Thursday, December 01, 2005
How people's view of history is so folly. With all of the debate on the pullout of US forces (The Union Troops) from Iraq I thought that it would be interesting to do a recounting of a significant historical event and it's dire impact on the people who were left exposed to terror as a result of this backroom deal.
The results of the US presidential elections of 1876 between Rutherford B. Hayes, a Republican, and Samuel J. Tilden, a Democrat resulted in major contention. Though Tilden had more popular votes he was unable to acquire the necessary electoral college votes to secure the election. The returns from Oregon, Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana were disputed and challenged by Tilden. A successful appeal would have handed him the presidency.
In the year 1876 the United States had just finished a long and very bloody series of battle for it's soul, otherwise known as the Civil War. The Union Troops continued to occupy the Southern states that had been in rebellion.
In the gulf that was present between the two former enemies on the battle field was the key question about the newly freed Black Americans. The long held cultural norms in the South enforced the notion that the Black man was equal to a farm animal and that he had “no rights that a White man need respect”.
The Civil War successfully ended the brutal and inhumane practice of Slavery in the South from a legal statutory standpoint. The 14th and 15th Amendments to the US Constitution said so. It would be a much larger challenge, however to put these words into practice as the human mind is a hard thing to change after it has been conditioned disregard the human rights of another set of human beings for all of their lives.
What the law was not able to do the armed force of the Union Troops that were present was able to do. With the presence of these troops the free Black man was able to make a small but significant transition from enslavement. He was challenged to formulate a new lifestyle from the ground up. The South was devoid of any organized economic system in the wake of the War. The US government implemented a “Reconstruction Plan” to rebuild the South after having been destroyed due to the battles that took place throughout the land. The Black man had to create an economic system by which he could eat, educate his children and operate the necessary government functions that were required in a civilized society.
The presence of the Union Troops allowed the “peace keeping” function to be removed from the Black man's plate for a short time. In addition to the issue regarding law enforcement within the Black community there was the prevailing force of the Confederate. Having just lost the war they had to yield their land but they were not about to let the Black man stand on his feet and rule them. They certainly had no intention of sharing power with a Black man, a being who just a few short years ago the Confederate could legally own and do as he pleased with.
While the Confederates were in their back beaten state there were several Black officials elected to the United States House from these Southern states and one Black man was elected to the United States Senate. Many of the current Historically Black Colleges and Universities were created during this time to educate the newly freed Black man for operation in the economy.
The Black man's future was by no means set during this time but he was surely in a much better state than he was under slavery. Had this course been maintained there is no doubt that our condition would be much different than it is today.
The Confederates upon seeing the slow rise of the Black man had realized that they could not continue to sit out the process of governing their lands. They saw the need to reengage in the process of governance and law enforcement in the lands that they once ruled. They agreed to take vows of loyalty to the United States as a condition of being readmitted into the Union.
The centerpiece to their strategy, however, was the need to remove the Union Troops from their lands so that they can return to power and do as they please absent any countervailing force to stop them.
The contested presidential election of 1876 proved to be the key point of inflection for them to achieve their goals. The Republicans wanted the presidency of the United States more than they sought to protect the civil and human rights of the United States. In the compromise that was reached with the Democratic Party it was agreed that the US presidency would be yield to the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes in exchange for the removal of the Union Troops from Southern lands. The Southern Democrats wisely yield this particular battle in order to win the war. The Black man caught hell in the mean time.
As the former Confederates reestablished their control of the Southern lands absent any force to stop them all of the Black elected officials who had been sent to Washington had their offices summarily confiscated from them by the imposition of new laws and underhanded tactics aimed at reestablishing White supremacy in the South. The KKK was developed as a means of executing the ground strategy that the Southern Democrats had been implementing in the halls of legislation in the South and in Washington DC.
All of the famous “Black Codes” or “Jim Crow Laws” that we know of were created during this period of time as the Southern Democrat made sure that the 14th and 15th Amendment to the Constitution was made once again to be mere words without any relevance to the real world outside.
The Black man caught hell for the next 85 years as a result of the agreement to withdraw the troops that was made due to back room politics and political pressure.
