Archive for July, 2016

Race to the Bottom — July 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman July 30th, 2016

“At the Bottom of Politics … Lies Economics”

BookerT4
Booker T. Washington spoke those words in his best effort to show us what is really happening in this country; he tried to convince us to stay focused on the money-side of things, and he admonished us not to immerse ourselves in the political whirlpool and abandon our economic resources. As I look at the upcoming election, and as I have written during the past sixteen years since the Florida election debacle in 2000, all I can sadly say is, “Sorry, Brother Booker; we did not listen to you.

Once again, this is the “most important election of our time.” and we are gearing up for the fight. We must register to vote, once again, because our people “died for the right” to do so. We must come out as we have never come out before, you know, like we did in 2000, because 2016 is the “most critical election of our lifetime” – again. Black folks are so hyped about this election, irrespective of not hearing very much about how Black people, specifically, will be positively affected by the outcome.

Our leaders tell us – again – that Black folks have the “power” to sway the election in either direction. The question is: If we have that kind of power, why aren’t we using it to get a few concessions for ourselves? Why aren’t we forming an independent political party and leveraging our “power” for a quid pro quo? We may have the power to swing the vote, but it doesn’t seem to matter. I suppose a better way to say it is that Democrats need the power of the Black vote to win, but Republicans only needed one Black vote in 2000 to win: Clarence Thomas’ vote.

This political game, at least the way we are playing it, is one that keeps our attention on the symbolism rather than the substance beneath it all. We have had decades to get our act together. Didn’t we see what happened in 2000? Why did our political leaders go back to sleep after they yelled, screamed, and ranted about the Presidential Selection? What were the brothers and sisters doing in Florida after their rights were destroyed by Hurricane Katherine (Harris)? Oh yeah, they sent her to Congress.

What have we been doing to avoid a repeat of what we so vehemently complained about? Most would say: “We have been registering new voters.” Well here is what the other folks have been doing. They have been making money. Private companies and lobbyists have used their time to figure out how to make more money from the political chicanery that takes place in this country. Private companies and lobbyists have been wooing our Secretaries of Defense, Commerce, and State, hawking their wares across this nation, and licking their chops at the thought of raking even more filthy lucre into their coffers.

Between the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections millions of dollars were made on computerized voting machines. Deals were made to open new offices in counties where their systems were purchased and backroom deals such as discounts on software upgrades were consummated.

What was the response from Black political leaders, other than hand wringing and catchy voting slogans, regarding the irregularities of that time period? It sure wasn’t an endorsement of Black accountant and auditor, Athan Gibbs,Athan and his TruVote System, which had real built-in protection against vote tampering, and provided a paper receipt for auditing purposes?

Before his very suspicious death in Nashville, Tennessee, in March 2004, Athan traipsed across this country trying to get his system endorsed and ultimately utilized in the national election; his system was successfully tested by organizations and other verifiable sources, but other than Cynthia McKinney, Athan3Black political leaders by-and-large did not support a Black man’s invention that would prevent what they constantly complained about: the disenfranchisement of Black voters. Registering and voting were not the biggest problems in 2000; it was votes not being counted, votes being thrown out, and eligible voters being denied the right to vote.Athan2

I had many conversations with Athan and worked to get Ohio to purchase his TruVote by introducing him to then Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell but to no avail. Athan was killed; and one headline read, “Athan Gibbs dead, Diebold lives.”

We failed to listen to Booker T., and we failed to listen to Athan Gibbs when he told us how to overcome the voting shenanigans of 2000. Moreover, had we supported TruVote, millions of dollars would have flowed into a Black owned company.

Maybe this time we will learn once and for all that politics is all about money, power, and maintaining status quo. I sure hope so, because right now Black people are losing on all three fronts.

Video on Athan Gibbs – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8ewsDxXQD4

 

 

Stewardship — July 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman July 24th, 2016

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” Matthew 25:21

In recent days we have heard much about efforts to demonstrate our frustration and anger about the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Boycotting malls and various stores, depositing funds into Black owned banks, are important and have had some positive effects. We must do more of the same but in a more strategic and organized manner.

