Thoughts and Reflections After Watching the Democratic National Convention








“All we say to America is, Be true to what you said on paper.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I truly don’t like to be labeled “over-opinionated” or “difficult”,  but as a black man, an American, better yet an African-American, who has studied not only my history, but the history of other cultures,  my country, its democracy, its relation to my mother continent of Africa and the rest of the world; I can’t fully explain what it feels like to read about the oppression, exploitation, and exclusion of certain Americans from the American Dream.  To see your own government, sic dogs on your people, water hose them, lynch them, enslave them, classify them as second class citizens, Jim Crow them, mass incarcerate them, racially profile them, and exterminate them is disgusting, soul stirring, bone chilling and heartbreaking.  They were killed for voicing black liberation, integration, separation.  They were denied voting rights, fair housing, jobs, decent education, control over their local economies, their own citizenship.  They were denied involvement in policies to buy land, forced into sharecropping.  The few who built independent towns, districts and economies saw them burnt down, devastated with violence and brutality.  They were oppressed and marginalized for exercising their humanity and wanting to be accepted by a country that kidnapped them, broke them into slaves, raped them, emasculated them, forced them into chattel slavery, robbed them of their culture, their God, their language, their families, their manhood, their womanhood, their humanity.

While the other “Americans” created social constructs like race to justify white supremacy/domination, and economic/social/political exploitation and oppression, and built great wealth off of their backs, ultimately  treating them like less than a human being; they fought for independence from Britain but classified black people as 3/5 of a person and prevented that same independence and freedom from applying to dark skinned people.  They used the freedom of black people as a political and economic ploy to maintain power and control.  They flooded our streets with  drugs and guns then used the government to kill our leaders and disassemble movements.  They created great disparities in economics, health, and education that make black people live as second class citizens and not be active participants in the so called American Dream which is not only an American Fallacy but an American Nightmare.

That is just the history of black people, not counting other non-white people.  I didn’t even mention this country exterminating Native Americans by stealing their land and resources.  When you read that history, how insulting and cowardly of me to buy into mainstream propaganda?  How insulting of you to tell me that I should not feel a way about how status quo politics and political parties has become?  Don’t insult me, but try understand me, as I am trying to understand history and how we truly need to move forward.   My ancestors would want me to do that, not just go along to get along because it annoys or inconveniences you to know the truth.  My ancestors fought not to vote, but for their humanity, to be regarded as an American citizen in a country that did not want them.  They fought to live as a human being with pride, dignity, with complete freedom, justice and equality.  They fought to not go backwards back into slavery.  In 2012, the conditions of black people, and other poor and oppressed cultures of people, justifies the massive change needed to move forward.

Our present day shows us that black people are not faring well in this country, that conditions are getting worse, and that we are moving backwards.  How many times have oppressed people heard the “lesser of two evils” line, with a hope that a political party, elected official would bring change in their lifetime?   How many times?  How many times more must we be force fed this, before the “people” of this country truly take up each others cause, not just in symbolism, emotional rhetoric, and appearance at political conventions,  but in true dialogue to bridge understanding, and move forward with solutions that delivers what our constitution says its all about.  When will the people, wake up, and get real, become serious about actually seeing democracy truly work for all people in this country?  When will we exercise the truth to be self-evident in that constitution that man is born with inalienable rights?  Real change comes from the people.

The people must be its own government, be the check and the balance on its gov’t as its gov’t is the check and balance on them.  The legislative-executive-judicial branches are all checks and balances on their supposed respective power.  We must be the check and balance of our own gov’t because we are the democracy, we are the country, we are the people and the power has been, and will always be with the people!   If you cannot check and balance your government, hold them accountable to democracy or to the concept of the constitution because you are blinded by propaganda and romanticized patriotism, then you are contributing to our own oppression, exploitation and the erosion of  your country, your constitution, your democracy.  You are compromising the quality of life of everyone around you, your children and future generations to come.  You have to become politically, economically, and intellectually independent enough to do for self, think for self, and organize your self with action!  The power is in organized people and organized money, with collective identity and purpose.  The power is an agenda that you hold people to when they want your dollar or in this case, your vote.  Civic engagement does not stop at the ballot box.  It truly starts and ends by holding your government accountable to what it claims to be on paper.  Assata Shakur said, “And I believe that a lost ship, steered by tired, seasick sailors, can still be guided home to port.”  We have the power within us, and collectively to save ourselves, but do we have the will?

