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Blackonomics: Baltimore — Another Horror Movie Re-run

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James Clingman

By James Clingman
NNPA Columnist

 

The movie we are watching in Baltimore is a re-run and a sequel. The price of admission has always been too high, but we continue to pay the exorbitant price, anyway. As the opening line in the old TV show, “Dragnet,” proclaimed, “The story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.” In today’s society, that second line should say, “The names have been changed to protect the ‘guilty.’”

My 11-year-old nephew, since the age of five or six, has been reciting, verbatim, the words from his favorite movies. He knows the directors, the release dates, and the bios of the stars in those movies. He has seen his favorite movies many times over. He reminds me of Black people, as we watch the same movie over and over, except we do not remember the vital information contained in the movie, and we even forget who the main characters were and the roles they played.

The latest movie being run in Baltimore is a sequel to the ones we watched in Ferguson, Mo. and Staten Island, N.Y. It is a rerun of what we saw in Los Angeles, Cleveland, and North Charleston, S.C. How many times are we going to pay the price of admission to see the same movie without memorizing the lines and learning from them? How many times must we go through the same experience before we change our response to it?

Some very interesting and pitiful responses (reviews) have come from some of the “leaders” in Baltimore in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death. We knew what the politicians’ reviews would be; they are always true to form. But the older folks, who decry the violence as “insulting” and “disrespectful” to Freddie’s family, are even more disingenuous. They seem to have forgotten about 1968 when their generation, and maybe even some of them, burned down buildings and looted all across this nation, in the aftermath of MLK’s assassination. Were their actions deemed insulting and disrespectful to King’s family? If so, did that stop them?

The self-righteousness I hear from those in my generation about the youth who are doing the same thing they did in the 1960s is unfortunate. Where were they before the looting and burning started in Baltimore? Were they busy teaching the youth that what took place in the 1960s was detrimental to their neighborhoods, as they now like to say to TV news reporters? If they have not, until now, passed on those lessons to younger folks, their words ring hollow today.

Some of the sanctimonious comments being made by my generation very strongly suggest that even though we have seen this movie many times, we are content to watch it again without having shared its lessons. Is it because we are ashamed of ourselves now? Do we think we are better than our youth today? We should be bringing the generations together rather than separating them and acting like we have not been where they are.

Amos Wilson said, “The violently oppressed react violently to their oppression.” He also said, “Just as power corrupts, powerlessness also corrupts.” This is the main plot of our 21st century version of the 1968 movie. Same theme, different characters. Why do we only react to what young people do, rather than work with them every day by giving them alternatives to prevent their negative behaviors? It irks me to see our grown men saying, “They need jobs.” Well, create some jobs to give them. It’s so sad to hear our adults crying out, “They need education.” Well, provide them with education. Our youth see many of us as weak and impotent when it comes to protecting them.

We have the resources to provide everything we say our youth need. What must they think of our words, our prayer sessions, our news conferences, our political speeches, and our tepid efforts now to stop and correct their behavior, when we have not used our resources to take care of them? Our answer is to run to those who don’t care about them and beg for jobs, food, education, and everything else they need.

Frederick Douglass’ words are clear regarding power, but as I always add, a demand not backed-up by power will not come to fruition; and the real power in this country is the almighty dollar. Just look at what happened in Indianapolis when the LGBT folks were upset. They did not burn anything down or throw one brick, because they know that dollars rule the day. Their threats to withdraw their dollars were immediately addressed by the politicians.

People whose families own storefront businesses are very unlikely to throw bricks through the windows and burn them down. Sgt. Joe Friday had another saying in Dragnet: “Just the facts ma’am, just the facts.”

 

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.

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Activism

COMMENTARY: After Jan. 6, An MLK Day Deadline for Voting Rights and Democracy

This is a dangerous thing that goes beyond mere policy matters. First the Cruzes fall in line. Then the people. Republicans are not shy about what’s next. They want to own our democracy. And they’re willing to get it by going state by state to limit our voting rights and take away our votes.

