[Kamikaze] ‘I'm No Token' | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[Kamikaze] ‘I'm No Token'

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Brad Franklin

I attended the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership annual luncheon last week. It's one of those affairs where the city's power players share a meal and listen to a speaker talk about how to move our city forward. Usually, it's someone from outside the city, charging a lot of money to tell us things that we've known for years. Still, a lot of business gets handled at these gatherings. If I want to stay informed they're necessary.

While there, I tweeted about how I wasn't seeing many black faces. A heavy feeling came over me, and I felt overwhelmed. At that moment, I got a text. Someone in the room felt compelled to reach out. "I belong wherever my feet take me," the text stated simply. "Keep showing up!"

It was one of those instances where the universe was trying to speak to me.

For two years, while I worked my behind off in "corporate America," I had to deal with crazy looks and hear snide comments from Jackson's business world saying I had no place in development. They gave no credit to my schooling, professional credentials, skill set or my ability to produce results. I had to deal with voices in my boss and colleagues' ears constantly, telling them that they could only be taken seriously if they got rid of the "rapper." I was laughed at, looked down on and slighted, all because I wanted to be more involved in my city.

I wanted to be the change I sought.

Those who knew "Kamikaze" wondered why I put up with it, why I tempered my tongue. Friends were telling me I'd sold out, that I was being used to get blacks to accept the projects developers wanted to push. They told me that once I had outlived my usefulness, the company would discard me like yesterday's bagels. When it happened, the "I told ya so's" came rolling in, even though I know I had done a good thing for Jackson.

I'm in the middle of a tug-of-war: Champion anything with a white face on it, and I'm a sell-out. Don't "kiss up" enough, and I'm not fit for the "elite" circles.

Then came the Best of Jackson Awards. A few folks are miffed that they didn't win awards. That's par for the course. But it's unfortunate that I have to almost be embarrassed to take home awards because some question the legitimacy of the process. In their opinion, my columns make me a shoo-in.

Listen, I have worked my ass off for everything I have or hope to achieve in this city. The Best of Jackson awards I've won were earned through hard work. The opportunities I've had were because I'm damn good at what I do. I'm no token, no lackey and no fall guy. I'm also no thug, idiot or an unqualified hack. The reason folks respect me is the same reason others are pensive about dealing with me. I speak my mind, I take no crap, and most importantly, I'm self confident, all off-putting to those who want "yes men" around—black or white.

If you lost faith in me or believe I damaged my reputation by going to work with "white folks," it's unfortunate you don't know me better and can't see the bigger picture. If you are one of those who have treated me like a pariah since I've left "corporate America," shame on you. Who I work for has never defined my skill set.

I'm going to keep showing up, asking questions, being involved and keep making a difference. And I'll do it with this earring, pulling up to the meeting or luncheon bumping T.I., and I'll probably be tweeting while I'm there, which will make some of them uncomfortable. That makes them no better or smarter than me. It just makes them closed-minded. And maybe that's why we keep hiring outside folks to tell us what we need to do to turn this city around.

And that's the truth ... sho-nuff.

Legacy Comments

In the interest of space and deadline (which was my fault) my opening paragraph for this column was omitted. But its SO crucial for context I felt I needed to at least paste it here so you guys can see it. The chamber Luncheon was not the beginning of this process.. Here it is "The good Lord has ways of getting messages to you. As much as you may miss the signs, as much as you ignore the inferences, He manages to direct the universe in such a way that you cant avoid the lesson. These columns have been therapy for me as much as theyve been either entertainment or information for all of you. Lately, during what I call this maturation process that I wrote about a couple of columns ago, Ive been struggling with the state of this city and further, my place in it. Ive pondered over where, if anywhere, Im most effective. Where in all our continuing efforts to make Jackson a better place, do I fit in and have I even found that sweet spot?"

Kamikaze2012-02-02T10:16:42-06:00

I swear before jesus, we (blacks) and especially us black males are the only race, at least in my perspective - have to be belittled, ridiculed and/or shamed for trying to express our intelligence and/or for wanting to be successful!? Then you still have to deal with the Neavue riche buppies (black yuppies) who act like you are not smart enough or good enough to conversate in their circles? Then you still have to feel some sort of guilt for being successful or intelligent, or basically dummy down to the lowest common denominator so someone will not feel inferior? Where the "F**K" is the happy medium for wanting a happy healthy successful life as a black male? 'kaze - first and foremost its a cotton-pickin, filth flarn filth shame you had to come up here and explain yourself in the first place! You got a beautiful family, you contribute to the community and you try to put smiles on peoples faces - and if people can't see that, you tell them to come see me, lol!!! I'm so sick and tired of people questioning folks path to success? Its just crazy. Sorry about my rant y'all, but this hit too close to home for me.

Duan C.2012-02-02T12:41:09-06:00

Duan, I mirror your frustration and raise you 1 "angry" card lol. Tell em how you REALLY feel lol. But seriously, I don't think anyone outside of my wife understood what one goes through. All of it I can't even divulge in this public forum. But lets just say much like you will find with women in this city, young black vocal confident males have a bumpy road to tread. You scare the living daylights out of some white folks or they realize that you can't be "puppetized". Worse still the black elite is scared as hell of ya because you threaten their "spot". So you can see where one can get stuck. you either have to be a brown nose to get accepted on one end (and then get called a sell out by Black folks) or youre seen as "more trouble than you're worth" and you get the proverbial Walter Payton stiff arm from the business community. So what do you do when you want to make a difference? I'm not sure anymore

Kamikaze2012-02-02T16:31:17-06:00

"Worse still the black elite is scared as hell of ya because you threaten their "spot". Brotha, you hit the nail on the head with that one! The other two things I think we face are: 1. walking that gray line is a beast as a black male, by that I mean being diverse and cultured! Because people expect you to be one way or the other? 2. Black males cannot take criticism? I'm not saying we aren't open to criticism, but when its not contructive, I feel like its straight hatin' - know what I mean? Its like when I speak with qoute on qoute "elders", if you know what I mean, it's always "you should have done this or you should have done that?" Not once was it ever addressed in the form of, "hey - I wouldn't have done it this way or that way, but try giving this a try and you might have a little better success at it?" Its either one of two things we face as black males - innate fear of failing at something, rejection or hurdles for being specifically a black male. Its deep and we are becoming an extinct group in this country and everything you speak on in this article should be an eye opening experience for those who do not fall into our category (black and male).

