t do ourselves at SCLC.” King went on to say, “You have six or seven black insurance companies in Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an “insurance-in.”

Economic leadership requires us to do more than recall, recant, and revisit a couple of quotations regarding MLK, who was so much more than a civil rights martyr. He understood and was willing to do the things necessary for our economic liberation because he knew, if we wee going to have true power in this country, collectively, we would have to use the leverage of our dollars to attain that power.

King continued, “Now these are some practical things we can do. We begin the process of building a greater economic base. And at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts. I ask you to follow through here. We don’t have to argue with anybody. We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles, we don’t need any Molotov cocktails, we just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, “God sent us by here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right. And we’ve come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God’s children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.”

As I said at the beginning, “Please forgive us, Martin.”



A Black Political Dilemma — Jan. 2008

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman January 2nd, 2008

There are two interesting scenarios being played out in the political arena regarding whom Black people will support for President in November 2008. One, of course, is the Obama versus Hillary issue, and the other is the question of Black Republican support for one of their party’s candidates. The former issue is far more palatable than the latter, but both are germane to Black folks in general. Blacks Dems are faced with choosing from a pool of candidates, each of whom would be miles ahead of what we have now. Black Repubs have a bunch of Reagan wannabe’s from which to choose. That sounds like a Hobson’s Choice – a choice between what is offered and nothing at all.

I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want a reincarnated Ronald Reagan, so I will not be voting for one of the elephants this year. I am, however, eager to see who the Black Repubs will endorse. That’s really going to be funny. Guiliani: The “leader.” I am still trying to figure out how he could be elected. But, Bush was, so I had better shut up. Huckabee: The guitar-playin’ preacher. Romney: The financial wizard and Reagan sycophant. McCain: The Elder, bordering on senility. Nuff said. Thompson: Acting like an actor. Ron Paul: You fill in the blank. C’mon, Black Republicans; take your pick and let us know who he is. We need a good laugh.

On to the Dems. What a show they are giving us! Looks like Edwards, Hillary, and Barack, with Edwards fading fast. Whatcha gonna do on this one Black folks? Feeling torn? The traditional Black political icons chose sides some time ago. They want Hillary. But what do they do now that Obama looks viable? Uh Oh. We’d better have a caucus, y’all. No worries though. Any one of those three would be all right; but as they said on a BET interview of Barack, “What’s in it for us?” That is a question that should have been asked years ago, especially when it comes to political candidates. This election is going to be a good one, folks.

Looks like it’s going to come down to Obama and Clinton. As far as I am concerned, the Repubs don’t even count. So let’s look at the two contenders by looking back at a quote from Susan B. Anthony, as written by Dr. Anyim Palmer.

“The old antislavery school says that women must stay back, that we must wait until male Negroes are voters. But we say, if you will not give the whole loaf of justice to an entire people, give it to the most intelligent first. If justice, intelligence, and morality are to be placed in the government, then let the question of White women be brought up first and that of the Negro last.”

Dr. Palmer went on to make the following assessment of Anthony’s words. “Although over a hundred years have passed since this memorable statement…, little has changed. One may be certain that no meaningful change is likely to occur in this century that will be of any material benefit to Black people in America. Those charged by the establishment with setting forth, prescribing, and defining the goals of Black people are carefully screened. It must be confirmed and reconfirmed that for the most part, they are utterly harmless. It must be clearly understood that the goals of Black people are primarily crafted by the oppressors of Black people and their useless lackeys. It should then be clear that the goals subsequently crafted were of little, if any, value to people of color.”

I refer you to the Obama/Clinton debate between Glen Ford and Michael Eric Dyson on the Amy Goodman Show; you will be able to draw your own conclusions in reference to Dr. Palmer’s commentary. So, what is in this thing for us? Will we get Hillary, wife of the “first” Black President? Or, will we get Obama, the half-white, half-Black President, along with a heaping dose of euphoria? Beyond the excitement, the promises, the rhetoric, and the hope, what’s in it for us?

Right now we have a Congress that is more interested in steroids and Clemens than they are in clemency for William Mayo. We have a President who, after seven years, is desperately trying to create a legacy in the final year of his disastrous Presidency. Nothing in either of those entities for us.

Now we are on the verge of getting a female or a Black man in the highest office in the land, and still we must wonder how we will fare. Will Hillary take the Susan B. Anthony route to her victory? Will Obama, in keeping with his “help everyone” mantra, continue the status quo by maintaining the same economic gap between whites and Blacks in this country?

Maybe a Clinton/Obama (or vice-versa) ticket is in order. They had better have a side conversation about that before they kill both of their chances to win, and leave us with one of the Reaganites, who will take us back to Reaganomics and the “Reaganomic Blues.”

What a dilemma for Black people this election year, both Repubs and Dems. I have never been a political hack; I get informed and I vote, but I have little “hope” for positive change for Black folks until we get our economic act together. Just imagine what strength Blacks would have in the 2008 election if, collectively, we were economic players as well as mere voters. Garvey and Malcolm told us that; our dilemma is that we have yet to follow their advice. So, have fun this year, y’all; but continue to pose the question, “What’s in it for us?”