Thursday, August 5, 2010

Let's Throw The POTUS Under The Bus!

That's a horrible picture, B.D.! I know.Years ago, I came across a book that caused me to laugh out loud as well as piqued my curiosity. And that's a tall order. It was the unexpected title that tickled my funny bone, and, when coupled with the cover design, the tickling went all the way down to the bone marrow.

You've got to love the title: Flattened Fauna: A Field Guide to Common Animals of Roads, Streets, and Highways. You can see the cover design here.

On another blog I frequent, the talk is all about those unfortunates that President Obama supposedly threw under the bus during his run-up to the presidency and beyond. I got to thinking about that rather bizarre metaphor. What is the origin of the phrase that has as one of its meanings, according to the Urban Dictionary: to sacrifice some other person, usually one who is undeserving or at least vulnerable, to make personal gain?

When Rev. Wright was all the buzz, and Fox News aired without let up a video snippet that caught the Reverend excoriating the nation, one Newsweek writer took a stab at tracing both its meaning and its origin. This was after then candidate Obama appeared to distance himself from Wright, and was summarily accused of the unpardonable sin of "throwing the Good Reverend under the bus."

"From the tar pits of the blogosphere to the peaks of the mainstream media, one strange phrase has bubbled up in the wake of Sen. Barack Obama's sweeping speech on race in America: "He didn't throw him under the bus." The "him" is, of course, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., Obama's former pastor, whose angry and racially charged sermons have sparked controversy that could undercut Obama's presidential candidacy. But the metaphor—"throw him under the bus"—is tougher to explain. Where did it come from? Why is it suddenly ubiquitous? And at the risk of sounding overly sensitive, is it even advisable, given its ugly echo with the "back of the bus" legacy of African-Americans?" [1]

Speaking of back of the bus, I've waited a long time for this nation to elect a black man, or a black woman, as president (Shirley Chisholm being the first black woman to attempt it.).

So I'm not as willing as some to throw this nation's first black president under the bus, the way that some blacks believe he has done to others. It was the image of the president as roadkill that brought the aforementioned book to mind, an image that I didn't long indulge, but others might.

If I might transmigrate a post from another blog and my response, you'll get the flavor of what I mean. I won't identify the author of the post to which I responded. That would serve no purpose.

Commenter: "No matter how much slack you want to give him he [Barack Obama] did raise expectations. And you are right he is not Jesus but he also has no intention nor has he had any intentions on solving the problems of the little person, or the problems of homelessness, the over incarceration of black folks, ending the dirty dealings that caused folks to be foreclosed upon, getting all children educated, stopping US government aggression, or any other progressive forward thinking idea that one may come up with."

My Response: A strong indictment. Putting education aside, which of the other concerns you cited were part and parcel of Obama's pledge to America, black or white?

Here's what I recall. He would end the war in Iraq--our combat mission there. As of this month, he's on target.

He would expand the war in Afghanistan--the real epicenter for our war on terror, as he saw it, during his campaign.

Congress under his guidance did in recent weeks pass a financial reform bill into law. It didn't go far enough for me, but I'm not complaining--but it just might have sufficient provisions and muscle to do what you hope: to end what you call "the dirty dealings that caused folks to be foreclosed upon."

Expectations aren't campaign pledges.

And with those pledges (candidate Obama didn't promise us the moon), blacks voted for him overwhelmingly, and whites in sufficient numbers to seal a win.

With a little more time and a willing congress (Obama hasn't been in office two years yet), I think he'll get around to rehabilitating our faltering educational system, and addressing other progressive concerns.

America's homeless crisis can be taken up locally, and by charitable institutions. Many such institutions are doing remarkable work to provide homes for the chronically homeless, and well as for those recently homeless as a result of foreclosures.

Check around: You may have such an institution in your own city that you can partner with. End of Response

We've all heard the usual responses to these complaints: Obama's not God, or Jesus. He can't walk on water. He can't perform miracles. Yet, a growing number of the disenchanted are calling precisely for him to be just that--God, or Jesus--and to part the Red Sea, for the deliverance of blacks from the hated Pharaohs of Egypt, and to lead them to the Promised Land.

Although I questioned the advisability of Obama continuing the war in Afghanistan, I only wanted him to fulfill just one of his campaign promises: to end the war in Iraq. Anything else was icing on the cake.

Therefore, I'm amazed that some blacks actually voted for Obama with the hope that he'd address all the wrongs that blacks have been subjected to since the formation of this country.

"Obama listens to whites," they complain. "He listens to their concerns, as well as the concerns of other special interests, but he has no special interest in blacks."

Regrettably, we're not a race-neutral society. As a result, Affirmative action came under fire because it was seen as advancing one race at the expense of another. It didn't matter that Affirmative Action sought to remedy years of white advancement at the expense of blacks. Paradoxically, this program benefited more than just blacks, although not all these non-black groups that benefited suffered equally, or to the same degree as blacks.

