5 Threats to The Black Man In America Part 5: Politics

The Declaration of Independence was unanimously signed by the Second Continental Congress on July 4th, 1776.

On July 5th, 1776, you, Black Man in America, were still a slave.

On June 21st, 1788, New Hampshire became the 9th (and deciding) state to ratify the Constitution of the United States of America.

On June 22nd, 1788, you, Black Man in America, were still a slave.

The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, ratified in 1865 following the Civil War, outlawed slavery for all people EXCEPT convicted felons.  Three years later, the 14th Amendment guaranteed citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the United States.  The 15th Amendment ratified in 1870 grants voting rights to all people without respect to race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Of these three amendments, the 13th is the most important in terms of how America uses its laws to continue our oppression in other forms.  “Black Code” laws and variations of those laws legally upheld segregation and unequal treatment of Black people for decades.  It allowed for harsher prosecution of Black criminals, leading to disproportionately high conviction and incarceration rates, and providing over a century of data to support the “fact” that Blacks deserve the treatment they receive from law enforcement.

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, EXCEPT AS A PUNISHMENT FOR CRIME WHEREOF THE PARTY SHALL HAVE BEEN DULY CONVICTED, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction…”

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(Picture source: http://solitarywatch.com/2011/07/28/gods-own-warden-inside-angola-prison/)

Keep in mind, from a federal standpoint, women still didn’t have the right to vote.  That didn’t come until the 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920.  So only our men could vote.

Long story short: The cost of your freedom was NEARLY ALL OF YOUR FREEDOM.

The Constitution is the “supreme law of the land,” and no piece of legislation is allowed to stand in opposition to it.  All the legislations, statues, and lesser documents, including the ones that restricted our freedoms, were in agreement with this constitution. America’s history has shown, unequivocally that THESE LAWS ONLY CHANGE WHEN WHITE AMERICA FEELS THREATENED ECONOMICALLY.

Had Black people not rebelled through violence and escape from plantations, causing untold millions of dollars in damages to property (including themselves, because they were considered property), we’d probably still be slaves today.  Had Black people not been so economically prosperous during the latter half of the Jim Crow Era, to the point of organizing and sustaining targeted economic actions against legalized segregation, we’d still be drinking out of “Colored Only” water fountains and giving up front seats on public buses.

The reason American politics is a threat to the Black Man in America is because we, as a group, believe that it will cure our economic woes.  “Voting for the right politician will help us get out of our rut.”  “The next election is the most important election.”  And on the day after Election Day, we’re thrown on the backburner, left to wonder in amazement at how we got nothing out of the deal.

Wash.  Rinse.  Dry.  Fold.  Store.  Use.  Repeat.

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A big deal was made within the Black community about voting during 2016 election cycle.  Two candidates, Democrat Hillary Clinton, and Republican Donald Trump, fought for the presidency soon to be vacated by Barack Obama.  Neither of the two candidates were good choices for Black people.

Donald Trump…well, we know his history.  He touted it as a source of pride throughout the election with impunity.  Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, was considered by many to be the more palatable choice.  As First Lady to former president Bill Clinton, she supported his 1994 Crime Bill, which drove already high rates of incarcerated Black people into the outer reaches of space.  She was also seen on video referring to gang members (read: Black people) as “superpredators” who needed to be brought to heel.

No remorse for her support of that crime bill or her own statements was shown until she needed our vote.  And Black folks FLOCKED to her as though she could do no wrong, the same we were fooled into thinking Bill Clinton was our first “black president” because he played the saxophone on “The Arsenio Show.”

“You have to vote!  Our ancestors died for your right to vote!”

You know what my ancestors DIDN’T DIE FOR?  Me to settle for mediocre and to just hope that someone will “be nice to us.”  Or to settle for “the lesser of two evils.”  I didn’t vote in this election for those reasons.

It’s one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

Surely, progress has been made in the fight for social justice. The 1964 Civil Rights Act was the last major piece of federal legislation to make us, in theory, equal to the rest of America. In practice, however, America continues to do what it’s always done: find ways to skirt its own laws to keep the upper hand in its relationship with its Black citizens.

We have to stop looking to politics as our way up and out.  Given the history of how this country has treated us LEGALLY, I see no hope in relying SOLELY upon our vote.  In a nation where capital fuels politics, a broke person with the power to vote can only elect an official who’ll continue listening to the person with the money.

I love you.  #BlessedBeTheGrind

 

5 Threats to The Black Man In America Part 4: Wealth & Ownership

Dr. Claud Anderson, in his book, PowerNomics: The National Plan to Empower Black America, defines “wealth” in an exceptionally accurate manner.  He defines it as, “…the net value of a person, group, or community less their liabilities of debt at a given point in time.  It is stored value.”  This net value can express itself in many ways, such as cash reserves, natural resources, or businesses owned.  He goes on to define “income” as, “…the flow of dollars over a period of time.”  These definitions are critical when discussing the wealth and ownership in Black America.