Duan C.2012-02-03T08:39:21-06:00

I met with a brother recently who has made the decision to remain poor (I guess poor is in the eye of the beholder because he would argue that he isn't poor). He has married himself to staying in the depths of the community and accepted the idea that wealth will not find him. He's chosen to give up on luxury in an effort to do the work that's important to him in the black community. I commend him for that. But that goes to show that he's on the other end of what you are talking about here. He too realizes that going the other route to success could swipe away his "credibility" with the black community. So he's chosen to not value that in order to be respected and uplifted by the community he serves. I, personally, think it's unfortunate that it has to be one or the other. Why a community would need to see you struggle in order to believe you to be "down" is beyond me? Why the white folk need to see you in a suit and tie in order to believe you are "worthwhile" is beyond me? Even in today's society where we are to accept all types of people and all types of lifestyles, we can't get pass a black man being into hip hop and business at the same time? This society can't accept that a black man can be intelligent and have an earring at the same time? He couldn't want to better his community if he has white associates? This is about as ridiculous as it comes on the part of blacks and whites. I don't really know what the reason is or how to get pass it. But I do know that in the city of Jackson, we cannot/will not, improve having this mindset. It's catch 22 for professionals and creatives alike - if you're black!

Queen6012012-02-03T09:10:54-06:00

"Why the white folk need to see you in a suit and tie in order to believe you are "worthwhile" is beyond me?" Queen I caught that! lol!!!! Ok, you got me - you got me.

Duan C.2012-02-03T10:32:40-06:00

Very interesting topic. How to be a professional, "Down" Black man in 21st Century Jackson, MS. Somebody ought to write the book LOL!!! But seriously, this is a very good discussion to have, especially in front of Young Black males. From my experience, I would say that the business community is about profit, that’s it. In order to get profit, you have to have paying customers for whatever you are selling. In MS, most of the paying customers will be white, depending on the product. In order for people to part ways with their money, they have to feel comfortable. The history and image of black people in this state automatically puts us at a disadvantage in the marketplace. You have to appeal to the customers’ comfort zone. If the customer is a white person whose only knowledge of black people was gained from news reports and media depictions, that trust will be slow in coming, and you would have to appear in an “acceptable” image to them. How do we combat this? Mostly, black men have retreated from the marketplace dominated by white supremacist norms and values and have either gone entrepreneural to cater to a different demographic (to varying degrees of success), the underground economy (where prison or the grave eventually awaits), or have resigned in their mind to be “post black”, a social/psychological movement among many professional black folk that is part neo-conservative, part self aggrandizing, and in my estimation, all too destructive. Basically, those who claim “Post-blackness” argue that black people have for far too long claimed victim status in the American fabric to the point that they cause themselves to miss out on opportunities for the “American Dream”. They note, academically, that claiming any form of blackness essentializes identity and places too many constraints on individuality and social mobility (akin to the complaints you found Kaze from those blacks who doubt you for having white associates). “Post-black” people claim that by simply breaking out of the confines of race (which white people have developed anyway), one is completing the most revolutionary of acts, defining themselves for themselves. Sounds nice on the surface, but it significantly ignores a vital reality, that RACIAL MNORITIES DO NOT AND CANNOT DEFINE RACIAL CATAGORIES. Racial Categorization is about social power. How much power do racial minorities have to set norms in a white supremacist society? How can black men be professional and “Down” will take several steps. At the risk of running long, I’ll end this post now. I’ll add more as people if others reply and are interested.

Renaldo Bryant2012-02-03T11:13:24-06:00

"If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies of me and eaten alive." Audre Lorde

Queen6012012-02-03T12:03:15-06:00

Good discussion. And trust, its helping me as much as Im trying to help others in a similar quandry. Defining YOU for YOU may be the best mantra yet. Ive always fancied myself creating a new generation of renaissance men capable of maneuvering in all worlds effectively. Modern day Black robin hoods as it were who dined at the same table as royalty yet took those lessons (otherwise hidden) back to the laypeople so they could make it to said table. What Ive found is that Renaldo is right. The dominant culture has defined those behaviors and thus elite Black folk have taken it on as gospel. Expounding the same views. Im an entrepeneur, I eat what I kill, but part of that came from not liking the "box" that corporate America put you in. But sacrificing that belief for the greater good of the city I love proved detrimental to me and my brand. Unfortunately of course. I like to think because Im not defined either way that Im being a catalyst. That I will draw more who think like me out into the open but alas.... How can a Black man be professional and "down" in JACKSON? Good question.

Kamikaze2012-02-03T14:15:39-06:00

And my wife poses a very good question. Why do Black feel like they need to see you struggle to know that youre "down"? Why is that if you 1. Have financial comfort you cant be "for" Black folks and 2. Why almost IMMEDIATELY youre given the sell out tag if you in the slightest appear to be working with white folks...even for something that will benefit everyone in the end?

Kamikaze2012-02-03T14:19:51-06:00

Good questions Kaze and Queen, I think much of the perception in many black communities about being “down” and the struggle comes from the sense of community that develops when people share experiences (similarly to developing the fraternal bond during “pledging”). The struggle is a sign of authenticity in many circles. When people don’t see you as part of the struggle, then that identification, that commonality, that “bond” isn’t there, at least in their minds. Now, I happen to believe this is a perception issue. Many black folk come from situations that do not allow for them to reflect critically on their experiences. They are just trying to make it, the best way they know how. The ability, time, and resources it takes to reflect are vital in structural and transformative change. This is why the community has always championed so called “leaders”, because the leaders seemed to have been afforded the opportunity to reflect on conditions and galvanize the masses for collective and effective action. Whether it was Frederick Douglas and his advanced literacy, Marcus Garvey and his business acumen, or Martin L. King, Jr. and his vast intellect, these leaders were able to do the heavy lifting of reflection and strategizing while the masses carried out marching orders. So, to combat the perception issue, there is gonna have to be a time for the masses of people to be enlightened about the structural, political, historical, and economic forces at play in their lives that characterize their environments. There simply will have to be a lot more interaction amongst the different economic classes in the black community in the 21st century. In the past, this class segregation was not as apparent, because Jim Crow literally meant that no matter how much money you earned, you were confined geographically to the same space by race. But now, most upwardly mobile blacks are not constrained to live in urban ghettoes, and thus they leave the mostly black neighborhoods for what is perceived as safer and “better” neighborhoods for their families. This outmigration has not only developed a physical separation in the black community, but a social and psychological separation as well. The saying goes “out of sight, out of mind” is appropriate here. One way to combat this is to have more relevant and effective interactions in our churches, schools, artistry and other institutions that where black people come together. Why are we complaining about the lack of respect and knowledge our young people have regarding black history and such when we run schools and churches in every community in Jackson? What are we doing with that valuable opportunity? Every day, middle class blacks come into contact with working class and working poor blacks in these institutions. Yet, the collective consciousness of the masses continues to decline. I know we can at least start there.

