By James Clingman
“I’ll see your two Blacks and raise you two more.”
The vast majority of the news is centered on politics, specifically, the 2016 presidential race, which is 14 months away. Black people are being sucked under by a whirlpool of nonsense on TV news outlets, newspaper and magazine commentaries, lectures, and even some protests. Candidates are already going across the nation giving speeches, and the first presidential debate by the red-tie and blue-tie gangs, has already been conducted. Hmmm. (When these politicians are on TV, they always wear red or blue ties; and we are divided by red and blue states. The Crips and Bloods must be proud.)
Talking heads on news shows are so giddy about the political possibilities, and it is obvious that they see the upcoming election as simply “fun,” as one commentator said. Is it fun for Black people? Are you having fun yet? I doubt it. You’re too busy trying to make ends meet, that is, if you even have any ends in the first place.
Folks are making millions of dollars on the political hype, hysteria, and histrionics, while most Black folks are falling deeper into the abyss of economic despair and desperation. Just think about it: all the cable news shows are replete with political clap-trap – morning, noon, and night.
They never highlight economic solutions for Black people, never feature conscious Black people as guests on a regular basis, and never move beyond the mundane discussions and point-counterpoint arguing that takes place between and among so-called experts and intellectuals. Of course, no problems get solved in that process.
Here’s the caveat for Black people: As I warned in 2007, watch out! The “okey-doke” is afoot. While political discourse is dominating the news, real issues that connect to Black economic growth and power are given very short shrift. Each news channel has its own Black faces, none of whom is able to go “off the plantation,” to speak directly to the important issues relevant to Black people. They consume hours of air time doing their best imitation of Pavlov’s dog, salivating over their preferred candidate and offering milquetoast assessments to Black issues, mainly through a political lens, as if that will solve our problems. I have a strong stomach, so I can watch some of their political chitchat.
Black Lives Matter (BLM) is certainly disrupting the political business-as-usual process these days, but they are waiting for the candidates to give them a plan through which Black lives will indeed matter. The candidates give them scripted rhetoric, but no specific public commitment regarding real change. Asking politicians to do the right thing will only keep us waiting for another 50 years; we must demand what we want, very specifically, and get a oral and written commitment from them before we give them our votes.
Politicians are many things, but one thing most of them are not is stupid. They will say whatever makes us feel good; they will dodge our issues or simply ignore us; or they will do what Hillary did when the brother in BLM “asked” what she would do to help. She turned the question back on him, saying, “You tell me what you want.”
Presently, politicians control the game. We must start and control our own game. They have no reason to deal with our issues vis-à-vis police brutality and other inequities because there is no price for them to pay for not supporting us.
Where is their indignation about what happened to Sandra Bland and more recently Charnesia Corley, who was humiliated by police officers who forced a cavity search on her in a gas station parking lot in Harris County, Texas, in plain sight of passers-by? All Black people are hearing is the same political rhetoric that we hear each election cycle. But whose fault is that?
Most politicians only value Black folks when it’s time to vote. Ann Coulter said, “Our Blacks are so much better than their Blacks,” in her defense and support of Herman Cain. We are just pawns on their chessboard, chips in a high stakes poker game.
The solution is grounded in economics, the same weapon other groups use to gain political concessions. I recently posed two questions to a Black Republican who recruits Black voters: What will Black folks get if we all vote for the Republican candidate? What will Black folks lose if we do not vote at all? He could not answer those questions. The same questions apply to the Democrats, but more importantly they apply to us. More specifically, we must stop “asking” and start demanding – with the collective power to reward and punish.
We can win this fight; we simply have to use the right weapon. You cannot properly defend yourself in a gunfight if your weapon of choice is a switchblade.
Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He can be reached through his website, blackonomics.com. He is the author of Black Dollars Matter: Teach Your Dollars How to Make More Sense, which is available through his website; professionalpublishinghouse.com and Amazon Kindle eBooks.