As we remove the consideration of the political maneuvering and focus upon the impact on THE PEOPLE it becomes clear that the people who are in transition are at their most vulnerable state as they attempt to find their footing. Their every move is being hawkishly looked upon by their former oppressors who are only made to yield by the presence of an “occupying force”. It is presence of this “occupying force” that makes the difference between their advancing in freedom one day achieving the ability to defend themselves and their return to slavery and terrorism based on those who wish to destroy and and having them return to the days of ole.
I REFUSE to allow the notion of the nation-state to trump my promotion of what is best for this group of human beings who are made to suffer by the active terrorism of their oppressor. The “nation state” is a man made concept as we are told by so many in their commentary about European imperialism. Some people have assimilated more than they believe, able to take the position today about Iraq that was much like the position that was favorable to the Confederates. If only they could talk with their ancestors to hear their perspective on the issue.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
As I listened to Professor Cornell West speak at a forum surrounding the book “When Affirmative Action Was White” I could not help but notice his perspective and compare it to the history that I was exposed to earlier in the week having visited a customer of mine.
For Dr. West the solution to Black people's problems were three fold for today. First Black people must unite against the “War In Iraq”. This would codify our opposition to Western Imperialism and White Supremacy. Next we needed to join in with Tavis Smiley's “Black Covenant” Movement that was christened in January at his “State of the Black Union” conference but after which I heard little about. Finally Black people had to link up with the activities surrounding the upcoming “Millions More Movement”. (West's speech occurred a few weeks prior to the event).
In listen to Dr. West's views it is clear that he sees Black progress in the context of a struggle against White overreaching beyond what they should rightfully claim. He focused on years of oppression and how Affirmative Action should be used to reset the clock and give Black people their just due. He talked about how prior American policy was in fact “White Affirmative Action” as Black people were denied the benefit of these policies that White folks used to heal themselves from the Great Depression and post war America.
He and other speakers wasted no opportunity to comment against the “Right Wing Conservative” domination that is in place today. They, it appears, are the biggest threat to Black America.
My conclusion about Dr. West's vision is that if Whites behave themselves, Blacks will then prosper. Since he did not talk about what Black people need to do in the context of White folks acting properly I have to believe that we will naturally rise, absent anything else.
I couldn't help but to contrast Dr. West's perspective with the rich history that I was exposed to earlier in the week. I went to a technology conference in support of a large national railroad company that I support. We were treated to a dialogue with the CEO of this 12 billion dollar company as he talked about how his work force of 44,000 people were facing big challenges in the years ahead. Starting in 2008 and through 2014 more than 40% of his workforce will be retirement eligible. In them resides much of the corporate knowhow. He is depending on us, his vendor partners to increase the safety and efficiency of his operations as he brings in a new crop of employees and has them to operate his “E-Enabled Railroad” into the next century.
He talked about the “Work Force Of the 21st Century”. A question from the audience had him to focus on the state of the local school system and how the dropout rate was unacceptable. He talked about his company's support of a local school in which his employees are credited time for going into schools and exposing them to a world that they are not privy to in their normal course of life.
They talked about all of the employee training, with a particular emphasis on safety training. He told of how employers are being retrained and redeployed as technology makes their old job obsolete and opens up opportunities in other areas.
On the second day of the conference we had the option of taking a tour of the train operations or touring the rather large collection of art that this railroad had amassed. I chose the art tour. The corporate historian told us that most railroads have a tremendous amount of history stored in their archieves. The founder if this particular company requisitioned several artists during the early part of the late 19th century to head into the western part of this country and capture the brilliant natural landscape with the hopes of having people to travel in the West rather than vacationing in Europe as was fashionable at the time.
The bulk of the paintings, however, focused on the culture of Native Americans. These artists captured the daily lives of many of the original people of this land. All of the paintings were done in a respectful manner and served as a small keyhole to the broader world of study of the hundreds of tribes and the unique culture that they all represented.
Now there is little doubt that these same railroad companies who made passenger and cargo transportation easier for Anglo-Americans who were participating in the economy that was established by the USA at the time to further populate the lands of that where these Native Americans lived and there were plenty of wars and blood shed as the battles ensued over control of the land. At the same time someone living today and making such an assessment simply can't abstract themselves from the benefit that they are receiving by living in this land today.