If President Obama targeted blacks specifically to reduce the double-digit unemployment rate that haunts blacks, or the inner city for redevelopment, the political heat and fallout that would ensue for his administration would be enormous. It would be seen as a severe blow to the entire Democrat Party--a wound, it seems certain, he wouldn't have the party bear. Already the criticism of black preferential treatment is rampant--health-care reform, for example, has been described as a kind of black reparations.

A white president, if he targeted blacks, wouldn't have to brook this kind of political blowback with the same virulent, racial animus that would greet an Obama effort, although a similar measure may meet with the same resistance, and certain defeat.

Already there's talk from the Obama administration that 75 percent of the oil spilled into the Gulf has dissipated or has been dispersed. This claim, coming in advance of the November 2010 elections, places the Obama administration at risk, if later this claim is found not to be true, but such a claim takes the Democrat Party off the hook, and increases Democrats chances in the upcoming Fall election. So it's not surprising to see the administration risking so much to keep the party viable. As they see it, and despite claims to the contrary, no one person, group, segment of society, or special interest, are more important than the party, and it ongoing survival, and viability.

Criticize the president, sure, but let it be honest and effective criticism, criticism backed up with e-mails, letters, petitions, and any other vocal or written means at your disposal to bring your issues to the attention of the president and congress. Complaining without making an effort to effect a remedy may be cathartic, but, in the end, it's merely a useless exercise.

In response to another commenter, I had this to say:

If the [news] media is the fourth branch of government, then the people, at the very least, are the fifth branch.

Rather than sitting back and watching things being done to us, we should shoulder our responsibility in the governmental equation, and, as citizens, step up and do our part to round out the equation--to make government responsive and accountable to the people.

Anything short of that is nothing more than sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.


End of response.

Preview of coming attractions: a multipart examination of what's needed to create a black economy, and, at the same time, develop the black community.

[1] ‘Under the Bus’
Add to Rev. Wright's legacy this suddenly inescapable phrase.

26 comments:

msladydeborah said...

I really find it interesting to compare our previous thoughts on what it would be like if a Black person was elected as POTUS, to the reality that Obama stepped into. I don't ever recall any discussion about what the political/economic climate would be. Who knew that when it was time to elect the first one that the nation would be in economic depression, our armed forces would be fighting two wars and the internet would be the hottest communication tool in the world?

So many of us wanted to see the wrongs righted. But, I will declare that we often do more harm than good to each other. Obama can't fix that aspect of our discontent. That is on each one of us to work on and repair.

I am from the first generation of 18 year old voters. I am amazed at how much political immaturity still abounds. Ever POTUS inherits the business of the previous one. We didn't raise nearly enough hell when Bush was in office. Now it seems that every other comment is based on what Obama should be doing for us. Whatever happened to the mindset of self-determination? I suspect if we had an agenda that was about more than handouts-we might be strong enough to get what we need.

I don't agree with every policy that his administration has forwarded. I think that he needs to get some color up around him in the Oval Office. Because it seems that many of his advisors are not capable of handing race issues very well.

When I consider what our other choice was for the office-I'm okay with Barack. I'm glad and thankful that I was able to see him take office.

Black Diaspora said...

One

msladydeborah, as always, I enjoy your comments, and you're almost always first to comment.

I'd like to say that I had previous thoughts about the possibility of a "black president," but to be absolutely honest, no such thoughts ever crossed my mind, and the reason: the possibility always seemed remote to me.

Now that it has happened, I believe that's it will prove to be a propitious event both for whites and blacks, although some blacks felt that the time wasn't ripe for it, and that, somehow, Obama wouldn't acquit himself in a manner that would build confidence in whites to have it happen again.

They believed that there were other blacks more suited to represent this historical moment, who had the necessary prerequisites to cause them to shine, as well as all black Americans.

For me, this was a specious argument. It was the right time, and Obama the right man.

History will judge President Obama favorably, barring any malfeasance in office, because of the challenges he faced taking over the ship of state, not the least of which was an oppositional party that has done everything it could to expedite his failure.

If he can right this ship, as well as successfully manage the other challenges he's inherited, his likeness will grace one of this nation's coins, if not a paper currency of some value and frequency.

"[W]e often do more harm than good to each other. Obama can't fix that aspect of our discontent. That is on each one of us to work on and repair."

And this work is overdue. It has to be individual and collective, but do it, we must.

Black Diaspora said...

Two

Some days, I wish I was starting over, such is the excitement of growth and promise that's attached to this time, although it appears that we're in a withering, but I have a task and a course that was set for me many years ago, and I'm staying fairly true to that course, although, as they say, "There's always room for improvement."

"We didn't raise nearly enough hell when Bush was in office. Now it seems that every other comment is based on what Obama should be doing for us. Whatever happened to the mindset of self-determination?"

And again, that "self" is an individual and collective "self." This period of economic sluggishness has within it innumerable opportunities as well, opportunities that we're (as Greg L would describe it) not "prepared" to exploit.

