- Created on 12 April 2013
During my research on street gangs, one thing became clear: They are the primary source for drug distribution. The crimes conducted by these street gangs on a daily basis also include murder, bribery, extortion, robbery, carjacking, prostitution, human trafficking, and money laundering. Some gangs concentrate on some of these crimes but all of them have drug trafficking as their number one activity. This makes them truly a menace to our society. Yet, we ignore them for the most part. We tend to be blind to their destruction and terror. There are 1.4 million street gang members (2011) and we act like they don’t exist.
There are more than 2.1 million men and women incarcerated. The majority are there for drug related -crimes. Approximately 650,000 persons are released from our jails/prisons each year but at least 52 percent will return within three years for parole violation or a criminal act. It is a social disgrace to have that many human beings incarcerated and then they get into a “revolving door.” The cost of housing a state prisoner can be as high as $45,000 per year. Wait – it gets worse. It is so disappointing that when we persuade a company to hire some of our youngsters for on the job training they cannot pass a drug test. During the Katrina rebuilding, we warned potential job applicants that they would be tested for drugs and urged them to become clean. For many it was too late because they were hooked and couldn’t shake it.
Dealing is a very big “business” for many drug dealers and unlike many other sectors in the U.S., business is booming. The gang leaders don’t have a recruiting program; they “draft” top prospects. One day, my aunt in Los Angeles asked her grandson if he were in the Crips. His reply was, “Grandma, I have no choice; it is Crips or die.”
And these young members have quotas to fill. They must push dope and get as many hooked as possible. The Peoria, Ill. Chamber of Commerce once did a job study for Black youth (18 – 30). The number one employer was the city government; number two was the local utility company and number three was the illegal drug activity. Peoria has a population of approximately 100,000 persons. No place of any size is immune from drug trafficking. I could not find credible estimates of how large the illegal drug business is in America but with certainly it is at least $250 billion per year. I bet we would be surprised where some of it ends up.
My brothers and sisters we have an extreme problem that needs urgent fixing. I would like to see Black elected officials become more active about addressing this problem. It is my firm belief that withdrawal programs are not the end solution. We need to come together and do something radically progressive. Nothing that has been tried in the past has improved this “illness.”
The time has come for bold, Americana-style action. The first thing we should do is legalize drugs. Treat it like liquor and cigarettes by taxing it to the limit and regulate it wisely. The demand for illegally transported drugs will soon dry up and the use of street gangs will be a public danger. We could close many prisons and reduce enforcement officers along with parole and probation officers.
The next thing we need to do is to write new legislation. Organized street gangs are already being broadly prosecuted as racketeering enterprises. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) should be amended to explicitly include street gangs with certain, severe prosecution of their leadership. Everyone knows who the leaders are and where they live. A good example of this is how authorities are currently going after the street gang MS – 13.
According to the Associated Press, “The Obama administration declared the ultra-violent street gang MS – 13 to be an international criminal group ….The aim is to freeze it out of the U.S. financial system and seize what are estimated to be millions of dollars in criminal profits from drug… and other crimes committed in this country”.
Let’s form a taskforce like the old “Untouchables.” Make them forfeit their assets, bust up their leadership and strongly police our banking system that plays along with some of the vast money laundering that is taking place. If we follow the money and clean up the inside corruption, we will begin to turn the tide. Imagine our nation becoming a populous of people living productive lives once again. Right now we are just seeing our cultures and neighborhoods slide into oblivion. It is not something so great that we cannot manage. Some common sense, a lot of courage and a taste of vision could change it around. God bless us.
- Created on 12 April 2013
In American politics, many object to power flowing through blood rather than through the ballot. A “dynasty” is a sequence of rulers considered members of the same family. Among Blacks, some prominent families regard politics as business operations.
Blacks elected immediately after the civil rights era, entered office as mayors, members of the City Council or members of U.S. House of Representatives from majority-Black areas. Younger Black politicians are now seeking to win political posts of governor or senator in which they would represent much larger and diverse groups of voters. In theory, having a parent already in politics provides political base younger politicians can use to reach wider multi-racial constituencies.
Several scions of Black political families that came to high political office by virtue of birthright are on the decline. New York Gov. David Paterson, whose father Basil is a powerful figure in Harlem politics, left his appointed office in disgrace.
