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Blackonomics: 'Use Me ’Til You Use Me Up'

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By James Clingman

Why are some of our brothers and sisters so eager to allow themselves to be used by the establishment to make the rest of us believe everything is just fine for Black folks?

And, why do the rest of us keep falling for it? In my hometown, especially when it comes to economic issues such as so-called economic development projects, the scenario is always the same. Black people complain about a certain project being built, because we never get an equitable share of the return on investment for our tax dollars. We complain, and rightly so, because the last time millions of public dollars were spent on a project, we were left out in the cold with little or no economic benefit.
We get so mad, and we march, picket, demonstrate—and go away, never to be heard from again, that is, until the next project comes along. Why do we do this? We do it because we fall for the same old song and dance, performed by the same bunch of Black folks sent out on their public relations missions by the establishment to lull us to sleep. And it’s always the same ones, which is why I am so perplexed at the ease with which they succeed with their evil mission.
In Cincinnati, Ohio, for the past eight years or so, we’ve had several major construction projects started and completed, amounting to more than a billion dollars. We have built two sports stadiums, a major highway, and now we are building a National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and expanding our convention center. In each of these instances there has been a hue and cry for so-called “economic inclusion.” What’s that? Reverse exclusion?
As a result, Black faces have been out front assuring Black people that everything will be all right—this time. Black faces on the television shows, the radio shows, in the newspapers, at the Black meetings, telling their people to chill-out, that everything will be all right. They have told us and they continue to tell us that they are working real hard to “encourage” the powers-that-be to include “small, minority and women-owned businesses” in these public projects to the tune of 25 percent to 30 percent. It’s strange they never say anything about Black inclusion, and they never say anything about guarantees either. It’s always “we are encouraging them” or “we hope to get” or “we are working hard to assure.”
Did I say these are always Black folks? Not Hispanic folks, not Chinese folks, not Indian folks, but Black folks are always carrying the “minority” banner. They cut their deals in the back rooms, secure their contracts, and then run to the streets and shout to other Blacks that “happy days are here again! This time we are REALLY going to do it right!”
In response to the $180 million expansion of the convention center, the headline in our Black newspaper, the Cincinnati Herald, read, “New Day, New Way,” the latest in a long line of tired tricks perpetrated by Blacks against Blacks. And you know what? They even smile when they do it.
And there’s absolutely nothing new about this plan; it’s the same scenario used in 1993 and many years prior. Pass a tax bill, with Black folks leading the charge because a few of them have been promised something. Cut the deals behind closed doors, and then inform the public, especially the nearly 50 percent of the population that happens to be Black, that it’s now a new day and a new way of doing business. Tell us things have changed—this time—and make every attempt to convince us to back off, to shut up, to stay calm, and not to demonstrate or do anything else that will embarrass them. After it’s all said and done, the percentage that Blacks get out of the deal is too small to acknowledge. Oh, I almost forgot, we were talking about “minorities and women” weren’t we?
Do you have these kinds of brothers and sisters in your town? If not, let me know. We have an abundance of them here in Cincinnati, and I’d love to ship some to you. As a matter of fact, I think they grow them here on a tree; it’s called the Negro Tree. Every time someone wants to get a multi-million dollar project going, and do the okie-doke on Blacks by setting a percentage goal for “minorities and women,” they just go to that tree and pick the ripest Negroes. They send them out to do the bidding of the puppet masters, and they use them and use them until the Negroes have no more usefulness.
Why would anyone allow himself to be used against his own people? Lack of consciousness? Psychological enslavement? Low moral character? Lack of love? Low race-esteem? Low self-esteem? Fear? Or, just plain greed?
James E. Clingman, an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati’s African-American Studies department, is former editor of the Cincinnati Herald Newspaper and founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce. He hosts the radio program, ''Blackonomics,'' and is the author of the book, “Economic Empowerment or Economic Enslavement–We have a Choice.” He can be reached at (513) 489-4132, or by e-mail at jclingman@blackonomics.com.

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