I will, at some point, present my vision for economic growth within, and development of, the black community, if we can develop, and then harness, an essential element.

With this element we can look to a bright economic picture, and, without it, a bleak one, or, at the very least, a picture that will take incredibly longer to change colors--from a black and white negative, to one filled with vibrant colors: the way that Technicolor motion pictures excited the sense of sight after years of viewing on screens various shades of black, and gray.

Black Diaspora said...

Three

"I think that he needs to get some color up around him in the Oval Office. Because it seems that many of his advisors are not capable of handing race issues very well."

You nailed it. I feel, often, that Obama needs to follow his own black instincts, that his several missteps around color have come about because of his advisors' hypersensitivity to the black-white dynamics that pervades our culture.

"When I consider what our other choice was for the office-I'm okay with Barack. I'm glad and thankful that I was able to see him take office."

I'm especially grateful, too, when I recall the alternative--a McCain-Palin administration. On the one hand we would have "Bomb, Bomb Iran," McCain, and, on the other, Palin who's never met a moose she didn't wish to kill, or an American dollar she'd turn down.

That may seem harsh, but I've seen nothing from these two that would make me wish to go back and change my vote.

If anything, my only regret is that I had only one vote to cast for my country.

Ernesto said...

I am very much looking forward to your coming articles BD. I return from an "internetless" vacation in a couple weeks and hope to see a lot of good stuff put out there.

As for this topic, I first saw Barack Obama in news coverage preceding the 2004 convention speech. He was extolling the benefits of globalization to Illinois farmers. They weren't impressed by what he was selling. Neither was I. I never mistook him for a savior of either minorities or the economy. His most important economic policies were the DLC type, and we need soo much more than that.

Then I watched the convention speech, which made him a future presidential contender. I didn't get any tingles because it didn't really address the way to change things, and instead just consisted of one soaring platitude after another. He wasn't going to go after the fundamental changes that are so necessary. Even worse, he would have to be even more timid around race issues because of his color. My support for him was based on one thing: here was an image that would hopefully inspire the next generation to achieve and serve as redemption for previous generations that had struggled.

I also loved the idea of the American Black Family, and a very beautiful and photogenic one at that, front and center in the world's media for years! A Black First Lady...how great and uplifting that image would be for sisters who have gotten so little respect due them for so long.

But I knew we would still have to wait, who knows how long, for the substantive change that needs to accompany these wonderful images. That's what we need to keep fighting for and we will.

Black Diaspora said...

@Ernesto: "I also loved the idea of the American Black Family, and a very beautiful and photogenic one at that, front and center in the world's media for years! A Black First Lady...how great and uplifting that image would be for sisters who have gotten so little respect due them for so long."

Your vacation has served you well. What great promise resides in the description you have provided of the value and benefit that the First Family will give this nation, and certain nations of the world--primarily certain African nations--because they're black.

Ernesto, I'm saying with a smile, I don't think I've seen this "softer, gentler" side of you before, evidenced in your statement I quoted.

I like it!

Some of those articles will take time to compose. I have one that I've held off on, that I think I'll provide first to see how it's received.

The thesis is rather sweeping.

And I pretty much always distrust sweeping theses that are presented in a space of an article, rather than a book-length treatment, but I'm going to present it anyway, with the barest of real support for it, and a minimum of scholarship.

At the least, the thesis is intriguing, and should elicit discussion, and a variety of opinions from which to view it.

I hope your vacation was restful, but what I'm really curious to know: How did you manage to avoid cyberspace for two weeks, or was it longer?

Ernesto said...

BD...I haven't left yet. I am gone for 2 weeks starting tomorrow visiting my parents who are real old school; no internet, no microwave and worst of all no air conditioning! Fortunately there are some excellent bike trails near the house to keep me occupied and working off Momma's home cooking.

I guess my softer side was brought out by recalling one moment from July, 2009 when the President visited Ghana. You may recall this: The President and First Lady of the United States alight from Air Force One and walk through a gauntlet of traditional African dancers on the tarmac. The President makes eye contact and acknowledges one of the smiling dancers by returning a smile. That brief moment and all of what it meant cannot be expressed in words. I still get misty-eyed just thinking about it.

Black Diaspora said...

Sorry about the mix up. Enjoy your R&R.

I hear you about your parents. But I think they've got it right: We're too dependent on the Power Grid. If one of those giant fuses blow, I thing we'll all blow a fuse.

That's how dependent we are on all these modern marvels. They now seem like an indispensable part of our life.

But a large part of the world's population get along quite nicely without them, but....

That was a special moment in Ghana. As I've stated, the First Family's influence extends far beyond these shores, and the impact of Obama's presidential tenure won't be truly, and fully known for decades to come, but impacting it has been, and will be, on many lives.

And I have a confession to make: I get misty-eyed, too, far more than I care to admit.

Seriously, enjoy your vacation. I hope you bring back some interesting stories about your experiences.

Reggie said...

Excellent post!!!

