DESCENDANTS OF SLAVES: NO FUTURE IN CALIFORNIA, by Dr. Steven Nur Ahmed

Whether we consciously acknowledge it or not, we are necessarily confronted everyday with certain unavoidable natural, economic, and political realities. For example, our need for food, for water, and for shelter; our need to be born healthy and into a family which provides us with a stable and structured material, emotional, and intellectual environment as well as our need to form meaningful relationships with those around us. Those conditions are all as natural as gravity. But barriers exist which challenge our ability to acquire those necessities. Some are natural and others are socially constructed. Our task is to overcome the ever present challenges to our existence.

A significant privation of any one of those conditions can retard our social development. If privations are severe enough, they can cause us to die prematurely before having ever had the opportunity to reach our highest stage of personal development. At its worst, significant social privations can dehumanize whole groups of people over time. We all want to avoid privation of the good things in life. We want what we think is good. But despite our best efforts we usually fall short at attaining what we believe to be good. That underscores another fact.

The fact is we are not always in conscious control of our situation. There are rational explanations for that fact but it is also because running parallel to what we consciously try to determine for ourselves are hidden irrational forces altering the designed outcome of our conscious choices. Those hidden irrational forces are like tiny metallic specks in the corners of a pair of dice making them roll off the course we design.

Inclosing the conscious sphere of our individual and collective lives is an even deeper natural reality. That reality is an unconscious yet very natural force. The unconscious is by weight a more powerful force than our rational efforts to design the best possible life for ourselves. That is so even though it’s awesome power is never fully discerned by us on our narrowly defined stage of personal drama.

Our personal drama blinds us to the existence of the unconscious forces moving us. Over a vast number of years, some of us may turn and look back, intuitively, if not visually. At that time, we experience a sweeping comprehension of the varied unconscious effects of the unseen on our lives, or the lives of those around us, and the very world we perceive. For as we examine our past at that time we may see with both hindsight and insight an altered landscape as well as an altered mindscape.

We comprehend them both reshaped around us as well as in us. We might then say: things have changed and are changing beyond my power to stop or control the incessant re-combinations and permutations of things around us. Yes, a face seen in a mirror at 20 years of age one day has a reality check and sees itself in the same mirror at 80 years of age and realizes it has been running a gauntlet of nuanced types of very physical opposition.

That unconscious force which loads the dice against us governs the ebb and flow of whole populations of creatures, big and small, across the globe. On land and under oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams. There are few remedies to its onslaught.

Darwin called it natural selection, adaptation, mutation, and gene flow. Here, there is no escaping it.  We live by and in natural selection and we are subjects to that all powerful process of change. That change extends to social selection by conflict and competition. 

With a broadened vision, some of us eventually come to comprehend that we are adrift and continually carried away as chemical film is carried on the surface of a body of water by deep and powerful undercurrents. To where in the world, we don’t know.

In time, maybe, some of us come to comprehend that we move with the ebb and flow of a great mass of human flesh. We can even feel it driving us through a wide biological undercurrent into ever shifting relational combinations.

We are tossed and turned in our lives by that unseen force. Our entering into and exiting varied personal drama is evidence of the unconscious as are the unpredictable outcomes which build up the social structures around our lives.

We know that there was no logical order to our coming to exist in the world; logical order was not nor could ever unravel the infinitely complex ever changing combination of things that bore us into a place to live out our lives. We are thrown about and where we land we are forced of necessity to just cope or if not, to die sooner than later.

We are in the world much more in the hand of blind chance than we are in the hand of conscious determination. We can be in such denial about our captivity. We blame ourselves for our captivity. Actually, we don’t have significant power. It is not always our mistakes that foil our best efforts to rise above the muck and mud, rather it is that unseen natural force which courses along its way against our own.  

But that makes conscious self-determination even more precious to us; for it is the most unique characteristic among all life forms on earth. The bouquet was thrown and we caught it; we have it. For it is conscious self-determination which can raise us above the absolute unpredictable roll of the unconscious and give to us a slice of reason coupled with action to buffer us against its shocks. Take for example reproduction. The reproduction of another human being is a free choice exercised by us to make another human creature or not.

The reproduction of offspring is contingent on many conditions.  Assuming those many conditions are adequately met, the reproduction of offspring is like spring water flowing down from a high mountain top. From that flowing spring water, entire communities draw as would a thirsty man or woman draw from a well on a hot summer day.

By it, a population, from a bird’s eye view, not spanning minutes, hours, and days but rather a view spanned over decades and centuries at a sweep would stand out as one living organism connected by a thread of DNA stretching back countless billions of years.

We would stand out literally as a transparent gooey chemical process among others in the atmosphere, but graced with a mysteriously endowed high intelligence. Intelligently, we can and do replenish ourselves and in so doing awaken at the dawn of every new generation a renewed people ready to struggle again.

But let’s assume the opposite. What if the many contingent conditions for biological reproduction are not adequately met? Under such conditions, what should we expect? 

What does science say? For science and the methodology of science is to our understanding what sensation is to our body. Zoological experts say that the fitness of any individual or population is measured by the number of its offspring that survive to sire their own offspring and through which its unique genetic codes and culture are passed through the unconscious undercurrent from one generation to the next.[1] What relevance does that have to descendants of slaves in California? My answer is that Descendants of Slaves have no meaningful place within any social sphere in the state of California. Let me tell you why that is my thesis.