His overall assessment of Black wealth in America: WE OWN ALMOST NOTHING.

Taking a tour of the community in my own Black community of Fort Wayne, Indiana makes this assertion glaringly obvious.  Hair and beauty supply stores owned by Whites and Asians.  Gas stations/“convenience” shops and Chicago-style fry joints owned by people of Middle Eastern descent.  Drug stores chain stores and low-cost chain stores owned by Whites.  Banks owned by Whites.  In a neighborhood where Black people are the majority, we own very few essential businesses.

We’re constantly relying on other people to run businesses and provide services to us when we should be providing them ourselves.  And because we don’t own those businesses, we have no say in who gets hired.  We’re at the mercy of anyone merciful enough to set up shop in our part of town.  And we have to damn near beg for those business owners to hire us.

Cut the BS and call it what it is: ECONOMIC ENSLAVEMENT.

Economic enslavement doesn’t depend on your income.  You can be the richest man on the face of the earth, but it means nothing if your source of that income is dependent upon someone else paying you to operate their business.  I should make one thing clear: I find nothing wrong with working for someone else.  Some of us are happy with just punching the clock and doing whatever task is asked of them, without the added pressure of keeping an entire enterprise afloat.  But don’t get it twisted for a MOMENT.  You are always at the mercy of someone else, and the thought of that should make you at least a little bit uncomfortable.

 



 

Take a minute to study this graph, created by the Pew Research Center, highlighting income disparity between races:

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In 2014, the average income for a Black household of three hovered around $43,300.  Hispanics averaged around the same.  I grossed $43,472 that year, so I was right in the middle of that range.  After factoring in Federal, State, and Local taxes, 401(k) payments, and insurance, I was left with around $500 a week.  Accounting for rent, utilities, food, phone, and gas to get to and from work took me down to $170 a week.

And these are all considered necessities.  I just HAD to have that flippin’ iPhone, smh…

Then came my debt obligations.  My student loans ran me $60 every week, and my credit card debt for 2 cards totaled $30 a week.

Grand total spending cash for the week: $80.  Once again, that number may be higher or lower for you, depending on your own financial obligations.

My next question to you, Black Man in America, is this: What are we doing with the money we have left?

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One of the lasting effects of our physical and economic enslavement is, in my opinion, our reliance upon material things to flaunt our status.  It isn’t just the people flashing stacks of cash, driving fancy cars with rims taller than toddlers, or buying every pair of Jordan shoes that hit the market.  This cuts across age, sex, religion, and any other means of categorizing Black people.  We take our income and wealth and spend it, not only on things that depreciate (lose value) over time, but with people and business having little vested interest in our community.

In short, we buy things that lose value, from people who don’t value us enough to spend their earnings in our community, all just to show each other that we’re valuable.

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The most impactful thing we can do with our money is keep it in our communities as long as possible to bring the kind of economic change we need.  That means shopping local and “buying Black” wherever and whenever possible.  And if you can’t get it local, get online and seek out someone who has it.  The goal is to grow business for people who have a mutual interest in seeing our communities thrive.

Some people will accuse you of being racist, saying that you’re excluding other races of people from participating in our economic resurgence.  That is as far from the truth as our sun is from the edge of the universe…plus a foot.  Don’t fall for that BS argument.

Anyone who offers up that defense of the way things are is no friend to you. That person does not care about your economic well-being. It’s that simple.

We live in a capitalist society.  In order to thrive in that society, you have to play the game.  The hallmark of capitalism is competition, and letting the “free market” decide what’s fair.  You can shop wherever you want.  For the most part, one can control how you spend your dollar.  And anyone that wants your dollar better offer a product or service worth purchasing.

You can buy and own a pair of shoes.  Pool your money, and you can buy and own a shoe store, and generate wealth selling shoes to everyone.  You’ll always depend on customers for income, but you’ll see a greater reward from your hard work, because it’s yours.

When you own something, you become invested in its future success.

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It’s very rare that someone invests in something hoping that it’ll fail.  When you’re invested in the success of something, you’ll do whatever it takes to make that success possible.  When you begin to own and control the economics in your own neighborhood, you can create the jobs needed to generate more business for yourself and others, and put more people on the path to financial freedom.  It’s a beautiful thing.

And, most importantly, it stops gentrification.  Don’t get me started on that shit, B.

So, start a business. Invest in the stock market. Find ways to make your money work for you and Black America. If we don’t, we’ll continue to be where we’ll always be: Dead last and begging for a pass.