Are Black folks, the recipients of $1.2 trillion annually, poor stewards of this tremendous amount of money and, thus, unable to obtain economic empowerment because of our slothfulness? Is that why we find ourselves in “outer darkness,” continuously attempting to “show” others how much money we spend instead of redirecting more of our money to ourselves?

The Parable of the Talents is quite fitting for Black people in general; of course we fit the description of the last steward who buried his talent in the ground and did not multiply it. Unfortunately, we have used our billions in income to buy everything someone else makes no matter the cost.

Parable cartoon
If we cannot demonstrate our ability to manage the resources we have, the small things, how will we ever gain authority over the larger things? How will we ever change the behavior of corporations when it comes to supporting us the way they do other groups? If we refuse to shop at Target, for instance, but go to Walmart instead, what’s the gain? What’s the impact of staying away from the mall for a day or two, or even a week, and then return to spend all the money we withheld?

MLK stated in his final speech, “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.” That was 1968. Here in 2016, in response to the murders of two Black men some of us are finally getting it. In Atlanta, there was a call for Black folks to open accounts at Citizens Trust Bank. My question was: Why would it take two dead brothers to get Black people in a majority Black city to put their money in a Black bank that has been in their community since 1921?

Don’t get me wrong; I am glad to see the effort, and I trust the bank will not be used as an ATM machine where folks put money in on Friday and take it all out on Monday. I am, however, bewildered over someone having to die before we followed through on such a practical solution by MLK nearly fifty years ago. Is this just another fad, another temporary gesture of outrage, or just another feel-good sign of our frustration?

Additionally, I know “for everything there is a season,” and the effort taking place now in Atlanta at Citizens Bank, started by noted entrepreneur and rapper, Killer Mike, is the right message. killer mikeYes, there have been other messengers but if he is the one that gets our people to respond, not only do I applaud our people, I also applaud Killer Mike. I had a chance to speak with him on the Carl Nelson radio show and he impressed me as a brother who is not egotistical and not concerned about being the HNIC in this issue. He was very respectful and open to learning more about the history of his efforts and willing to listen to recommendations. I appreciated that and look forward to working with him.

Back to the stewardship issue and how it relates to our reactions not only to police shootings of Black people, but also to our overall position in this country. Boycotts, if sustained, can work, but “work” to do what? Yes, they may turn the tide of recalcitrant corporations that only care about our dollars, which we give to them without reciprocity. However, the “work” that any economic sanction effort should and must produce is economic empowerment for Black people. Our efforts cannot be centered on hurting someone else; they must be done in an effort to help ourselves. Thus, we must have a strategic plan and an organized movement to redirect the money we withhold back to our own businesses as much as possible.

As for depositing our money in Black banks, we must do our due diligence, meet and develop relationships with bank managers, and I would recommend doing what the Collective Banking Group (Now called the Collective Empowerment Group) did back in 1995 up to this present day; they wrote covenant agreements with the banks and held them accountable for what they said they would do for their members in return for their deposits.

We must practice good stewardship if we want to be empowered.

 

 

Requiem for Black People — July 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman July 8th, 2016