Renaldo Bryant2012-02-03T15:01:30-06:00

Mr. Bryant, thanks for the dialogue and I agree with what you've shared. The "community" is really quick to turn their backs on those who move out of those neighborhoods and unfortunately some of us, once we move out never look back. Which gives those who do a really bad name. Because regardless of what those with good intentions do or try to do, they will be plagued with the perception left by the ones who "got theirs" and kept going. We're a race of people who are nothing without the struggle. We don't know anything beyond struggle. This is the very reason why when those who are fortunate enough to "get out" finally do, they work their asses off to ensure that they never lose it. Once they get in the positions that bought them those houses in the suburbs, they STAY there until their last breath. Leaving no room for the next generation to get in and keep the cycle going. That doesn't happen in white culture. Because it seems that the attitude amoung white people is that if I get it and you get it - WE KEEP IT. But amoung black people the idea is if I get, I have to keep you from getting it, so I can keep it. But it's not without design. We just have to do as you said. Those of us who know must teach others. It's just hard to do that when they don't want to listen because in their minds you "sold out" as soon as your struggle did not identify with theirs.

Queen6012012-02-03T15:41:58-06:00

Good points Queen . I am not so sure that Whites have a mentality of “if I get it and you get it - WE KEEP IT” and blacks have the attitude of “if I get, I have to keep you from getting it, so I can keep it.” Too often, getting resources is predicated upon access to opportunity. By default, access to opportunity his heavily correlated with white cultural conformity. Thus, "getting it" for most whites happens to come by them simply being who they are, and doing culturally what they normally do. While for blacks, these notions are constantly in tension with what we are discussing in this very thread. I do not believe many or most white people think collectively in the racial sense. I don’t even think most white people really identify whiteness as a race. The power of white supremacy is that is conflates the notions of white cultural norms as THE norms for everyone. So, really, there is no need or utility for them to identify as white collectively for the sake of gathering resources. It becomes the norm that white s control the levers of industry, politics and economic opportunity (look at who the Fortune 500 CEO’s are, who the Senators are, etc.). As far as black people are concerned, much of the hyper insularity of the Black professional class comes from the reality that they : A. Have an opportunity that comes way too few times in this society and B. They recognize that, due to a lack of generational wealth and institutional power, being a “black professional” is a precariously insecure situation. Black professionals are constantly conscious of their image, performance, and overall position in society. They recognize that there are only a few opportunities to really establish economic and professional security, and thus are more competitive than is probably healthy in terms of community advocacy and the like. I have come into contact with plenty of frat brothers who are prominent in the Jackson area who are slow to do much advocacy for the poor and mentoring, because too much work in those areas will cause anyone with a conscious to see the vast injustices that characterize the lives of poor people and would thus be compelled to speak out. Speaking out could be quite dangerous to many black professionals. I bite my tongue a lot on my job, but I am also blessed to be in a field that allows for more critical and creative thought when it comes to problem solving. You are right, all of this is by design. We have to do a better job of understanding the machinations and implications of that design to begin to really see transformative change in our communities.

Renaldo Bryant2012-02-03T16:58:48-06:00

Renaldo, you may have hit the nail on the head. It could be perhaps in the differences in how Whites and Blacks deal w/ success. In affluence for White success stories there is a comfort and security that Blacks of affluence dont have. While whites have generational wealth in a lot of cases Black affluents in this town are 1st generation rich folk. And there seems to be a fear that no matter how much I make because Im Black...because of the system theres always a chance that "some white person" will come and take it from them. They never feel confortable and thus are threatened by me and my ilk. They act as if they have set a quota on the # of rich Black folks there can be in Jackson. My success will be them getting "replaced" somehow. So when youre seen as a threat on either side of the spectrum. Again I ask...how can you make a difference?

Kamikaze2012-02-03T17:41:39-06:00

I think that the issue here is one of branding. For instance, if you are an employee of a company, there is an innate understanding that you are on equal footing as other employees of other companies, and even if you are a "leader" in that company, you are NOT automatically a leader in the community (unless the PEOPLE lift you to that status). Claiming such might put you in the same category as other "leaders" who were sent to infiltrate our communities and organizations during the modern Civil Rights mvmnt and beyond - meaning that if the context that our (Black, i.e. 80% of Jackson's popuilation) people see you in always has a White face heading it, it begs the question; are u working for "us" or are you working for who you are working for? The difference can seem like an insignificant one to you, and a major one to your audience. If you are an entrepreneur, or a self-made man (even coming out of a "job", and you wish to head up a charge for change, then you have more weight behind your status. Just can't have it both ways. And I think there is nothing wrong with being an employee - just gotta know your lane, or make a new one. Btw, skepticism amongst our (Black) folks should be encouraged, for it has ALWAYS been one of us, whether intentional or not, who has been the downfall of every great movement that we have embarked on to change/improve our status. This is simply the price of being a leader.

Lorenzo D. Gayden2012-02-04T01:27:23-06:00

@ Kaze, I think it starts with interrogating goals. Is the goal of change and progress for blacks in Jackson is to get more black folks rich, or to have safer neighborhoods, better schools, equal protection under the law, and better access to opportunities for all? Are these goals mutually exclusive? I would say probably so. I think one of the reasons why there is a level of mistrust of the black professional class is because the accumulation of wealth often times comes at the expense of the poor and working class in this country. For instance, if you work for Watkins Development, and you come to West Jackson with a goal of helping with mentoring, that is great. But, if Watkins Development, in an effort to simply grow as a company, has to make choices that may contribute directly to the need for mentoring in West Jackson,then that is where I think there is room for mistrust. Instances like targeted policing and shifting zoning laws help to create contexts under which Watkins can grow and poverty is concentrated, thus adversely affecting black men (therefore increasing the need for mentoring). Is Watkins Development directly responsible for the plight of West Jackson? Of course not. But the processes and machinations of the capitalist enterprise create contexts of oppression for most people. It is hard to champion better capitalism to poor folk and not expect them to be critical or suspicious, because they cannot relate to the choices that are made in that enterprise, and are adversely affected by them. So, I think that black professionals have to walk a fine line, and advocate not for better capitalism per se, but for freedom, justice, and equality. If that means even being critical of capitalism, then so be it. Everybody can’t be rich in a capitalist system, so approaching the community with that premise is akin to prosperity preaching, which is a little more than pimpin’ from the pulpit. What black professionals can do is be more visible, take advantage of every professional opportunity to advocate for more sound and just practices and policies when it comes to poor and minority communities. And ,esp. in MS, more black professionals need offer themselves up for more elective offices. Poor and power-less people need government protection from the so called “free market”. The free market fundamentalism that pervades our society is now the dominate philosophy of our elected officials. Social change and mobility are not facilitated by the market. The market, carried out to its logical end, will serve to abolish the middleclass. The only time the middleclass has expended in this country has been through government intervention (the Homestead Act, the Federal Housing Administration, the GI Bill, etc.). It has also been the structural racism in the government that has characterized the disproportionate distribution of wealth and poverty along racial lines in this country. Blacks (and other minorities) historically were discriminated against in all of those governmental programs that served to transfer wealth and create real opportunity for poor whites. Thus, true democracy calls for people to rise up, participate, and champion policies and laws that address these phenomena. We have to have more “Come to Jesus” meetings about our collective condition that are not constrained by religious rhetoric, ideology, and self-righteous sentimentality. We must go deeper and inform these discussions with critical understandings of history, politics, economics, and social-psychology.

