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Blackonomics: A Shocking Observation about Blacks



James clingman new

By James Clingman
NNPA Columnist


“America leads the world in shocks.” Those immortal words were spoken by the late Gil Scott-Heron during the Nixon “H2O Gate” era. Forty years later, Black people lead the world in shocks. We are shocked every time a Black person gets killed or abused by a police officer; we are shocked at the absence of indictments and convictions for those acts; we are shocked that our government will only give these acts lip-service; and we are shocked by the endless rhetoric, excuse-making, and rationales put forth as a response to Black lives being treated like they don’t matter.

We are so shocked that we continue to roll out the same old tactics, chant the same phrases, and make idle threats that we know we will not fulfill. We are shocked that society will not change this endless parade to the graveyard for Black men especially. We are also shocked at the rate of our deaths and the nonchalant attitudes of those who kill us. And we are shocked by the fact that even though these killings are caught on cameras, there is still no punishment for the perpetrator.

Rodney King’s butt-whuppin’ was caught on camera in 1992, and so was Nathaniel Jones killing in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2003. Heck, White folks photographed the lynching and burning of many Blacks over 100 years ago. Why are we so shocked now? I have come to the conclusion that we just like to be shocked. It’s like the old tale of a boy constantly hitting himself in the head with a hammer. When asked why he did that, he replied, “Because it feels so good when I stop.”

Do we really want this lunacy, this evil, this abuse to stop just so we can catch our breath for a little while, and then return to business as usual? One thing for sure is that it will not stop simply because it ought to, as folks always imply when the news reporter poses the question, “What you think about the latest incident of police abuse?” Inevitably, as was the case in the latest abuse in Baltimore, a sister said, “It’s got to stop.” Others chimed in and said the same thing, as was said in the case of Eric Garner, John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Oscar Grant, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and many of the others I could name.

Let me try this again, after so many years of saying the same thing. The vast majority of the problems Black people face in this nation can be solved through the utilization of economic power. That’s what runs this country and, therefore, that’s what gets desired outcomes. The lack of economic power results in a perverse weakness and subordination of any group of people. Thus, Black folks are always shocked at our position, our mistreatment, and our dependency on the very political entities that care very little, if at all, about us. That’s backward and wrong-headed thinking.

If Black folks in Baltimore or anywhere else want to be empowered to the degree that politicians finally move beyond merely saying what they think we want to hear, to doing what we need done for our security and progress, we must make drastic changes in our behavior. Our reactions to all the killings and beat-downs have been so predictable, so much so that the authorities know they just need to wait us out for a while, like the Eric Garner case, and we will go away. They know the shock value of their actions is impotent and only temporary.

The Fraser Institute released an article titled, “External shocks and political parties’ attempts to ‘buy’ votes can affect levels of economic freedom,” that noted, “Economic freedom is one of the main drivers of prosperity, resulting in improved wealth, health, and education for individuals and their families.” said Herbert Grubel.

“…external shocks (think wars and revolutions, economic depressions or recessions) prompt the public to gravitate to political parties promising change and dramatic new directions… Changing public views allow progressive politicians to buy votes by creating a narrative that government is better at looking after citizens than citizens are at looking after themselves. That inevitably leads to larger government, more regulation, higher taxes, and crony capitalism,” Grubel said.

Extrapolating from that article, I would say that Black folks have come to depend on politicians for so long now that even when our people are killed by police, we run to them to solve the problem. It’s not going to happen until we wield power with our dollars and our votes. The “external shock” necessary to prompt political parties to appropriately respond to our needs must be felt by them rather than by us. That shock must be one that reverberates throughout the corporate board rooms, the halls of Congress, and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: No more business as usual!


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,



Compassion in Oakland on Display in “This Is Life With Lisa Ling” Episode on Vincent Chin

The show focused on the Vincent Chin case, the famous Asian American hate crime that took place in Detroit in 1982.



photo courtesy of broadway world

African Americans and Asian Americans working together in the past and the present? There were some good examples on last Sunday’s premier episode of CNN’s “This is Life with Lisa Ling.”

The show focused on the Vincent Chin case, the famous Asian American hate crime that took place in Detroit in 1982.

I’ve covered or written about the case most of my journalistic career. This CNN episode is a ‘must see,’ especially for younger people, or people who may still be wondering what the big deal is about Vincent Chin.

I’ve always admired Ling’s work. But what makes the episode stand out is her choice to tell Chin’s story through the life of author Helen Zia.

Helen and I are friends. And I will never forget all the kind words she’s said about me at times in my life when things were on the line. But I didn’t realize she worked in the auto industry before she made her mark as a journalist and author.

I’ve talked to Helen over the years about Chin, and you can hear our conversation on my 2017 podcast.

On last Sunday’s CNN show, I never saw Helen tell the Chin case so clearly and eloquently. Maybe that’s because in most stories about Chin, the devastating impact of Japan on the Detroit auto industry in the late ’70s and early ‘\’80s is usually covered in a paragraph. This Ling episode gives you a sense of that trade war through news clips of the times, and lets you see how easily it could have fueled the animus that erupted in the Chin case.

The violence was irrational as well, since Chin was Chinese, not Japanese. But that didn’t matter to auto worker Ronald Ebens, who murdered Chin.

The episode has Ebens in an old film clip saying he fully expected jail time for beating Chin to death. The fact that he didn’t serve time at all further shows the travesty in the case.

The episode also covers what Zia shared with me in 2017—that the ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild originally balked at supporting the efforts of Asian Americans to seek justice at the federal level.

“They said, ‘you know, this has nothing to do with race because Vincent Chin is not Black,’” Zia said in the episode. “So civil rights laws only protect Black people, and we said ‘No, Vincent Chin’s civil rights should be protected as well.’”

