Archive for Purnell Pinkney

Scripting America…And The New Body Politic

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Fatherhood with tags , , on November 28, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Purnell Headshotdirector_chair

By Purnell Pinkney

Children derive exquisite pleasure out of playing the game of “pretend.” All kinds of personas are suddenly possible in this game and credibility merely requires holding the attention of playmates long enough to impress and entertain. That’s what children do in their innocence. They play social make-believe games. Adults also play the “pretend game;” it’s called acting, Hollywood, the “silver screen, “Broadway” and a half dozen or so other names. As adults however, “pretending” is serious big-business…in fact it is a socio-cultural, cash-cow industry. Actors of all shapes, sizes, ages, colors and levels of ability, are paid handsomely to pretend that they are not themselves, but rather, that they are some imaginary character freshly minted from the mind of a skilled writer. The “star” actor class in America… the 5% to 10% of them, who earn approximately 85% to 90% of the total wages paid to all of these performers, are generally recognized as “celebrities.”

So powerful has the influence of Hollywood celebrities grown that their cinematic success is now wrongly assumed to indicate… 1) elevated IQ’s and 2) possession of political notions of what is best for the American people. And so the U.S. public finds itself being nudged in a certain social and political direction by a class of people who are, a) paid to “NOT” be their “REAL” selves, b) who must constantly seek the personal approval of the public, c) who as a result of that pursuit are most likely to be neurotic to various degrees, d) who at all costs must maintain their theatrical persona in order to sustain marketability and e) who spend their entire professional lives avoiding the public exposure of their private lives. No one can be reliably certain of when these people are “in” or “out” of character. But so profound is the impact of the images of these folks on the silver screen, that a normally rational viewing audience will abandon common sense and bestow upon these performers some sort of special gift of prescience. In committing this error of presumption, the public inadvertently elevates ordinary everyday people who happen to work in an exclusive occupation to the lofty status of a kind of “American Nobility.” On a wide range of socio-political issues, large numbers of enthusiastic admirers eagerly subscribe to the opinions and judgments of this movie land pseudo-aristocracy. These fans steadfastly refuse to acknowledge that everything about Hollywood, including the actors and actresses, is contrived, controlled, fictitious, fake or imaginary…everything, that is, except the cash raked in by various studios from the revenues generated from the periodic block buster film.

So popular has the trade in fantasy become that Hollywood in recent times has slowly ratcheted up its influence on a dumbed-down public and openly entered partisan politics. Hollywood is now an unapologetically leftist operation. It is using its influence and financial clout to advance the agenda of the leftist elements in American politics by appealing to the naïve sensibilities of America’s millennials and at the same time, troll for the support of independents and minorities. This industry was instrumental in President Obama’s 2008 election and 2012 re- election. Nonetheless, it is now becoming evident that dealing in fantasy while positioning to dispense political and social dogma is a recipe for national chaos.

Regrettably black men in America are innocent casualties of this political “passion play.” The Hollywood version of America’s black men call for violent, misanthropic, unrefined, immature, predatory images and no amount of appealing to the studios to stop the damaging trend has produced results. There are no disclaimers on crazy-violent films that warn that the contents are make-believe…not true-to-life. Where there is viewer confusion, fantasy becomes dangerous; especially for black men in America at the hands of Hollywood studio executives. It can generate false images, untrue characterizations and more importantly, the attribution of beliefs, values and behaviors to black men that are misleading and derogatory. Notice that the unpredictable brute stereotype attached to black men who are actors continues to persist and just as importantly, these characterizations continue to fill the seats in movie theaters.

Having succeeded in casting black men and black communities as hopelessly pathological, Hollywood set its sights on imposing its version of social, economic and political reality on the American public via mass media scripting of certain elements of the secular- progressive agenda. To accomplish this objective, Hollywood relied upon the method it knows best; scripting. Without a script, Hollywood implodes…just as it did during the turbulent Civil Rights, Anti-War, “Academic Freedom” era of the 1960’s.

At that time theaters and movie houses simply became irrelevant as the “real” world of reconciling America’s espoused values with its actual values was publicly debated. During these epic struggles, fantasy was put in its proper place; the bottom of the list of national priorities. Hollywood struggled mightily through that slump and was unable to extricate itself from the decline until it stumbled upon the novel idea of “Blaxploitaion Movies.” The first and most successful of these movies was the block buster film, “Super Fly.” It is the opinion of many that this film, with its all-black cast, single-handedly ended the Black Power movement and the Civil Rights movement in America while simultaneously ushering in a self-indulgent era that glorified and encouraged sex, drugs and criminality in black communities across America. The effects of this movie and others of that genre are still reverberating throughout black communities across the nation.

