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A Season For A Protest & Movement
9/3/2014 4:46:20 PM

By Barney Blakeney

A few months ago I wrote a column about the need for a sustained movement among Black people to address the inequities and injustices we face. Some would say that movement needs to take place in the streets. They say we need radical protests that vent the anger and frustration of an entire segment of the population. I say don’t get mad, get even.

The 1960s rock music group, “The Birds” recorded a song about a Scripture from the Book of Proverbs in the Bible which says there is a season for everything. I believe protests and boycotts are valuable tools in the struggle for human rights. But like any tool, they must be used appropriately.

Some folks just want to see chaos and confusion. They thrive on it. They won’t get in the mix and fight in the trenches with you, but they’ll tell you to go there. What is it they say about war? War is when old men send young men to die? And unfortunately, some of our young men don’t know anything but to react physically.

America has been looking at Ferguson, Mo. since the killing of Michael Brown and watched the violence that occurred as hundreds poured into the community’s streets. Black folks in Charleston need to get mad like those in Ferguson many here said. “We’re already mad we just need to go into the streets.”

I asked some people if taking it to the streets would solve anything. Most agreed street protests has its merits. I personally believe the limited success of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s only came after radical organizations like the Black Panther Party and others defied the status quo with eminent violence. Some things must be taken. Freedom and equality for Black people in America are among them.

That however, doesn’t mean violent protest is the way to go. I think a more effective strategy is to use the ballot and the bucks. In North Charleston where Blacks comprise about half the city’s population and where five of its 10 city council district s are majority Black districts, only three city council members are Black. Consistently less than 20 percent of eligible Black voters cast ballots in elections.

And while Black citizens make up half the city’s population, less than 10 percent of businesses in North Charleston are owned by Blacks. Black folks love stuff and white folks know it. We’ll invest $50 to put sneakers on an infant, but won’t invest in a store that sells sneakers.

I got into an argument the other day with a fella about the food desert that exists in North Charleston’s southern district. There’s been no major grocery store south of Montague Avenue to serve residents in the southern district in the past 20 years. In that time Black folks each could have saved $5 per week and opened their own grocery store.

And where was our leadership? We’ve got Black elected officials who have been in office 20 years representing Black constituents in North Charleston. Where have they led our community? Straight to the white man’s businesses. We’ve got churches on every corner in North Charleston. Have any of them used their massive collective abilities to build anything other than edifices to their own glory?

In two months we’ll have the November general elections. I don’t think Black folks have a clue about what we need to do. I get emails every day from the Democrats asking me for money and to support Democratic candidates. I have yet to receive the first email from the Republicans asking me either for my money or support.

The Republicans have written off the Black vote. They could care less about Black folks supporting them. They know the Democrats have got us hook, line and sinker and give us nothing in return except some hankerchief-head nigros whose primary concerns are getting re-elected so they can feather their own nests.

Fortunately, I see more and more discussion about Black folks using their votes to influence elections. The Republicans and Democrats have cornered us into polarized pockets that offer us few choices beyond those they choose for us.

But we can bust loose. The white man kept us uneducated for a reason. Today, more of us can read the fine print. Never mind the party, look at the candidate. If them backwoods boys in Mississippi can do it, certainly Black folks in the metropolis of Charleston can support candidates who serve our interests.

And if we ever learn to do without them things, our white folks will have a fit. I ain’t saying go lackin’, just be selective. Deal with those who deal with you. To everything there is a season. As the song says, this is our season to reap what we have sown.

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