Let's Create Our Own Economic Future
Divide and conquer tactics and strategies have been used to control Black people in America since the very beginning. From "freed" versus enslaved, to Black versus Mulatto, to house versus field, to pulpit versus pew, to affluent versus poor, Black people have been played like a cheap harmonica in a successful effort to keep us apart from one another.
In many cases we have been willing subjects because of the programming that caused us to believe that we are not quite "good enough," that we don't quite "measure up." Thus, we continue to run away from our brothers and sisters rather than rally together to obtain the rightful position and status that we have earned and certainly deserve in this country.
The game of divide and conquer, as it is played on Blacks is analogous to the game of Tennis, especially when there is a shut-out in process.
I always wondered why they call zero points "Love." So I looked it up and found that it comes from the French word, "l'oeuf," which means egg or zero. It's strange to me that the person who has no points is saddled with the term "Love," but it also reminds me of Black people in this country.
Collectively, in many cases, we have not scored; we have "love" and our opponents have won the game as well as the set, and they are sending aces in our direction everyday trying desperately to win the entire match. Our defense is not a good offense; it's a small racket with broken strings. Our end of the court is muddy and sloppy, while the other end of the court is lush, green, and freshly manicured to assure firm footing for our opponents.
They are serving all the time; we never get a turn at that. They even get to play doubles against us as individuals, and they hit the ball harder than Venus and Serena combined! We are too busy trying to get out of the way, trying to avoid being hit by their onslaught, to think about winning the match; we just want to survive.
Meanwhile, other Black people are standing the sidelines, watching their brothers and sisters get hammered on the court, and they are not about to pick up their rackets and get into the game.
The tennis analogy speaks to our score, our fight, our plight and the futility of individuality over collectivity. We are in "love" with those who are beating us down. They are way ahead in the game, and we are in "love."
We get the emotional reward of feeling good, while they get the substantive economic rewards of writing all the rules and controlling the game. Did I mention they also own the court?
Ownership and control of the wealth of this country are paramount to the progress of any group that lives here.
Black people have resided here since the country started, and we own very little of the wealth and resources, much less make any of the rules that control the game. Black people should revert to the economic practices of our parents and grandparents prior to integration. They aggregated their resources; they supported one another; they built their own "tennis courts," managed them and wrote the rules for them as well.
Yes, divide and conquer soon came in the form of the fear of being physically destroyed and murdered, as in the case of the Tulsa atrocities in 1921. Then the divide and conquer tactic came in the form of expressways through every Black community, under the mantra of "Urban Renewal," creating dividing lines that pushed us farther apart.
Now the game has been elevated to an even more sophisticated level. Some Black people are made to feel they are better than other Black people because of their status, their material possessions, their abilities, and their education. We have acquiesced to so many strata among our people that it is hard to figure out who is where, the broad categories being, of course, the haves and the have-nots.
Divided, we have fallen to a low level of respect from others as well as among ourselves. Divided, we have gone from a people who would take things into their own hands and do for themselves, to a timid, tepid, tired people who depend on "programs" and outsiders to "rescue" us -- after they were the ones who put us in this situation in the first place. Divided, we have come to the point of now having to make a final decision on the future of our children.
Are we going to continue to play tennis on that sloppy, mud-filled end of the court? Are we going to continue taking those monster serves and volleys without the slightest chance of returning them? Will we keep playing the game with a worn-out, 45-year-old political racket, rather than arming ourselves with a brand new economic racket?
If we don't change the way we play the economic game, we will soon be hearing the umpire say, "Game! Set! Match!" And we will have lost the game of our lives.
James Clingman is an author and the founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce.