Thursday, August 11, 2011

More In Common Than a Little Bit



I think we've got it all wrong. For the last week and a half we've been on perpetual DOW watch to judge how good or how bad the economy is doing. Last Thursday it dropped 500 points. Friday it rallied 61. Monday it dropped 600 points. Tuesday it rallied 400. This morning it's given back all those gains. These swings in the stock market are not indicative of the current economic climate, or even the future economic climate, it is only indicative of the state of mind of the got-it-together, well off, and wealthy set who don't want to lose any assets they have. For the rest of us not into stocks because we're still trying to get into jobs, the DOW watch, drops, and swings have nothing to do with the way the economy is working for us.

Enter Al Sharpton, Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, and Louis Farrakhan and, of course, the President




Wednesday morning while riding in the car with my fiancee, we listened to the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Reverend Al was on promoting his Jobs and Justice March which will take place on August 28th; the day of the Dr. King Memorial dedication which coincides with the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington where Dr. King famously proclaimed his dream for the future of America. Reverend Al said the Jobs and Justice March would be to let Washington (i.e. Congress, Obama, SCOTUS etc) know that what Black people and the underprivileged and low income need is jobs and, of course, justice.

The purpose of Reverend Al's march sounds just like the current 16 city Poverty Tour: A Call to Conscience by Cornel West and Tavis Smiley. The tour kicked off this week in Chicago. My hometown, the President's home town, home of machine politics, and institutionalized racism. There, Dr. West, Smiley and guest speaker Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan took Obama to task for his lack of leadership and policy when it comes to catering to his base. A criticism I don't disagree with. A criticism Reverend Al Sharpton also lodged at the President when he stood with the Congressional Black Caucus -- which Obama had failed to meet with -- about getting the administration to implement a jobs agenda specifically for Black people.

A commonality between Sharpton, West, Smiley, and Farrakhan. NO! It couldn't be. But there it is.

Sharpton may be the favored Black radical, civil rights icon, I-work-for-the-poor go to guy for the Administration, but his message -- while not always veiled in a criticism of his Dear Brother Obama -- is the same as that of Dr. West, Smiley, and Farrakhan. They all want to see their people, Black people, poor and disenfranchised people, doing better. They all want to see their people working. They all want their people to have access to boots so that they can pull themselves up by their bootstraps instead of looking for a government handout.

So if they all want the same thing, what is the big difference that caused the brouhaha that the world (ok maybe just the country) famously witnessed on MSNBC.

For Cornel and Tavis, the Black blogosphere collectively and rightly assumed that it was the feeling of being slighted by someone you once embraced. The calls not returned, inauguration tickets not received, the no show appearance at the State of Black America conference, yet Obama could carry himself to the National Action Network Conference. The jealousy and the envy among these men, these self-proclaimed leaders of Black America, against the first Black President and his hand-picked pawn to relate to the Black community which he has forced himself to fit in with, is disgusting.

It should not matter who Obama picked as his go-to-guy to tap into the Black community as long as he picked someone to be his eyes and ears to let him know what people out in the struggle needed besides hustle. If Sharpton, West, Smiley, and Farrakhan are all fighting for the same thing, and want Obama to fight with them through the bully pulpit of the Presidency, why tear him down with jealous foolery and turn his base against him for his lackluster leadership and pragmatic politics? Every person in America can call out Obama's faults. Every Black person in America can look at their first Black President and say, "Hey Bruh, you ain't doing enough." Any and everybody can do that. But not just any and everybody can become America's first Black President; just ask Al Sharpton.

My frustration with this whole long drawn out saga between the Brooklyn activist/preacher and the Black intelligentsia/radical militants is that they demand more from the President who looks like them than from the one that didn't knowing that the President that looks like them will have an added pressure to prove to the hegemonic class in this country that his agenda is not just about settling 150 year old scores but actually about leading the country.

It bothers me to know that Farrakhan, Smiley, and West would rather Obama be a grassroots community organizer fighting the power at a level where there is no power instead of President of the United States who will hopefully learn that, as President, you don't have to always compromise to get some of what you want or to have routine legislation passed.

If Smiley, West, and Farrakhan want Washington's mind to stay on the poor and disenfranchised instead of on the New York Stock Exchange and inside the S&P's analysis of the downgrade then it would seem that they would want to align themselves with the President instead of against him. The fastest way to lose favor of someone's whose favor you don't already have is to criticize the job they're doing when you don't even know how to do their job.

I commend West, Smiley, and Farrakhan for trying to remind the President that "It's the (tangible) Economy, Stupid" I commend Sharpton for doing the same thing when he's out of the anchor chair at MSNBC. What I don't commend is the bickering back and forth between these leaders who make themselves look like loons because they agree to disagree on the best approach to accomplish the same idea.

If I wanted to see people fight without real progress I'd watch investors on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange cry over the DOW's fickle gains and losses. But I'm not on DOW watch. I'm on tangible economy watch. And right now the tangible economy is still trying to figure out a way it can recover, and constant criticism of people charged with that task doesn't really help put the problem to rest.

With everything idealistically in common, somebody please explain to me how arguments over approach by the President, Sharpton, West, Smiley, or Farrakhan actually help the poor and disenfranchised. If anything, no one is better than the other because all five have only offered flowery words often times without immediate action, resulting in the poor and disenfranchised remaining poor and disenfranchised puppets of a system that does not work for them because we were never expected to be a part of the system's design... only its property.


Questions:
1. If Obama, Sharpton, West, Smiley, and Farrakhan had a roundtable, do you think a progressive agenda to get Blacks back to work would prevail or do you think it would end with a lot of hot air being blown and no tangible plan?
2. Do Black people pay too much attention to glorified pundits and self-proclaimed leaders of the Black community?
3. Is there anyone that actually does what they say in that they have an immediate impact on actually helping upgrade the status of the impoverished and disenfranchised?

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