But the film industry was just beginning to flex its muscles…for it had rediscovered the vulnerability of the American viewing audience to the power of suggestion and cinematic imagery. The transition from influencing pop-culture to orchestrating political thought proved to be an easy task; the apparatus was already in place. The studios had money, politicians, an ideology and an impressionable new audience to engage. This alliance was so powerful and new on the American political landscape that it was difficult to counter; for it had no clearly defined leader or identity to refute or discredit. Consequently, this union of Hollywood and political dogma appeared vague and innocuous. Even more important was that this scripting alliance was so positioned that its objectives appeared to represent the enlightened will of the American people.

The strategic weak link in this coalition however, was the absence of a means of stifling popular opposition to the scheme. To remedy that problem, “political correctness” which had been steadily injected into the public psyche over a period of about 20 years, was the perfect solution…shame and the prospect of public vilification throttled dissent. No one and nothing dared to openly oppose the Hollywood/progressive/leftist agenda; neither churches, not conservatives nor the activist “Tea Party” groups ventured to risk the wrath of this new alliance.

For a while the agenda of this new force was virtually unstoppable … and then something happened. It became increasingly clear that nothing that the liberal-progressive Congress and President succeeded in passing into law, produced the desired results. Consequently, anything they wanted that failed to obtain legislative success was forced on the American public by activist judges and a passive U.S. Attorney General. Though the crown jewel of the Left’s agenda, “amnesty for 10 million illegal aliens” still eludes Congressional passage…it is almost a foregone conclusion that president Obama is “evolving” on the issue and will grant the amnesty before he leaves office in 2016.

Is it possible that the present state of affairs in America is the result of a series of scripted socio-political legislation introduced by the Left and aimed at creating a new version of America by totally dismantling the value system, religious ideals and social mores that have made the United States the most powerful and influential nation in modern history? The answer to this question seems to be a resounding “yes.” If there is sufficient evidence to conclude that Hollywood is complicit in this scheme, then it can be established once and for all that the use of scripting as a political tactic is indeed being used as a device to lull the masses into a sense of false security all the while subjecting the same masses to manipulation by an unprincipled cabal of zealots whose intent is to force their views upon the electorate.

Black men were always suspicious of the sudden and ubiquitous changes being forced upon them and their communities across the nation. Political correctness suppressed the concerns of these men however, and the Left ran roughshod over their sensibilities as the scripting expanded and intensified to encompass freedom of speech on certain subjects and personal behavior with respect to other situations. Nonetheless black men generally acquiesced to the script as it was given to them…if not they risked being accused of violating “political correctness” protocol and faced certain exposure to public ridicule by the media. This situation amounted to a form of psycho-social, high-stakes, behavioral blackmail. So how does this scripting operate in its ordinary and practical application?

Consider these examples:

1. One of Hollywood’s most masculine, macho, tough-looking actors suddenly announces his support for homosexual marriage. A few months later he produces a flop of a movie about a 1960s singing group. His movie was heavily promoted and released. Looked like the studios rewarded him for his favorable public stance on homosexuality. Scripted?? Looks possible.

2. Bill and Hillary Clinton were vehemently against homosexual marriage when President Clinton signed the DOMA Bill in 1996. By 2008 they were vigorously for it and in 2012 they encouraged the U.S. Justice Department not to enforce it laws against it. Sudden conversion…or scripting?

3. Anyone who disagrees with the liberal party-line is a bully, bigot or a Neanderthal. These labels enter the public discourse through the media and gain general acceptance. The use of the labels however, is a misapplication of the terms. Scripting??

4. A mediocre NBA player announced that he is a homosexual and the President of the United States invited him to the White House. Sales of his jersey supposedly skyrocket. At present this player is apparently not on the court but is being used as a “Poster Child” for diversity of any kind. Scripting gone sour??

5. Mr.Obama condones gay marriage and a slew of Hollywood types; male and female “come out” to the applause and admiration of their peers. Some of them were in career slumps and used the “disclosure” to try to re-charge flagging careers. Others had no career and try to use the gay card to jump-start a career in cinema. Actors vie for the opportunity to disclose their sexuality. Scripting??

6. President Obama laments the inaction of Congress on immigration and signals his sympathy for illegals and waves women and children besiege the US southern border overwhelming resources and personnel. It is the largest mass migration of unescorted children across international borders since the Europe’s “Children’s Crusade” to free the Christian Holy Land in the year 1212 AD. Latinos sending their children on a 1200 mile trip alone, through dangerous territory, on the top of freight trains?? No one saw them as they debarked? No one saw them coming toward the U.S. border?? Nonsense…this was a clear case of Scripting.