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Malik Kilpatrick is now a resident in the Federal Correctional Institution at Milan, Mich. A former Michigan state representative, Kilpatrick, was recently found guilty on 24 of 30 federal corruption charges. In 1996, Kilpatrick was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives after his mother vacated the seat to campaign for Congress. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick represented Detroit in the Michigan State House from 1979 to 1996 and served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1996 to 2010.
Jesse L. Jackson , Sr. has a family that has benefited from his impact on politics. The son who was first elected to Congress in 1995 now faces a prison sentence ranging from 46 to 57 months. Jesse Jackson Jr., was convicted for spending approximately $750,000 in campaign money on items ranging from a Rolex watch to Michael Jackson memorabilia. The extended Jackson clan includes Jonathan and Yusef. Jonathan Jackson is a business professor and entrepreneur. He owns a Cricket Wireless franchise operation, and is a partner with Yusef, in a Chicago-based Anheuser-Busch distributorship – River North Sales and Service, LLC.
In Memphis, the Ford name became legend as Whites moved from the city to the suburbs. By 1974, the percentage of Black voters had increased enough for three sons of a local funeral director to win an unprecedented electoral victory: John was elected to the state Senate, Emmett was elected to the state House, and Harold became the first African American from Tennessee elected to the U.S. Congress in the 20th Century. In 1996 when Harold, Sr., decided not to seek a 12th term in Congress, Harold, Jr., easily won the race, taking office at age 26. “Junior” was only 30 years old in 2000 when he gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. He ran for the U.S. Senate seat but lost. Scandal and corruption followed the Fords ascent in politics.
William Lacy Clay, Sr., was elected to the House of Representatives in 1968. In 2000, Clay, Sr., retired from the seat after 32 years and Clay Jr., known as Lacy Clay, became the U.S. Rep. for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District.
Carrie P. Meek was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1978 and to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992. Kendrick Brett Meek lost the U.S. House seat that his mother had handed him in his 2010 bid for the Florida Senate. Kendrick was the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 17th congressional district from 2003 to 2011, after having served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1995 to 1998.
Representative Donald M. Payne, from New Jersey, died of cancer in March 2012 after serving in the House for 23 years. He was 77. His son, Donald M. Payne, Jr., was elected to Congress in November 2012. Brother, and uncle, William D. Payne served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 1998-2008.
Black voters have to discern if there’s a disconnect between the agenda of Black political leadership and their constituent communities. Will Black voters ever shun political dynasties revolving among husbands and wives, brothers, sisters and children in the guise of serving the public?
William Reed is head of the Business Exchange Network and available for speaking/seminar projects through the Bailey Group.org.
- Created on 11 April 2013
Two weeks ago, President Obama met with three African presidents—Koroma (Sierra Leone), Sall (Senegal), Banda (Malawi), and Prime Minister of Cape Verde Jose Maria Pereira Neves. This was the White House’s way of rewarding these leaders for their examples of good governance. Receiving an invitation to the White House is one of the most sought after invitations in the world, especially for foreign leaders.
African leaders constantly complain about how they are negatively portrayed in the U.S. media, about how Blacks don’t invest in Africa, and about how there seems to be a disconnect between Africans and American Blacks.
My response has always been quite simple – It’s your fault!
Let me break it down based on the itinerary for the delegation that met with Obama two weeks ago. In most cases, the State Department takes the lead in setting up the program for foreign leaders, but they are free to add their own program in addition to State’s program if they so desire.
While in Washington, each leader participated in numerous meetings and events to strengthen bilateral cooperation on a range of shared priorities. Joint events included a dinner hosted by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) to discuss trade and investment opportunities with representatives from U.S. businesses; a public discussion on democratization in Africa at the United States Institute for Peace (USIP); an economic and development roundtable with U.S. government officials; and a meeting with Secretary of Defense Hagel to discuss cooperation on shared regional security and peacekeeping objectives in Africa.
Notice anything interesting here? Let me help you. Dinner hosted by CCA—mostly Fortune 500 companies (White-run companies). Many Africans accuse “corporate America” of only using Africa for their natural resources—well duh, you invited them to your country; a discussion on democracy at USIP. I have tried, to no avail, to get Howard University interested in engaging with African heads of state, but they have shown absolutely no interest. I think I can get a meeting with Obama easier than I can get a meeting with the president of Howard University. Meetings with government officials (i.e. White officials, other than former Ambassador Johnny Carson). Meeting with Secretary of Defense Hagel.