Circling back around to the discussion about Dr. West – ABSENT from the dialogue that I hear from Dr. West and other Black Activists is the presence of a VEHICLE to lift Black people to where they aspire to be. While the owners of these railroad companies grew filthy rich providing services to the people who demanded them – they also operated as the foundation for the economic boom of America that Dr. West and all others reside in. Countless thousands of jobs were created and trillions of dollars of wealth as been created form their network of steel rails. America would not exist in it's present form absent the railroads.
My challenge is to dislodge the heavy Leftist THEORY of a Dr. West and others who have power in the Black community from the actual map of events that we as African-Americans must follow as we walk a path to prosperity.
The railroad is not JUST a tale of exploited workers, and Pulman Porters who were confined to a race based context to Indian wars. This industry served as one ingredient to the recipe of America's success. In my view Dr. West and others who dominate Black consciousness from the left have not the entire perspective and set of components that are necessary to bring Black people to the “healed state” while we maintain the standard of living that we aspire to.
We need a new class of leaders who work to balance out the worthy concepts that are put forth by some of these thought leaders. Their efforts will surely bring more of these abstract thoughts of prosperity and independence to life.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Making "liberal" use of the term that others make use of I have to ask "What has 'liberal' policies WITHIN the Black community done for us as a people?"
To be clear I am speaking of policies that Black people make use of to manage each other. This is not in reference to policies supported to expand our rights with respect to White people.
It seems to me that as we seek to TRANSFORM ourselves that there is a need to discipline ourselves. A Bootcamp is not a "liberal" environment where people can wear iPods or long hair as they choose to. We are in need of discipline in order to successfully transform for the better.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Once again you have lived up to your billing at the "Attack Sheep Dog" who's job is to round up all wayward Black sheep and to keep them in the pack.
I have a challenge to you that might have you to shift your considerations a bit. Clearly your article was written to document the "powerful LIBERAL base that resides in the Black community". One thing that you missed, however, is that many of the "liberal" cities on your list are also home to a great deal of economic suffering and stagnation.
In my view you are also mislabeling the ideology that many Black people hold. I think that the word "socialist" (I personally use quasi-socialist) rather than left wing or liberal would be a better fit. From Universal Health care which would draw resources in proportion to the money that you have and distribute it to the masses based on their needs to the majority of the other economic policies that you and other "quasi-socialists" support it is clear that "socialist" is a better descriptor than is "left" or "liberal". These words mean little in and of themselves.
My challenge to you though is to switch from the mode of the consideration of "QUANTITY" of support and shift over to the concept of "QUALITY" of your ideas in TRANSFORMING the Black community. In my view the Quasi-Socialist orthodoxy that dominates the Black community (and yes I am a Black man) is not bound toward the transformation of Black folks by any means necessary. It is bound to retaining it's power. You in this article only showed the success of their message to have Black folks to think in this way.
When you dare to make the same measure based on the quality of life and standard of living advances for Black people - that was created by the policies that Black folks support then you have a different story. The fact is that liberal Detroit, liberal Gary, liberal Baltimore have lost much of their economic engine that was built on Capitalism. Your periodical said as much in your "Flight of Capital" series. Despite your heavy allegiance to "liberalism" you have thus far not been able to replicate the same economic environment nor "confiscate" your way back to prosperity in these cities because the "engine" has moved to a different political and tax district and thus you have no control over them.
There are two fronts in the battle that Black folks face - the long time front has been to have the country of America to both hold everyone to the same constitutional standard, not allowing anyone to violate the rights of another based on race and to bestow resources assured to America with fair measure to all. The second front is INSIDE OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY where we TRANSFORM the masses from where they stand to where we want to be as a people. This will enable us to make use of these newly enforced freedoms.
While our "civil rights leaders" have done very well at the external battle, in my view many of them are incompetent at addressing the internal battle. You see in developing a solid culture on the inside the blame game on outsiders does not get you far. Your "liberal orientation" fails miserably in this case. Where we need disciplined minds and a sense of purpose - your "liberal orthodoxy" would have a boot camp that has all of the recruits listening to iPods, spending their money on spinner rims and sneaking out of the barracks looking for women at night.
The failings of "Black Liberalism" is seen when we are LEFT ON OUR OWN without the ability to create UNITY because of our fight against some outsider.
I again ask you to "rerun your report" that you have made. Rather than sorting you "QUANTITY" of support for the same ideas that you have, as you trample on minority ideas. I challenge you to do a sort on QUALITY of these "liberal ideas" to TRANSFORM BLACK PEOPLE. Here is where you will see the flaws in your orthodoxy.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
It becomes clear over time the main mission of many of them is not resolution of Black problems "by any means necessary" as their radicalism would have you to believe. In fact their agenda is to promote a solution that is based on their ideology since they have rationalized that their ideology has some type of exclusive benefit of being the only true and correct orientation for a Black man to have if he is a "real Black".
I challenge those who are truly above the American system of bifurcated entrenchments and who are really focused on solutions for Black people to call out their brethren who are Democratic operatives in the same manner that they are quick to call out advocates for the Republican party who are Black.
In our community simply giving George Bush a fair shake and coming to the table with an open mind added to one's own knowledge of the limitations of government is tantamount to "treason" in many folks eyes. Often times I am correcting misstatements and all out lies about Bush or some accepted enemy of Black people as christened by the dominant forces in our community. In doing so I am said to be a defender of everything "Bush" when in truth I am very critical of his policies when they deserve criticism. (Rampid spending, lack of a clear alternative to Affirmative Action as he says that college admissions should not be race based but also acknowledges the long history of racial segregation in this country.)
It seem to me that at the end of the day all parties who have their respective positions on the ideological spectrum need to adopt common goals and allow each person to have their own methodologies to get there. There is no such thing as "total unity". The price for attempting to reach this point is seen in the repression of thought that happens along the way.
We need a framework for the evaluation of policies that are thrown our way. In this type of measure we purge those plans that have not worked or have a slow rate of ascention to the said goal. We can take frequent measure to provide feedback and adjustment. We can communicate "Best Practices" to promote those items that work and stay away from those that have failed.
The disingenuous of battling for one's political party in the context of battling for one's race's best interest needs to be kept separate for the same reasons that "church" should be kept separate from "state". The infusion of the two can only lead to perversion of both.
I fully acknowledge that there are some structural issues in this society that will tend to thwart the best laid plans that I have due to my race. This certainly was the case in the past as no amount of "planning" would have allowed a Black man to rise to the top of the government or a corporation prior to structural change in this economy made that even a possibility.
With the above words as a pretext I find it interesting to listen to various Black people that I come into contact with, particularly with their economic and political views. What I find as I listen to them is that many of them are simply spouting the ideological and political understanding that they have been exposed to by leaders who have influence over them.
This in no way is an attempt to diminish their ability to comprehend and make judgments for the best. I am saying, however that absent a "battle of ideas" that are thoroughly and objectively debated and have them witness to this debate you can expect that their views that have been constructed from their experiences will have them skewed toward a certain ideology.
With that said I must give credit to the Democratic Party of America. They have cultivated an active crew of defenders who work for cheap and have direct access to the circulatory system of Black America. They are well camouflaged within the community. These people talk as if they are working in the "best interests" of Black people. In truth they are really just one PERSPECTIVE on Blackness but in their dominant position within the popular Black political ideology they fuse the concept of their ideology and Blackness. Anyone who does not support what they support are therefore "working against the best interests of Black people".
To prove this all you need to do is to listen to them as some popular political issues come about - Supreme Court nominees, the recent flooding and blame game in New Orleans and Federal social spending. Many of their positions taken closely model that of the line put forth by the Democratic Party. Through the powerful forces of the Black press, the Civil Rights orthodoxy, the Black minister in the pulpit and the Black entertainers who have the power to drop messages in their music (Public Enemy, Kanye West) they retain their grip on the understanding of the Black community.
Please don't misunderstand what I am saying. The fact that there is a high amount of correlation between their views and that of the Democratic Party does not have one to conclude conspiracy between these two groups. It may indeed be the case that in their ideology they rationalize things as do many Democrats do and thus come to the same conclusion.
What I am saying is that you will clearly see these people who are supposedly working in the "best interests of Black people" living vicariously through the Democratic Party's best interests. When I hear Jesse Jackson saying at the "State Of The Black Union" conference in front of an all Black crowd that "WE can take back the Congress in 2006" I first wonder who the "We" is since Blacks have never "had control of the US Congress". Secondly I wondered how in a church full of Black folks how he could be so comfortable in assuming that all of these Blacks were DEMOCRATS? Certainly none of them ever called him on these two assumptions.