7. Global warming did not seem to find traction so now the liberal mantra is switched to “climate change.” No explanation for the change is offered.

8. A homosexual football player awaiting his selection to an NFL team announced his gay orientation to the fanfare of national press coverage. After a tearful acknowledgement that he had been drafted in the last round of the NFL draft he kissed his boyfriend in the mouth on national TV and it was replayed over and over ad nauseum by liberal media groups. Weeks later he had a book deal with Oprah and an exclusive interview on her show. A few months later the gay player was released by the Dallas Cowboys, the last team to give him a shot. For whatever reasons, he is no longer in the NFL. There was very little media coverage of his being cut from the squad in Dallas. Scripting gone sour??

9. The media encourages American children to play soccer. Soon a ho-hum American soccer team drafts one of the world’s premier players to bolster sagging attendance at games. US sports media have a field day covering the occasion and the player receives immediate commercial endorsement contracts. The player, Mr. David Beckham leaves at the end of his contract not to return. Americans consistently reject soccer as a mainstream major sport to the dismay of the scripting machine!!

10. A horrific shooting takes place and the script calls for the media to attack the 2nd amendment and gun ownership in America. A solemn President Obama appears on TV to call for much stricter gun control. No mention of the mental condition of the perpetrator is made. The people who have done most of the mass killings in America are proven to be mentally imbalanced. The Script calls for silence if confronted with that sort of evidence. It calls for silence on the murder and mayhem in the streets of President Obama’s hometown, Chicago. In 2011 the city recorded nearly 500 murders annually by criminals with guns acquired by extra-legal means. Scripting perhaps??

11. Common Core was considered the “Holy Grail” of the liberal educational agenda. It has been revealed to be a “Common Crime” against the children on America. The script called for complete adherence to the dictates of the program. The American people are rejecting the plan completely in state after state. Script gone sour??

12. The script calls for the rejection of organized religion and in particular Christianity. Religious organizations have taken to the courts to protect their First Amendment rights and they are prevailing in most cases. Script reversal??

13. The script calls for the Holder Justice department to selectively enforce the laws of the nation.  Suits filed against the U.S. Justice Department are piling up and aimed at forcing that agency to enforce the laws of the land.

14. Using the IRS to blunt the efforts of conservative groups to legally organize was another key element of the script. That plan has been exposed and discredited. Civil and criminal suites have been filed against the IRS and key administrators therein. Script gone awry??

15. Americans want jobs. The script call for a welfare state. President Obama extends unemployment benefits as long as he can to stave off an inevitable crisis resulting from the lack of jobs. Script out of control??

The fundamental change that president Obama promised the nation and by extension, black men, in 2008 is a far cry from the transformation that black men had expected. And besides, the details of the planned transformation were never fully explained. As a result, different demographics had different notions of how the transformation would occur and how they would be affected. African American men naively thought that change meant a new day in employment opportunities, safe communities, health care, education, business opportunities and access to the Oval Office to present the case for black America’s inclusion in the impending prosperity of the nation. Instead they got smoke and mirrors and chastening, condescending lectures on what they needed to do to measure up to the expectations of their nation’s president. The script prepared for black men did not call for their economic advancement or the alleviation of their array of continuing problems. These men were simply written out of the “Hope and Change” agenda, restrained at a safe distance from real political power and given a numbing dose of “benign neglect.” There was to be no happy ending in the script prepared for brothers. Instead they were publicly scolded whenever the opportunity presented itself and made to feel that they themselves were the source of all of their problems…that they would continue to languish in poverty, crime and unemployment unless they accepted the script. Black men seem to have rejected that offer and now they are beginning to reject their critic: the President of the United States. The separation appears to be overdue and perhaps even…permanent.

 

 

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Real Black Men Step Up

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Black Men In America, Guest Columnists with tags , , , on March 7, 2014 by Gary Johnson

David Caruth

By Dr. David Caruth

For five years, Black men in America have waited for President Obama to address the unique set of challenges we face year after year.  We all know the statistics: high unemployment rates, high dropout rates, and high incarceration rates.  Even worse, vigilante killers who murder young Black males walk free because we receive unequal treatment under the law.

Recently, President Obama launched a new initiative, “My Brothers Keeper” in a belated attempt to show concern for the pain Black men and our families feel and experience everyday of our lives.  While I applaud any effort the President of the United States takes to address our concerns, I am more impressed by leaders in the Black community who have taken matters into their own hands.

Last year, Pastor Eugene Sheppard of Living Word Church in South West Washington, DC put out a call for a Black Men Roundtable.  Nearly 40 pastors, ministers, and concerned members of our community showed up.  We discussed ways the Black Church could reach out to Black men in the community to repair brokenness in our families, provide guidance for our youth, and solutions for families who were negatively impacted from failed drug and welfare policies of the Clinton Administration.