As I look in my own city, my own block on 10th and North Ave, this country, black people, poor people, oppressed people are dying a silent death. No amount of propaganda, or warm feelings feeds their families, heals those wounds, cures the inner city violence, or helps restore the lives of those who are lost in the dark pits of despair.  No amount of romanticized patriotism solves the great problems that lies before us. Someone asked me do I love America.  I am an American, an African American.  I love what it could possibly be, but I can not embrace the hypocrisy, the oppression, the exploitation, the injustice, and inequality.  I won’t settle for less than what I deserve. I figure if we all love America, like we claim to do around elections, that we will fight, live and die for each others right to be free, than just celebrate the Black President, be blinded by black love in the White House, be stirred by the words of President Obama, President Clinton or First Lady Michelle Obama.  We must do better, and actually work hard for diversity in thought and action economically, politically, socially, educationally, not just be inspired by the diversity shown at a convention.

We must take our democracy seriously and make sure that every living being has the opportunity to be an independent person that sees true justice, equality, freedom and the opportunity to pursue their dreams in their lifetimes.  I am not cynical, I am just an idealist who understands the realities of the times.  I read, I study, I have been in politics, in labor, in social work.  I have grown up in Milwaukee, Chicago, in this country of America and what I was taught in those textbooks is not true.  I am passionate about black people, and humanity overall. I want to be free of oppression and exploitation.  I want democracy to work for folks here, in Africa, across the diaspora, across the world.

I won’t accept pragmatism if it stunts growth or halts progress.  I will not advocate partisan or bi-partistan strategies if they fail to meet the needs of the people.  I want real change, real progress.  I want to move in any direction that promises true democracy in my lifetime or the next.  If I have to be pragmatic, progressive, conservative, moderate, reformist or revolutionary, to get it, so be it.  But don’t give me sugar water and tell me its champagne.  I want what my ancestors died for, complete freedom, justice, and equality by any means necessary.  I will do whatever it takes, and work with whomever I have to, to make it happen.  Change comes from the people.  If you love America, hold her to her words.

Like Dr. King said before he was assassinated the next day, “All we say to America is, be true to what you said on paper.”

Beautiful Black People…It is Time to do for Self

I have been constantly asked my personal opinions  about the recent debacle at Elsa’s.  To those unfamiliar with the incident, it was a scene that has played out time and time again for black people in this country.  We go into an establishment that happens to be owned by white people, and we are disrespected.  We exercise our rights as human beings to exist and are denied a dignified existence.

African-American women were patronizing Elsa’s and were talking amongst themselves.  They complained to the owner about bad service.  The owner was not available to hear their concerns at that present time.  The girlfriend of the owner overheard the women expressing their concerns and decided to address them at their table by making racist, ignorant and bigoted remarks.  The owner was made aware of these remarks and did not offer an apology or statement to clear up this issue.

These women shared their story and it flooded social media.  Feelings ranged from shock/outrage, organizing efforts in the forms of boycotting (or going down there and spending more money to show them who we are) to, facebooking about ABE and the black businesses that we can frequent instead of Elsas, to attacking the black women personally.  Some saw their love for Elsa’s chicken more fitting to defend than their love for themselves or their fellow black man or woman.  Some questioned the women for even expecting to be treated like a dignified human being and expecting to not be insulted while they patronized a business with their dollar.  Most thinking human beings looked at the madness with hope that folks would organize themselves to finally do for self.  We also saw the self hate that still exists in our nation hood as Black/African people.

What do I say?  I really was not shocked.  History and the present state of the Black/African race across the diaspora shows that we are not respected.  History and present conditions in this country shows that we are not respected.  History and present conditions in Milwaukee shows that we are not respected.  I was not shocked but I did find it inspiring that folks were starting to confront the harsh & sobering reality that black people are still not free in this society.