Just as some Black folks make note of another Black person's use of the words "we" and "they" when talking about Black people as a measure of the person's sense of linkage with the Black community, it must also be noted how these Black Democrats interchange the word "Black" and "Democrat" as if these two were synonymous.
Most disturbingly however is that after all of the advocacy on behalf of the Democrats, having followed the notion that since Blacks are mostly Democrats and thus the Democrats in power is favorable to Blacks, little is noted about the PERMANENT improvement for Black people that has been made or failed to have been made having pursued this course of action on behalf of the Democrats. The people who were highlighted in New Orleans after the flooding had the benefit of living under a long series of Democratic mayors and governors and the same Federal government budget surplus that is credited to Bill Clinton - yet they still are poor.
It is also interesting to note how certain concepts are both propagated and enforced. I recall recently being in a beauty salon following the flooding in New Orleans. As Bush and elected officials I recall one beautician walking back and forth past the television, reserving her negative comments toward Bush and the Republicans only. For me to challenge her inaccurate statements would have me verbally assaulted. I kept quiet and marveled.
I make the case that a FALSE DICHOTOMY has been hoisted upon the Black American. We have been duped into believing that the American two party system is the sole framework for understanding our problems and for solutions. I make frequent mention of other non-white people who reside in this country and who have been achieving rapid absolute economic growth in this country by applying certain methods and practices that work outside of the traditional American system of allocation of financial resources, education and enforcement of community 'laws'.
The solution is to push all political operatives outside of our vital circulatory system. Anyone coming to the Black community offering solutions should be made to prove their previous success at achieving the common objectives that most Black people maintain. Most of our disagreement is over methods to achieve these objectives mostly stemming from their interpretation of the role of the government and their view of the protection of the most liquid of property - one's money received through income and paid as taxes.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Of course the latest and biggest "ball" out there is New Orleans and the damage that resulted from Hurricane Katrina. There have been people, right and left who have made use of this disaster to advance their agenda that was in place when the storm was a tropical depression somewhere in the Atlantic.
Since this blog is centered around Black Culture and since I have my own set of preconcieved notions about popular Black political ideology this article focuses on the harm that conspiracies have on the Black community.
As I listened to a particular talk radio show last night in which one Black man defended Louis Farrahkan's comments that the levee was seemingly blown up to produce flooding in the Black communities only I was particularly disturbed at the caller's ability to go with the flow out of some sense of racial unity, ignoring all of the evidence that runs counter to such a proposition. With so many Black experts who do actual work that is seen on "CSI" rather than just act on television - why aren't any of them dispatched to inspect the broken levees for signs of black powder, plastic explosives or other proof of tampering? It seems that the resolution of this question was not the objective.
In listening to another conversation on the way home I heard a particular radio show parsing the issue of the mayor suggesting that residents return as FEMA indicated that this was not a good idea. As usual most of the callers brought in the racial angle. They concluded that "white business owners" are being allowed back in while Black residents are told to stay out because there are plans to confiscate their land and make use of it for new oil refineries or upscale housing. Proof of such claims are not required.
They made note that just after the storms FEMA said that the water was not hazardous while now that Blacks want to return the water and sludge are dangerous. They made note of all of the "White" television reporters who are in town without masks and made the case that these white women would not be there if the scene was dangerous.
Unfortunately this type of "deconstructive" analysis will not assit people if they did return and a second storm were to hit and/or if in the lack of clean drinking water and verifiable non-toxicity people are injured from their presence.
It is clear to me that some people have their positions staked against their "enemy" rather than based on sound logic and reasoning.
I say again - "The greatest fear that some people must have, deep down inside, is that they will one day find themselves outside of the system that they love to criticize and come face to face with life being confinded by their own policies."
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
If this documentary, produced by Bill Moyers, is not an eye opener to the hard of hearts on the self-inflicted wound that is taking place in Zimbawe then there is no hope of ever convicing folks otherwise.
The economy of Zimbabwe is shrinking 5% each year under the policies of Robert Mugabe. A few decades ago it was Botswana that was desperately poor and Zimbabwe that had relatively abundant resources. The blunt policies of Robert Mugabe have reversed their respective fate.
Today thousands of Zimbabweans flood the border of Botswana seeking work and refuge. In the view of Botswana they threaten the stability of their country because of the increase in low wage workers, criminal activity and AIDS. The administration of the system of deportation is also a financial drain on the country.