Well written and very insightful!!!

Black Diaspora said...

"Reggie said...

Excellent post!!!"

Thanks, Reggie. Come again!

Kathy said...

BD, if I remember correctly, Obama called schools "warehouses", for the young, and I think he said that it could take up to 15 years of concerted effort to change that. What do you think about Washington, DC with the recent firing of teachers?

I have volunteered and organized middle and high school students to serve food at a local food pantry. A non profit donates the food. Almost all the children LOVE pitching in and learn a lot too. It's a great experience, I see the older children who have done it before, they get really good at it, and would do it whether they got a community service letter or not. It's a start.

To me, President Obama has faced a lot of problems, such as the economic crash, and the gulf oil spill far better than any of the other candidates. Frankly, I wouldn't want that job.

Black Diaspora said...

Hi, Kathy.

"Frankly, I wouldn't want that job."

It takes a president with a cast-iron belly, and a "duck's back" with feathers that are too-tough to shed.

Already the president is prematurely gray, and, unless he dyes his hair on top, will be all gray when he leaves the office.

The job is stressful beyond belief, and a mostly thankless.

Can you imagine the state of the nation and the economy had McCain and Palin won?

I'm thinking about the Robert Frost poem, where he penned the following: "TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,/ And sorry I could not travel both".

Oh, how I wish we could travel both: The road of Obama-Biden, and the road of McCain-Palin!

Given McCain's age, I believe that the stress, the result of several recent catastrophic events that have shaken the planet and our nation, might have ended McCain's presidency either with his untimely death, or the onset of poor health, this far into Obama's first couple of years in office.

There's much to recommend that our presidents be as young as their cumulative wisdom will allow, before they embark on something as ambitious, and as physically taxing, as becoming a U.S. President.

Washington D.C. has it's priorities all screwed up. Across this nation, many vital services, fire, police, and teachers among them, or falling under the axe of budget cuts, and the shrinking state and local economies and budgets.

Many Republicans are fine with this outcome, and, in the upcoming election, should not be rewarded with a take over of congress.

This "know nothing, do nothing" so-called band of fiscal conservatives (They're nothing of the sort!) pushing fiscal conservatism for everyone, but the rich, should be called out by any American who doesn't have their "eyes wide shut," and made to pay for this outrage at the polls.

Greg L said...

BD,

A good article as usual.

I saw Obama's election as a symbolic event that spoke to how far our nation had come, but in a way, subsequent events have revealed that to be an illusion and any hope that we as a nation could be engaged in a different sort of dialogue that might foster widespread and needed change has been crushed by the opposition and the administration's difficulty in crafting a response to guide a dialogue that's desperately needed beyond the noise machine on the right.

I'm generally a close observer of politics, but Obama's ascendancy has caused me to inspect far more closely than I might otherwise. My take away revolves around the limitations of the presidency and how the position can actually be pushed or maneuvered into positions by other players who occupy positions of power. The fact that some African Americans or other groups might say that he's not responsive to their concerns is really an acknowledgment that other players weld more influence in establishing his priorities. That really shouldn't surprise us as these people occupy positions where they can turn the levers far more than the rest of us can.

This is evident even with the recently formed consumer agency that came out of the financial reforms. There is no greater advocate than Elizabeth Warren for consumers and she should head this agency hands down. Unfortunately, the banks don't like her as they fear she'd be too "aggressive" and since there are folks whose campaigns are funded by those who have a problem with her, it seems likely that she won't get the nod, even if she's what's needed.

It just that the power players have an inordinate amount of control and Obama has to deal with that. Many people find that frustrating and properly so, but dealing with this means that we ourselves have to understand the system, keep our expectations in check and develop plans to influence who or what we need to get what we want. In other words, we can't expect much if we lack the structure to demand it.

It's apparent to me that Obama or any other single person is not going to deliver the goods alone. A team of people needs to be elected throughout the entirety of the political system

G

Black Diaspora said...

One

@Greg L: "I saw Obama's election as a symbolic event that spoke to how far our nation had come...."

It has only been minutes since I e-mailed you, inquiring about your wellbeing.

I'm happy to know that you're back, and still in great form: You offer some excellent observations.

Despite the tremors on the Right, and the seismic activity from the far Right, Obama's election represented an amazing optic from which to view racial progress in this country.

This progress, which put a black man in the White House, was the only one in recent memory that came about without black agitation, or legal decree, although I guess it could be argued that the legal and social foundation had been laid previously by the NAACP, and such stalwarts as Martin Luther King, and the social engineering of Hollywood writers, producers and directors, who had, on several occassions leading up to the 2008 elections, given the nation's populace, both black and white, a cinematic glimpse of a black president.

I still feel that the ascendency of Obama represented a political paradigm shift, and, more importantly, a shift of consciousness--evidenced by the collective, national willingness to extend trust to a virtual newcomer to these rarefied heights of power.

A dialogue on race might be viewed as an admission that race is of paramount concern among the populace, and that whites, more than blacks, are in need of repair.