Roger Owensby

Gus Rugley

Ray Smoot

Roger Owensby

Patrick Dorismond

vonderrit myers

Tim Thomas

Sam DuBose

Oscar Grant

Kenneth Walker
Lorenzo Collins, Michael Carpenter, Roger Owensby Jr. Timothy Thomas, Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond, Kenneth Walker, Sean Bell, Timothy Russell, Kimani Gray, Ezzell Ford, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Kajieme Powell, Malissa Williams, Vonderitt Myers, Dante Parker, Michael Brown, Tyisha Miller, Trayvon Martin, Dontre Hamilton, Tony Robinson, Jason Harrison, Martin Hall, Bettie Jones, Tanisha Anderson, Yvette Smith, Sandra Bland, Matthewe Ajibade, Eric Harris, Keith Childress, Kevin Matthews, Leroy Browning, Gus Rugley, Ray Smoot, Roy Nelson, Miguel Espinal, Jonny Gammage, Nathaniel Pickett, Cornelius Brown, Tiara Thomas, Chandra Weaver, Jamar Clark, Richard Perkins, Akai Gurley, Stephen Tooson, Michael Lee Marshall, Alonzo Smith, Anthony Ashford, Lamontez Jones, India Kager, Samuel DuBose, Felix Kumi, Walter Scott, Billie Ray Davis, Darrius Stewart, Albert Davis, Jonathan Sanders, Spencer McCain, Freddie Gray, Eric Harris, Charly “Africa” Keunang, Emerson Clayton, Jr., Tommy Yancy, Jerame C. Reid, Corey Tanner, Zikarious Flint, David Andre Scott, Emmanuel Jean-Baptiste, Victor White III, Matthew Walker, Darrien Nathaniel Hunt, Jeremy Lake, Laquan McDonald, Denzel Ford, Pierre Loury, Cedrick Chatman, Alton Sterling, Philando Castille,Terence Crutcher, Keith Lamont Scott, Alfred Olango. I could go on, but I am sure you get the point.

“I feared for my life” “He reached for his waistband” “I saw something shiny” “He ran” “He made eye contact with me” “He fit the description” “He resisted” “He threatened me” “He didn’t comply” “He would not put the brick down” “He would not out the knife down” “He weighed 400 pounds” “My hand got caught in the steering wheel” “He dragged me with the car” “He lunged at me” “My gun accidentally went off” “I thought I was firing my Taser” “He was acting strangely” “He was holding a screwdriver when he came to the door” “He had a broom when he came to the door” “He was armed with a soup spoon” “He had a prescription pill bottle in his pocket but I thought it was a gun” “He had a BB gun” “He had a toy pellet gun” “He was obese” “He kept saying ‘I can’t breathe’ so we knew he was still breathing” “The stairwell was dark” “He behaved like a thug” “He was wearing a hoodie” “After he survived a car accident, he approached us with empty hands” “He was running toward us but we shot him in the back” “He did not comply within 2 seconds” “He shot himself while being handcuffed behind his back, with a gun that we did not find when we searched him”

“Our hearts go out to the families” “Our prayers and thoughts are with the family” “This can never happen again” “He could have been my son” “R.I.P.” “Our condolences go out” “She could have been our daughter” “It’s a tragic and sad day for our nation” “We shall overcome” “This has to stop” “We cannot rush to judgment” “We must wait until the investigation is over” “Let the process work” “The video does not tell the whole story of what happened” “We are all saddened by this tragic event” “Our hearts grieve with this family” “They don’t get up in the morning saying, ‘I am going to kill a Black man today’” “They want to go home at night” “All police officers are not bad” “The vast majority of officers are good” “Let’s not indict all officers because of the actions of one or two” “Black lives matter” “Blue lives matter” “All lives matter” “This is not a Black problem; it’s an American problem” “No justice no peace” “Nonviolence is the answer” “We need a national conversation on police violence” “I found no evidence to indict the officer(s)” “It’s Ok Mommy; It’s Ok, I’m right here with you”

These acts are heinous, horrific, terrible, irresponsible, immoral, reprehensible, indefensible, unconscionable, unacceptable, horrifying, shocking, frightening, inhumane, uncivilized, animalistic, disgraceful, shameful, inexcusable, insulting, depraved, shameless, cowardly, outrageous, scandalous, dishonorable, discreditable, appalling, dreadful, irrefutable, atrocious, unspeakable, ludicrous, indecent, disreputable, brutal, wicked, offensive, brazen, unabashed, gutless, spineless, odious, awful, revolting, blatant, and SINFUL.

Black people are disgusted, dismayed, outraged, fuming, livid, irate, sickened, revolted, repulsed, repelled, offended, affronted, hurt, scared, tenuous, intimidated, fearful, incensed, enraged, nauseated, injured, disrespected, tired, sick and tired, and angry.

After everything is said and done, much is said and little is done. Our words are like a needle on a scratched record; we are stuck, and we keep repeating the same thing over and over again. If you are conscious and conscientious, join the One Million, and this time let’s take appropriate action to deal with these horrendous times in which we live. www.iamoneofthemillion.com

Note: At the time of this writing four police officers in Dallas were killed and seven were injured by a Black man who was tired of and angry about Black people being killed by police. Pray for their families too.