We have a situation in which a physical land mass that contains effectively the same race of people is partioned into two seperate countries each with differing policies governing them. The stark differences in the effective outcomes of their economic, civil rights and humanitarian conditions comes down to govenment choices that are incompetent rather than antagonistic forces of racism, legacies of colonialism or Western interventionalism.
To be clear - there is no doubt that on a macro level the legacy of colonialism is a factor in the overall condition of the entire region. This plus the geographic conditions of arid lands make a difficult situation even worse. Still this legacy does not explain the continuing change in fortunes between these two countries.
It is time for the leaders of neighborhing African countries to pressure Mugabe for reform. Their own countries are being impacted by this influx of people seeking to escape the economic collapse and political oppression in Zimbawe.
In the closing interview the African expert blames the situation on the reluctance of certain African leaders to yield power for the best interests of their own people.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
"Hustle and Flow" was a well written movie. The acting was good. The univeral theme of "follow your dreams" was present and clear.
The problem that I had with the film was about the lifestyle that was put on display. Now ordinarily the presentation of individuals caught up in a life in the gutter and aspiring to lift themselves out via their dreams is a worthy story indeed. The problem is that "Hustle And Flow" is but another peek into the window of ghetto-ism, thug-ism, pimping, gun violence, drug abuse and dysfunctional interpersonal relationships. Certainly the "Black experience" is broader than this oft repeated tale.
Don't get me wrong! The story of "man is seeking his big break to make it to the big time. Man puts his all into a given scheme to lift him to the top. Man convinces all around him that they too will benefit from the dream. Man has this dream experience a major setback. Man experiences his 15 minutes of fame". My concern is that as we view the typical content that is assembled around this tale when Black people are invovled we are inclined to see Pimps, Hoes, Drug Dealers, Drug Addicts and Rap millions as the rocket to lift them to the stratosphere.
Interestingly enough Terrence Howard, the star of the movie has 2 new movies coming out, as shown in the movie priviews before this movie. He stars with 50 Cent in the movie "Get Rich Or Die Try'in" about a stick up kid who gets invovled in a robbery that goes wrong. He gets locked up and then, you guessed it - He experiences fame and fortune as a HIP HOP ARTIST!!
In the second movie Andre 3000, Mark Dalhberg and Terese star as adoptive brothers who are, yup, Stick up kids who have someone kill their mother and they seek revenge by killing this adversary.
If the old guard (NAACP, etc) was concerned about the limited range of Black characters shown on the small screen then I have to imagine that they would be similarly concerned about this "weed" that is sprouting up in our flower garden. Silence over this infestation because African-Americans are profiting from this latest popular genre does not mask the great harm that is associated with the continued promotion of these messages to our community.
The misogynistic messages against women, the heavy use of the word "Nigger", the "Jail culture", drug abuse, prostitition.
Funny enough as I am flipping through the channels I see 50 Cent in a video in which he is assisting an escaped prisoner get out of jail. Clearly this must be another Black man who is being oppressed by our "criminal" criminal justice system and thus this escapee is actually the hero against a system that is stacked against him.
The prisoners are running the asylum folks!!. The care only about their own profit and their own sexual gratificiation. They care nothing about the impact on the rest of the Black community.
This lifestyle has no need for formal education, financial responsibility or stable relationships among Black people. The "law" is the oppressor. The years of "rebellion" against a racist justice system in America has morphed into the presentation of these new images in which the long time victim is now the VICTOR.
This is all well and good except that this "victor" presents nothing more than individual success. They have no government that is used to organize the people and create the just society that they CLAIM to seek.
In truth their years of "struggle against" they have lost what they sould be "struggling FOR".
It is time for the Black community to take back the minds of our young people and put forth images that channel them toward more productive and synergistic modes. This clear is not the right course.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
The Strong Gravitational Pull of Ignorance
Saturday, July 16, 2005
Without the presence of a greater mission those who have the microphone are inclined to go astray. Add profit for delivering their message and we are sure to have our culture undercut.