Despite the increase in white militias, and threats against President Obama, I don't think whites, especially those that elected the president, will want to admit that they have a race problem, or that they are the problem.

Oh, I think that they might admit that a problem exists, but that it's not as widespread, or as grave, as the news media would like to portray it.

And they can always point to the election of Obama, as proof of their position.

Black Diaspora said...

Two

"The fact that some African Americans or other groups might say that he's not responsive to their concerns is really an acknowledgment that other players weld more influence in establishing his priorities."

Spot on! And without a congress willing to spend its political capital--that is, risk not being reelected by its constituency by advancing an Obama agenda, we won't see real change, or substantive legislation, but a watered-down version of it.

There are other factors at play as well, the discussion of which will come later in another blog entry.

"[B]ut dealing with this means that we ourselves have to understand the system, keep our expectations in check and develop plans to influence who or what we need to get what we want. In other words, we can't expect much if we lack the structure to demand it."

Spot on, again. With the recent Supreme Court ruling giving corporations a voice equal to, or greater than, that of average people, we've entered a New Age of politics.

Money speaks, and he or she with the most money will speak the loudest.

Blacks are still catching up. We started so far behind that we'll have to find a hidden door, or an aperture, as in the Mario Brother's game, through which to pass, or a wormhole to slip through, that will bring us even, or allow us to leapfrog to the front of the line.

The "structure" that needs to be built has to be integrated from the bottom up, with most blacks onboard, and willing to move collectively, with a singular will, to offset those forces already in place, or to defeat them if that's what is required.

"It's apparent to me that Obama or any other single person is not going to deliver the goods alone. A team of people needs to be elected throughout the entirety of the political system."

True. But as I stated: The team will have to move in concert. Conflict, if it's strong enough to cripple assent, will retard progress, rather than give it the booster-rocket thrust needed to take our demands, and hopes aloft.

I'm thinking now of the Niagara Movement.

I hope that I don't sound too negative, or too combative.

Actually, I'm quite sanguine about our hopes (the hopes and aspirations of blacks) to develop a national, and perhaps an international response, to the power bulwark that has been erected to frustrate our efforts to be power player ourselves.

Blinders Off said...

BD,

Fantastic post, I have not agreed with everything from President Obama's administration. The fact is his administration done more than what the American people would have received from a Republican administration, just look at this country after having eight years of Bush (2) and a Republican control House and Senate. There is no doubt in my mind...because of President Obama black genes and marriage to a black woman, he is judged harsher than any other president in history.

With all the problems in this country, it was naive of any black, brown, or white person to expect him to work miracles in four years, much less two. Former president Clinton did not clean up the US deficit after Bush (1) in less than two years. He needed eight years to leave this country in a surplus. How soon people forget. The spending fiscally conservative Republicans are the ones that always put this country in a downward spiral and in a deficit.

If the Republicans take control of the House and/or Senate in November, the very people who are impatient for President Obama administration to correct some of the problems in this country are going to be wishing Democrats were still in control. Therefore, people should be careful what they ask for and be careful of what they complain about. The grass is not always greener on the other side. The past eight years should be a testament to that.

Finally, that was a thought provoking comment you expressed on the Montana post in the Fields.

Kathy said...

BD, I saw some of those nasty comments from anon. today at FN, just ignore those comments, I love your blog.

Greg L said...

I hope that I don't sound too negative, or too combative…..Actually, I'm quite sanguine about our hopes (the hopes and aspirations of blacks) to develop a national, and perhaps an international response, to the power bulwark that has been erected to frustrate our efforts to be power player ourselves.

BD,

I’m just circling back here to respond, and no, you certainly don’t sound negative or combative.

I had occasion to think about a couple of things today that I’d thought I’d offer here. Let me also say that this much more than a response to you per se as your comments didn’t really address the issues I get into below, but this is something that’s quite bothersome to me and I need to get off my chest in a therapeutic sort of way. I’d have probably put together a post on this on my own blog, but since I’m here, I’ll do it here if you don’t mind.

From time to time, I listen to The Power, the black talk radio show on XM and I tuned into Warren Ballentine’s show today. He was critiquing the incident down in Atlanta yesterday where 30,000 people showed up to get on a waiting list for a section 8 housing voucher. He was having an issue with the situation and was questioning why we ourselves couldn’t do something about this without relying on the government and others. His basic contention, which I hear frequently, was that African-Americans have $ 900 billion of spending power and if that were properly harnessed, we could eradicate homelessness and a whole host of maladies among our people. He then announced that he was starting a non-profit that would take donations of any dollar amount and build a fund that could foster self help and address some of the ills our folks face.

