It's about our community and our spirituality!

State of the Black Union

Black Boy

**I found this unpublished post in my draft list…
Should’ve published it two years ago…Oh well…
Today is my day off so why not use it now**

I sacrificed more than nine hours of my Saturday in order to tune into C-SPAN to watch the State of the Black Union discussion hosted by Tavis Smiley. There were a number of issues brought up by all the guest on stage. There was a lot of opinion expressed about what black people need to do to improve conditions for the black community. And while I may have doubts about the legitimacy of a program committed to the interest of the black community but accepts donations from such institutions of marketing such as McDonalds and Wal-Mart, overall I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.

What’s wrong with McDonald’s and Wal-Mart? Has anyone seen the documentary Supersize Me where the man ate nothing but McDonald’s for thirty days and began to suffer dire health affects from his experiment? The guy’s doctor started to express serious health concerns within days of the diet starting. The man’s mood, attitude, and disposition changed to a point where he was constantly depressed and would only perk up when he was eating McDonald’s food. Black people talk about eating healthier but then allows one of the main pushers of this edible crack to associate its name with the state of the black community.

If anybody ever seen the documentary The High Cost of Low Prices they’d understand Wal-Mart is no friend of the black community. The only reason Wal-Mart associates with the black community is because Wal-Mart wants to use black people to help promote the idea of universal healthcare. Other than that, Wal-Mart and the Walton family is a juggernaut of marketing with a single minded focus on reducing cost at the expense of the community. While a super Wal-Mart coming to town may sound like a good idea because people will have easy access to cheap goods. But Wal-Mart ask for so many tax concessions and development concessions from the community until it becomes obvious that the community is subsidizing Wal-Mart’s business to the detriment of the competition. Once other retailers have been driven out of business and everyone now has to go to Wal-Mart for low, low wage jobs without benefits, the community’s tax revenue takes a turn for the worse. A lot of people who work for Wal-Mart are eligible for food stamps because Wal-Mart pays so poorly.

I was surprised to see Michael Steele on stage and participating as part of the black union. As a proud member of the Republican Party, Mr. Steele advised black people to hold our elected officials responsible for what happens in the black community. I have to admit that I found it hard to keep the image of Mr. Steele as the demonic scourge who does the bidding of people like Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, Donald Rumsfield, and Dick Cheney screaming at the top of his lungs to tear affirmative action programs down and telling black people to pick themselves up by their bootstraps. Mr. Steele and I may not agree on a lot of things but I think we might be able to hold an amiable conversation if we ever become so inclined.

There was a young man on stage who was espousing his personal philosophy that government is not responsible for helping him obtain an education. He insisted he could raise himself up by his own bootstrap. But then the young man had to extend a word of thanks to Mr. Smiley for matching the money the young man was able to raise dollar for dollar. I couldn’t help but think in my mind that it was nice for Mr. Smiley to step up to the plate and help this young man. But I couldn’t help but wonder why the young man felt so compelled to refuse financial assistance from the government. It is not like he doesn’t deserve help. The government has set aside funds for helping a good chunk of the population to obtain a higher education. It is not a handout. It is what we all are entitled to. Black people who go to college are more entitled to apply for grants and other federal aid than Halliburton and General Dynamics are entitled to no bid contracts to rebuild Iraq.

Dick Gregory proved that the years did little to diminish his wit. He confessed that while back stage he had to pull the representative of Wells Fargo, another sponsor, aside and tell him he lost his house back when times were good. Mr. Gregory said that he told his grandson if President George Bush was alive he’d be a sick man. Although he was very funny Mr. Gregory made his opinion of the state of black union plain and clear when he compared it to the white community.

I got distracted towards the end. It looked like the guest on stage were trying to kill time waiting for Senator Hillary Clinton to make an appearance. But the baby started getting cranky and he needed a distraction. The decision was made to take the family for a quick drive. We meandered through the city a bit and came back home about ninety minutes later. But the DVR caught part of Ms. Clinton’s presentation. I was taken aback to see so many people in the audience so visibly hostile to her as she spoke. Ms. Clinton and her husband Bill Clinton have made some serious gaffs with the black community and a lot of black people have chosen to take offense for what has been said about Senator Barack Obama and the civil rights icon Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. I couldn’t help but think that Ms. Clinton was thinking that she may have made another mistake by coming to speak directly to the black community. The representatives from Wal-Mart and McDonald’s were treated with more respect.

The opinions expressed on the stage ran the gamut. There were a number of times I had to applaud from my couch in the solitude of my living room. Other times I had to scratch my head and wonder about what I just heard as one of the guest said something that I personally thought may not have been the most appropriate comment or gesture to make at such an audacious occasion. But all in all I must say that I enjoyed the program. I watched more of C-SPAN in one day than I ever watched since C-SPAN came on line. I’ve developed a better appreciation for some of the guest. Some guest left me wanting. Most guest were at the very top of their black community game. I’m going to have to rewind the recording and do a little analysis bit by bit. There’s a lot more to be said about what was said.

Saturday, June 12, 2010 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black People, Life, Thoughts

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