I had a rental car earlier this week and when I got in the radio was tuned to the local hip hop station. I heard a song by a rapper called Mike Jones - "Back Then". He talked about how when he was a nobody the women treated him like a "scrub". Now that he has made it big they want him to "pull down their panties". I posted all of the lyrics to the ignorant song - which has a nice beat to attract those who don't give a "what" about the information that is presented to them. You too can easliy find the lyrics and judge for yourself.
The first respondee to my post was an amateur rapper who doubles as a "Black Nationalist". He is an expert at telling the world who is a co-conspirator with White Conservatives - the sworn enemies of Black folks. He challenged me to explain why it is wrong for Mike Jones to tell of his real life experiences in a rap song.
This is a classic case of the conflict between those who want to "keep it real" versus those who see the function and importance of the messages that are sent to a mass of people. Even worse this same person talks so often about the downtrodden state of the people who are inclined to listen to this "I got mine now" garbage and aspires a stronger Black Nationalistic drive among them sees no need to have more affirming messages to their people.
In the "Autobiography of Malcolm X" Minister Malcolm talk about the transformation that he had experienced that set his life in the right direction. He talked about gaining a respect for time thus having no respect for people who did not wear a wrist watch.
In his transformed state, which really means WHEN HE WAS CONSCIOUS OF HIS PURPOSE IN LIFE, he realized the need to clean himself up as a person and have his conduct as a leader who has a microphone to be without reproach.
Now these same rappers who are putting out these messages are inclined to view Malcolm X favorably and even make use of his "By Any Means Necessary" mantra as part of their own. Malcolm X as a leading figure would have drawn a similar response from women in a backslidden state who would have been attracted to his fame and the money that he would have made had he been in the game for the money.
With Malcolm X as a common reference to both sides in the debate would Brother Malcolm have arranged a clandestine meeting with this woman who was lusting after his power and fortune or would he have suggested that she "hook up with him" at the local mosque and learn why her ways are ignorant and wicked? Would Malcolm X have shown this type of resentment to women who were not attracted to him when he was a drug user and numbers runner in his past? In his pre-transformation state - NO DOUBT. In his transformed state you can better believe that he would have voiced a message to have this woman who so quickly wanted to give away her body to TRANSFORM herself.
Those who take the position "I didn't make this b'tch this way! Why do you expect me to be her leader" share the same mentality as the DRUG DEALER who believes that his link in the supply chain does not cause someone to take drugs. In both cases they are are cowards!
It is clear that for us as a people to be successful in our desires to change our condition we must also manage the messages that are commonly produced within our domain. The best way to insure that these messages don't cross the line of contempt is to inspect the man that is putting them out and consider his the purpose that he has for his life.
Friday, July 15, 2005
As I sat back and listened to their comments - THEY BOTH WERE CORRECT.
In using the standard measure for economic growth - the Gross Domestic Product - the US economy is in fact growing. This is the case even against the economies in Europe, a place where many a Black Progressive points to as a becon of reference for the USA to follow because of their expansive social safety net.
The callers stacked up giving their opposing view were correct as well. The economy FROM THEIR PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE is changing and is making it tougher for many middle class families to make it. They referenced increased gas prices, and price increases in general in the context of stagnant wage increase. From their perception their real purchasing power has decreased.
I happen to consume a higher than average amount of economic information. This is my interest. I found that both sides arguing their points were making points in the conversation but did not expess their concerns in the proper context nor did they have proper economic discipline in using terms to express that which was impacting them.
One caller mentioned that prices were going up while his salary was stagnating because "a few rich people hold all of the purse strings in the economy". While it may be true that consolidation has taken place in this country, this simplistic and conspiratorial explanation does not provide a proper model for what is going on - even though it was fully accepted by the many callers listening in to the show. The host of the show for sure gave her "I know that's right" to this response.
In truth these callers on this radio station who for so many years railed against American global imperialism, interventionalism, militarism and domination in general are having "their chickens come home to roost" and they have some critical choices to make. The rest of the world is coming to life economically. As these countries grow they are demanding OIL. Since the world's oil production is relatively fixed and the outlook for oil supplies has some fixed limit you can be sure that higher energy prices are here to stay when the source is petroleum based in nature.
The challenge to the backseat critic of America is to acknowledge the benefit that they have received in America while riding in cabin class as the captains of the ship did what they did to ensure that the ship was stocked and decide if they are willing to continue their ride or to leave their ship of consumer capitalism and experience a radically different life style and standard of living.