It’s an eye-opening realization that in 1982, less than 20 years after the Civil Rights Act, the nation was still in a Black/white paradigm that excluded Asian Americans.

But Zia’s advocacy group, American Citizens for Justice, got support from the Black community, notably the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

“We must redefine America,” Jackson said in a video clip. “So, everyone fits in the rainbow somewhere.”

It was the signal for a coalition to make its pitch to the Justice Department to take action in the Chin case.

“Every religion and walk of life came together,” said Zia. “Black, white, Latinx, LGBT, Jewish, Muslim saying ‘we are with you, we stand for you.’”

It’s the spirit of coalition we still need to this day. Sure enough, there’s a segment featuring a group, Compassion in Oakland, that reaches out to help escort Asian seniors in Oakland’s Chinatown.

“I grew up in this area,” says Kenyatta, 22, a volunteer, in the episode. “Seeing all the attacks on the news was breaking my heart.”

It’s a nice cap to the entire episode, which links Chin’s death, to Asian hate, to a community’s response. It shows how good things can happen when BIPOC communities work in the spirit of coalition and cooperation.

We can ease each other’s pain, if we care for one another first.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Black History

Ambassador Ruth A. Davis Pioneered Diversity in Foreign Service

UC Berkeley Grad Continues to Bring International Economic Empowerment for Women



Ambassador Ruth A. Davis (left) is meeting with Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Ambassador Ruth A. Davis was recently named as a distinguished alumna by the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. 

She also has been honored by the U.S. State Department when a conference room at the Foreign Service Institute in Virginia was named in honor of her service as director of the Institute. She was the first African American to serve in that position.

Davis, a graduate of Spelman College received a master’s degree from UC Berkeley in 1968.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, also a graduate of the School of Social Welfare, now chairs the House Appropriations Committee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. She praised Ambassador Davis as “a trailblazing leader and one of the great American diplomats of our time. Over her 40-year career, she had so many ‘firsts’ on her resume: the first Black director of the Foreign Service Institute, the first Black woman Director General of the Foreign Service, and the first Black woman to be named a Career Ambassador, to name just a few.

“She served all over the world, from Kinshasa to Tokyo to Barcelona, where she was consul general, and to Benin, where she served as ambassador,” Lee continued. “ I am so proud of her many accomplishments. She has represented the best of America around the world, and our world is a better place because of her service.”

During Davis’ 40-year career in the Foreign Service, she also served as chief of staff in the Africa Bureau, and as distinguished advisor for international affairs at Howard University. She retired in 2009 as a Career Ambassador, the highest-level rank in Foreign Service.

Since her retirement, Ambassador Davis has served as the chair (and a founding member) of the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC), an organization devoted to promoting women’s economic empowerment by creating an international network of businesswomen.

She also chairs the selection committee for the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship at Howard University’s Ralph Bunche International Affairs Center, where she helps to oversee the annual selection process. Finally, as vice president of the Association of Black American Ambassadors, she participates in activities involving the recruitment, preparation, hiring, retention, mentoring and promotion of minority Foreign Service employees.

Gay Plair Cobb, former Regional Administrator of the Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor in the Atlanta, and San Francisco offices, was Ambassador Davis’ roommate at UC Berkeley. Cobb said, “Ruth always exhibited outstanding leadership and a determined commitment to fairness, equal opportunity and activism, which we engaged in on a regular basis.”

Davis has received the Department of State’s Superior Honor Award, Arnold L. Raphel Memorial Award and Equal Employment Opportunity Award; the Secretary of State’s Achievement Award (including from Gen. Colin Powell); the Director General’s Foreign Service Cup; two Presidential Distinguished Service Awards; and Honorary Doctor of Laws from Middlebury and Spelman Colleges.

A native of Atlanta, Davis was recently named to the Economist’s 2015 Global Diversity List as one of the Top 50 Diversity Figures in Public Life and is the recipient of the American Foreign Service Association’s Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award.


The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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City Must Pay Contractors, Businesses, Non-Profits Promptly

By restoring the Prompt Payment Ordinance, local organizations working for Oaklanders will be compensated in a timely manner and can do more work for Oakland as a result.



Sheng Thao

I have introduced legislation to restore the City of Oakland’s Prompt Payment Ordinance and it will be heard at 1:30 p.m. by the City Council on October 19 because local contractors and local businesses need to be compensated in a timely manner for work they do on behalf of the City.

It’s unacceptable that the city is using the COVID-19 pandemic to delay payment to these local non-profit organizations.  By restoring the Prompt Payment Ordinance, local organizations working for Oaklanders will be compensated in a timely manner and can do more work for Oakland as a result.

In March 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, then-Interim City Administrator, Steven Falk issued an Emergency Order suspending parts of the City’s codes to give the City the flexibility to navigate the uncertain times.  Few would have guessed then that the world would still be navigating the COVID-19 Pandemic nearly 18 months later. One of the ordinances suspended by the Emergency Order was the Prompt Payment Ordinance.

Oakland’s Prompt Payment Ordinance requires the City to compensate local businesses and contractors executing City grants or contracts within 20 days of receiving an invoice.  This allows local organizations providing services on behalf of the City of Oakland to be compensated in a timely manner and builds trust between these organizations and the city.  Local contractors and businesses provide a diverse set of services to the City, covering areas ranging from trash removal and paving to public safety.

Almost 18 months since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Oakland’s Prompt Payment Ordinance is still suspended.  Even as City staff have adjusted to working remotely and the City has adjusted to operating during the pandemic, there is no requirement that the City compensate its contractors or local businesses in a timely manner.

Oaklanders can comment at the meeting by joining the Zoom meeting via this link or calling 1-669-900-6833 and using the Meeting ID 885 2765 2491 and raising their hand during the public comment period at the beginning of the Council meeting.


The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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