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Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his show on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter @emilamok at 2pm Pacific M-F. Or on www.amok.com
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his show on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter @emilamok at 2pm Pacific M-F. Or on www.amok.com

By Emil Guillermo

We all know the images of Jan. 6, 2021. Lawless rioters ransacking the Capitol. Police being tortured and beaten. Members of Congress hiding in fear in the House gallery. The gallows and a noose meant for former Vice President Mike Pence.

We all saw the video images one year after and astonishingly they did nothing to pull our nation together.

Nothing.

They simply confirmed the only thing everyone can agree on.

Our democracy’s in trouble. Real trouble.

We already sensed that after the Civil Rights battles of the 1960s such things as race, policing, and income inequality are still major issues in 2022.

But we’ve got trouble in a different key.

C Major. No sharps or flats. This trouble goes right to the core of our democracy. They’re coming after your vote.

That is, after all, what the Jan. 6 rioters were attempting when they tried to stop the certification of the election.

But now the GOP politicians who may have been behind the Jan. 6 rioters all along, are going legit.

The majority of Republicans, notably California’s Kevin McCarthy, continue to sing the fictional tune “The 2016 Election Was Stolen.”

As if in a song battle, the Democrats counter with the loud truth, “The Election Was Fair. Trump Lost.”

But enough people keep singing the lie as if it’s their battle hymn.

And now they are looking for the ultimate control of any election. Legally. In plain view.

Republicans are taking over or running for top election official posts in key states. State legislatures are proposing laws to limit absentee ballots, mail-in voting and other conveniences. They are putting up obstacles to make voting harder with the hopes of suppressing your vote.

This is why Biden spoke in Georgia this week, saying “I will not yield, I will not flinch in protecting voting rights.”

Let’s hope he’s serious, starting with new voting rights legislation to make election days federal holidays and require federal approval of any state and local election changes.

It may take changing the filibuster law to make sure Republicans can’t block any Democratic reforms, but it must be done. And done now.

That’s why even the family of Martin Luther King Jr. is calling for “no celebration” of MLK Day without the passage of voting rights legislation.

This is how Democrats are talking to Biden.

The Republicans’ post-Jan.6 strategy is simply Orwellian. Where truth and lies are indistinguishable. And Republicans loyal to Trump are dead set on forcing their lies on everyone.

Witness Sen. Ted Cruz last week caught in a moment of truth calling the Jan. 6 rioters “domestic terrorists.” But how quickly he recanted when called on the carpet by Fox’s Tucker Carlson, the Trump Confessor, for all the Republican congregants to see.

Like a loyal Trumper, Cruz knelt, confessed, and did his penance.

It used to be called hypocrisy. Now it’s just called Modern Day Republicanism.

This is a dangerous thing that goes beyond mere policy matters. First the Cruzes fall in line. Then the people. Republicans are not shy about what’s next. They want to own our democracy. And they’re willing to get it by going state by state to limit our voting rights and take away our votes.

That’s even worse than the Jan. 6 rioters’ wildest dreams.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his show on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter @emilamok at 2pm Pacific M-F. Or on www.amok.com

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Activism

COMMENTARY: Schools and streets have been named after Martin Luther King Jr. 

Those who misrepresent King and Critical Race Theory are illogical, and they only reveal their fear of him. There is no need to fear this American Black preacher who preached nonviolence and love. King was a peaceful warrior who was radically obedient to Jesus, who taught us to love even our enemies.

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Striking members of Memphis Local 1733 hold signs whose slogan symbolized the sanitation workers’ 1968 campaign. (Via Walter P. Reuther Library/Wayne State University)
Striking members of Memphis Local 1733 hold signs whose slogan symbolized the sanitation workers’ 1968 campaign. (Via Walter P. Reuther Library/Wayne State University)

By Dr. J. Alfred Smith Sr. | Baptist News Global

J. Alfred Smith Sr.

J. Alfred Smith Sr.

Churches and libraries are named after him. He is the only African American and the only American clergy honored with a national holiday. In many countries around the world, he is numbered with global heroes like Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela.