No Demographic Growth for Descendants of Slaves

I recently read a study published by the California Department of Finance which predicts statistically that there will be a significant decline in the population of descendants of slaves in California. It predicted a full 2 percent drop, from 7.3 percent in 1980 to 5.3 percent by 2030.   Such population decline can be observed in every city and town in California. What we observe cannot be dismissed as being merely a statistical dip; it is a growing trend. 

 

The End of Marriage For Descendants of Slaves

Marriage rates for DOS are correlated with DOS demographic decline. There has been a consistent decline in the marriage rate among descendants of slaves generally.  Even among college educated DOS, the marriage rate is in free fall. The Brookings Institute reported a study which found that 60% of black college graduates have never married.[2]

 

In an article published by Scholars Strategy Network, Dawne Mauzon states: In 1960, 61% of blacks were married but by 2008 it was only 32%. Blacks also get divorced more often and remarry less frequently than whites.”[3]  What other factors are correlated with the marriage decline among DOS?

Mauzon hypothesizes, and I quote: “In part, the men are just not there in many black communities.” That is a social fact. It is normative for black adult males to be absent in black families. The chances are greater for that being the case than not. In California, 29% or 39, 451 of all black males are prison inmates.  

Furthermore, the Pew report revealed that DOS females have a narrowly defined preference list.[4] In short, most black women surveyed have high financial aspirations when it comes to choosing a mate.

No Marriage and Education Balance for Descendants of Slaves

The Pew Report went on to reveal that Black women prefer a well-educated black male. That preference exists although in California Black male enrollment at California State Universities is approximately 1.5 percent or 3,860 of the total student body of over 200,000 students. It is even worse at the California Universities where in the fall of 2016 at U.C. Berkeley there were only 393 black male freshmen of the 13,900 entering freshmen. At California Poly Technic State University San Luis Obispo, one of the most important engineering and architectural institutions in the nation, black males constitute less than 1 percent of the student body of 26,000 students. One must also keep in mind that a significant number of those are immigrant Africans or their descendants.

Thus, with a ratio of 1 African American Male for every 2 African American females at California State Universities, it is highly unlikely that the far more numerous females will match up with black males having equal educational credentials inside California.[5] That is a national pattern.

No Marriage and Financial Stability for Descendants of Slaves

Lastly, the Pew Research report revealed that 50% of black women surveyed want male financial stability as a precondition to marriage. That compared to only 25% of white women who wanted the same. This expectation is not what most black males can meet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In California, 20% of descendants of slaves are at or below the poverty line; that is 1 out of every 5. Full employment for many is a thing of the past.

It was reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2015 that male descendants of slaves had an unemployment rate of 11% in the State of California.[6] That rate of DOS unemployment has become a constant since California lost between 30 and 40 percent of its manufacturing jobs over the course of the last three decades.

The California unemployment rate is twice as high as the national average. Black men are more likely to be in and out of employment more frequently than males of other ethnic groups. There are many reasons for that but suffice it to say that the reality of black male financial stability does not equate with what 50% of black females in that survey want.

Those black females who want men who are financially stable will generally not find them in the private sector either. The loss of black businesses will be an unintended consequence of a declining black population and or communities in California. So, if you are African American, don’t start your business in California unless you live in a densely-populated immigrant African community or have White and or Hispanic patronage. Generally, black businesses are suffering and withering away. There will be a dearth of financially viable black men from those job markets for black women who want to marry financially stable black men who own a  business.

Part of the reinforcement feedback loop will be a loss of black patronage for black businesses including banks. And there is no evidence to support a claim that white and Hispanic people will significantly patronize black businesses including the use of black professional services. A derivative effect of low or no financial stability in the DOS community is that in California they have no political power.

No Political Representation for Descendants of Slaves 

All citizens are urged to employ legislative representatives for remedy of their grievances in democratic societies. We are taught that the laws that govern us all will clearly reflect both our fears and hopes. We are taught the enforcement of those laws will recognize no class differences by state law enforcement agencies. We are taught that every citizen brought before our criminal courts are presumed innocent until proven guilty. We are taught that justice is blind and so not respecting the person hears only the facts.

We have virtually no representation in the State Legislature. As of 2016, only 10 state legislators are of African descent. That is a far less proportion than the proportion of DOS in California. No wonder our needs go unmet.[7]  Black politicians serve the interests of their doners. The interests of their doners is greater power for themselves not DOS.

  

If a community’s interests are defined in terms of power, meaning that their interests are reflected in the laws and policies of society and acted upon by its many agencies, then DOS have no political power in California. For the overwhelming magnitude of social and economic privations among DOS in the many cities where they are concentrated evidences a wide fault line in this Californian democracy. On one side of that fault line are Descendants of Slaves and on the other side is everyone else including black politicians who generally supported the NAFTA agreement signed into law under Bill Clinton in 1994.

DOS have been politically abandoned in California. Therefore, descendants of slaves do not participate the democratic process in California enough to qualify them as voice in state affairs. Descendants of slaves are institutionally powerless and perhaps more importantly, they cannot muster street power to make their voices heard. 

No Habitat for Descendants of Slaves

There is a zoological assumption at the foundation of my discussion. The truth is there is inadequate carrying capacity for most DOS in the state of California.   There is too much environmental resistance on all levels to DOS growth. There was a time when we were not here and there will be a time very soon when we will be here no longer. As a unique ethnic group in California, DOS are running out of habitat in California. Like any other animal, the loss of habitat spells doom.

