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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 6/23/18

Towards A Progressive 21st Century Black Agenda

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I'm convinced that in this toxic political climate Black communities all across America are in desperate need of a Progressive Agenda for the 21st century. Nothing is more pressing, nay, critical in this toxic environment of open racism, attacks on national, regional and state programs designed to lift Black people out of poverty, and a white nativist arrogance that's seen the muscle-flexing of odious, supremacists groups now emboldened and encouraged by a putrid new political dispensation.

Indeed, the present political situation is also characterized by an impotent, acute lack of Black leadership, a simplistic understanding of political power, a chronic distrust among different Black social strata and classes, economic powerlessness, Black self-hate, and a pervasive feeling of "Black Nobodiness." They are many more ailments that today bedevil and plague the Black community but these, as outlined, will form the basis for my submission of why Black people urgently need a progressive roadmap for the 21st century, and what that roadmap must contain, look like, and the action items needed to make this happen.

For starters its high time that Black people stop blaming others for their plight, take responsibility for their actions and seek solutions that place Black Empowerment and Growth at their core. The power/superstructure and the Establishment understands and knows that when issues of unfairness, injustice, and bigotry are visited on the Black community our reactions are predictable:

1. Our so-called leaders will go on TV stations that we don't own, don't control the narrative, or institutions, and vent for all of 48 hours. Then its back to normal -- until the next injustice happens and we do this never-ending, futile dance over and over again. Albert Einstein called this the very definition of madness. I agree.

2. We'll march, yell, shout, sloganeer and let out our collective rage over a few days then all will be forgotten. This action has yielded little results because by themselves these marches accomplish very little in respect to challenging or changing the entrenched status quo.


Today in America, Black leadership on a national level is virtually non-existent despite the fact that we have more Black elected officials in office now more than any time in our history across the nation, at every level, and most importantly, in the United States Congress. But with the absence of a clear, well-thought-out, and articulated common progressive, people-centered agenda, Black leadership at every level of society is an amorphous, non-monolithic, floundering, and ineffective group of self-serving individuals. This "every man for himself" syndrome has helped to stymie Black growth and development during the first decade of the 21st century. This has to be addressed.


Black elected officials see their office as jobs, and a chance to get great pensions, and health benefits when they retire. They do only the very barest minimum of work and as incumbency sets in they get elected and re-elected with a minimum of votes with the vast majority of people left asking: "what are they doing for us." They don't rock the political boat preferring to just get along with the status quo. Lazy, grandstanding, and only available for silly photo opportunities or dispensing useless citations and proclamations, these Black political leaders would be fired for incompetence if they worked for corporate America. They slide by and get by because of an apolitical community that long ago lost trust and confidence in politicians. People are hard pressed to even remember their names and what they do.

The Democratic Party does not care about Black people because it knows they have nowhere else to go politically. The Republican Party does not care and does not want Black people. So every election Black people vote against their own interests. Black political choice? Talk about the lesser of two evils!


Blacks would laud and support most other races besides their own. There is an inborn distrust and low expectation of Black business success, entrepreneurship, and other economic endeavors. This pervasive negativity has been one of the biggest fetters to Black growth and development in the first decade of the 21st century. Black people routinely point to other races successes, good outcomes, but take a morbid delight in tearing down Black endeavors pointing to other non-Black races as the social and political gold standard for Black progress. In business, Black support for Black-owned businesses is lukewarm at best. Buying Black or encourage budding young entrepreneurs is a "can't do better" activity. The upshot is that while Black spending power is close to $1 trillion, nearly 100 percent of that money is spent outside of the Black community. In the Black community, $1 circulates about once compared to the white community where $1 circulates 18 to 20 times. Bottom line? Blacks continue to enrich other non-Black communities at the expense of their own that remain poor and destitute.


Nobody will take Black people seriously in the 21st century because the Black community is economically powerless. We spend our money outside of the Black community, we don't grow local Black businesses because we don't fully support them, we develop very few large-scale businesses because we refuse to partner with others to grow and expand. So when Black people are shot and killed, victimized and brutalized with impunity nothing happens. The reason? The powers that be know that we can only march, yell and scream. We can do NOTHING because we do not have economic power. We cannot hurt them in their pockets. Law enforcement will not respect us because we can't force change and reform -- our communities are poor, Black and of little consequence. Black political leaders, no matter how well-meaning, from a poor community that does not understand how to harness and use political power will never be taken seriously. Black economic power built on a sustainable long-term business model is the most important part of this 21st century agenda.


Black people spend billions buying skin-bleaching creams, consciously or unconsciously hating anything and everything Black, and adding to one more social fetter to Black development. How can we as Black people progress if we're ashamed of our skin color? How can we love each other if we see everything bad as being black and everything good as white? If Black self-worth is simply the many shades of blackness of our skin, how will we move forward with such a slave mentality that places a superfluous currency on pigmentation? Black consciousness and an understanding of Black History is an essential part of a Black 21st Century Agenda.

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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)

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