Renaldo Bryant2012-02-05T07:07:34-06:00

But by that premise are we not telling people that prosperity can only come on the backs of others less fortunate. That if you are successful, the only way you could have been "allowed" to do that is by dubious means. Is that not saying that Black folks shouldnt concern themselves with fiscal independence? Even when seeing in cases like Black wall street, Harlem, the old Farish street that fiscal independence gave us more power over Black folks day to day lives? As Lorenzo said skepticism is very necessary. Cautious eyes must be cast on everything in Jackson. But we cant honestly believe that we will ever have the strongest voice we can have when 80% of our city only holds 10% of the wealth right? I think the goal is to give more Black folks financial prosperity AND have safer neighborhoods, better schools, and better ekected officials. Its BOTH. Especially when the 1st can help the second.

Kamikaze2012-02-05T11:33:45-06:00

Well Kaze, Understand the argument. Economic prosperity was not a collective concept, even in Black Wall St., Harlem, Rosewood, Farish St. etc. I am not saying that a few black people owning businesses and such are due to ill-gotten gains, but only a few people will ever have economic prosperity under a capitalist structure, by design and logic. You will not have collective economic mobility unless there is some sort of government intervention in the market (remember my discussion about the origins of the middle class and concentration of poverty and wealth along racial lines in America). “Economic Independence” is largely a myth, precisely because the people who are rich gain their wealth through the transfer of wealth from the masses to the few. Think about it, Bill Gates makes billions because you and I and millions of others buy his operating system when we purchase PC’s. Everybody can’t be the person that gets the millions of people to purchase things from. Wealth “creation” in the market is simply about the transfer of relatively few resources from the masses to a few people. This isn’t exploitative all the time, but it also makes collective social mobility counterintuitive. Our discussion even points out that being middle or professional class is precarious at best. I am from Memphis and the NY Times profiled that the recent recession pretty much eliminated the black middle class there, due to no fault of their own, simply as a consequence of "market forces". Under a capitalist context,the best most people can hope for is a good paying job,that can disappear at the penstroke of a CEO. Is that the best economic independence we can have? Is that where we need to invest the best of our time, talent, hopes and dreams? Thus, I do not believe that social structural change starts with a push for economic “independence”. Econ 101 teaches us that resources are scarce, so in order to amass a prosperous amount of resources, a relatively few number of people have to win out over a large number of people in competition for those scarce resources. There is a reason why most businesses fail, both small and large. So, I do not understand how we can talk of collective economic prosperity, it is an oxy-moronic concept, without government intervention in the market. Now, we can talk about advocacy and strategizing to provide better educational opportunities, protection under the law, eliminating unjust business and economic policies, and talk about redress from the government for historic and present day injustices. Then let the chips fall where they may in a market based economy. But collective social change can’t start with economic independence for a few, because the masses will never get there.

Renaldo Bryant2012-02-06T06:10:31-06:00

Kaze, please yourself and take care of your family. If you can do both of those things you have won the race of life. You will make enemies and have critics no matter what you do. In fact if you don't do anything at all, some people will call you a lazy piece of crap. You decide who you are and what you're about. Don't worry much about what others say. Dance to your own song. March to your own beat. It's the dance and march you know. When you reach out to others, if you choose too, do that your way too. Listen to others you trust and honor because no man is an island or is all-knowing, but do your own thing by use of your own intellect and perceptions. The almighty made us all different. No one know everything. Do your thing and find peace, joy and happiness. It might surprise you to hear me give you this advice. All I have ever tried to get you to do were think deeper and consider a myriad of factors before committing or taking a position. A challenge to you, if you will. And this may surprise you too, I think you always responded well, Very professionally for sure. I kept waiting on the cuss out! He, he, he.

Walt2012-02-06T17:50:56-06:00

Walt, I appreciate it brother. In as much as you have been critical or supportive you were always respectful and not judgemental. I guess in summary you have to define yourself for yourself. Id be lying if I said that that after several years, convos, whispers, snide comments, jokes that I havent been worn down. But today I committed myself to digging deeper into this controversial issue. Could make a good book. I want to conduct some interviews, do some research etc. We've got so many different personalities amongst Black folks its unfortunate that some cant respect variety. In as much as we scream for diversity and acceptance in the larger society, we've become guilty of possibly forcing a monolithic view for ourselves

Kamikaze2012-02-06T21:47:15-06:00

@Walt and Kaze, I can respect the notions of defining yourself for yourself and finding contentment in building family life. Trust me, as I have gotten older and have chosen to marry, settle down, buy a house and start a family, I know there are certainly challenges to one in such a situation finding the time, energy, and motivation to be more civic minded and politically aware. But, the question before us that Kaze has posed is how to indeed be a professional Black man and still have the respect of the people enough to meaningfully contribute to the struggle. To simply be content with building a nice home and life for me and mine doesn’t seem to accomplish that goal. While most would consider the “American dream” an admirable goal, simply achieving that individually is not going to address the issue at hand. Nothing wrong if a black man chooses that is the best path for himself and his family, but that alone doesn’t address the issues of collective social change, equity in opportunity, and economic and social justice for all. Now, I am not saying that anyone who chooses the American dream is a sellout worthy of mistrust in the black community, but every person in that position should be aware that perception is reality for many. Thus, I noted that black professionals who want to do more need to be more visible in our communities. But, I also want to interrogate the notion of defining oneself for oneself (I did catch that Audry Lorde quote, I see some on here are “Best Man“ movie fans LOL!!!). That stance assumes that racial minorities have the power to decide to break out of the racial definition that they have been ascribed to. Do we black people really accomplish anything by stating that “I am going to define my race on my own terms”? I applaud notions that say that Black people are more than the stereotypes driven in the media and such. But, it takes more than breaking out of stereotypes to truly define yourself in the sense that we are now “Post-Black”. I have worked hard with young black males to try and show them that there are different aspects to their personalities than what the media tries to ascribe ourselves to, to varying degrees of success. But to be sure, just because I put on a suit or even get a tat on my neck, doesn’t really allow me to transcend, in any real way, the power of racism in a white supremacist society. Even President Obama demonstrates that being black in America is a social caste that doesn’t just come off due to high achievement, intellect, or demonstrated character. There are still structures and institutions that reinforce the notion of cultural (if not intellectual and moral) inferiority of the descendents of slaves here in America. That reinforcement has real implications for self sufficiency and autonomy for black people, regardless of social class. Racism and racial casting is about power and the distribution of resources. How you are perceived in the mainstream characterizes your life chances as much as (if not more) than how you would want to perceive yourself. This is where the heavy lifting of structural change must take place. We have to continue to strengthen our cultural institutions so as to continue to support the positive cultural development of our black children. We have to hold institutions like schools, churches and the arts/media accountable to teach our young people critical thinking, communal awareness, and spiritual discipline in order to foster a generation that can come together for the cause of collective empowerment. Then as we empower our communities, we can begin to dismantle the interlocking systems of oppression that continue to support and structure white supremacy. So, I can’t just be content with my house, cars, and education if I am truly committed to empower my people, and seeing justice truly run down like a rolling stream, as the prophets of old used to say. Not to sound too sentimental, but we have to challenge the notion that retreating to the American Dream and self definition are actionable responses to white supremacy.