The factors which I have identified along with many others including those of mental health, religious institutions, and political affiliation are also parts of reinforcing feedback loops causing DOS communities to spin irreversibly out of control. Though some individuals will live on in the state, generally there is no future for DOS as a community in the State of California.

 

 

[1] Quran: 76:2, 18:37, 23:13

[2] American Family Survey; Restricted to Women aged 25 to 35, cited from Brookings Institute: Race Gaps in Marriage Rates for College Graduates

[3] Dawne Mouzon, Rutgers University, Why Has Marriage Declined Among Black Americans, Rutgers University, 2013

[4] Pew Research Center, Survey, 2010

[5] Keep in mind that most college educated men marry down the socio-economic scale or are indifferent to a women’s education level.

[6] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment Rates for Blacks by State, 2015

[7] California Research Bureau, California State Library

THE BRIDGE OF MISERY: BETWEEN THE PRESIDENCY AND THE CATHEDRAL IN CAMEROON, by Kifon Emile, M.A.

Cameroon-Presidential-palace2

Two important edifices exist in Cameroon which define, to a great extent, the whole sociological architecture of the country – the cathedral and the presidency. The first is found at the center and like the force of gravity pulls all other things around it as a God and keeper of the nation. While the second, found about three miles away, constitutes the concentration of all the political forces that supposedly hold the nation together. But there are not two centers of gravity. In reality, despite the fact that the two operate in theory as separate entities, they constitute a continuum of harmonized inter-dependency linked together by a slippery tangent called control – or in its popular usage, power.

Head of the Black Church

The cathedral, epicenter of the Catholic Church in Cameroon under the Archbishop on Yaounde, sets the tone for religious policy with regards to its relation to the State as well as the population. The presidency, on the other hand, is the heart of politics, residence of the president where he dictates the political climate. By understanding how both structures function, it is possible to know how the country operates. When Yaounde is breathing, Cameroon is alive remains a popular expression demonstrating the paramount role of the nation’s capital.

However, despite the fact that these are important institutions, it should be mentioned that the most important part is what lies between the presidency and the cathedral – the people. Their fate remains suspended and trapped in a system where rules have been displaced from the traditional settings in favor of dubious practices.   So, by illustrating the constitutive nature of power in these structures 1.) It shall be possible to elaborate on how they enhance the exclusion of the people and 2.) It shall be possible to elaborate on how they thereby produce a strange outcome of exchange of competences to the detriment of the public.

  1. Mutually exclusive poles in a mutually constitutive power anatomy

In the preamble of the Constitution of Cameroon 2008, it is specified that “the State shall be circular. The neutrality of the State in respect to all religions shall be guaranteed.” This proviso has become a characteristic of most modern States since their origin of 16th Century divorce from medieval monolithic religious societies, kingdoms and monarchies. With the exception of a few States which are defined essentially by religion [Vatican, Saudi Arabia and to some extent Israel], most modern States, in order to fulfil this post medieval ideal usually define themselves as secular, even when in practice things may not be as simple.

Islam and Christianity are the main monotheistic religions of Cameroon. Nominally, approximately 70% of Cameroonians are Christians, of which about 38% are Catholics, while about 20% are Muslims. Because the Catholic Church is the main centralized religious body in Cameroon, semantically and technically, it is the main body that appears to have some direct and continuous ties with government authorities, at all levels. It should be added that the president, Paul Barthelemy Biya Bi Mvondo, who has been in power for 33 years, is also a catholic. He had been in the Catholic seminary before being dismissed in the early years, of his studies. His father, Etienne Mvondo Assam, was a catechist by profession for the same institution.

Given that the president is a Catholic, it is easy for him to maintain close ties with the main centralized religious organ in Cameroon which would serve him both politically and religiously

But why talk about the religion of the president? Eric Mathias Owona describes the presidential regime as pontifical and in some cases as a principality. In a presidential republic and pontificate State, where the president rules ad vitam, his personal choices resonates a vertical influence over his government as well as a collegial complicity with leaders of the religion of his choice.

The collegial complicity with leaders of religion enables him to exert institutional control over the people through indirect religious hypnosis thereby consolidating the authoritarian democracy. Or, should this be called an authoritarian dictatorship? In principle, the success of assembling, in a deconstructive way, judicial-legislative resources to conform to executive wishes may give the understanding that it is an authoritarian democracy. In practice, however, by taking into consideration that the president governs by decree and exerts tremendous control over all governmental institutions, the regime is more of an authoritarian dictatorship perhaps of a modern style.

As a result, we end up with just the belief that State and religion are separate as stipulated by the constitution. But in practice, they constitute a simple continuum of influence over the population where triggers can be generated either at political or religious levels to produce the same effect.

Divide and rule is a common strategy of control but in an authoritarian system unifying power structures can  be just as effective. But the worst part is when these structures don’t benefit the population they are constitutionally bound to serve.