With that being said, it is time to do for self.  We must lean onto the wisdom of our ancestors, whether its Booker T. Washington, the Honorable Marcus Garvey, the Honorable Elijah Muhammed, Carter G. Woodson, Malcolm X, W.E.B Dubois, Amos Wilson, John Henrik Clarke, Assata Shakur, Huey Newton, the Honorable Louis Farrahkhan.  All of these individuals in some form or fashion have called for black to people to wake up, to start thinking like black people, and start feeling for all black people.  They called us and challenged us to be economically, socially, politically, educationally, culturally independent from a mainstream society who seeks to oppress us, exploit us, manipulate us, and deny us a dignified existence.  They called for us to stop negotiating with our oppressors, stop begging them for their acceptance, and to get some dignity to start doing things for ourselves.

This means frequenting black businesses, this means starting our own businesses.  This means owning the means of production.  This means stop marching for jobs, marching for dignity, protesting for freedom and start organizing your community to build your own jobs, control your own economy and destiny.  Doing those things gives you freedom, gives you a dignified existence.  You can only have freedom, dignity, humanity when you decide to do for your self.  You are born with those things, your mere existence as a human being, warrants you those rights.  All you have to do is claim them, enact them, and put those rights into action.

If 20 people committed to putting their money into a collective pot for 2 years (maybe $2,000 a year), you would have $40,000 dollars in a kitty to start your own business.  That is cooperative economics, that is shared responsibility , the tenets of Kwanzaa which is our culture.  If we truly came together for the purposes of building our own power, black power, we would be on the trajectory of living as a dignified, liberated people.  We would be on our way to becoming a true nation hood, a nation within a nation.

Stop begging to be recognized by them, stop selling your soul for crumbs of their pie.  Make your own pie.  As black people, the poor and working class, the mainstream society in a exploitative and capitalistic society will never allow you to eat more pie off of their plate.  It goes against their self interest.  They must keep you as a permanent underclass, to maximize their profits and ensure their domination which ensures your oppression.  If you ask them for a piece of their pie, they will give you what they want they think you deserve.  We must make our own pies, our own plates so that we can employ our own people, and create wealth.  We must do this because we deserve more.

That is the politics of Black Nationalism/Pan-Africanism.  When you start unplugging from this racist, capitalist, patriarchal, oppressive society that depends on your ignorance, apathy and self-hate to continuously exploit and ravage you financially, mentally, spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and physically, you will start to build your own nation within a nation.  You will start to create individual/collective cultural consciousness, economics, power, which brings liberation and dignity.  This brings freedom.

Freedom is something you have to do with yourself.  It is something you get by picking up a book, a gun, by learning your culture, your history, synthesizing and contextualizing that into your present being.  Once that knowledge and love for self is awakened, you start picking up more books.  You start rethinking everything.  You become self determined to be free wherever you go, dignified in your humanity wherever you step.  You understand where you must go and how you must move forward.  You organize others to expect something from their votes, their dollars, from their existence.  You form your own banks, your own grocery stores, restaurants, etc.  You build your own schools.  You stop hating each other, killing each other, exploiting each other and blaming each other for your collective oppression.  You see the humanity, love and beauty within yourself and you come together to fight the power structure who systematically seeks to destroy you.  You remove any form of oppression that denies your humanity by any means necessary.  You pick up a book, a gun, your wallet, you revolutionize your mind through truth and culture, cultivate a self identity out of love and determine your own destiny.  You are determined to produce a society that provides opportunity, that encourages its people to live in dignity, embraces humanity, and promotes equality & justice.

We don’t need any business like Elsa’s, white owned, brown owned or black owned that treats us less than what we deserve as human beings.  We will create our own Elsa’s or patronize other establishments in the meantime that truly serve the people, and recognizes our humanity and loves black power.

As Chairman of All Black Everything:  The ABE Movement, we say Buy.Eat.Think.Liberate.  We are unapologetically committed to the reclamation, liberation, preservation, protection, progression of Black culture, Black power, Black love, and Black people.  We believe in the human right for black people to exist in a liberated society, to chart their own course by any means necessary.

There will come a time when beautiful black people wake up, become intellectually independent and do for self.  That time is now…