The Black Agenda – Smiley and Sharpton Have Words

01 Mar

The discussion gets heated over what exactly is the “black agenda” and what role, if any President Obama should play.

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Posted by on March 1, 2010 in The New Jim Crow, The Post-Racial Life


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12 responses to “The Black Agenda – Smiley and Sharpton Have Words

  1. Greg L

    March 3, 2010 at 12:47 AM

    I have an issue generally with how both Sharpton and Smiley have gone about this and Watkins reinforces this at the end of his comments by suggesting that it’s all on the government to do something about the high incarceration rates of black men absent any reference to what we could and should do ourselves.

    A “black agenda” can only exist as an action plan that black folks execute on and you don’t do that by begging the government to do it for you.


    • btx3

      March 3, 2010 at 10:03 AM

      I think the argument in terms of incarceration is based on the fact that “the government is doing it to you”, and therefore it can stop.

      The issue here is that the criminality rates are massively disconnected from the incarceration rates.

      Ergo – if justice truly were blind in this country, the prison population would tak on an entirely different shade.


  2. Greg L

    March 3, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    Yes, justice has never been colorblind and yes, there are situations where justice has to be pursued, but is our fight only about justice? If justice were granted tomorrow and we had a 100% colorblind society, there would still be dysfunction in the African-American community.

    So the issue is what other fight to we need to wage? What is it that we can do internally to address our issues?

    The problem I have with folks like Sharpton, and to a lesser extent, Smiley, is there’s a constant pursuit of grievances as opposed to looking internally at what we can do. In the history of the world, there have never been a group of people who’ve aggrieved and begged their way to the top.


    • btx3

      March 3, 2010 at 12:50 PM

      I can’t agree with your estimation of Smiley. Like him or not, what Smiley did with the annual Black Summit was to bring together and publicize some of the best young minds in the country analyzing the issues and proposing solutions. Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with some of the work being done in Universities by relatively unknown black professors in the areas of micro economics, the impact of the incarceration system on the economic fabric of the country, looking at how to restructure the legal system so it performs like it should, and Green development as a mechanism to develop blue collar jobs – among many other areas.

      So the concept that the black community isn’t doing anything is absolute bullshit.

      Now – if you want to go back and read my “New Jim Crow” series, I address many of the issues facing the black community in terms of willful efforts by certain people to undermine and destroy certain segments of the ongoing efforts by black folks in this country to progress. I don’t spend a lot of time on the incarceration issue because that has been covered in detail by a lot of other sources. I tend to focus on small business, and business development, because that is on of my fields of expertise. Since I also tend to back everything I say with reference-able statistics, with links – unlike Mr Sharpton – so you can go back and read the data, and verify the source.

      As to Sharpton, he deserves some of the heat he gets for never walking away from a camera.


  3. Greg L

    March 3, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    As I implied, I don’t put Smiley and Sharpton on the exact same plane, but on this particular issue I’ve a problem with both.

    I did go back and read through some of your Jim Crow series postings and there’s no surprise there. I’m not going to dispute that we’ve been jerked and are continuing to get jerked in some instances. My thing is that given that we know that, what are we doing to mitigate the impact that other folks have on our condition other than appealing moral reform on their part? To my way of thinking, that simply yields power to where there need be none, hence, if they refuse to engage in moral reform, there’s nothing that we can do except continue to focus on them. We need to focus where we have direct control–on us and that’s where I have a problem with the current crop of so called black leaders.

    For example, it was entirely predictable that the financial alchemy this nation’s economy was based on would unwind with disastrous consequences years ago. The obvious consequence of that would be widespread unemployment among a number of demographics including middle aged African-Americans. What was it that we planned, independent of whites and what they’re doing to us, to protect ourselves? Not everyone is losing given the current economic circumstances. Those who anticipated what was going to occur have positioned themselves to win. In any economic displacement, there’s opportunity created along with the pain to go around.

    Is America racist? Yes, in some instances. Is someone trying to jerk us? Yes, in some instances. But there’s a great deal we control that can mitigate a lot of that. My problem is that we really don’t hear much about any of that from our so called leaders.

    We have no plan and nothing in place to administer a plan. That’s what’s urgently needed–independently of the government or anyone else. Ironically, if we had such a plan that we executed on independently, financial resources would be the least of the iconcerns as there’d likely be folks coming out of the woodwork offering whatever in an attempt to control the direction of such a movement as their meal ticket leaves them.

    One thing that is not fully understood nor appreciated is the economic interest in our continued conditions. Any movement to address the real issues that face us in an independent fashion is going to displace some economic interests while increasing ours. That’s really what’s at stake and there is no threat to any upset of the apple cart as long as our solutions are seen as being predicated on someone else altering his behavior or the government giving us something. That can be equally applied to the proxy war being carried on between so called black liberals and conservatives.


    • btx3

      March 3, 2010 at 7:05 PM

      I’m not sure what you are looking for in terms of the categorization of “black leaders” – as the folks who are driving economic changes are going to be different, and a lot less media attractive than those attempting to drive social change. Often, that is by choice.

      The construct of that particular fight isn’t deemed media worthy, largely because the folks who are waging it, and who stand most to directly benefit from it aren’t your typical telegenic “victims”. And quite frankly, I’ve yet to see any black conservatives put their little doggies into that donnybrook.

      Why do you exactly believe black interest is somehow wholly separate from that of majority America, when it is our own wealth contributing to the very financial institutions which then use that piggybank as investment to anyone…

      But us?

      And why should black folks be exempt from requesting and receiving SBA loans from a government entity, when no one else is – and it was, in no insignificant part, enabled by funds garnered from the sweat of our own brows?


  4. Greg L

    March 3, 2010 at 10:15 PM

    To a certain extent, those who portray themselves as driving the economic changes are playing the social justice card. By this, I refer to the push for public contracts and the like as a matter of social justice versus that of a compelling business reason. The latter is the far stronger position. If someone is compelled to do business with me due to expertise or whatever I’m bringing to the table that’s a more natural way to do business versus being compelled to do so due to a social justice requirement. The information you posted about the National Black Chamber is what is on my mind as I write this as the guy who leads it has a more of a social justice than a business oreintation. There are far more people to do business with than just getting public contracts from governments. Our focus needs to be doing business with whomever we can and developing the expertise and whatever else is needed to compete.

    I’d agree that those who pursue economic approaches tend to be far less sexier than those on the social justice track, but my position is that redress necessitates that one have power. If I seek redress absent power, then I’m reduced to begging. To my way of thinking, power comes first and our llitmus test on any initiative should really be whether it adds to either our economic or political power. If these measures alone were truly used, 90% of what we do fails to pass the test, with the most recent example being the dust up between Sharpton and Smiley. No matter how you cut it, the dust up nor the so called missing black agenda is not about the acquistion or projection of power as a collective. Again, for me, this is a necessary thing to have if one is going to demand redress as power compels it.

    Depending on what we’re talking about, black interests can intersect with the interests of everyone else or stand alone by themselves. If we have a problem with our own wealth being used to contribute to someone else’s benefit to our detriment, then we need to make different decisions. For example, we do have black owned banks that we can use for depositing as well as creating a capital base for lending for community development. For that to occur, a clear focus must be on planning something based on the resources we have.

    That’s not to suggest that we shouldn’t be able to get SBA loans or loans from anyone else, but we need to put ourselves “in play”, where folks are coming to do business with us for compelling business reasons rather than a social justice requirement. This is the only way we’re going to garner some respect both within and without.

    BTW, I don’t characterize myself as a liberal or a conservative, at least as defined commonly. Depending on the issue, I’ll lean either way, but I do have black nationalist tendencies, but I’m not a separtist. I believe that we need to build economically and poitically from within.


    • btx3

      March 3, 2010 at 11:59 PM

      BTW – Greg, I really like your site. Nice work there and some great articles. I especially enjoyed the one about Madame CJ Walker, and Robert Abbot. I hope you find this site interesting enough to visit often.


      • Greg L

        March 4, 2010 at 6:24 PM


        I’ve got your site loaded on my feeds, so I’ll definitely be back and I’m glad that you enjoyed my site. Generally, I find African-American history, particularly around the early 1900’s, fascinating for the reasons I mentioned in my posts.

        Thanks for adding me to your blog roll and I’ll reciprocate.



    • btx3

      March 4, 2010 at 12:06 AM

      And BTW – I hope you don’t mind I added your site to my blogroll, as I think it might be a place some of those who frequent my place may find of interest.


  5. brotherbrown

    March 4, 2010 at 8:56 AM

    BTW, I don’t characterize myself as a liberal or a conservative, at least as defined commonly. Depending on the issue, I’ll lean either way, but I do have black nationalist tendencies, but I’m not a separtist. I believe that we need to build economically and poitically from within.

    A modern, sensible approach.


    • Greg L

      March 4, 2010 at 6:30 PM

      Thanks Bro



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