The-people-of-the-Cameroon-show-respect-to-Pope-Benedict-boston.com_

  1. Dynamics of concerted exclusion of a frustrated populace

Three miles separate from the cathedral is the presidency in the metropolitan city of Yaounde. The cathedral where the archbishop presides his religious ceremonies is technically open but semantically closed. That is, it has just a few physical barriers to deter wanderers but everyone is welcome to enter and pray. One door of the cathedral is usually open, and in most hours of the morning and evening most of the doors are open for other religious services and those who wish to pray to their God: “let the children come to me, for unto these belong the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 19:14).

With a poverty level of almost 40% (2007), most of those who come to Church are around the poverty line. The Church welcomes them with phrases like “blessed are the poor…” and “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35). In practice, those who go to Church always hope to please God while thinking that their temporal situation will be made better here on earth. And rightfully so, they pray, offer tithes, and pay dues – which in the archdiocese of Yaoundé was recently increased in order to meet charges that were not properly defined.

Regrettably, a considerable amount of monetary contributions that are made to the Church do not serve the purpose for which it has given. In July 2013, amidst the greatest corruption scandal in recent Cameroon Church history, the Archbishop was forced by the Vatican to resign in the hope of restoring the hope of the people in its failing hierarchy.

In such a complex situation where Christians do not feel that the Church is advancing their welfare, most turn to the State for comfort. It should be mentioned that most of those who come to church have already been discouraged by the strong presidential regime and weak government.  Again, with another disappointment from the Church, they turn to the State and one of the closest structures is the presidency of the Republic.

However, access to the presidency is virtually impossible. Despite its closeness, it is heavily guarded by the GP (Guard Presidentielle) including a big fence. In this case, it is technically closed but semantically open. That is, in theory, the public is made to believe that the authorities of the nation are there for the public, to listen to them and to address their difficulties. But this is far from reality. The president is almost absent from all national life, with only sporadic appearances on national Television to read a speech to a public he doesn’t know. There is a real disconnection between the people and its authorities.

As a result, the little distance which separates the presidency and the Cathedral appears, evidently, to be the nature of what separates the Cameroonian populace from the power structures which need to promote their welfare. Consequently, like rebounds of a non-reward psychological mechanism, the people turn back unto themselves, frustrated, without trust in themselves, nor in the church or in the government. This is evident by the life of duplicity in which most people become attuned: going to church without any intention to be a better person or living in a nation without a desire to serve it honestly. Corruption, as an endemic crisis in Cameroon can be deduced from the mechanism of suspended misery: neither in “God” [Church] nor in the government do they find solace [position 136 on 174 countries, with a score of 27 on 100]. This gets even deeper – citizens grow to lose trust in one another thereby threatening social cohesion and growth. All these are visible in the lane separating the cathedral from the presidency. Despite the fact that both poles concentrate wealth and comfort, this lane is full of jobless people who wander along the streets; others standing on the road side with their tools while hoping to get hired by someone to do a temporary job or those illegally subcontracting government services to citizens who duly deserve them. It is also a lane of insecurity, vulnerability and despair – just the symbol of the country as a whole.

The perpetual rule of the centralized government of Cameroon which is the cause of this social disequilibrium has created another system which has not been sufficiently explored. It is the fact that political power governs with religious authority while religious power rules with political power. It is a strange power structure not before seen in many countries and where the citizens end up – as always – in suspended misery.

  • Sociopolitical exchange of roles: the intercourse between religious and political power

At the heart of social despair is an economic problem rooted in misappropriation of roles both in the religious milieu as well as in the political sector. The classical roles generally attributed to the State do not necessarily hold true for the State of Cameroon nor  for the Church. Below is a table which summarizes how the State governs with religious principles while the Church has been ruling using political strategy.

Religion [epicenter –  cathedral] Politics [epicenter – the presidency]
1. Theology of the present [joy and happiness are hear] 1. Politics of the future [perpetual wait for change in the future]
2. Power is politically charged, elected 2. Power is religious and mystical: “Power comes from above”
3. Faults, errors are sanctioned 3. Corruptions, crimes are pardoned
4. The divine becomes man incarnate 4. Man becomes the divine [perpetual rule]
5. Power decentralized [independent management of dioceses] 5. Power centralized [authoritarian dictatorship]
6. Uses reason, rationality 6. Applies more and more faith, belief and blind truth
7. Motion of disagreement [encourage the good ones to stay and the bad ones to go] 7. Motion of support [support the perpetual ruler to rule even longer]
8. People play the role of citizens, and practice boycott 8. People play the role of ‘faithful’ and in most cases forbidden to strike
9. People learn to claim their rights 9. Political practice is ruled by rites
10. God more and more absent 10. God more and more present
11. Money more and more present 11. Money more and more absent
12. Policy analysts and strategists consulted 12. Prophets, kings and mystiques involved
13. Defined mandates well respected 13. Perpetual mandate
14. Governs by dogma (just belief) 14. Governs by decree (just listen and apply)
15. Leaders forced to resign 15. Leaders made to stay in power ad vitam [gerontocracy]

 

As illustrated in the above, the population has been made to accept inadmissible political practices where the executive leader is vested with an unlimited mandate for the presidency. Like a pontiff, he rules unilaterally over all other institutions which he has crafted to conform to his personal standards. This happens in a context where the archbishop resigned due to accusations of mismanagement of funds or the case of Pope Benedict XVI who resigned from an office which is supposedly made to be held for life. It is not uncommon to find corrupt leaders who get promoted and get rewarded with better appointments in the Biya regime.