Renaldo Bryant2012-02-07T08:57:22-06:00

Renaldo, I and others who are in the quandry that I wrote about, are NOT content thats my point. While the safety and security of my family is paramount. While my desire to offer them more than I had is important...my love for this city, my desire to see it be all that it can be for everyone in it is very important as well. Its hard for me to accept having to choose one or the other when I shouldnt have to. The two have never been in conflict for me. As I stated earlier, Ive been in business for myself for over a decade. I eat what I kill. And I find it unsettling that my 2 yr foray into "corporate Jxn" (even though it was for sonething that both Black & White folks agreed was good for Jxn) did more apparently to damage my rep than anything. When I felt I had a clear track record that proved my dedication. Being 80% of Jackson my question becomes how do we as Black impact the renaissance of this great city when the wealth and green lights for big projects are given to the 20%. And when a Black person gets to a position where they be ohilanthropic and fund some of the needs within OUR community theyre a "sellout" ?

Kamikaze2012-02-07T09:21:18-06:00

Brad, enough! To thine on self be true! NOthing you've done in that two year time frame, since, or before, damaged your reputation. As Walt said, people are going to say what they want regardless of what you do or how you do it. The only thing you need to be concerned about is that YOU are okay with your choices. Second to that, that I and your children are okay with your choices. When you go to bed at night, you need to be okay with the turns you made that day. You need to feel good about the avenues you took toward your passions. I know you well and I support your efforts. Those who find fault in your approach can not direct your path. You must do that with the Creator leading the way. You win a few and you lose a few, that's life. You are a soldier who fights for people when they don't even know that a battle exists. You fight for those who can't fight for themselves. Whether you are sitting in a meeting filled with suits and ties or standing in a studio with people with lowered jeans and snap backs...doesn't matter. You have to do what is right in your soul and as long as you are doing that and working for the betterment of this city at the same time those naysayers, non-believers and spit-talkers can kick rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THE END....now get back to work!

Queen6012012-02-07T09:29:16-06:00

I agree Kaze that achieving the American Dream individually doesn’t have to conflict with the desire to be civically engaged and politically active. My overstated point in the previous post was that achieving the American Dream and breaking out of stereotypes can’t be the only thing black professionals do in response to the quandary that you have noted about the bids and opportunities being given to the 20% of the population that is really outside of the black community in Jackson. Councilman Chokwe Lumumba put it best that Jackson does indeed suffer from a sedimentary quandary born of white supremacy that says that resources, opportunity, and power rightfully belong and go to White males for the most part. This is indeed white supremacy through and through. How do we as black professionals combat white supremacy, when we know who pull the levers of power and privilege in this community? I assert that it has to begin with institutions that we do indeed still have control over (schools, churches, arts/media in our communities). Also, we must mark the “THEY” that give the opportunities to the 20%. Who are “they” and how can we hold them accountable? Also, how can we marshal community and cultural resources to develop within the community people who can own firms that can take advantage of such opportunities? I am going to a breakfast on Sunday at Mt. Helm Baptist church where the speaker will be Dr. Bill Cooley, retired JSU business prof. who owns several firms that have contracts with Nissan. Can we mine the wealth of knowledge, contacts, and experience that he has to place more black people in position to take advantage of opportunities for economic development that arise? I say, in order to do that, it will take critical understandings of the resources we do have, like schools, churches, media, etc. We just can’t promise people more money. We have to engage them on how to develop the self in order to understand the machinations of this economic system. We have to teach on the importance of critical thinking, civic engagement, and spiritual discipline in order to achieve more personally and professionally. Something as basic as literacy will go a long way in helping us achieve these goals. But, even as we do these things, we have to understand that doing all of that won’t necessarily mean economic prosperity, due to the nature and aims of capitalistic enterprise. It will put more people in position to take advantage of more opportunities, but the market doesn’t guarantee economic success for anyone.

Renaldo Bryant2012-02-07T09:42:57-06:00

Glad you brought that up. Case in point. Bill cooley is one of those seen by some in the Black Community as a "sellout". I remember hearing rumblings during the last mayoral election about him being described as a "mouthpiece for the white business community" simply because most if his peers or those I guess that are in his bracket are white. Why cant we all look at him for what he is...a valuble source of info, a guy whos done well, someone who has indeed been a champion for West Jxn. Someone whi can fill a philanthropuc void in the Black community. Why do some say ge cant be an "activist" because he has money?

Kamikaze2012-02-07T10:12:41-06:00

Well, I can’t speak for anyone as to why they would perceive Bill Cooley as a “sellout”, but I can speak to the notion that affluent blacks are perceived as sellouts in general because they have money. Often times the perception among many poor blacks is that money solves all problems. This is mainly because if you are poor, the lack of money characterizes everything you perceive and experience. I talked earlier about the ability to reflect being a consequence of access to resources, and this is a prime example of that. If Bill Cooley doesn’t come to west Jackson with a U-haul full of turkeys and toys during Christmas, then most people in that community will see him as not truly caring about their plight, and thus a "sellout". Picture the scene in “New Jack City” where Nino Brown is passing out food and gifts to the people in Harlem at Christmas. That type of gesture meets immediate needs that people living day to day can relate to. If Bill Cooley, you or I come to West Jackson talking about just mentoring, self discipline, education, and economic development, most people in there will not be able to relate to that message and may view us as not caring enough to get them a few bucks to meet the rent or keep the lights on. Most folks agree to those concepts, but may not percieve them as being useful in their contemporary struggle. In many cases, those concepts are not serving to help their social mobility or immediate needs(thus, we see some who turn to the underground economy). It's a question of how do people in these communities learn to cope with the insecurities and uncertainties of their environment. There was some people on this site a while back talking about how these conditions effect people’s brain chemistry and development. Being under constant stress for a prolonged period of time not only socializes people adversely, but also develops physiological differences in the brain that structure the thinking pathways a certain way that make long term goal setting and delayed gratification very difficult concepts to grasp. This is why I say institutions in our communities must be a constant presence to remind people of the necessity to see their lives in contexts outside of just their block. We need to expose more people to the ideas and experiences of a Bill Colley, of a Kaze, etc. so that they can expand their own perspectives and hopefully start making changes in their own lives to be in a position for social mobility. Also, like I mentioned before, this can’t be about economic development only. People can live in west Jackson and work at whatever job they work at and still have the right to a safe neighborhood, send their children to world class schools, have access to a healthy diet and good opportunities for cultural enrichment. All of these things shouldn’t be contingent upon a zip code or a bank account. But as it stands they are. If Bill Cooley’s example notes only that it takes a certain type of self control, self development, and delayed gratification in order to achieve his individual success, then only a critical mass of people will adhere to that message and make great use of it. But, if those things are structured as a part of the cultural development of young people (by that, I mean taught as an integral part of schooling, supported, analyzed and normalized churches, and celebrated in the arts- as they are in the suburbs and among many white people), then our young people have a better shot at taking advantage of opportunities available. So, I think that the "crabs in a barrel" mentality in many black communities is due to how we black people deal with poverty and insecurity in our communities. We see solutions only in the short term and often the structural change we need requires long term investments of time, energy, and discipline. These concepts are very hard to develop and require a sustained effort, regardless of the efficiency of that investment.

