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2016 Feels Good
1/6/2016 5:30:01 PM

By Barney Blakeney 

It’s officially here - 2016. And we’re off to a good start. I heard someone say this morning, she’s feeling some good vibes about 2016. I’m feeling the same vibes. 2015 ended on a sour tone, some regular ole colored folk crap. Black folk can be haters.

It doesn’t take much for that crab mentality to kick in - If I can’t get none, ain’t nobody gonna get none. So I’m gonna take my ball and go home. Then nobody has any fun and all we did was fail to accomplish the original mission which was to do some good in the neighborhood.

Man I saw enough of that in 2015. It felt good when, as the year came to a close, some things started to perk up. Okay, so a couple of things didn’t come through as I had hoped, but the game ain’t over yet. I’m sure they’ll come through before the ninth inning. And if they don’t, you can’t miss what you never had. So these good vibes - I think they’re a reason for optimism.

I’m thinkin’ folks really are going to embrace the Kwanzaa principle of Ujima, collective work and responsibility. I’m encouraged by the November municipal elections in Charleston and North Charleston. Both cities have five Black representatives on their respective city councils, probably for the last time this decade.

That dynamic will continue in Charleston for another two years until, the next election cycle and for another four years in North Charleston until the next election cycle. That’s an opportunity, an unprecedented opportunity in North Charleston, for Black elected officials to really make some headway through collective effort.

It’s really imperative for Black elected officials in North Charleston to put their heads together. A recent news report revealed the city to be one of the most dangerous in the nation for Black folks. According to that report, of the 31 murders in Charleston County in 2015, 19 were committed in North Charleston. aren’t just numbers ya’ll. Those are people!

And while crime must be a major focus for those representing Black constituents in the city, economic development must be equally as important. Nobody talks about Black unemployment in the city where some of the most significant economic activity in the state is taking place. Blacks on North Charleston City Council have the experience, and now I think the energy, to tackle that issue.

I know the City of Charleston’s council has Black members who are capable of addressing the hard issues. Rodney Williams, Keith Waring and Dudley Gregorie represent a front court starting line-up with the ability to score major points for economic development and low to moderate income housing initiatives. With James Lewis and Robert Mitchell in the back court playing cleanup, that starting five will be unstoppable in 2016. I think a lot of Black folks who had been in place to make some major transformations, used 2015 as a year to get their footing, a time to get comfortable in their positions. I’m feeling 2016 is the year those folks will break out of their bags. I think we’re going to see some innovation.

That may spell surprises for some folks in Columbia. Career politicians will catch hell in November. For years I’ve heard constituents talk about their representatives in state government who have held office for decades but have produced very little for constituents in their respective districts. There are some young turks out there who are chompin’ at the bit to get a turn at the wheel. This Black Lives Matter thing will spin off into some real tangible efforts in 2016. It ain’t just about protesting in front of buildings. Some of those young’uns know how to organize and strategize. They know their time has come and will challenge that go along and get yours crew in Columbia.

The group of young Blacks who stepped out on faith in North Charleston’s 2015 municipal elections was a ray of hope. They got beat up, but now they’re combat tested and and battle ready.

That’s really encouraging for an old man like me. Too bad them old foggies didn’t have enough sense to move out the way and let them young’uns take over. But that’s how our folks are, we rather sit in the spot taking up space than teach someone else how to do the job and retire peacefully.

But it’s all good. I think some forces are at work that will right many of those wrongs. Mr. Jenkins says this is the dawning of the age of aquarius. I don’t know about all of that, but I know I’ve got a good feeling about 2016. And anything that feels this good must be alright.

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