Can this scenario explain the social and economic inertia of the country? Certainly, to a great extent. When political mobility is uncertain and religious credibility overthrown, it follows that the economic fluidity experienced by the public under the State of law would be jeopardized and at worst remain in misery.

Unlocking the infinite potentials of a nation cannot be done in a locked governmental system. A system that knows no variability. Neither can it grow in a religious context that has learned to survive with ruse, using political strategies while relegating religious protocols strictly to altar services. If change is the essence of society, then the government is criminal while the Church is complicit in its practice as they exploit a population that is ignorant of its own misery.

Corporate Coup d’Etat of U.S. and Its Casualties, by Dr. Steven Nur Ahmed

Corporate Coup d'etat

The movement of capital in the form of manufacturing jobs and cash out of the United States to foreign countries, primarily to Asia, has lowered the quality of life for all blue collar workers and dimed the future prospects for college students in the United States. It is rapidly closing the door to economic opportunity for black people in particular.

New trade agreements such as NAFTA, CAFTA, and PNTR between at least 20 nations and the United States within the last 20 years have resulted in the loss of millions of jobs to foreign nations because U.S. blue collar workers cannot compete with workers from countries willing to work for .60 cents per hour.

Now, another trade agreement called the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement or TPP threatens to usher in not only the loss of even more blue collar jobs, but even more highly skilled white collar professional and engineering jobs as well by outsourcing to Asian nations.

Urban history in the 20th and 21st centuries is replete with patterns of economic destabilization. Let me give to you an example of what the relocation of blue collar jobs has done to black workers who were dependent upon manufacturing jobs in one particular city.

Corporate coup d'etat 2

Let’s look at the city of Oakland, California between 1950 to the present. It can serve as a microcosm of what is happening and will happen to United States workers in general and to black people in particular.

In the 1940s through the 1970s, Oakland was a highly concentrated industrial city. To give you an example I will name some companies which were situated in close proximity to one another between 81St, 98th, and 105th Avenues in Oakland in the 1960s. First, there was Peter Paul Almond Joy Candy Company, 2) Sunshine Biscuit Company, 3) Mother’s Cookies Company, 3) Pepsi Cola Company, 4) Laura Scuuders Potato Chip Company, 5) Gerber’s Baby Food Company, 6) Granny Goose Potato Chip Company, 7) Nabisco Company, 8) General Mills Company, and 9) General Motors Company. These companies were central to the very robust Oakland economy. They provided not only jobs and stabilized families but they also provided a strong tax base for the city.

Each of those companies ran 3 shifts or 24 hour daily work shifts except Saturdays and Sundays. They employed thousands of unionized workers. The money from those companies not only flowed in the form of family income but also filtered down to Oakland public schools and recreational facilities for children. Those were just a handful of companies in the city of Oakland at that time. There were hundreds more like them each of which added value to a dynamic city economy. However, company location policies began to change in the 1970s.

Each of those companies slowly pulled out of Oakland over a span of 20 years. The industrial companies pulled out after over 100,000 white people fled Oakland between 1950 and 1960 in response to the influx of Black people. White flight cost the city of Oakland its middle and upper middle class tax base.

The military bases also slowly pulled out of Oakland after the end of the Vietnam War. The closure of military bases also cost the city of Oakland millions of dollars in annual revenue. Black people had been attracted to those jobs and had migrated from the southern States to Oakland seeking to economically benefit from factory and civilian military jobs in the city of Oakland. But in scarcely 25 years or one generation the original intent of black people and the economic hope which motivated them faded before their very eyes.

During that time period and up to 1975, the city of Oakland reached its peak economically. But the pattern then was as clear as it is today. The owners of private industry then did not want to give jobs to, work with, nor be around black people any less than today.

The economic effect on black people and Latinos because of the loss of such a high concentration of blue collar and civilian military jobs is correlated with the disintegration of public quality of life because of a: 1.  shrinking tax base and the looting of public school budgets by some public school administrators in the city during and after the exodus of capital, 2.) an increase in black and Latino incarceration rates due to get tough on crime policies in the 1970s and the proliferation of narcotics, methamphetamine, and cocaine, 3.) an increase in AFDC and Food Stamp dependence which now stands at over 47 million Americans, 4.) The implosion of middle class shopping centers which is evidence of shrinking middle class incomes. That is best exemplified by the Eastmont Mall in East Oakland which was opened in 1970, 5.) a phenomenal increase in single parent female headed household far above that of two parent households after 1970, and 6.) a disproportionate rise in the black abortion rate after 1975.

Take what I have described and apply it to your city. Whether you are in Compton, Detroit, Baltimore, or Pittsburg you will see the same pattern; a loss of manufacturing jobs and a steep decline in the quality of life for most people and in particular for black people living there. Black people are always the first to lose economic footing.

Now we are confronted with a new economic challenge. It is called TPP or the Tran Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement. Its predecessor, NAFTA, became law in 1994. NAFTA has resulted in the loss of millions of jobs across the United States. It was signed into law by then democratic president Clinton. TPP will cost Americans more jobs lost to Asian nations and a loss of Federal legal jurisdiction over multinational corporations. Under TPP, foriegn corporations would be given the status of ‘legal citizen’ of the United States and thus have the right to sue U.S. citizens and governments if a law interfers with their profits. Another democratic president, Obama, wants to sign TPP into law. The TPP agreement has a covert purpose; it is designed to serve a particular purpose.