I’ll leave you with Malcolm X’s explanation of economic Black Nationalism.  I love you…

#BlessedBeTheGrind

“So the economic philosophy of black nationalism means in every church, in every civic organization, in every fraternal order, it’s time now for our people to become conscious of the importance of controlling the economy of our community. If we own the stores, if we operate the businesses, if we try and establish some industry in our own community, then we’re developing to the position where we are creating employment for our own kind. Once you gain control of the economy of your own community, then you don’t have to picket and boycott and beg some cracker downtown for a job in his business.”                 – Malcolm X, “The Ballot Or The Bullet”

5 Threats to The Black Man In America Part 3: Education

5 Threats to The Black Man In America Part 3: Education

Mental genocide.

This is what the educational system is to Black people in America.

In his book, Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys, author Jawanza Kunjufu opens the first chapter by defining the word, “genocide.”  It’s imperative that we look at the education of our youth in those terms.

Our children are dying before they ever pull a trigger, push a drug into their veins, or travel down the road of sexual promiscuity.  Our history is given to us in a few shattered pieces, with no thought given to whether they even fit together.  Many of us know little, if anything, about ourselves and our contributions to the world prior to our kidnapping and enslavement.  Our history is whitewashed in both fact (i.e., the study of Egyptian history separate from the rest of African history) and fiction (i.e., cinematic depictions of ancient Egyptian historical figures).

This ain’t education.  #IssaIndoctrination.

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We are indoctrinated to believe that our contributions to history only began after we were given freedom from slavery.  Our culture prior to European “intervention” is considered backward and counter-productive.  Our pre-Christian and pre-Islamic spirituality is derided as demonic and unrefined.  Many of our advances in medicine and in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) were stolen, copied, and mishandled, and the original innovators were thrown away and buried.

We’re told in history that the Greeks were, for all intents and purposes, the original philosophical thinkers.  What we’re NOT TOLD is that many of the most well-known philosophers studied in Africa.

Archimedes, widely regarded as the “father” of western mathematics, studied in Egypt.  Hippocrates, the world-renowned “father” of modern medicine, was highly influenced by the teachings of Imhotep.  Untold thousands of Greek and other European scholars either traveled to or were influenced by teachings based on ancient Egyptian knowledge.

Just so we’re clear: Egypt is NORTHEAST AFRICA.  NORTH AFRICA.  AFRICA.

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I’m a firm believer in the idea that all knowledge is for everyone in the world.  I’m just as firm in the belief that credit should be given where credit is due.  Don’t allow anyone to pass the BS line of “color doesn’t matter.”  If color didn’t matter, why was there such an attempt to white wash our history?  Why IS there an ongoing effort to continue colonizing free information?

Black people, we do a disservice to our children when we don’t teach them about who they really are, where they come from, and what came from them.  If anyone should be indoctrinating our children, it should be US.

This goes way deeper than simply telling them what they need to know.

Teach them why they need to know.  Anyone who’s been around a toddler more than five minutes knows how inquisitive they can be.  Use that to your (and their) advantage.  A parent is the best history teacher a child will ever have.

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We’re also taught to mistrust one another.  The divisions of this mistrust are many.  It includes, among other things, skin tone (“light” vs. “dark”), age, sex, and intelligence.  Commonly known as “Willie Lynch Syndrome,” this tactic has been used to our disadvantage for centuries to keep us divided from each other and conquered, unable to progress without the intervention and guidance of White people.  It has expanded to keep pace with the growing autonomy of Black people in America.

(Take a moment to read the letter allegedly written Willie Lynch.  I believe Willie Lynch didn’t exist in history, however I DO BELIEVE the letter to be an accurate psychological representation of what has happened to Black people in America, how it happened, why it happened, and how to reverse it.  Dr. Kwabena F. Ashanti may be the letter’s actual author.)

As long as we’re mistrusting and fighting ourselves, we’re manageable.  How does one standardize that manageability?

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It’s given freely to you by what they DON’T teach you.  You weren’t told about your history because to do so would jeopardize your physical and mental enslavement.  That’s one reason why reading was forbidden among slaves. Learning is rebellion.  It’s the most dangerous form of rebellion.  You can kill a million people, but you can’t kill an idea.  History has shown us that time and again.

I will always encourage you to learn more.  Don’t take what I blog here as gospel.  These are my beliefs based on what I’ve learned.  It does neither one of us any good if you don’t research for yourself, challenge your core beliefs, and act upon new knowledge and understanding.  Our continued existence depends on what we know and how we grow.  I love you.

#BlessedBeTheGrind

5 Threats to The Black Man In America Part 1: Diet

5 Threats to The Black Man In America Part 2: Religion