Some discredited him by calling him a communist, a detractor and troublemaker. Sophisticated ideological historians are deconstructing his history in order to distort the powerful truth of his ministry. Those who pass laws against teaching Critical Race Theory are making sure that present and coming generations will not learn as Professor Cornel West said, that King’s universal religious commitments led him to internationalize the American ideals of democracy, freedom and equality.

Those who misrepresent King and Critical Race Theory are illogical, and they only reveal their fear of him. There is no need to fear this American Black preacher who preached nonviolence and love. King was a peaceful warrior who was radically obedient to Jesus, who taught us to love even our enemies.

“There is no need to fear this American Black preacher who preached non-violence and love.”

Forgive us, Lord, for our ignorance

Forgive us, Lord, for reducing Martin Luther King to being only a civil rights leader. Forgive us, Lord, for our ignorance. All many people know about him is that he had a dream. He was more than a dreamer. Forgive us for ignoring your calling of Martin Luther King as a minister with good news for a bad news world.

In keeping with Luke 4:18-19, King — like Jesus — had a deep commitment to the poor, pushed down, left out, disrespected Black sanitation workers of Memphis. He addressed, to the displeasure of the white power structure, the basic constitutionally guaranteed rights of the Black population — equitable education, decent housing, jobs that paid living wages, and equal justice in the courts. The sanitation workers had lost their lives working long hours for dirt-poor pay with unsafe trucks that had taken the lives of several workers.

The workers had a strike with the support of many in the community. They carried signs that said, “I AM A MAN!” Some critics of King did not understand his identification with the cause of sanitation workers.

On March 28, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy, right, lead a march on behalf of striking Memphis sanitation workers. (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Sam Melhorn)

On March 28, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy, right, lead a march on behalf of striking Memphis sanitation workers. (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Sam Melhorn)

Professor Luther D. Ivory states in Toward a Theology of Radical Involvement that King used the teaching of Imago Dei to counter the notion of Black inferiority. Everyone irrespective of race, gender, education or economic status is to be valued and treated with respect and dignity. Blacks needed this message to overcome feelings of shame, inferiority and self-hatred caused by the absurdities of racism.

With this understanding, the foundation is built for Blacks and whites to live together in the beloved community. Living in the beloved community calls for Blacks and whites to work together to transform existing injustices in institutions and public life.

Forgive us, Lord, for our distorted gospel

Martin Luther King speaks to an overflow crowd at a mass meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church in Memphis. (AP Photo/Gene Herrick)

Martin Luther King speaks to an overflow crowd at a mass meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church in Memphis. (AP Photo/Gene Herrick)

Lord, forgive American Christians — Black and white — for their middle-class captivity with a distorted view of the gospel. This understanding of the gospel was concerned about life after death and not life after birth, addressing only the sweet by and by while ignoring the nasty now and now. This gospel condemns the personal sins of the individuals while ignoring corporate and institutional evils. This gospel refused to oppose chemical and nuclear waste dumps that are built on the edge of communities where the poor and politically powerless live.

In his book Stride Toward Freedom, King corrects the distorted view of the gospel saying: “The gospel deals with the whole man, not only his soul, but his body; not only his spiritual well-being, but his material well-being. … Any religion which professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the conditions that scar the soul is a spiritually moribund religion only waiting for the day to be buried.”

Forgive us, Lord, for our white nationalism

Forgive America, Lord, for her ethnocentrism and white nationalism that justifies her behavior whether it is right or wrong. American arrogance has been promoted by persons who have held the highest leadership positions in the nation. America has promoted herself as being No. 1 among the wealthy nations of the world.