The TPP agreement like NAFTA will only increase the power and wealth of multinational corporations over us and to further diminish the leverage of unionized labor. It will also reduce our individual and collective political leverage as voters. But even more is in store for us if TPP is signed into law.

As Asian purchasing and consumption power increases, U.S. citizens will have correspondingly less economic and political leverage against the global multi-corporate power structure. That is so because over time multi-corporate revenue streams will become less and less dependent upon U.S. consumers. That is what “race to the bottom” means.

For example, in Detroit, public contracts were given to companies connected with corrupt politicians. As a consequence water costs increased in the city of Detroit after the city signed contracts with companies giving them the power to manipulate the price for water. That in turn has lead to water cutoffs to the poor in the city of Detroit.

Another example is California. In California, under Pete Wilson and Gray Davis, public energy controls were modified under the Electric Utility Industry Restructuring Act, 1996.  In 2000, Companies like Enron were then able to increase the price for energy by manipulating the price of energy thereby causing energy bills to triple overnight. The shortage of energy caused rolling energy black outs throughout the State to begin in 2001. . In both cases, elderly low income people on fixed incomes and low income persons suffered the most.

Running parallel to the TPP effort is the slow but steady privatization of local, state, and federal government. Right now it is best exemplified by the privatization of public schools and public utilities. For example, students attending public universities are more dependent on commercial bank loans because of Government cutbacks in grants such as the Pell Grant. Such cuts have resulted in a national student loan debt of over 1 trillion dollars. It is not that private corporations want to own the infrastructure of state universities. Rather, they prefer to allow taxpayers to pay the costs for maintaining university infrastructures; what they want to own, by loan contracts, are the students.

Here is why. Corporate and financial globalization has made those same institutions less dependent upon educated American professionals as is the case with blue collar and professional workers because they have a global pool of educated professionals to draw from and at a cheaper cost to them.

American college graduates must now compete with an international population for professional jobs in the United States. Thus, there is no longer a national and private sector need for large numbers of American students to fill job positions, and so University systems need not cater to students who are financially unable to pay for their education. All of these efforts turn on a single unstated premise: the private sector can do it more efficiently and cheaper than government.

The argument by the proponents of that premise is that since government has a 17 trillion dollar deficit, privatization will help reduce costs for running government. But that argument is not necessarily true. Take the postal service for example. The costs for postal services have been increasing under public control and it will increase under private control at an even faster rate. Furthermore, government will continue to run on a deficit for two basic reasons. First, a federal deficit will remain because the national tax revenue to the federal government will decrease as income levels decrease and secondly, because public debt is the only way to justify an increase in the national debt ceiling which in turn triggers federal loans from the Federal Reserve Bank which generates profits for private banks.

So, keep an eye on what happens to the U.S. Postal Service; it is the canary in the coal mine. Thousands of black people hold operative jobs for the U.S. Post Office. If the U.S. Postal Service is privatized, then thousands of black Americans will lose their operative jobs due to robotic technology. Operative jobs are one of the leading fields of employment for black people. People and their families dependent on those kinds of jobs will sink into a state of perpetual poverty. Black life will become even more sub-standard than it is now.

Statistically for instance, 72% of black people with college degrees are employed by a form of government and generally about 21% of all black workers are employed in local, state, and federal governments. If governmental departments are contracted out to private companies at the local, state, and federal levels, then black people will be the major economic losers.

Black Americans and their families will sink into perpetual poverty. Black life will become even more sub-standard than it is now. On the other hand, white youth with college degrees will get hired in the private sector. That is how corporate government plans to co-opt lower class but college educated white people with the aim to neutralize any movement toward unity of poor whites and blacks.

The closure of military bases in the 1980s and 1990s is yet another example of how the exodus of capital, in this case government capital, adversely affected black people. Such base closures ought to be a red flag on the field for all of us to see. In the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area, thousands of black people and their families were the major losers when the Army and Navy bases closed.  That is because the Federal Government was the single largest employer of black people in the San Francisco-Oakland bay area. Many of those military installations were moved to other states so that jobs could be given to college educated white people after they were taken from under educated black workers.

Now, at this moment in our history, we should know that it doesn’t matter whether the president of the United States is Democrat or Republican; whether the president is white, black, male or female. Race and political party do not matter at the highest offices of government because the government which rules is multi-corporate and fascist in nature; it is not a democratic republic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH”, by Dr. Steven Nur Ahmed

Freddie Gray

I watched a video segment of the news in April 2015 which covered the after effects of the Baltimore riot in Sandtown. The video showed black people, with the exception of one person, cleaning out a CVS store which had been burned and looted the day before and sweeping the streets. The people doing it rationalized their volunteer work by claiming that they were helping to keep ‘their city’ clean.

There are several sad things about the news piece. To know and understand that our people living in Sandtown, Baltimore, where the protests occurred, receive no financial return for all the money that they spend in the city belies the heart of the problem.

Those individuals have now cleaned up a section of the city streets in which they do not own title to any of the property despite the fact that they and their families have lived in that area for over 100 years. They are all tenants subject to the will of the landowner.

As they cleaned the veneer of that section of the city I could only think that something toxic remains deep inside the city. That toxicity is such that no amount of street sweeping, painting, and government programs can clean it out. That toxicity will remain deeply embedded in Baltimore because it, like a waterfall of waste, rains down on the mass of dispossessed people from the very centers of political and corporate corruption.