Renaldo Bryant2012-02-07T11:06:04-06:00

Just chiming in to say great and thoughtful conversation, all (and yet another example of Brad starting a powerful dialogue). I love listening in. And that last post, Renaldo, is super-powerful in a thread of powerful comments. Cheers.

DonnaLadd2012-02-07T11:08:32-06:00

To add, I guess it depends also on the message and method that the black affluent champion when they come to the community to help. If they are championing the status quo and no social structural change, then how is that going to transform the community? How is that going to bring about collective empowerment? Too often, many affluent blacks become affluent because they have learned the white cultural norms that say that blackness is not something to be celebrated and protected. I have seen too many professional blacks who have determined that the only thing holding most black people back are black people. That if black people would just somehow “put blackness down" then they would be successful (more of the "Post-Black" thinking I talked about earlier). So, if that is the message, that could be a source of mistrust in the black community. The answer to white supremacy is not more white supremacy. It is true that democracy and championing that talent and drive alone should determine outcomes, not race, class, gender, etc. Most blacks do understand that being black in and of itself is not a problem, but being black in a white supremacist context proves to serve as a great barrier to actualizing human potential and self autonomy. If affluent blacks don’t present this as part of their “help”, then they make it hard for themselves when it comes to working in the struggle.

Renaldo Bryant2012-02-07T11:26:50-06:00

Thanks Donna, Also, remember, I am the poster formally known as "Blackwatch". I had an issue with posting comments and thought that changing user names could help, but it didn't. But now its cleared up.

Renaldo Bryant2012-02-07T11:34:07-06:00

I agree Renaldo. Funny thing is ( and I cant miss the point of my column) that as "suspect" as I discovered I had become in some Black circles. I had become just as "suspect" to the "business community" (white) that I had also become a part of. Being accused of being a sellout or operative on one hand while being ushered out for being "too black" and "too uncontrollable" and "too radical and opinionated" on the other. We have talked about one side but havent dug too much into the other side I address in the column...can we EVER find common ground for the good of this city. When will we all be on Jacksons side

Kamikaze2012-02-07T12:04:06-06:00

Ahh, Blackwatch. That explains it. Of course this is you. I can see it now. ;-) You should write a column for us, too.

DonnaLadd2012-02-07T12:36:02-06:00

BTW, y'all, I'm on the forum panel tonight for the Ward 3 candidates; my topics include development in that ward. What would you guys suggest that I ask the candidates, in light of your comments above?

DonnaLadd2012-02-07T12:37:33-06:00

Interesting insight Kaze. On the other side of the coin, what you speak to is what I addressed earlier concerning the precarious notion of Black professional class. There are white cultural norms and expectations that come when you are at the table of power and privilege. Many times these norms play against the norms of being self actuated black person. Here’s where the structural change is so necessary. When we keep having to come to the table where resources are distributed and constantly are met with people with different cultural sensitivities, racial understandings, and fiscal goals than we have, then how is that going to be a workable situation for collective empowerment? Like I mentioned before, the middle class has never expanded because of pure market forces. Government intervention has always been the substrait, lever and facilitator for social change. As long as the good ol’ boys control access to wealth and opportunity in this country, we will be spinning our wheels for the most part, if our aim for social activism is based on economic development. Consider this Frederick Douglas quote: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” The situation you encountered in corporate America will not change until the actors change or are compelled to change. We cannot negotiate freedom, justice, and equality from these types. The context must be set to where those aims are the only choice. Democratic Government is the best weapon in that fight. Thus, we need to get more people in elected office that are sensitive, courageous, and intellgent enough to leverage the democratic power in order to set that context.

Renaldo Bryant2012-02-07T12:37:50-06:00

Donna, I would ask a few simple questions. • How can you as council person address business development in the 3rd ward? • What resources are in place in the 3rd ward that can be leveraged to help deal with the issues of economic development, access to healthy foods, world class education for all children, and equal protection under the law? What plans do you have to address these areas as council person? • What are the biggest challenges to access to the American Dream for many of the citizens of the 3rd ward? What plans do you have to address these issues? • How would the expansion of the Medical Center impact development in the 3rd ward? How can you leverage resources in the 3rd ward to take advantage of the opportunities for development that may arise as a result of the expansion of the medical center? I would start there.

Renaldo Bryant2012-02-07T13:29:22-06:00

Im seriously considering turning this discussion into a larger piece. Like an expose or film short. Especially as it seems Renaldo and I are monopolizing the conversation lol. But for me this column presented a dilemma that the city of Jackson faces as a whole. We are on the cusp of turning a corner here and it is going to take the collective talents and resources of us all Black white..business & creative..affluent AND grassroots to make this work. But with Black folks being suspect of white folks and the Blacks that collab w/ white folks...and white folks being closed minded and downright scared of opinionated strong nonconformist Black folks (particularly the 25-40 set) will we ever reach the middle ground necessary to make Jxn win.

Kamikaze2012-02-07T13:36:23-06:00

Donna, my questions would be. 1. As residents of Ward 3 name one positive point that you can say has happened in your ward the last decade. One noticeable difference. Whether new businesses, residential, recreation etc. Name one negative 2. Will any of you, if elected, pledge to only serve 2 terms as councilperson. What is your opinion on term limits?