In addition to pastors and ministers, Purnell Pinkney and John Kirksey, representing the American Renaissance Movement Inc. made passionate presentations concerning our need to act independently of party politics.  From their perspectives, we need to avoid secular liberal policies and support leaders who share our core values.

We identified 10 areas for concern that we want addressed:

1.               Absentee Fathers in the home

2.               Early education and intervention for our young men

3.               Employment

4.               Adult Education and Vocational Training

5.               Business and Entrepreneur training

6.               Preventive negative behavior intervention

7.               Transformational Change

8.               Mentoring

9.               Substance Abuse Counseling

10.            Job Fairs with on-the-spot interview and hiring

In a recent New York Times article by Michael Shear, “Obama Starts Initiative for Young Black Men, Noting His Own Experience,” Mr. Shear made it plain that President Obama’s belated concern with the plight of young Black males appears to be window dressing to shore up his legacy on race relations in America.

“Mr. Obama’s remarks come as the end of his time in office is in sight, with the president mindful of the legacy that his administration will leave behind on race and other civil rights issues like same-sex marriage and immigration. Mr. Obama has embraced the right of gay men and lesbians to marry, and Eric H. Holder Jr., his attorney general, has aggressively sought to ensure that all eligible Americans have access to the ballot box.” Shear, February 27, 2014.

From where I stand, President Obama’s choices to lead Cabinet-level executive agencies have failed to address the concerns that we identified. In fact, former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp did more to address the needs of the Black community than any of President Obama’s choices to lead domestic policies.

Secretary Kemp made grant funds available to eliminate drug use and fight the violence that comes with it.  We are still waiting for President Obama’s HUD Secretary, Shaun Donovan, to provide leadership that will positively impact the lives of young black males who find themselves surrounded by poverty, drugs, and gun toting vigilantes.  While we wait, I stand with progressive Black men who are not waiting for government to provide solutions to our problems.

Black men should take every opportunity to work directly with foundations and other private entities that understand what one nation under God, means.  Real Black Men need to Step up and provide the kind of leadership that is necessary to help transform our country, protect our youth, and strengthen our families.

As the President of God’s Perfect Timing Ministries, I invite you to join our efforts to eliminate poverty.  Together, we can begin the healing process and live out the true meaning our creed, “one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and Justice for all.”

TRAILBLAZERS AT 7th & T IN WASHINGTON DC

Posted in African Americans, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Politics with tags , , , on March 6, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Purnell Headshot By Purnell (ARMI)

It’s a cool, clear afternoon in Washington D.C. with just enough snow remaining along the edges of sidewalks and in tree boxes to remind pedestrians of the mini-blizzard that just blew through the city. As a colleague and I make our way from the subway station to our destination we face a chilly headwind. We have one corner to turn and we should be almost there. Heading around the corner of the last leg of our short trip, our conversation is about the “Golden Age” of the U Street corridor and all the personalities, clubs and…whoa! Didn’t expect this. There are about 30 people ahead of us and they are in line waiting to be admitted into the building we are headed for. In front of the building is a chartered bus with a sign on it indicating that the passengers are from Ohio. These political stalwarts have braved ice and snow to be here this afternoon. All of us are standing on T Street N.W. in Washington D.C. between 7th Street and Wiltberger Street N.W. This is arguably one of the most famous intersections in the history of this traditionally black area of uptown D.C. known as LeDroit Park. Above us is an elaborate neon sign announcing the location of the Howard Theater…impressive and historic.

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Howard University’s Theater

Today, the junction of 7th and T Street in Washington D.C. bears little resemblance to its former self. The inexorable advance of gentrification is now evident in all directions. There was a time when this section of D.C. bustled with a vibrancy produced singularly by the black residents in this tight-knit community. This was the place where black college students from local colleges and universities, the African American social and political intelligentsia, hustlers of all types and an assortment of talented entertainers – some aspiring and others well-established – melded into a dynamic, organic community. At the vortex of all of this activity was the world renowned “Howard Theater.”

The theater, built in 1910 to provide a venue for showcasing black talent, fell into disrepair after the 1968 riots that devastated the area. Its decline was somewhat analogous to the plight of black Republicans in America’s political party system; after being marginalized, ridiculed and castigated because of their party affiliation by the mainstream media, they are resurrecting themselves almost phoenix-like after decades of popular indifference towards them. On this crisp, brisk day in the first week February 2014 a group of 300 black Republicans gathered at the classically refurbished Howard Theater to honor its distinguished leaders, past and present, for their service and dedication to the party. The venue was highly appropriate and the program, again this year, was poignant in its message while tastefully charming in its format. The Howard University Choir performed a stirring rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” That song affects me in a powerful, personal way and I am sure it made a similar impression upon most of those at the affair.  Thanks to the work of Ms. Kristal Quarker Hartsfield and others, the luncheon was a rousing success.  Honorees included former Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan, former Assistant Secretary of Labor William Brooks and Judge Sara Harper, former U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Jurist and member of the Ohio District Court of Appeals. Each of these honorees shared the highlights of their professional accomplishments interspersed with interesting and entertaining anecdotes.