In “A Lament for Humanity” on Humans Rights Day 2021, pastor, author and judge Wendell Griffen wrote, “The world’s richest 1% have more than twice as much wealth as 6.9 billion people. Nearly half the world’s population of 3.4 billion people lives on less than $5.50 per day. Every year, 100 million people are pushed into poverty because they must pay out-of-pocket for health care. Currently 258 million children (one out of five) will not be allowed to attend school.”

Pastor Griffen adds: “And it came to pass that humanity appears to have cursed itself and the world by that greed, lust for power, inequality and bigotry that make community seem like a global fantasy instead of a human imperative.”

The inequality is not accidental; it is deliberative, calculated and purposeful.

Forgive us, Lord, for we were warned by King in his last book, Where Do We Go from Here? He wrote, “We have inherited a large house, a great world house in which we have to learn to live together, Black and white, Easterner and Westerner, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Hindu. A family unduly separated in ideas, culture and interest, who because we can never live apart, must somehow learn to live with each other in peace.”

Forgive us, Lord, for our violence

Martin Luther King delivers a sermon on May 13, 1956, in Montgomery, Ala. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Martin Luther King delivers a sermon on May 13, 1956, in Montgomery, Ala. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Forgive us, Lord, for our worship of guns. There are more guns in America than people. Our money says “In God We Trust” but there are 121 firearms for every 100 residents. And 75% of homicides are related to guns. America leads all other nations in gun deaths. Our children have fears of being killed in school by a student. Black Christians in churches and Jews in synagogues have been killed while worshipping. Our shopping centers have had mass killings.

On Jan. 6, 2021, the U.S. Capitol was invaded by persons with guns attempting to stop the counting of the Electoral College votes. The reports say the lives of the vice president and the Speaker of the House were marked for death.

Guns are used to settle differences. The United States is the No. 1 seller of arms to the countries of the world. Forgive us, Lord, for giving deaf ears to the apostle of nonviolence. He preached against what he called the triplets of evil: war, poverty and racism. It was he who said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

A prayer for hope

May those of us who have become discouraged because racism seems to be on the increase find hope. May those of us who have become discouraged because white supremacy and white nationalism are boldly obtaining a stronger foothold in state and national governments find hope. May those of us who have become discouraged because voting rights for which people shed their blood so we could vote are now being stolen, placing democracy in jeopardy find hope.

Forgive us, Lord, if we forget how Martin Luther King told us in his very last speech that we would face difficult days. Those days are here.

Two months before his assassination on April 4, 1968, he spoke powerful words of hope. We must not forget them. He said, “We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.”

Yes, the immediate future may not look promising. Negative news about climate change may haunt us. Young college graduates are uncertain about career opportunities. The COVID-19 virus and its mutations trouble us. These finite disappointments multiply geometrically, but we must not lose infinite hope.

I am not speaking of blind hope but an infinite hope that presses forward believing that if we do our part, our way-maker God, who brought us through the Middle Passage, the horror of runaway slaves chased by bloodhounds and beaten with many stripes if caught, the sexual abuse of the slave woman bearing a mulatto child for the slave owner, and the way-maker God of liberation who helped us survive the terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan and inspired our preachers to preach on after their churches were burned and to rebuild them back bigger — that this God will inspire us and create in us the power to keep the dream alive.

Not the God of the slave master’s preacher who told us not to steal the master’s chickens when our babies were crying from hunger, but the God of infinite hope, the God who creates ex nihilo, who makes a way out of no way. The way-maker God inspires us and creates in us the power to keep the dream of Martin Luther King alive.

Dante Stewart reminds us how Pastor James Bevel spoke about infinite hope: “There is a false rumor around our leader’s death. Martin Luther King is not our leader. Our leader is the man who led Moses out of Egypt. Our leader is the one who went with Daniel in the lion’s den. Our leader is the man who walked out of the grave on Easter morning. Our leader never sleeps nor slumbers. He cannot be put in jail. Our leader is still on the case. Our leader is not dead. One of the prophets died. We will not stop because of that.”