If you note the calls from African nations during the G-8 they are calling for 'trade' not 'aid'. They want to have access to the US and EU markets just as NAFTA and CAFTA have opened us up without the standard protections. The challenge to these masses is if they are willing to be "down with Africa" enough to yield their jobs to a REAL Africa who is actually IN AFRICA?
The American standard of living which once was a mountain in a field of ant hills is subject to adjustment to the world's standard level. We are losing jobs because the gap between production costs in America and the production costs in other countries adding transportation costs to that is still less than production in America.
The major challenge is to come to the realization of the fact that we are world citizens and not just citizens of America - a creation of men who valued the nation-state and used this construct to issolate itself economically from the rest of the world for the nation's best interests.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
With the recent news that the billionaire entertainment mogul, Oprah Winfrey was not allowed into a posh French boutique after hours, reportedly because was SWB (Shopping While Black) I can't help but notice that some folks took this incident to mean that regardless of how much money you have “you are still a nigger”.
As I think about the psychology and pathology of such a perspective I cannot miss the notion that such a valuation of one's self is handed over to the judgment of the offending racist. Billionaire Oprah, recently voted the most powerful figure in the entertainment industry could easily purchase the entire Hermes and fire every one of the employees, repopulating the entire chain with people of more considerate views. Yet some of the folks with the perspective that I mention believe that regardless of how rich and powerful one gets they will be cheapened by the views of others and will never escape their state of Blackness.
In my view it is faulty to evaluate the state of racism and oppression by the views or actions of individual people who prove to be exceptions and use this as an inference to what the “rule” is.
Using the situation that happened a few years ago in which James Byrd was dragged to his death by 3 white racists I choose not to view their misdeeds as feedback on the state of racism in America. A more logical perspective is to note that these 3 white racists were punished under the modern set of laws that say everyone will be held accountable for their actions that violate the law. There is little doubt that in the year 1911 such a dragging death would have either not found it's way into court our the killers would have been found “not guilty” because of the racism that was allowed to fester in the system.
We are not able to control the actions of rogue individuals. Their actions represent the views and values of an individual. Society speaks by it's application of laws that refuse to allow the violation of such laws to go unpunished.
To yield so much of one's value into the hands of another only debilitates the one who is handing their self worth over to another. They won't achieve a high state of self until these other folks grant it to them.
Surely there are several hundreds of thousands of social interactions between people of different races. It seems more reasonable to me to quantify the massive number of those that go off without a hitch than to focus on the interactions in which blatant racism takes place.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
African-Americans have been free from Slavery for more than 140 years. The practices allowed under Jim Crow were made illegal with the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There is no doubt that it took longer for the populace to catch up with that which was written on paper as the laws of the land.
As I consider the outlook for my two children and I think down the line about the children of their children I wonder if many of the same language used to describe the situation for the Black American will still be in play then? The time then will be the year 2100 or there abouts. Certainly there have been massive population movements and cultural revolutions that have taken place in less than 95 years. Sadly I see no new ideas or concepts receiving birth among the current channels of thought and ideas that percolate into the mass consciousness of Black people.
I suggest that we begin to shift our consciousness and our support from that which is said to be the POPULAR Black Agenda over to that which can be proven to be EFFECTIVE at TRANSFORMING the situation of Black people from where we stand into where we desire to be based on our words said in our prayers to the higher power.
An adherance to a popular political dogma often results in the defense of the INSTITUTION rather than an abstract evaluation as to the effectiveness of this institution and it's people in achieving the common goals for the people. So often we will be asked to be UNIFIED so that we cannot be fractured. Rarely are those who are calling for this unity going to put their platform on the table for inspection and battle fitness. It seems to be assumed that their current set of beliefs and methdology to achieve it is the most correct for Black people and anyone who diverges from this is an enemy of the state.
In truth a "critic" of this methodology may only want the best for his people and are seeking to have his voice heard rather than being suppressed by those who are protecting the institution over and above the question of the EFFECTIVENESS of the institution.
In my view nothing short of a reformation of the major concepts of culture, economic, academics, laws & law enforcement and families/human relations within the Black community will sufficently change our course of action.
The current focus on external adversaries needs to be transformed into the building of our inner selves to shape the conditions of the year 2100. The only relevant point is what happens TODAY, not the past.