There’s no problem with that concept but he didn’t provide much in the way of details regarding how this was going to be executed. There was no discussion on how this was going to be managed, who was going to be involved, how much was going to be raised, the specific problems to be addressed and etc. When someone proposes to do something that they purport is going to be effective, I listen very closely to see if I hear any of these things. A real plan to address real issues always includes a plan as to how you’re going to manage the effort to produce the desired results. It also includes measurable goals and signposts. When I don’t hear that, my experience tells me that there’s no real plan and ultimately those who get involved will wind up being disappointed when the effort falls far short thereby reinforcing the ideas that “we can’t work together” or “we can’t run something”.

Here’s what I think: Working together is planned. Running something is planned. Success and affecting something in a positive way is planned. The things that are arrayed against us are planned and we do ourselves a real injustice when we don’t devote the same effort into planning things to help ourselves, particularly when we’re taking money from folks to do so. I’m not suggesting that Ballentine’s intent is nefarious in any way, but what I am saying is that intent is beside the point if the ultimate outcome is such that the effect is the same as if someone was intending to behave in such a manner.

Greg L said...

part 2

Where our people fall down and where our greatest challenges lie is in organization and the implementation of organizational structures and processes. Frequently, our people believe that organization is merely making an announcement or calling a mass meeting, but don’t have the organizational structures in place to create a sustainable and accountable movement beyond announcement or the call. This is absolutely killing us, but no one realizes it. All they know is that the effort fell short because “those negroes were crabs in a barrel” or “they don’t know how to work together”. Conflict is inherent is any situation where there is a lack of organizational structure and management—the absence of the appropriate structures pretty much ensures that’s the only likely outcome. This is so because there was no plan in place to ensure a different and better outcome.
I have long experience with these sorts of situations and again, I’ve learned to listen very closely. Basically, we need a leadership litmus test and set of expectations. So if someone says they want to do something and if they are indeed serious, then they’re going to do what is necessary to come correctly. If they don’t, then we need to communicate our expectations around that, so they know it ain’t about “black folks not wanting to support me” when the real deal was that you really didn’t bring anything for someone to support you on.
What the community needs beyond mass movements IMHO, is a dedicated few who know how to organize and execute. A movement needs to be built on the basis of demonstrated execution within the community actually solving problems. I believe that any such group will automatically assume the mantle of leadership within the community and would have a level of power beyond their numbers.
The skill set needed is among those who’ve demonstrated an ability to execute. There are a number of places to find that, but most frequently this is a skill set that a good manager or any successful business person has in abundance. These skill sets have not been married into the movements here of late.

Black Diaspora said...

Blinders Off said...
"There is no doubt in my mind...because of President Obama black genes and marriage to a black woman, he is judged harsher than any other president in history."

First, I want to apologize for the late response to your comments. Of late, I'm juggling browsers, and don't have a seamless way to stay on top of blog construction, visiting other blogs, and posting here.

Unfortunately, for all the emphasis placed, and criticism heaped, on the foreign sounding-ness of the president's name, Barack, and his supposed ties to Islam, it is still spelled, "Balack"

This country--as many whites won't allow us to forget--is still focused on race, and race will continue to be used to coalesce white interest and keep white's huddled together against the black peril.

Some whites can't have us thinking that we're good as they are.

"If the Republicans take control of the House and/or Senate in November, the very people who are impatient for President Obama administration to correct some of the problems in this country are going to be wishing Democrats were still in control."

Right on! But all indications are that the Dems will lose at least one house in the Fall. But when you think about it, very little will change, except that Repubs will be in charge of key positions.

The slow pace of getting anything worthwhile through congress, that's frustrating us now, will be impacted very little--since it's like pulling wisdom teeth now to get anything done, with the Repubs sitting on the sidelines obstructing.

"Finally, that was a thought provoking comment you expressed on the Montana post in the Fields."

Thank you. I have to keep reminding myself that others are reading besides the anons, but may not always acknowledge that fact.

Don't be surprised if I bring my comments from there, here, and flesh them out a bit: It's my hope that this will expand the reach, but it may prove, for some, to be redundant.

Black Diaspora said...

Kathy said...

"BD, I saw some of those nasty comments from anon. today at FN, just ignore those comments, I love your blog."

Thanks, Kathy. I rarely respond to their nonsense; it's a bait and switch thing in reverse going on, anyway.

I must say, they give me a chuckle or two, although their inane comments are forcing some, less fortified, to leave the commenting to others.

And that's a shame.

I delight in reading the comment section, when others are providing thoughtful comments and responses, rather than pushing buttons, hoping to get a rise with their comments.

The quality of thought, and comments, suffer in such a hostile environment.

Black Diaspora said...

One

Greg L. thanks for your rant. It identifies some of those deficiencies that keep blacks in a holding pattern.

It's time we unfold our wings and ride the winds of change beyond the apex of our potential as a people.

"Americans have $ 900 billion of spending power and if that were properly harnessed, we could eradicate homelessness and a whole host of maladies among our people. He then announced that he was starting a non-profit that would take donations of any dollar amount and build a fund that could foster self help and address some of the ills our folks face."

This guy is stealing my thunder. This 600 billion is "spending power," not saving power, or investment power.

