Archive for April, 2015

Shocked—Again — April 2015

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman April 28th, 2015

“America leads the world in shocks.” Those immortal words were spoken by the late Gil Scott-Heron Heronduring the Nixon “H2O Gate” era. Forty years later, Black people lead the world in shocks. We are shocked every time a Black person gets killed or abused by a police officer; we are shocked at the absence of indictments and convictions for those acts; we are shocked that our government will only give these acts lip-service; and we are shocked by the endless rhetoric, excuse-making, and rationales put forth as a response to Black lives being treated like they don’t matter.

We are so shocked that we continue to roll out the same old tactics, chant the same phrases, and make idle threats that we know we will not fulfill. We are shocked that society will not change this endless parade to the graveyard for Black men especially. We are also shocked at the rate of our deaths and the nonchalant attitudes of those who kill us. And we are shocked by the fact that even though these killings are caught on cameras, there is still no punishment for the perpetrator.

Rodney King’s butt-whuppin’ was caught on camera in 1992, Rodney2and so was Nathaniel Jones killing in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2003.JOnes killing Heck, White folks photographed the lynching and burning of many Blacks over 100 years ago.Lynching Why are we so shocked now? I have come to the conclusion that we just like to be shocked. It’s like the old tale of a boy constantly hitting himself in the head with a hammer. When asked why he did that, he replied, “Because it feels so good when I stop.”

Do we really want this lunacy, this evil, this abuse to stop just so we can catch our breath for a little while, and then return to business as usual? One thing for sure is that it will not stop simply because it ought to, as folks always imply when the news reporter poses the question, “What you think about the latest incident of police abuse?” Inevitably, as was the case in the latest abuse in Baltimore, Maryland, a sister said, “It’s got to stop.” Others chimed in and said the same thing, as was said in the case of Eric Garner, John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Oscar Grant, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and many of the others I could name.

Let me try this again, after so many years of saying the same thing. The vast majority of the problems Black people face in this nation can be solved through the utilization of economic power. That’s what runs this country and, therefore, that’s what gets desired outcomes. The lack of economic power results in a perverse weakness and subordination of any group of people. Thus, Black folks are always shocked at our position, our mistreatment, and our dependency on the very political entities that care very little, if at all, about us. That’s backward and wrong-headed thinking.

If Black folks in Baltimore or anywhere else want to be empowered to the degree that politicians finally move beyond merely saying what they think we want to hear, to doing what we need done for our security and progress, we must make drastic changes in our behavior. Our reactions to all the killings and beat-downs have been so predictable, so much so that the authorities know they just need to wait us out for a while, like the Eric Garner case, and we will go away. They know the shock value of their actions is impotent and only temporary.

The Fraser Institute released an article titled, External shocks and political parties’ attempts to ‘buy’ votes can affect levels of economic freedom, that noted, “Economic freedom is one of the main drivers of prosperity, resulting in improved wealth, health, and education for individuals and their families.” said Herbert Grubel.

“…external shocks (think wars and revolutions, economic depressions or recessions) prompt the public to gravitate to political parties promising change and dramatic new directions… Changing public views allow progressive politicians to buy votes by creating a narrative that government is better at looking after citizens than citizens are at looking after themselves. That inevitably leads to larger government, more regulation, higher taxes, and crony capitalism,” Grubel said.

Extrapolating from that article, I would say that Black folks have come to depend on politicians for so long now that even when our people are killed by police, we run to them to solve the problem. It’s not going to happen until we wield power with our dollars and our votes. The “external shock” necessary to prompt political parties to appropriately respond to our needs must be felt by them rather than by us. That shock must be one that reverberates throughout the corporate board rooms, the halls of Congress, and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: NO MORE BUSINESS AS USUAL!

 

 

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”?