Archive for February, 2016

Amateurish Politics — February 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman February 28th, 2016

The “Silly Season,” as many call it, is well under way; and Black people are up to our necks in it. The usual suspects are jockeying for position with certain presidential candidates. They are vying for the Black spokesperson position, knocking one another down as they rush toward the microphones and cameras. They are acting real silly themselves when it comes to endorsements and support for candidates who use them as sycophants to feed us warmed-over political pabulum.

Of course, the Democrats are the heavy favorites among Black folks, so it’s pretty easy for Black political mouthpieces to do their traditional thing on the Dems behalf and to our detriment, of course. The Republicans only have two or three Blacks asking us to vote for them, despite their candidates never citing Black issues in their speeches. But that’s par for the political course. Both parties are playing us, and the sad part is that some of our own brothers and sisters are helping them. But, that’s our own fault.

We vote for candidates simply because someone famous endorses them. That’s why we see this constant coming out party among Black folks who like either Uncle Bernie or Mama Hillary. One Black commentator said Bernie needs to “tell old civil rights stories” to get more Black votes. Are we so child-like that all it takes is for some celebrity, news commentator, or politician to issue a statement of support for us to fall head-over-heels for a particular candidate? That’s weak and intellectually lazy, y’all. Think for yourself; think independently.

What exactly have we gained from candidates we have supported, endorsed, and worked for in the past? Are we politically and economically empowered? Has their being elected leveraged any “Black-specific” reciprocity, such as what was given to Hispanic, Filipino, Jewish, and LGBT groups? If you are intellectually honest, you know the correct answers to those questions. We give our votes and get virtually nothing in return. How silly is that in the “Silly Season”?

Carter G. Woodson wrote, “It is unfortunate that such a large number of Negroes do not know any better than to stake their whole fortune on politics. History does not show that any race, especially a minority group, has ever solved an important problem by relying altogether on one thing, certainly not by parking its political strength on one side of the fence because of empty promises.”

Black people must work on being economically and politically empowered—in that order, or at least concurrently. We will not win as long as we stay on our present path, which is seeking political empowerment from an economically weak position. Amos Wilson wrote, “Economic powerlessness means political powerlessness. The idea that the Afrikan American community can exercise effective power, political or otherwise, without simultaneously exercising economic power, is a fantasy…”

There are several “Black specific” issues, but let’s look at just two: Internal and external reparations. When asked about the “R” word, Hillary Clinton said we need “investments in our neighborhoods” instead of reparations. Investment is great, but the folks in the neighborhoods must have a say in who gets the development contracts and the jobs that come along with investment. Internally, Black folks must start and grow more businesses and support them with our dollars.

Bernie Sanders says Blacks “need jobs” not reparations. In an interview in Iowa Bernie said, “Its [reparations] likelihood of getting through Congress is nil; second of all, I think it would be very divisive.” Japanese, Filipino, and Jewish reparations were not divisive. Feeling “Berned,” y’all?

What we “need” is to be paid for the jobs Blacks used to have, as we talk about creating more jobs. After enslavement, Black people were laid off with no severance package, 401-K, or extended benefits. We “need” our well-deserved “back pay.” Reparatory justice is not a panacea, but it sure would give us a boost. Internally, Black people must circulate our own $1.2 trillion aggregate income among ourselves, and stop exchanging it for everything someone else makes. We must produce more and consume less.

Have you ever been sent to someone else’s job to pick up their check because that person was unable to do so? It’s the same thing with reparations. Malcolm said, “If you are the son of a man who had a wealthy estate and you inherit your father’s estate, you have to pay off the debts that your father incurred before he died. The only reason that the present generation of white Americans are in a position of economic strength…is because their fathers worked our fathers
for over 400 years with no pay. Your father isn’t here to pay. My father isn’t here to collect. But I’m here to collect, and you’re here to pay.”

In this silly season, confront candidates with substantive issues rather than symbolic gestures.

 

 

The Discovery of Black People – February 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman February 20th, 2016

One thing is for sure; Black folks are enjoying this latest political mating dance with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Sanders is discovering Black people in South Carolina and Georgia, and Clinton has reopened the “leading Blacks” vault to rediscover their loyalty and willingness to present her to the Black electorate one mo’ time, y’all.

Sanders, after years without doing anything specific for the 1% Black population of his state, much less for Black people in general, has now discovered, and some would say rediscovered his love and concern for us. In the vast majority of cases it is really a case of Black people discovering Sanders, because most Blacks knew absolutely nothing about him prior to a few months ago, but for Ed Schultz and Black folks’ penchant for watching MSNBC. Sanders started out by traipsing up to Harlem, cameras in tow of course, to sip tea with Sharpton at a Black restaurant. I am sure that boosted his “street cred” bona fides with Black voters.

Oh yeah, he got Ben Jealous out on the trail to tell us that Sanders supported Jesse Jackson in 1984. Hey, that’s only 22 years ago, so I guess that counts too, right?

Uncle Bernie then goes to MLK’s alma mater, Morehouse, and tells thousands of Black folks how much he loves them now and how much he will do for them—now. It’s almost like he is waking up from his five-decade “I marched with MLK” respite and discovering that Black people exist and, yes, they are important to court because he cannot win without them. He is pulling out all the condescending platitudes to get the Black vote, and Black folks are lovin’ it.