I'm told that: if we added up the value of all the black businesses in this country, that the cumulative value wouldn't be greater than the value of the 500th company on the Fortune 500 list--the one with the least revenue.

I can't back up that claim, nor can I deny it.

"He was having an issue with the situation and was questioning why we ourselves couldn’t do something about this without relying on the government and others."

Okay, the welfare is shifted from the government to the people. In this case, black people.

I'm down with that, but it still doesn't tackle the source of the problem, or equip future generations to develop a measure of economic independence.

I feel, sometimes, that some of these radio personalities are government plants, charged with the task of shaping black opinions, and/or setting directions for blacks to pursue.

I'm also opened to the possibility that I'm totally wrong.

Black Diaspora said...

two

"Where our people fall down and where our greatest challenges lie is in organization and the implementation of organizational structures and processes."

Good point. When we blacks did ban together for the common-good, whites quickly set upon us, and scattered us like sheep--those that they didn't kill outright.

Here's part of the problem: Blacks have never enjoyed complete autonomy. Not even Marcus Garvey could achieve such a feat, although he did make the attempt with the formation of the "Universal Negro Improvement Association and began speaking out publicly in favor of worldwide black unity and an end to colonialism."

Garvey was moving in the right direction, but, in order to inspire black trust and confidence in his power to achieve what he proposed, he had to become a caricature of it, a symbol of it, in the way he dressed.

Now, that might have impressed blacks, but whites weren't going to take him seriously.

Worldwide black unity is still a great idea, and should be the goal of blacks in this country, as difficult as that task might be--with black unity here being so elusive.

Our dependence on whites in this country in order to advance materially is too all-inclusive. Think of the power blacks would possess, if the black nations of the world could come together and forge alliances with black people scattered around the world--as a result of what has been called the black or African diaspora--for the advancement of blacks throughout the world, regardless of their nation of origin.

There's a United Nations. Why can't blacks create something similar: A Union of Black African Nations (UBAN), with black delegates from black nations, and non-black nations, setting health, social, economic, and political goals, and developing the organizational structure, and mechanisms to achieve those goals.

Now, if we could pull something like that off, using the vast black resources (the intelligentsia, and natural resources) available to blacks worldwide, we'd be a powerful force to be reckoned with.

As it is now, in this country, our puny demands only go as far as our meager voting power will permit. It can help elect a black president, but that selfsame president is limited as to what he can do, or will be allowed to do, by the Democrat Party, and the oppositional party--just to name two of the forces with which he must contend.

Greg L said...

BD,
Circling back here to continue the discussion. This is part 1 of my response.
This guy is stealing my thunder. This 600 billion is "spending power," not saving power, or investment power.
Excellent point. I agree, hence the fact that our spending power has grown means little unless you’ve got something to sell. Ironically, there are others who study our habits very closely with the view towards exactly that. Spending power, outside of consumerism, is really not power.

I'm told that: if we added up the value of all the black businesses in this country, that the cumulative value wouldn't be greater than the value of the 500th company on the Fortune 500 list--the one with the least revenue. I can't back up that claim, nor can I deny it.
This would likely be quite true, although there are numerous studies out on black entrepreneurship revolving around the fact that the rates of black business formation are significantly greater than other groups (an outfit known as The Kaufman Foundation has documented this). This nascent level of entrepreneurship is significant as many large businesses had their start as small outfits so there are some who believe that this may very well bode significant future consequences for African-Americans generally. Of course, gaining the sort of size to have broad based impact would require crossing the main hurdles for small business growth; access to capital and managerial expertise. The latter is probably more critical than the former. Even if we don’t produce a publicly traded company from these efforts, having even more local businesses engaged in local trade is a positive in the sense that it creates more stakeholders in the community. Once more stakeholders exist, folks tend to care more about what happens in their surroundings and out of sheer necessity would need to attend to the social and political aspects of the community that are impediments to economic development. Of course, that presumes that black businesses are operating within our communities and some will while for various reasons, others won’t.

Okay, the welfare is shifted from the government to the people. In this case, black people.
I'm down with that, but it still doesn't tackle the source of the problem, or equip future generations to develop a measure of economic independence.

Agree 100%

I feel, sometimes, that some of these radio personalities are government plants, charged with the task of shaping black opinions, and/or setting directions for blacks to pursue. I'm also opened to the possibility that I'm totally wrong.
If you’re wrong, then that’s makes two of us. I’ve felt for quite some time that many of our so called leaders are representatives to us rather than for us. A mere tracing of their source of funding will confirm that. It really doesn’t matter what side of the political spectrum they fall. They’ve been placed on a stage that has been bought and paid for by someone else.

Greg L said...

