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New Year, Old Fears, New Focus
12/28/2016 2:55:44 PM

By Barney Blakeney 

It’s all over but the shoutin’! 2016 is almost gone as I write this and as my friend Dog used to say, “I hate to see you go, but I’m glad you know the way.”

2016 was rough, but I’m at an age now when it really doesn’t matter how rough things get in life as long as I’m alive. We lost a lot of good ones this year. I hope when my time comes – and it will – I go out like some of those guys, with peace, strength and dignity.

But in the meantime, life is for the living!

Being alive as a black man in the United States of America holds some interesting possibilities. I was talking to Brown last night and among the twists and turns of our conversation he noted that as older men in our 60s who have crossed the burning sands into maturity, we still must fear simple things like being stopped by police. The wrong move during a traffic stop could get a black man shot.

Heck, the right move still might get you shot!

Brown said when we were in our 20s, still playing football, basketball, drinking liquor and chasing women we never fathomed being this old. It was unimaginable. Sadly, that’s the case for black men in their 20s now. Reaching age 20 is an accomplishment for many black men in America. I heard a statistic on the news last night that said 1 in 10 black men in America under age 30 will become the victim of homicide. That’s an epidemic, ya’ll! And nobody’s trying to address it - not seriously!

Black folks’ underwear is in a bunch because Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States. Trump ain’t my most immediate concern. As Brown said, I gotta worry about getting stopped by a local cop who’s having a bad day. I gotta worry about my grandsons, my nephews, cousins and friends’ boys who haven’t yet learned that a good run beats a bad stand every time. I gottta worry about young black men who don’t know that the real objective is to live to fight another day and to keep on fighting until either you win or the other fella gives up. I got a lot to worry about before I can start worrying about Trump!

As we move into 2017, I’m thinking black men in this community really need to start throwing our weight behind Charleston Mayor John Tecklengburg. The guy in some ways reminds me of the late Charleston Police Chief Reuben Greenburg – unorthodox, but effective. I don’t really know that brother from a can of paint. But I’m seeing stuff coming out of him that makes me think the guy is a people person. Unlike Charleston’s previous mayor, Joe Riley, Tecklenburg seems comfortable snuggling up to people. And he’s got an artistic side!

Riley was a helluva mayor. And so is Keith Summey up in North Charleston. But both were bad for black folks. During Riley’s 40 years as Charleston’s mayor and Summey’s 20 years as North Charleston’s mayor, the masses of black folks did not prosper. That doesn’t mean that some of us didn’t get better under those guys’ administrations. Some of us did quite well under Riley and Summey. But a much larger majority of black folks got thrown under the bus. Tecklenburg seems to be more compassionate about the needs of the least among us. That’s a Jesus quality. Um, didn’t we just celebrate Christmas?

I think Tecklenburg embodies the spirit of what Christmas is all about. Not just the materialism, but insuring that all of us more fully enjoy the bounty of God’s blessings. That riles some people. They don’t want to share. I don’t know. I guess some people see benevolence as weakness.

It runs counter to Jerry Butler’s admonition in his song entitled “Only The Strong Survive”. As a result, some folks have got a warped perception of entitlement. They don’t think it’s entitlement when government offers ludicrously ridiculous contracts to Boeing for aircraft or imposes tax increment finance districts to redevelop Citadel Mall. But talk about housing for the homeless and that man must be out of his gourd!

A friend called me a couple of weeks ago concerned about the future of the Gadsden Green public housing complex on the Charleston peninsula’s Westside. I’m tired of that conversation. It’s a non-issue. The projects are gonna go, okay? There’s a $1 billion redevelopment planned for that area. Who’s stupid enough to think that an aged low income public housing complex is going to be maintained in that new environment? Can you spell Ansonborough projects? Not even a consideration for me.

That’s why I think black men with half a brain oughta be supporting Tecklenburg. Because so many other folks see progress in our community as shiny new buildings housing high tech, biometric facilities and the people who perpetuate and facilitate them – all exclusive of those who need training and jobs. Black people need someone of influence who will advocate for them. I think one of those people is John Tecklenburg.

Yeah, black lives matter. Not only when confronted by stupid police officers who never should have been in law enforcement in the first place, but also when it comes to training and jobs that enable people to navigate through an increasingly more technical world.

Black boys need solid foundations in reading and math skills as much as bicycles at Christmas. Black people pay for schools. They should serve black children as well. I think Tecklenburg gets that.

There are those who don’t want Tecklenburg to be successful. They undermine his efforts to impact the construction if I-526 and West Ashley redevelopment. The brother’s in for a battle in 2017. Black folks supported Joe Riley and Keith Summey, neither of whom reciprocated that support. I think we can trust Tecklenburg and he deserves our community’s support. If we can give our support to Riley and Summey, supporting Tecklenburg should be a no-brainer. Happy New Year.


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