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Actor and host Joseph Phillips

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Howard University Choir

Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Mr. Reince Priebus, addressed the gathering and urged the continued and expanded effort to engage the black community. He announced a major investment into an initiative to attract a greater portion of the black electorate into the GOP. There is every reason to believe Mr. Priebus’ sincerity as this election is a “must win” for the Republican Party. His message went out to a receptive and optimistic audience. Spirits at the “Trailblazer Luncheon” were high, the music was delightful, and the message was clear…Republican ties to the black community MUST be firmly reestablished. With mid-term elections just 9 months away and the GOP needing 6 seats in the Senate to totally control the U.S. Congress, the opportunity to restore some measure of traditional consistency to American government is well within reach. In tight Senatorial races in November 2014, the black vote might well be the difference between GOP senatorial elective success or its failure.

It was not surprising that liberal political pundits’ reactions to the Trailblazer Luncheon were self-righteously negative. Shrill opposition from the liberal media is actually a sure sign that they are concerned about the GOP’s initiatives aimed at the shifting of black support away from the democrats and toward the GOP in significant numbers. Persistent disillusionment with the Obama administration’s policies and tactics has alienated some of the democrats’ most ardent supporters. Even members of Congress who are democrats and face mid-term elections, are quietly distancing themselves from President Obama; a political act which was unthinkable until the botched roll-out of Obamacare.  At this point, no amount of hyper-criticism of the GOP will diminish the magnitude of democratic incompetence and arrogance that characterizes the present administration’s blunders. The RNC has a golden opportunity within its reach, considering the general disaffection of most Americans with Democrats, to make significant inroads into the hearts, minds and political sentiments of black Americans who faithfully value family, God and country.

So what does it all mean? It should be obvious to even the mildly politically informed by now that the confluence of democratic miscues during an election period…favors Republicans. Smart money has to be with the GOP to dominate in the midterms with momentum for the general election coming off of those interim victories. Barring some Godforsaken GOP self-generated political implosion, right now the Republicans appear to have a “lock” on regaining the Senate in November 2014. And an increasing portion of the black community is eager to be part of the mounting groundswell to oust democrats and return the majority in both the Senate and the House to Republican control. At the luncheon RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus, announced that the GOP was allocating $10 million for the placement of urban outreach staff around the country and that 11 states are presently game-ready. Is that enough of a commitment? Not likely…it’s probably going to take 10 times that amount to make serious political entrees into the black communities of America.  Of course the money is necessary, but African Americans also want to be made to feel that they are a part of GOP renaissance that moving America back to slightly right of center. Republican strategists might want to be planning a comprehensive approach to garnering the black vote; commercials, radio/TV spots, mailings, etc with targeted messages. Some young Republicans of all races should be recruited to carry the Republican message to college campuses…and of course the whole social media stratagem has to be formalized. All of these approaches have to seemingly be utilized simultaneously for the synergy to be effective. There is much work to be done while the window of opportunity remains open. Everyone knows what’s at stake in these national next elections. It may be a defining moment in the trajectory of America’s future.

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From left to right: John Kirksey, former Congressman Allen West, and Purnell Pinkney.

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From left to right: John Kirksey, Raffi Williams, and Dr. David Caruth.

Unquestionably, “The Trailblazer Luncheon” was great, the speeches were highly motivating…but action is the solution to the malaise in the black community with regard to the GOP message.  And as the Democratic foray into hyper-liberalism limps to an inauspicious end, they appear to have inadvertently succeeded in providing the GOP with the perfect opportunity to shift black allegiance away from liberalism and toward conservatism … on a silver platter!  Blacks will return to the GOP in earnest when they see it winning elections again…elections in which black folks helped formulate the party platform. And in this election cycle, victory seems very much straight forward.  To win these upcoming elections, the greater Republican Party has only to take advantage of the democrats’ blundering administrative incompetence while at the same time conscientiously avoiding internecine struggles and then…game, set, and match.