Hillary, far more knowledgeable and adept at getting Black voters, reached into her bag of politricks and pulled out an old, tried-and-true, sleight of hand tactic. She met with the Great Triumvirate of Black “civil rights” leaders, folks who will hurt you if you get between them and a news camera, to subliminally suggest she is “down with the bruthas.” Sitting at a table with Morial, Sharpton, and a guy Black folks have yet to discover, Cornell Brooks, was her springboard to vie for the Black vote.

Mama Hillary called on old stand-by, John Lewis, to tell Black folks that Sanders has no street cred because Lewis “never knew him” back in the days of fire-hoses, dogs, and billy-clubs. (Maybe Lewis suffered a concussion back then and simply forgot.) Hillary then got members of the Black Caucus to endorse her, a monumental victory that will surely bring home the ultimate victory. After all, we cast from 93%-95% of our precious votes for Barack in both elections, and he won; why not the same thing this year for Clinton?

John Lewis is really going to help get the Black vote for Clinton because, as he said, “I know her heart.” Didn’t Bush say that about Putin? I always thought that was God’s business anyway.

Black folks are discovering and being discovered by Bernie; we are also being rediscovered by Hillary. And while we are making political campaign ads, going to rallies and cheering for the Democratic candidates, as Gil Scott-Heron said in reference to Richard Nixon and the Republicans, “All is calm and quiet along the white sands of San Clemente.” HeronIn today’s political world that simply points to the Republicans continued strategy of ignoring Black people by saying absolutely nothing on our behalf or in support of issues that specifically pertain to Black voters. But why should they? We are “all in” for the Dems.

Hype is meaningless unless it is accompanied by real accountability and substantive results. If the Black vote is so important and so precious, as we like to say, then why is it literally given away for a song and a dance or a rousing speech? Saying how bad it is for Black people is not doing something about it. Glad-handing and hobnobbing with two or three leading Blacks is not doing anything to elevate Black people to a state of economic empowerment—and not even political empowerment. Feeling our pain and walking in the streets with us does nothing to alleviate that pain or stop the injustices we suffer.

It is embarrassing to see our people fawning over folks who, when they get what they want from us, will return to the political status quo. If that were not true, we would have seen huge benefits by now. It’s always, “this time it will be different” when it comes to Black voters.

One practical question to ask candidates who are running around our neighborhoods, churches, and college campuses seeking our votes: “How much campaign money have you spent with Black owned media, i.e. newspapers, radio?” That’s just one of many acts of reciprocity and the bare minimum of what we should demand. If they do as the current POTUS did in 2012, spend one-tenth of 1% with Black media, don’t support them until they increase that amount, and then move on to the next demand. Stop allowing them to use and insult you, and stop slobbering over this latest discovery process; Black people have been in this country since the show started; act like it.

 

 

Black Constitutional Patriotism — February 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman February 14th, 2016

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “…we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.”

He went on to say, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed.”

It is said we should carefully choose the words we use, because we may have to eat them one day. That is the case with words written by this nation’s founders. Only problem is, even though several have brought attention to those words, little or nothing has been done to change or enforce their intent when it comes to Black people. The words to which I refer are found in the documents written by a cadre of men held in highest esteem who supposedly had the best intentions for “all” other men in this country.
Walker 1
David Walker’s Appeal, in 1829, turned the words of the Declaration of Independence back on those who celebrated the victory of throwing off the tyranny of King George. In reference to the Declaration, Walker stated, “Do you understand your own language? Compare your own language … extracted from your Declaration of Independence, with your cruelties and murders inflicted by your cruel and unmerciful fathers and yourselves on our fathers and on us — men who have never given your fathers or you the least provocation!”

Walker continued, particularly referring to the abuses of the King and the right and obligation of the colonies to throw off such government. “Hear your language further … I ask you candidly, [were] your sufferings under Great Britain one hundredth part as cruel and tyrannical as you have rendered ours under you?”

Later, Frederick Douglass cited the words of the Declaration and Constitution in his famous speech in 1852, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”

Douglass said the Fourth of July was a day of celebration for White Americans but a day of mourning for slaves and former slaves like him, because they were reminded of the unfulfilled promise of equal liberty for all in the Declaration of Independence. “This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony.”

The words written and spoken by the founders of these United States were important, and I trust sincere, but sometimes in order to have accountability for the words people say, especially politicians’ words, they must be recanted and rewritten by those to whom those words apply. That is why the One Million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors will insist on verbal and written support of its political planks by any political candidate seeking our votes.

When put together just right way, words can have serious consequential effects on people. When Thomas Jefferson used words that attacked slavery in his draft of the Declaration of Independence he initiated the most intense debate among the delegates gathered at Philadelphia in the spring and early summer of 1776. Jefferson’s passage on slavery was the most important section removed from the final document. It was replaced with a more ambiguous passage about King George’s incitement of “domestic insurrections among us.” Part of Jefferson’s original passage on slavery appears below.

“He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce…”

Had those words not been stricken from the Declaration just imagine the effect they would have had—then and now. So what lessons can Black people take from “Black Constitutional Patriots” like Walker, Douglass, MLK, and others who recited the very words that are “the bond of the Union”? Black leaders of old made the Founders eat their sacrosanct words, and it is shameful that we have not continued to keep today’s politicians on a steady diet of those same words.

David Walker believed the nation belonged to all who helped build it. He went even further, stating, “America is more our country than it is the whites — we have enriched it with our blood and tears.” Are we MEN!!–I ask you, O my brethren! Are we MEN?

 

 

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?

Garvey
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