Kamikaze2012-02-07T13:45:31-06:00

Donna, if I were on the Ward Three panel tonight, I'd ask a local history question. "Do any of you remember the 1980s period of the massive influx of cocaine from Latin America and the alleged connection of the Hawkins Field to the Iran-Contra fiasco in which our local airport was investigated by the Kerry inquiry in the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations committee? Charles Tisdale of the "Jackson Advocate" reported on the story, but not the establishment media. Jackson as a whole suffered as a result, but the black community more so. See Wikipedia article for background http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawkins_Field_(airport)

Aeroscout2012-02-07T13:47:37-06:00

You know Kaze, Perhaps a documentary or an extended article in the JFP could be the thing that brings these issues to light. One thing I would suggest would be to look at the Blueprint MS document. Look at the proscriptions they make, and then look at the subsequent efforts by the government and business leaders to make that happen. That is a document that could be used to hold leaders accountable. Also, transforming Jxn has to be a metro concern, not just a Jxn proper concern. White Flight and residential segregation must be addressed. Too many people, black and white, rich and poor, creative and business types alike, believe that segregation is the answer, when it is really the main problem plaguing the Jxn metro area. Many people reference Atlanta when talking about how the south can transform itself economically, but one thing the leadership did there was to leverage any type of business development with diversity of opportunity. In the Jxn metro area, they don’t see any type of investment as a good one unless it is characterized in the most residentially segregated areas of the metro. I live in Byram and I am so disappointed that business development has grinded to a halt there because the 2010 census showed a majority black citizenry there. Note that there are no public housing units there, and over 90% of the residences are single family homes with a median household income comparable to Clinton and Florence, with almost 12k residents. Yet, the only development we have seen has been fast food restaurants? What scares off developers? The economy? I think that plays a part, but I also think the changing racial makeup has a lot to do with it. The metro simply has to address racial reconciliation (which the blueprint calls for) from a structural standpoint, not just interpersonal dialog, but true structural change that involves redress and repair from the damage to the human capital development of many in the black community due to direct discrimination.

Renaldo Bryant2012-02-07T13:56:53-06:00

I think you have to understand the past. You have to take a critical look at the history of development in local terms first and then make the connections to the larger world. In the 1980s drugs flooded into the Gulf from the Latin American countries and effected the social development of the Deep South. Our own government was involved in some of the drug trafficking that started the decline of the urban areas. Public education and expanding drug use do not work well together. First you have to recognize the power that hollowed out the city. The Black middle class never demanded that the government stop the importation of drugs and the commercialization of thug culture. The public should demand that drugs be absent from our schools. The Hawkins Field drug entrepot, Baggett case, Starsky Redd case, & the Frank Melton fiasco highlight the continuing theme of thuggery uniting with white power...

Aeroscout2012-02-07T14:47:26-06:00

I'm not interested in term-limit questions, or getting anyone to pledge to them), and I try to never ask a yes-or-no question, but the other ones look good. Thanks to both of you. I've long considered doing a JFP Race Issue (just watch some heads explode over that one!) where we (meaning all sorts of voices) explore complicated race issues such as these y'all are discussing, and not just Black History Month-type stuff (which is fine, but seldom gets people thinking such as this kind of conversation). Reading this is motivational.

DonnaLadd2012-02-07T15:01:55-06:00

Well, a why or why not follow up would take it out of the "yes or no" I think. I dont think Ward 3 needs another councilperson with a "career politician" mentality. The spectre of the last councilman looms large. This vote will truly decide if theyre ready to move on. Any candidate thats against them should raise a flag! Just a thought

Kamikaze2012-02-07T15:18:06-06:00

No, yes-or-no questions draw completely different kinds of answers, and usually empty sound bites, thus derailing the possibility of getting an intelligent answer. Good journalists should never use them. Determining whether someone is a "career politician" is a different question from term limits. Sure, Stokes was there forever -- but people voted for him. Likewise, Melton swept into the mayor's office on a wave of change, and he was a certifiable disaster. And I'm personally not a fan of telling people who they can and cannot vote for and am not sure government should play that role. So it's not question I care to waste my time on when there are so many more pressing issues to discuss.

DonnaLadd2012-02-07T15:31:25-06:00

"Also, transforming Jxn has to be a metro concern, not just a Jxn proper concern. White Flight and residential segregation must be addressed......In the Jxn metro area, they don’t see any type of investment as a good one unless it is characterized in the most residentially segregated areas of the metro." Renaldo - I got you on the "what" and the "why", which you are very thorough with - but I would like to know "how" would anyone convence "them or they" that residential segregation is whats slowing down progress and not just one particular demographic (blacks and/or whites) having an adverse affect on progress?

Duan C.2012-02-07T16:14:49-06:00

Well, Donna, as a "good" journalist. In my day..a DAMN good one. Ive gotten plenty of broader answers by follwing up with a "why" or "why not". and honestly the WHY of Kenny Stokes holding office for 23 years is a relevant issue. The mindset that has existed causing him to be in office again and again is just as important as mentioning that "the people voted him in" Different journalists use different tactics I suppose. Just as my column suggests different Black folk approach issues diffrently. Government shouldnt intervene I agree. A ballot issue should be created and the people should vote. I honestly think theyd vote FOR them. But thats me. Further it kind of speaks to the issue that we've been discussing in this thread. Term limits stop "career politicians" IMO and infact I think deter potential candidates who are looking for squatters rights in an office once theyve figured out how to pander to their constituents. ...and Duan..GREAT question because judging from the comments I saw on that Byram story a few months back in the CL. youd be hard pressed to get ANYONE there to believe anything other than Black folks are the purveyors of doom and despair in the suburbs lol

Kamikaze2012-02-07T16:41:54-06:00

@Duan In my post about corporate America, I noted that social justice and equity must be the only context under which interactions and contestations must take place. Simply put, you cannot convince people who benefit from the status quo to change the status quo. Change must be either forced upon them, or must be the only consequence available for them. Think about how Jim Crow ended, abortion rights protected, and child labor ended, it was all by the force of law and law enforcement after grassroots movements of democracy minded citizens. At some point, there will have to be structural change, whether it by law or economic investment/zoning policy, that structures the end of residential segregation and the resulting concentration of poverty. We can address this through ending legalized segregation covenants and gated sub-divisions, ending racist school zoning laws, redlining in lending from banks and mortgage companies, and spreading out public housing into every community so that the poor don’t have to live in areas of concentrated poverty that do not attract business investment but do attract disproportionate and reactionary policing. I am not so naive as to believe people will welcome these types of changes in many of the more affluent communities. But just as most white Mississippians did not welcome the end to Jim Crow, it doesn’t mean that these changes aren’t necessitated by concerns for freedom, justice, and equity by all. We live in a constitutional democracy, which means majority rules until that majority infringes upon the basic human rights of the minority to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How happy are the poor in West Jxn? What type of life chances to the kids in South Jxn really have? It is time to address these concerns with real critical thinking, intelligence and actionable solutions, not rhetoric, fear, sanctimony, sentimentality and ideology.