About (ARMI) 

Founded in 2011 by professional black men, the American Renaissance Movement Incorporated (ARMI) is an organization dedicated to the reconstitution of America’s finest economic, social and political traditions. Informal discussions among these men led to the realization that their political identities were not aligned with the aims of contemporary, secular liberal politics, but much more with that of conservatives and moderates on most issues of importance in current national politics. A close examination of the political philosophies of the two major U.S. political parties confirmed that our fundamental belief system was fiscally conservative and socially moderate.

These founders of the ARMI came from diverse geographical regions across America; however, we shared the very same love of family, God and country. They wanted for their families the very same traditional values that served them well as they matured into manhood and took their place among the strong and purposeful men and women of our great nation. As political popularity gradually supplanted rule-of-law among the nation’s highest ranking office holders, these men became increasingly concerned. They chose to break with the pop-culture, media-fed machine created by the entertainment industry which produced an illusion of national well-being within a progressive agenda.  They examined the social, economic, political and cultural conditions of America’s black enclaves and concluded that they could no longer continue to passively ignore the tragic decline of goods and services to these communities. In a relatively brief amount of time, these men realized that their value system paralleled that of a traditional conservative ideology and their political thought evolved accordingly. Once fully formulated, their political ideology favored Republican values, rather than secular liberal politics.

To all Americans of good will, but particularly those who share the fundamental values generated from the love and nurturing within a traditional family, who respect and honor America and who acknowledge the primacy of God, we extend an invitation to visit our site. On the site you will find black political history, glimpses of the long and successful struggle for emancipation waged by American blacks with the support of the 19th century Republican Party, contemporary political opinion, entertaining political satire, suggested readings, selected current events and…all through a conservative black American point of view. Find us at www.visitarmi.org and join us today.  And always remember that …“the American people created our government…the American government did not create the people.” You’re invited to join the ARMI today.

What Price Victory…

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black Interests, Black Men, Guest Columnists with tags , , , on November 1, 2013 by Gary Johnson

Purnell Headshot

By Purnell Pinkney

               Let’s face it…by any measure, the Obama phenomenon is extraordinary. In an unprecedented string of 2007-2008 political wins, he eliminated Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, defeated John McCain in the general election and within months of his inauguration, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  It was an astonishing string of unlikely successes. Almost immediately talk of a second term began to float around Washington D.C. It was a magical time. The prospect of the return of a Camelot-like administration courtesy of President Obama and his family, reminiscent of the John Kennedy years, drifted through the minds of an adoring public. But…there were serious problems with the economy. The solution: bail-outs and quantitative easing…more money, more money, more money. It seemed to stop the bleeding but the structural financial problems remained. In March of 2010, President Obama signed his landmark legislation, the Affordable Care Act. Seven months later, on November 6, 2010, the Democrats lost the majority in the House and Nancy Pelosi was removed as Speaker. With that Democratic loss, any hopes for D.C. statehood faded and a slew of other broad initiatives probably evaporated. The resulting effect was Congressional gridlock and it continues to this day. Nonetheless, President Obama won a second term, courtesy of a narrow popular vote which translated into a landslide Electoral College majority.

               In both of President Obama’s elections, African Americans voted for him in the mid-to-high 90 percentages. In fact, black Americans voted for Mr. Obama at some of the highest recorded levels of modern ballot-box political history. Accompanying this spectacular display of allegiance was the corresponding expectation that black communities would be the beneficiaries of policy initiatives that would begin to counteract their long-standing, seemingly intractable problems of crime, employment, housing, education, health care, infant mortality, etc. Maybe, just maybe…all of those urban pathologies were about to be dramatically reversed. Instead, “The Dream Act,” same-sex marriage, illegal immigration, 2nd Amendment issues and repeal of DOMA/”Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell” became the administration’s domestic priority. President Obama now began to make extreme ideological Left turns; and each time that he did so, some of his most ardent supporters reluctantly disengaged.  Most black people were withholding judgment while trying to discern the motivation and the implication of a sudden cluster of Mr. Obama’s policy initiatives. There was bewilderment at all of the attention and controversy surrounding these Presidential pronouncements but it wasn’t nearly enough to obscure the glaring absence of a coherent African American domestic policy.