Alfred Smith served four decades as pastor of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, Calif. Now pastor emeritus, he is a member of the American Baptist Churches in the USA and dually aligned with the Progressive National Baptist Convention, where he served as the organization’s 12th president.

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Activism

OPINION: An Agenda for Jobs and Freedom in Oakland

This struggle is not over, and the work must continue, as today the Black unemployment rate continues to far exceed the white unemployment rate in America. The racial wealth gap is large, and, in Oakland, our local disparity studies continue to document, year after year, the ongoing exclusion of Black-owned businesses from important city opportunities in contracts and economic development.  

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Rebecca Kaplan. Oakland.ca.gov photo.
Rebecca Kaplan. Oakland.ca.gov photo.

By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember-At-Large

In 1963, hundreds of thousands of people marched in what many now refer to as the March on Washington for Civil Rights. But the march organizers called it the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, fighting for justice and equality under law and equal access to economic opportunities and jobs.

This struggle is not over, and the work must continue, as today the Black unemployment rate continues to far exceed the white unemployment rate in America. The racial wealth gap is large, and, in Oakland, our local disparity studies continue to document, year after year, the ongoing exclusion of Black-owned businesses from important city opportunities in contracts and economic development.

That is part of why I and others have been pushing to remedy these problems, and fighting to ensure that jobs, business contracts, and development opportunities in the City of Oakland must, much more significantly, include our Black community.

One of the recommendations that came from conducting the most recent disparity study, was to ensure that Black contractors are ready and able to bid on city contracts.

As a result, and with strong community support, we fought for and won a budget amendment allocating hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund a project, in conjunction with the Construction Resource Center, to provide training and technical support to ensure Black contractors have improved access to these opportunities.

And yet, at every turn, there has been opposition and obstruction to these efforts, from an Administration which initially tried not to even conduct the legally mandated disparity study in the first place, to hide the data about the extent of the ongoing inequities and tried to block the release of the study.

Once the study was released, and our budget amendment had passed, they then continued to obstruct these efforts, refusing to issue the funds for the contract. Repeated and ongoing efforts — including demanding follow-up public reports from the Administration on the status of funds — were required to get the support that the Council had approved, issued.

Similar obstruction also took place with workforce investment funds — even as communities in Oakland continue to suffer the economic fallout from both the pandemic and decades of under-investment and inequality.

Monies the Council has approved to support workforce development, job training, and job placement have been delayed and undermined. In fact, this issue of delay of funding of these vital needs has been such an ongoing problem that former Councilmember Desley Brooks authored a law, which Council passed, mandating “prompt payment” — recognizing that crucial organizations doing work to improve quality of life and opportunity are impeded and undermined when payment is not issued promptly.

We have continued to push for full implementation of this law.

This is also why the plan of the African American Sports and Entertainment Group (AASEG) to develop 30,000 jobs in the revitalization of the Oakland Coliseum site is so important.

This vital development opportunity is one of the most significant in the entire county. It is on a large site that is central to the entire region, with easy access to BART, freeways, the airport and more.

The land has been approved for development through the completion of the Coliseum Area Specific Plan, as well as Oakland having completed California’s required Surplus Lands process.

This large site can provide for housing at all income levels, business, entertainment, hotel, convention, biotech, public services, and much more, and provide for quality jobs for our community, both during construction and in ongoing jobs going forward.

This important effort, too, faced ongoing obstruction from the Administration, and, nevertheless, we persisted, and it was approved in November 2021 by the City Council in a unanimous vote!

In order to ensure that Oakland, and particularly, the Black community in Oakland, will have the opportunity to fully succeed, it is essential that the next mayor of Oakland be someone who not only will stop the obstruction of these important efforts, but also who will actively champion them and help ensure they are brought to fruition.

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