Here's part of the problem: Blacks have never enjoyed complete autonomy. Our dependence on whites in this country in order to advance materially is too all-inclusive
This is the problem in a nutshell. I’ve thought on this one long and hard. I’m wouldn’t necessarily consider myself in the separatist camp per se as whether we’re separate or not, the main issue is actually owning the problem and assuming that no one else other than us has the responsibility to solve it. Now, in that, I don’t mean to suggest that there aren’t some matters that require redress, but I’m of the opinion that even that is a function of a different sort of power than we’re accustomed to welding.
I’m convinced that most everything that concerns African-Americans has an economic base attached to it and although we see mayhem and disorder as we look upon the conditions, it is these same conditions that create economic opportunity for others. So while crime and drugs have had devastating impacts in our communities, these have formed the basis of the economic sustenance for others. Yes, there are plenty of African-American drug dealers, but they largely not responsible for the wholesale importation of drugs into the nation. The prison industrial complex is driven directly from much of this mayhem and just like any good business, they project how many heads they will serve based on the continuance of the conditions that exist. Statistically, it can be predicted how many people will wind up in prison as a function of dysfunctional family situations, dysfunctional educational situations and rampant crime in the community and like good business people they’re prepared. Basically, there are vested interests in the current conditions and any change in those conditions for the better will displace these economic interests. They will resist and that always needs to be kept in the forefront of one’s mind.
I’m not great conspiracy theorist mainly because for conspiracies to work neatly, a broad based collusive effort must exist. So, I don’t know if folks conspired to create the conditions that exist, but I do believe that they’ve conspired to take advantage of the conditions. Very much a part of those conditions is the lack of leadership autonomy. Generally, since we’ve mainly pursued grievance politics, we’ve sought redress rather than focusing on internal development. Consequently, the sorts of structures that we need to support autonomous action have not been built. And since the grievance political model rules the day, our leaders wind up vying for recognition as black spokespeople. This recognition also includes financial support from the outside as well. This is why we’d be hard pressed to name any “leader” who has economic ties to the African-American community, whether it’s Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackon, NAACP, Urban League, CORE and etc. It doesn’t matter what the political persuasion is, none have economic ties to us and consequently we can’t even have a real debate or discussion about the issues. What we hear is what their backers approve for them to say.
IMO, the absence of leadership is tied directly to the conditions in the community. As our so called leaders protest and “settle” with whites, the “settlement” has no proximate relationship to solving real issues. What actually occurs is a giant diversion that actually supports the conditions of mayhem that continue to feed the coffers of the drug purveyors and the prison industrial complex.
All this leaves us “positioned” to be “gamed” by those who stand to benefit economically. That began with slavery and continues to today. At bottom, IMHO, there’s a big picture view here that we need to consider.

Black Diaspora said...

Greg L, sadly, very few of us have this clear a view of those forces that are shaping black folk's daily experiences here in the United States, as you have delineated so well in a few hundred words or so.

"[T]he main issue is actually owning the problem and assuming that no one else other than us has the responsibility to solve it."

Responsibility or not, no one, other than ourselves, will solve the "problem."

As you've stated, rather brilliantly, too many interests benefit from the continuation of the problem, and not brining it to a successful end.

It's not surprising for aggrieved parties, however, to seek redress from those who have benefited at their expense. Otherwise, so many of us wouldn't be carping about how litigious the society in which we live.

Yet, you're right: We'll only progress economically to the degree that we take it upon ourselves to advance our economic interests.

"I’m not great conspiracy theorist mainly because for conspiracies to work neatly, a broad based collusive effort must exist."

Let me share with you a story--a 60 Minutes story which CBS featured years ago, when 60 Minutes was practically only a few Minutes old (Perhaps a few years old.).

A boxcar was left on on a side track somewhere between Watts and Compton. It was left opened. Inside were some pretty sophisticated weapons with the appropriate ammo.

60 Mins. noted that no one took responsibility for the weapons, and implied strongly that they had been left there purposely so that they would fall into the hands of the wrong elements, ostensibly to make it easier for blacks to kill blacks.

I've never forgotten that incident, and, since that time, have examined with suspicion similar incidents, well aware that blacks are seen by some in this society as more of a bother than equal partners in the building of this country.

Is this a clear example of a conspiracy to eliminate blacks, or to reduce our numbers? It's hard to say, but I sleep with one eye open--that is to say, I stay alert to any and all possibilities: In this society that brought us the harrowing hardships of slavery, we're not always among friends.

"So, I don’t know if folks conspired to create the conditions that exist, but I do believe that they’ve conspired to take advantage of the conditions."

And, further, they show little or no interest in ameliorating those conditions which have proven to be so lucrative to them.

"As our so called leaders protest and “settle” with whites, the “settlement” has no proximate relationship to solving real issues."

Shakedown Jesse has made a cottage industry of this. It may be there, but to this day, I know of no project that his Rainbow Coalition has funded, nor do I understand the purpose of his group, outside of its initial political goals.

Without investigating, you'd think, after all these years, this information would be common knowledge in the black community. But I'm willing to bet, most blacks are as befuddled as I am as to the mission of some these black organizations that have been formed for the supposed "betterment of blacks."

Good stuff, Greg L. Too bad it's mostly for my eyes only.