               It had taken years for the emotional fog created by the exhilaration of President Obama’s first election to lift. During his second administration when the mystique finally began to evaporate, astute black Americans then realized that they had committed a tactical political blunder of epic proportion. Even worse, as President Obama entered the “lame duck” phase of his presidential tenure this political gaffe was compounded because he was now even less inclined to delve into the “hornet’s nest” of complex issues facing black communities for the purpose of resolution. Granted, that the election of a Republican president may not have produced increased interest in America’s black communities, or for that matter, a more capable leader; but more was expected of Mr. Obama because he was “one of us” and perceived to have a vested interest in the well-being and overall progress of black people in general. Nevertheless, there were subtle indications of what was about to transpire but these signals were obscured by the magnetic personality of the President. It has to be emphasized that the fundamental miscalculation of black Americans was the investment of their political hopes and dreams in the wholesale support and unconditional election of a presidential candidate who never once articulated the policy initiatives that he had in mind for them. Incredibly, the best black political minds in America chose to collectively ignore this gaping tactical oversight and surrender to political pretense. Perhaps it was the case that in the euphoria of having a black candidate in the presidential race, the serious question of accountability would have been too sobering a distraction. Seemingly President Obama’s team recognized this odd political situation and his “inner circle” of advisors further insulated him from affiliating too closely with the black masses. Unfortunately,  President Obama did not have to court the black community to garner their votes…black Americans, in record numbers and in an unusual effort to display racial solidarity, lined up and willingly volunteered their votes: not once, but twice. How could this astounding allegiance occur in 21st century elective politics without the exacting of clearly understood tangible benefits in return?

Here’s how black America probably got into this ridiculous political position. It’s common knowledge that African Americans are vulnerable to the suggestions and opinions of black, high-profile media personalities; in particular energetic radio and TV types who combine entertainment with all-out, party-time political advocacy. These black celebrities are well known and continue their boosterism to this day.  The partisan noise from this group of pop-culture figures and radio/television hosts was used theatrically to effectively overwhelm the ability of the masses of African Americans to employ reason in making informed political decisions or even knowing what questions to ask candidate Obama. Black Americans of a moderate to conservative persuasion were reluctant to chide America’s first black president to direct resources and programs toward African American communities for fear of being labeled as Obama detractors of the “crabs in a barrel” variety. Dissent directed toward President Obama or his policies was suddenly tantamount to racial betrayal. With the absence of an aggressive, countervailing, advocacy organization, moderate and conservative blacks settled into a period of quiet political acquiescence. Amazingly, the shock of President Obama’s evolution on gay marriage, his embracing of the illegal immigrant agenda and his patronizing chastising of an HBCU elicited only a tepid response from black people or their establishment designated black leaders. POTUS was evolving into the diametrical opposite of what black people naively thought he would represent. He was doing so to the rousing cheers of secular liberals who were hell-bent on destroying millennia of human social traditions. These astounding unilateral mandates were all made possible by Executive Order or by the selective enforcement of standing laws. Large numbers of African Americans who desperately wanted to continue their support for Mr. Obama gritted their teeth and begrudgingly attempted to accomodate the “new normal.”  

The rush to legalize various social initiatives by President Obama, many of which were antithetical to the core values of the Black Church, but ideally suited for “new normal” ideologues, resulted in open congregational  division in many black Houses of Worship. But so thorough was the black media’s early frenetic pitch for the support of candidate Obama, that now not a single black cleric would dare to now openly oppose the President’s radical social agenda. Dissent or criticism of Mr. Obama was now being effectively stifled and thwarted by an uneasy political correctness quandary stemming from the reluctance of black intellectuals to be viewed as overly critical of America’s highly esteemed, first black President. The net result of this situation was that the president was effectively absolved of any major obligations to the black community, even though black Americans had voted for him en-bloc at record levels. Without a coherent body of social, political and economic demands coming from the black body-politic, interest in African American issues withered, foundered and faded into irrelevance. Blacks who pressed the Obama administration too vigorously to take action on some of the problems plaguing the black community, soon found themselves isolated, ignored and ostracized by the Obama machine. Those black Americans who succeeded in gaining access to the President were so few and so eager to genuflect in his direction that they only succeeded in further immunizing him to black criticism. Meanwhile …deteriorating conditions in many black communities accelerated and intensified. Even today, the benign neglect of America’s black communities by the Obama administration continues its corrosive advance unchallenged, unrestrained and politely ignored.

The road to present-day African American political irrelevance, superficiality and impotence, was paved by the black communities own  disc jockeys, rappers, teleprompter reading news personalities and the highest profile Hollywood types. It was from these pop-culture sources that the mantra for homosexual marriage slowly filtered into the greater black community, usually cloaked in buffoonish humor, but steadily increasing in urgency until it was assumed by black people to have been condoned by consensus. A constant barrage of anecdotal social trivia interrupted by comical political banter aimed at moving black political consciousness to the extreme Left was, and still is, aimed at the hearts and minds of the African American community. Many blacks voted for and attached themselves to Mr. Obama for the sheer joy of being a part of history being made in American elective politics. Such was the fervor that traditional black political leaders relinquished their normal role as statesmen in the elective process and essentially handed over the formation of political opinion in the black community to entertainers. What should have been a thoughtful deliberative process, the choosing of a leader, degenerated into an ongoing series of festive social affairs which minimized the chance that the public would notice the appalling conditions in the majority of the nation’s black communities. With an ever present opportunity to capture the political and moral high from the entertainment industry, inexplicably, the Black Congressional Caucus opted to head for the sidelines as an observer…not a participant. As an indication of the CBC’s negligible influence with the President, he has met with them on an average of once every two years…for about 90 minutes each session.

