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Me And My Black Folks: Stuck Together
2/25/2015 4:51:49 PM

By Barney Blakeney

Sometimes things get stuck in my craw. Stuff will bother me and bother me until it drives me crazy. Doesn’t always have to be anything really important, like deciding when I’m going to follow my doctor’s orders and get more exercise.

Sometimes it’s just something nagging, like a sliver of food stuck in my teeth - you know how you suck on it and suck on it, but it just won’t dislodge? Well that’s how I am about admonishing Black folks to understand the importance of participating in processes that promote positive change in our communities.

I was reading the daily newspaper and a couple of news stories jumped out at me - one was about four people being shot at a local night club last Saturday night, the other was about a new apartment complex planned for my neighborhood.

I tend to think of things in black and white. That’s how I saw the two stories. When it comes to Black folks, it’s bang bang shoot’em up - four shot after a fight at the club. (Why is it young Black folks can’t party without gunfire?) But when it came to the white folks, it was about making money and creating quality communities.

I know, a lot of Black folks are doing some really positive things. I recently attended a recognition ceremony at Morris Brown AME Church which honored Inez Brown-Crouch, Wendell Gilliard, Christine Jackson, Dorothy Jenkins, Marlon Kimpson, Minerva King, David Mack, Clay Middleton, Brenda Nelson and Dot Scott. Those folks put the ‘P’ in positive participation. There are many others whose names are less familiar, but who are just as involved in the myriad of good things happening among Black people.

For the past few weeks I’ve been stuck on thoughts about stuff facing Black folks and the failure of the Black community to collectively act to impact that stuff. I recently read a news story about the lack of diversity at Charleston County School District’s Academic Magnet High School. Of the 644 students at the school, only 16 are Black. How the heck did that happen? We’re talking about one of the best high schools in the nation in a district where almost half the students are Black. Just off the top of my mind without knowing anything else, that doesn’t make sense.

So where are Black people in the processes that determine where kids attend schools? Where are Black people in the processes that arrive at those decisions? The news story outlined that school officials are trying to figure out how to fix that disparity.

Duh! Look at what’s happening before kids get to the high school level in Charleston County School District. C’mon people, this stuff ain’t rocket science. It does however, require fair-mindedness.

The controversy over South Carolina State University has been stuck in my craw also. I have much respect for the brother, but how dare Cong. James Clyburn issue a public statement advocating the termination of SCSU President Thomas Elzey.

For 20 years the James E. Clyburn Transportation Center at SCSU was in limbo and $50 million disappeared before the first brick ever was laid. Clyburn never, to my knowledge, issued a public statement regarding that situation. Now this brother is concerned? Get real!

To all the protesters and ralliers, I say phooey. We all know what time it is with SCSU. I’ve written stories about the foolishness going on there for years. I’ve got some cats mad at me. One brother told me his wife was going to come to my office to confront me about one of those stories. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger.

But back to the subject, I’m stuck on the premise that Black folks must participate in those processes that result in the things which impact all our lives. We cannot sit back and watch things take shape then react to them once they come to fruition. We must get in on the front end.

I’m lookin’ at them white folks deal with the redevelopment of the Sergeant Jasper property in the peninsula Historic District of Charleston and challenges to a Shem Creek building project in Mount Pleasant. Those white folks are doing what Black folks should, they’re voicing their concerns in numbers before the deal gets set. And if they’re not heeded and are dissatisfied after the deal goes down, you can count on them to use their money and their votes to demonstrate their dissatisfaction.

It ain’t about protests and rallies, ya’ll. That’s the last piece in the participation puzzle. And guess what, them white folks don’t care nothing about some negroes protesting and rallying.

As long as negroes continue to vote them into public office and spend their money with their businesses, white folks will endure your protests and still do as they please. And I’ll still be stuck on making admonitions such as these.

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