Renaldo Bryant2012-02-08T05:33:13-06:00

I don't want to derail this great thread with journalism lessons, but I'll answer Brad quickly about the problems with yes-or-no questions: Sometimes you can get lucky and get a decent answer from a yes-or-no question, but usually you won't. It usually depends on whether the recipient likes the question or not, or is feeling talkative. Yes-or-no questions should always be recast as open-ended questions to ensure the most revealing and intelligent answers. It makes sense when you think about it: Your question above is easily recast as "What do you think of term limits?" or "Some people argue that your position should be term limited. How would you respond to them?" You might argue that that doesn't make your point well enough -- to back them in the corner over whether they want term limits. That illustrates the biggest problem with your question as framed: It's a gotcha, and it's all about your opinion. "Will you or will you not ..." will immediately put someone on the defensive. Maybe you want to do that as a pundit, but as a journalist, it's bad form and is all about backing them in the corner over something you want them to agree to. That's the reason I don't do it, and tell my reporters not to as well. Not all yes-or-no questions are gotchas, but many are. The rest are just framed in a way that gives the recipient an easy out. And why or why not does not replace the quality one could have gotten with an open-ended question. I don't mean to put you on the defensive with this; interviewing is my area of expertise and took me years to develop. In fact, when I was in graduate school a bit over a decade ago (having been a journalist for years and won awards), professors (one in particular) nearly beat my bad reporting and writing habits out of me (they included too many clever lines, passive writing, cliches and even missed metaphors). It was tough to hear that my writing/reporting was riddled with some bad habits, but it was good for me, and I'm grateful for it. I will respectfully add that such defensiveness about improving our craft and skills is what keeps many of us from reaching the heights that we could. I had to put my ego to the side to become a better writer and journalist, and I'm so glad I did. As for term limits, I think it's much more complicated than you frame it. I have very mixed feelings about it. I see the point, but I do think the people should decide who they want representing them.

DonnaLadd2012-02-08T09:19:02-06:00

Kudos to you and to your Prof. Cant take anything from ya. But the "problem" with the craft around here (and a LOT of things) is that eveyone considers themselves an authority. I will respectfully submit that Folks learn at different levels and speeds. Im no "authority" because I dont do it full time but Ive got a resume that Im proud of. but I digress. Now as for term limits. In any other city..or state..Id probably agree that some more research be done on the matter. But given the history of our politicians here saying that "folks should vote who they want to vote for" is not the point Im making. Considering the WHY of those folks voting is key. Are they "wanting" to vote for that person for ignorant uninformed reasons? Have they been misled? Tricked? OF COURSE folks should vote their CHOICE but...I also feel folks should not be allowed to camp out in a seat for more than 2 terms. It works for Presidents and Guvs why not mayors and councilpersons? And to steer it BACK on to the thread...The guy that appears to be the "down" Black guy ending up being the worst choice in the end for a ward (Ward 3) and a city (Melton). But those were the guys with the strongest grassroots support of any officials we've seen to date

Kamikaze2012-02-08T09:56:39-06:00

Of course, people learn at different speeds; I certainly didn't learn what I know now about writing and journalism craft until I was nearly 40 (of course, that had to do as much as anything with not having strong enough editors or teachers in most cases). That has nothing to do with the problems of yes-or-no questions. And some people are authorities at certain things; I would certainly defer to you on most things hip-hop, for instance, and any number of other things. Some things I have more experience at; some things you. We can learn from each other. And on t his particular one, I really do know what I'm talking about; yes-or-no questions are very limiting, and tend to hide gotcha bias. That fact has little to do with whether or not you have a good resume; I know you do. I worry less about folks claiming authority—it's usually pretty obvious if they know what they're talking about—more around here with people who make fun of those who work for high standards and to continually learn. We all know that happens in urban schools; it's no secret, and it's talked about a lot. But it also happens in the general public, on blogs and among plenty of white people as well. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people making fun of other people for bothering to get educated on issues or at their craft. Politicians here love to do it as well. It's very sad and limiting for the people of our state. I just reject it outright. I know what I'm good at, and how hard I've worked (and how much I've spent in student loans) to get here. I'm blessed that I'm now in a position to help others with it. Same for you. So no need for defensiveness. As for term limits, the idea that they should apply here and not others places seems particularly absurd. And I don't consider it "camping out." I think that term limits are a dramatic solution looking for a problem—that ought to be repaired in other ways and with better education about candidates and the political process. And the people who support them usually do it because they don't like particular candidates or officials and put too much effort into thinking they will solve the problem. They won't. A community's problems isn't about its elected officials; that's a top-down, wait-for-others attitude that allows problems to fester. I want to live in a community that is so vibrant and active that it little matters who the mayor or council people are. But that's an argument we've been having for a while, so no need to belabor. And, yes, I agree on the "grassroots" support -- and it's because those men told people what they wanted to hear and promised the moon (certainly in Melton's case). They also play off emotions (such as about crime), but without bothering to get educated on real solutions. They spend their time taking down other candidates and people in person ways and with personal vendettas that had little to do with reality. They also divided people against each other for their own purposes. Better candidates would learn how to connect one-on-one with people from them, but then have substantive solutions to offer and not play the sensationalistic, personal, name-calling, games they did. That's what we have to work toward. It'll get us much further than term limits.

DonnaLadd2012-02-08T11:43:18-06:00

Renaldo/Blackwatch you have been simply marvelous in your insight and truth telling on this piece. So glad you're back. I thought we had lost you since I didn't see your posts for so long. Indeed the things you've suggested must be done to bring about real change for the masses. We can't escape who we are. Running only prolongs the tasks before us. It seems we remain in a tenuous and precarious position no matter where we are and what we're doing. Lord have mercy on us as we keep on keeping on. Thanks for reminding me that the struggle is never just about us individually else the masses get left behind and we individually will wound up doing nothing to help others similarly situated so we all can be simultaneously helped or depressed and mentally ill by accepting standards so obviously based in survival of the fittiest or white supremacy. I know you don't like to be told this but your brillance is obvious and so rare these days.

Walt2012-02-08T12:35:22-06:00

Since you guys have turned the thread into a discussion of politics. A while back during one of our meetings we discussed a coming up with a grading system for our elected officials and I thought that was a really good idea. I think quite a few people in the metro area and all of the adjascent countys - have naive understanding of effective government and continuously ellect people that they are "comfortable" with. I've seen all the papers in the metro - indicate who they will support or endorse, but I've yet to see anyone do an annual report card or assessment of public officials, however we expect state employees to go through a probationary period or given an annual appraisal. I think when you give an official a entire term without questioning or challenging their actions during that term, a lot of things will can and will go unnoticed. With that said, I think thats something we should start considering again in the near future

Duan C.2012-02-08T13:19:43-06:00

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