 

 

One Shining Moment — July 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman July 4th, 2016

More than a couple of million folks have responded to the words spoken by Jesse Williams, which points out the fact that many Black people are mesmerized by words that excite us and stimulate our emotions. Rather than initiating practical and appropriate actions as a result of words that make us feel good, we usually end up celebrating, espousing, regurgitating, and discussing, ad nauseam, those words instead of implementing strategies that make us “do good.”

The speech by Williams was important and relevant, especially to Black people. I appreciate his words and his willingness to make his statements on such a widely viewed stage. He used his fame and the very popular BET Awards Show to put forth a message that has been spoken and written by others before him, but also one that we need to hear over and over. Seems to me that when someone famous says the same things other non-famous folks have said, it takes hold quicker and our light bulbs come on faster. Questions: “How long will the message last, and will we act upon it?

Jesse Williams’ background, political affiliations and motivations notwithstanding, his message was more important than the messenger. But since we are so attuned with what our celebrities say, he had instant credibility with many young and older folks alike. This is not to suggest that we discriminate against a message because of its messenger. A moron can bring a valid message. Suppose Clarence Thomas had said the same thing Williams said. Would we reject that message?

My point is that Black folks should be able to discern a positive message that comes from any messenger, so that we can know “why” the message is being promulgated and be able to respond appropriately to that message. Emotional catch-words and phrases are fleeting and seldom cause any improvement in our wellbeing. Remember: “I have a dream!” “Down with dope – Up with hope!” “No justice, no peace!” “Yes we can!” and all the other words we have heard and chanted millions of times?

I’d rather we follow words from Richard Allen, “To Seek for Ourselves,” Marcus Garvey, “One God, One Aim, One Destiny!” and Elijah Muhammad, “Do for Self.” I chose to hear some of those words in Williams’ speech, and I give him credit for speaking on the subject. It’s on Mr. Williams now to show us what he meant by putting his words into action; and it’s up to the rest of us to develop strategies and initiatives that will move our people forward.

Jesse Williams spoke on issues that I have written articles on as far back as 1994, more specifically, one titled, “The Young and the Relentless,” in which I described how many young Blacks were becoming entrepreneurs. Rather than falling for the okey-doke of buying and wearing someone else’s brand, they were developing, marketing, and selling their own brands. Unfortunately, as the article also cited, many of our young entertainers had succumbed to the lure of “OPS” (Other People’s Stuff) e.g. Adidas, Nike, Hilfiger, etc. rather than “OPM” (Other People’s Money).

It is ironic that in April 1997 Forbes Magazine featured a front page article titled, “Badass Sells,” by Joshua Levine, which aptly illustrated much of the tremendous economic potential within the younger segment of Black America. It also described how the hip-hop culture had been co-opted by designers such as Hilfiger and manufacturing giants like Nike. Now in 2016, Alicia Keys is featured in a commercial for Levis jeans, in which she says, all women are “Badass,” so I guess it still sells.

But I digress. Will Jesse Williams’ comments simply become last month’s shining moment for Black folks, or will his message finally be transformed into real economic progress for our people? Will his two minutes of enlightenment and in-your-face rejoinder to our plight make their way into the pantheon of speeches by our learned elders, or will they drift off into oblivion never having gained traction or made a significant difference in our lives?

Will Jesse Williams’ one shining moment become activated within us to the degree that we begin to coalesce and collaborate to build an economic foundation from which we can truly have an impact on public policy? Fiery rhetoric, overwhelming applause, and two million “hits” and “tweets” are not enough to get the job done. We must have action; we must have a critical mass of Black people who are willing and able to work to make our economic and political empowerment a reality. (See: www.iamoneofthemillion.com)

Yes, we had yet another shining moment when Williams took the stage to accept his award. Will its sheen fade to Black, or will that moment turn into momentum for Black progress? Remember: A moment is not a movement, but a moment can start a movement.