Black people in Baltimore have no vested interests in the city. The African American community has have been set up over the last 2 generations in that post industrial post modern city to be pushed out. Our people cannot read the hand writing on the wall: “get out”.  Black neo-liberals will not read what is written on the wall and communicate it to black people in Baltimore. Nor will they translate what it means to them.  

The political structure of the city is intact because Baltimore black politicians remain loyal to their corporate Democratic National Committee or Republican Party monetary benefactors. The infrastructure of black communities, however, suffer. Black communities are as dysfunctional as social infrastructures in the nation of Haiti. The infrastructure has been the victim of criminal negligence.

But instead of the power elite in the state of Maryland and in the city of Baltimore properly defining the overarching social problems faced by black people there they have resorted to categorizing the black population as a ‘thug’ community. It is clear that white supremacists have a plan.

Sandtown and its surrounding blocks in Baltimore have been allowed to undergo multi-dimensional deterioration over time. That deterioration has been allowed to grow into a multi-dimensional demographic push force making black people in Sandtown Baltimore appear suicidal. The ultimate underlying goal is the reduction of the black population in Balitmore and finally eliminating that population without fanfare or notice. 

We must note and be aware of this supreme manipulation taking place. Having black people in state political roles and having blacks as heads of city bureaucracies has not resulted in a more equitable distribution of wealth. These types of positions given to black people are only a ploy to lull black people into a false sense of security and trust.

police officers Freddie Gray

To understand the nature of the shell game being played on black people in Baltimore we must compare black politicians to the three black police officers. The police officers were hired to ‘protect and serve’, but they were actually accomplices in the murder of Freddie Gray. Analogously, black politicians, who are elected to also protect and serve, are also accomplices to the acts of negligence which have caused the degredation of black lives in the city of Baltimore. This leads to one undeniable fact.

Having black people in positions of state power is not the same as all black people having a vested present and future interest in the economy of the city of Baltimore.

For example, the city’s political structure reveals the following characteristics: the state’s attorney general is black; Baltimore has a black mayor, a black police commissioner, a black superintendent of schools, and 2/3 of the city council members are black.  Whereas the city’s black infrastructure reveals these characteristics: 90% of Baltimore’s jail population is black; 61% of its high school drop outs are black; 25% of blacks are below the poverty line; 41% of those 25 to 54 years of age are unemployed; 38% of those 20-24 years of age are unemployed; 18% of the homes are vacant; and, out of a population of 651,154, 59.2% of families are single parent female headed households. What does this tell us about black people having a vested interest in the city of Baltimore?

It tells us that being born flesh and blood into a city is not necessarily equal to having a vested interest in the present and future economic interests of that city. Just as a fetus carried in the womb of its mother has no vested interest in the body that carries it. For example, thousands of Africans are risking their lives by fleeing their homelands wherein they were born because they have no vested present and future interests in Africa. Why?

The answer is because something more is needed by men and women wherever they live; something which supersedes a mere claim of birth rights based upon citizenship and the civil and human rights which are constitutionally guaranteed to them. Black people must get property rights based upon ownership and no less.

The United States Constitution defines the right of a ‘vested interest’ as the inherent right of a person that cannot be defeated or cancelled by any natural or legal person. Courts of law qualify such a vested interest on a showing of proof of title or ownership.

Thus, property ownership by a person or a people is central to what determines a vested present or future interest in a state, county, or city. What a people own is not just a subject of civil law and individual rights under the law, but what they own adds the value of liberty to civil equality under the law.

It is liberty which will exempt black people from the extraneous control of state police power. It is liberty and only liberty which can free the shackled will of black people so that they can make moral choices beyond the narrow confines of their open air prisons in cities like Baltimore across the nation. Without liberty there are deadly consequences. Freddie Gray’s death is but one example of that.

Black people living in Sandtown Baltimore do not have a present nor a future vested interest in the very ground upon which they stand and upon which previous generations of their families stood. 

Thus, black people’s lives are lived at the whim of the owners of that property; and the owners are non-verbally communicating to black people living in Sandtown and its surrounding blocks these words: ‘Get out’.

For those black people who seek liberty for themselves and their children in the United States they must make a moral choice. They must rise up and take an economic stand; they must rise up and make an economic revolution as was done in Tulsa, Oklahoma and in Rosewood, Florida at the turn of the 20th century.

Poice Van Freddie Gray

Our choices are but two; they are either liberty or death. It is no false dichotomy that I present to you.  Our choices are liberty or death.

 

 

THE CAPITALIST MYSTIQUE, by Dr. Steven Nur Ahmed

Greedy Capitalist Pig

Historically, African, Latino, Asian, and Native Americans have suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous economic fortune in the United States. Africans were enslaved; Latinos’ were victims of larceny in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution and were economically exploited under the Brocero program of 1942; Asians’ land and property was taken in direct violation of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution; and criminal larceny was committed against all Native American tribes . We could go on but just these few facts reveal something very important.

Let’s face an undeniable fact about the theory of capitalism. Capitalism is not natural law; it is a theory. A rational theory differs radically from a ‘law of nature’. A rational theory is imperfectly applied to ever changing circumstances whereas natural law is constant.

