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Maybe Snitches Can Get Riches
5/7/2014 4:18:42 PM

By Barney Blakeney

A good friend once told me one way to learn to write better was by reading other writers’ work. I read some other guys regularly, not so much because they help me improve, but because they have so much to say. One guy I read regularly is economic writer James Clingman. I’ve gotten so much insight and information from that guy, I really should send him a piece of my paycheck.

Last week I read a piece he wrote about snitches getting riches. Satirically, Clingman said Black America could take a hint from Rev. Al Sharpton’s mob snitch escapades and apply the snitch rule to our mean streets. Sharpton turned the popular phrase ‘snitches get stitches’ into a money-maker, Clingman said, noting that the brother is basking in the limelight with loads of cash because he played his cards right.

Of course, for most of us regular guys in the ‘hood’ snitching can be much more detrimental. I mean, that television crap done gone to these fools’ heads! I’m often amazed at the type of crimes being committed locally, and recently I read a news story about some brother using a cellphone in a local lockup who tried to put a hit on somebody . We’re seeing stuff being perpetrated on the streets we used to only see on television. It’s frightful.

But still, I think Clingman’s premise that Black folks overcome our fear and ‘do the right thing’ by cooperating with police has merit. Until we man up and put the resources in place that give our people alternatives to the outrageously violent crime we’re seeing on the streets, I don’t think we have much of a choice.

Ain’t nobody gon save us from us but us. Them other folks are too stupid to realize that the impact of crime in the Black community affects them as well. As long as nigros are killin’ nigros and keepin’ it in the Black community, they feel secure. Unfortunately, I can think of several families which have lost loved ones to the violent crime that permeates the Black community who know better.

Still we can’t expect white folks to organize initiatives to impact crime in the Black community. The recently conducted second annual Charleston Area Justice Ministry Nehimiah Rally is a good effort. Some 2,000 people showed up at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center for the event. And that’s cool. But as Clingman said in his column, we can’t depend on events to reduce crime in our communities. We need a movement.

We’ve got some local yokels who are good at organizing events. They include some preachers and politicians who make a living organizing rallies, giving away free stuff and smiling for the cameras.

I’ll never forget - a few years ago, after a mentally challenged brother was killed by police in North Charleston, some local yokels organized a rally to protest the shooting. For some reason they thought they should invite a nationally recognized poverty pimp and professional protester to pump up the volume. Well the pimp wanted to charge a $5,000 service fee which they couldn’t afford. The pimp never came, the protest died and many of you reading this don’t even know what I’m talking about. That’s because that event lacked a sustaining movement.

Clingman said movements get things done. The Civil Rights Movement led to progress in education, economics and politics for Black people. I don’t think that movement has ended. I think the movement ebbs and flows over decades. Right now I guess we’re experiencing and ebb in the flow. That ebb has lasted nearly 60 years.

We need to get the movement flowing again. Last week I wrote a story about the fate of Blacks locally in education. A white man, Jon Butzon who I think is a good guy, wrote in response to school board members’ comments that it takes time for change and that change won’t come in the near future. Butzon reminded me the Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Topeka School Board decision which made segregated public schools illegal was handed down in 1954, 60 years ago!

How long will 30 Black boys and young men die of homicidal acts each year in Charleston County continue before we revive the movement? How many Black elected officials will serve 20-year tenures on our governmental bodies to retire to perks they earned for their service before we see tangible political benefits? Will a renewed Civil Rights Movement come out of Black mega-churches or will they simply build bigger edifices and enrich their leaders?

I think Clingman has a point about snitches getting riches. Perhaps if those of us in the Black community do more snitching on ourselves about ourselves, our community may see some of those riches.

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