So, I guess these African leaders couldn’t find any Black NGOs to meet with or maybe their White lobbyists would not give them permission to meet with successful minority businessmen like David Steward, CEO of World Wide Technology in St. Louis–a $ 5 billion privately held firm.
Maybe their White lobbyist wouldn’t give them permission to meet with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a federation of 200 Black-owned newspapers in the U.S., or give a speech at a Black university.
So, to my African heads of state, if you are looking for positive media coverage from the U.S., then sit with our Black media and tell them your story. If you are looking for investment in your country, then invest some time by meeting with Black businessmen when you come to our country. Ifif you want Americans, especially Blacks to tour your countries, then take a tour of our communities when you are in the U.S. So, stop complaining and be what you are looking for.
Africa has a lot to offer as far as investment opportunities, tourism, and even education; but Africa has not made its case to the American people. Until they do, they will continue to be like the tinkling cymbal or the sounding brass, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at raynard1223
- Created on 11 April 2013
President Barack Obama has proposed a $3.77 trillion budget for 2014 that is intended to trim deficits by almost $2 trillion over the next 10 years.
But that’s just part of the story: When deficits get cut, that means spending is reduced, and when spending is reduced, that means someone is going to feel the pinch.
The tricky part for the President...
- Created on 11 April 2013
Surely you’ve heard the saying, “Money Talks.” But, have you ever wondered what is said about Black money? Obviously, understanding its power and the role it plays in this economy, money speaks loudly and clearly, and Black money speaks even louder. But what does it say?
We know from past experience, when we have grievances, if we resort to economic retaliation we can get things done. Why? Because Black money speaks loudest when it is under duress. One trillion dollars can get pretty loud and boisterous, and those who are getting the lion’s share of it right now pay close attention to what it is saying. They sit up and take notice when we resort to withholding our money from their coffers. Just look back in history and you can see what I mean.
The only language that gets things done in this country is the money language. Why do you think those folks on that balcony at the New York Stock Exchange always clap at the end of the trading day – regardless of a loss or a gain? In 2001, immediately following the World Trade Center tragedy, the call went out to the American public to spend more money; and then-President George W. Bush called for a spending campaign with the $600 “advance tax refund” checks.
Consumption comprises two-thirds of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP); the more we spend the higher it goes. Black dollars play a significant role in that scenario since we consume much more than we produce. But, since we already know what our dollars are saying to everyone else, let’s see what Black dollars are saying to Black people.
There is a great deal of it in the hands of brothers and sisters who seem to have plugs in their ears, unable to hear what their money is saying. I see some in the Hip-Hop crowd doing voting summits but not economic summits, despite their collective worth of billions of dollars. I see many of our Black athletes and entertainers spending rather than investing in their own brothers’ and sisters’ businesses. And I see millions of everyday brothers and sisters spending their share of our $1 trillion haphazardly, aimlessly, and unashamedly on the baubles, bangles, and beads made by everyone else except Black folks. It is obvious they are not listening to their money, and even more obvious that they are certainly not listening to folks like me.
My hope is that they and other Black consumers will listen to Brother Norm Bond, Chairman of the National Alliance of Market Developers, and Sister Sara Lomax-Reese, President and General Manager of 900AM (WURD), as they have kicked off the Million Dollar Black Spending Power Campaign in Philadelphia. In conjunction with the Philly movement, Claud Anderson, author of Powernomics, and Bob Law, venerable radio talk show host and community activist, are conducting forums titled, “Where is the money going?” which deal with turning Black spending into real power. The commitment being asked of individual Black consumers is to spend at minimum of $20 per week at a Black-owned business.
Do you think you can do that?
I think it’s the least we can do, and we must spread this movement across the country. Our dollars speak volumes of positive words but mostly to businesses other than those owned by Blacks. Our dollars also speak loudly – we just need to listen more closely and understand what they are saying. And then we must act upon their messages of power, leverage, and reciprocity.
You know, if Philadelphia sustains the Million Dollar Black Spending campaign, the impetus and catalytic effects from that city alone would demonstrate the strength and benefits of recycling Black dollars like no other movement has done. Philadelphia alone, with its tremendous number of Black businesses, associations, consumers, its history with Richard Allen, the Philadelphia Plan, Leon Sullivan, Ed Robinson, and Kenneth Bridges’ MATAH Network, Kenny gamble, Walter Lomax, anchored by WURD Radio, could serve as the model of how to get Black dollars to make some sense. I trust and pray you will support this movement.
Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.