The law of gravity, for example, is a claim that asserts a direct relation between the sum of masses and an indirect relation to their distance from one another squared. Gravity has been proven to exist naturally by experimentation.  It holds true everywhere in the known universe according to astrophysicists. The gravitational relation between masses is not guided by an ‘invisible hand’ in the universe not even the hand of God.

Capitalism on the other hand is not natural, it is artificial.  Capitalism is a rational belief system; it is guided by human hands.

The theory of capitalism is the brain child of Adam Smith.  Adam Smith was not a scientist; Adam Smith was an ethical and economic philosopher.  If you have gone to college then you know that your first course on economics taught you some fundamental assumptions about the market place as it is assumed to work in an open market. First there is supply and demand. 

Understand that there is no ‘natural relation’ between the supply and demand of goods and services. That is because according to Adam Smith, both supply and demand are mediated by an ‘invisible hand’ in the market place. Supply can be anything natural or artificial and demand may or may not exist from moment to moment or even from season to season because it depends on human choice. So, the relation between supply and demand is a game of chance; it is not universally constant as gravity is.  Your best example is the depression of the 1930s.

Furthermore, you were taught something about the value assigned to goods and services that are distributed to you through the market place.  You were taught some other correlations. You were told that as demand for goods and services increase there is an increase in their ‘price’ or value, but that if the supply of goods and services is greater than demand for them then prices for goods and services will decrease. Do you remember all of those red, green, and black curves in the book!

Here is something you probably came to understand while taking notes in that class. One, the course was taught like it was physics when it was presented to you. That is the ‘mystique’ of the system as presented to you.

And two, if there is an ‘invisible hand’ manipulating the supply of goods and services in the market place by reducing production of goods and rolling back services or increasing them, then prices can be manipulated to go up or down at will. Therefore, capitalism is not natural law; Capitalism is an art.

If capitalism is an art then it can be done away with and replaced by another kind of economy or it is a system which can be adjusted depending upon human needs under any given circumstance at any time. What that means is that our priorities must be rearranged. 

Which is more important?  Do human beings collectively and individually have greater value than the market place or do the products in the market place have greater value than the human beings who made them? I think you know the answer to those questions. 

History suggests that in each generation some people are recruited and socialized to think illogically about the value of all human life. They arrive at the conclusion that they are inherently better than other people and indeed the total environment.  We have evidence to prove that. 

America was founded upon capitalism. Any serious student of the United States Constitution knows that.

We Americans know that during the era of slavery, indentured servitude, and later under ‘Jim Crow’ and ‘share cropping’ in the southern states, the exploitation of others’ labor was qualified as more important than human rights.

So we know that pure capitalism can place the market place above entire ethnic and gender classifications of human beings as a more important priority. That very qualification which capitalism implies is that without capitalism a quality life on earth would not be possible.  That is a lie and here is why it is a lie.   

It we follow the logic of that propaganda then what kind of justice would we be compelled to validate?  If justice has to do with how, when, where, how much, and to whom we distribute benefits to people in society then by our sentiments and actions we are certainly not validating equal justice because in our market place the ‘invisible hand’ has caused extreme inequality of resource distribution in the United States and all over the world. Most people have barely enough to subsist on or nothing at all.

The ‘invisible hand’ is the hand of exclusion. It pushes some people away from the fruits of their labor and allows others to indulge in fruit that they do not deserve.

In fact, the invisible hand may be a metaphor for ‘power’.  If that is so, then the market place is tied to instinctually based anxieties which give rise to conscious rationalizations for discriminatory use of power by the haves against the have-nots.

Capitalism is used to justify the discriminatory use of state power.   The ‘invisible hand’ snatches from most people their time and energy used to produce benefits and gives to a minority of other people benefits they do not deserve.  

Market place exclusion by the ‘invisible hand’ is the result of intentional injustice. That kind of injustice is criminal. It is criminal because it is intentional and because it wrongs human beings and more generally it wrongs nature so that a few people can control and benefit from all of the wealth produced by the majority of people. That kind of market place is not the result of natural law.

If we do not follow the logic of that kind of propaganda then what kind of justice would a more precise of kind logical reasoning compel us to validate? 

If justice has to do with how, when, where, how much, and to whom we distribute benefits to in society then a more just society would result from the application of proportionate justice. That would be a form of justice predicated on a person’s belonging to humanity not on an artificially measured kind of worth.

Proportionate justice is a method of distributing the values of society according to what a person deserves as a result of his or her own efforts in his or her life time. We do not have such a system of proportionate justice in the United States.  We do not have a system of justice based upon merit. For example, most wealth in the United States is inherited wealth.  Twenty-seven (27%) percent of all wealth in the United States is inherited by 1% of the population or wealth is owned by corporations or some form of government. 

And here is yet another example. Most African Americans are the descendents of slaves.  Slave labor was exploited to build up the capital base of the United States. But the descendants of slaves have not been given any financial proportionate justice in the form of reparations to them for unpaid wages justly due to slaves during slavery.

As a consequence, the total average amount of wealth owned by African Americans today in the United States is about $4,000.00 dollars compared to Euro-Americans’ average of $88,000.00 dollars.  African Americans were cheated by a capitalist market place wherein they do not get proportionate justice.

It is amazing that right wing conservatives in the United States will criticize the theory of evolution but cannot tolerate criticism of the theory of capitalism. Evolution assumes that change is inevitable while the one percenters struggle to prevent change.

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