Without a cadre of experienced political advocates for African Americans in place during either of the Obama election campaign seasons, voices of precaution were quickly and rudely dispatched. Now the way was clear for inertial politics to be foisted upon the unsuspecting black masses. Nonetheless, black support for candidate Obama reached and sustained high levels of support in each elective contest. But there remained the persistent problem of a glaring absence of any form of a quid pro quo in the relationship between Mr. Obama and his faithful black loyalists. The topic was so sensitive that it was politely, but nervously, ignored and a conspiracy of silence settled over the issue. When the carnival atmosphere that accompanied President Obama’s two elections subsided, only Tavis Smiley and Cornell West, among prominent African American political theorists/leaders, stood apart from the throngs of sycophants lining up to bask in the reflected light of the newly re-elected President Obama. None of the Obama administration surrogates have however, ventured forth to challenge or agree to debate the merits of these men’s criticisms of the Obama administrations. There are even subtle indications now that West and Smiley may ultimately emerge from their period of political banishment as vindicated visionaries. And though the media has eased up on Tavis and Cornell somewhat, neither of them has returned to the status they enjoyed during their pre-Obama days.

               History, as usual, will be the judge of President Obama’s tenure as America’s Chief Executive. What that history must record without prejudice, is whether or not the American black community made progress on his watch. That he made no campaign promises to revive the nation’s black communities is sad, but true. There was simply an erroneous but reasonable assumption on the part of black voters that his election had ushered in an era of newfound respect for, and interest in, the plight of black America; an unfounded, unspoken notion allowed to lodge itself in the vulnerable minds of black Americans. And therein lies the crux of the tragic disconnect that West and Smiley tried valiantly and unsuccessfully to warn against. To counter this grievous oversight, these two began to call for accountability from President Obama and soon thereafter discovered that their message no longer had an audience and that  they themselves had been isolated and discredited.

In the heat of an early political speech 5 days before his historic election as president, Mr. Obama announced to a politically charged crowd, that his goal as POTUS would be to “fundamentally transform America.”  Not many African Americas were quite sure what that vague declaration actually meant. It appears to have been just another platitude-riddled political spiel implying a “new day” but short on the specifics of the planned transformation. Very quickly it became apparent that this transformative vision was focused well beyond the complex, recurring, debilitating problems of Detroit, Chicago and Newark …to notions of social engineering, income redistribution and the like. The obvious uncertainty in all of this was whether or not the President’s notion of transformation necessarily included the assurance of progress for African Americans and consequently justified more than a glance askew at their plight?

Take a casual drive through any of the black enclaves in most of America’s major cities and the answer to the “transformation” as it applies to these Americans becomes self-evident. There has been absolutely no perceptible progress and no detectable change remotely related to positive transformation within that demographic. So perhaps, President Obama’s transcendent elections were actually a pair of “Pyrrhic Victories” for the masses of hopeful African Americans…and they are now too ashamed to claim their error and too constrained by political correctness to publically discuss their astonishingly senseless political mistake.

                                                                                         

The Yellow Brick Road

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Guest Columnists, Trayvon Martin with tags , on August 2, 2013 by Gary Johnson

Purnell Headshot

By Purnell

There is a considerable amount of angst among a growing number of Black Americans that is associated with the present administration’s use of power as well as its dispersal of political largess. Much of the concern is caused by guilt generated from a sense of a fundamental disconnect from the policies and behaviors of an administration that Black folks desperately wanted to succeed and that garnered nearly 95% of the African American vote…in two successive presidential elections. Each campaign was of historically epic implications and closely observed by the entire industrialized world. Nonetheless, at the conclusion of each hard-fought campaign, the business of the affairs of state remained to be conducted. Hard political decisions had to be made in a broad swath of the American body politic; the environment, defense, the economy, employment, etc.  With the apparent interests of the American people at heart, our leader waded into the national chaos and took positions that reflected his politics and his sentiments and succeeded in stemming the tide of imminent fiscal collapse.

Most Americans watched adoringly from the couch in their living room opposite their flat screen televisions. The public wanted to be a witness to the nation’s rescue from the brink of financial disaster, comforted by knowing our country was winning wars in distant lands and reassured that prosperity was much closer than the pundits would lead us to believe. A laundry list of critical decisions was dispatched by the administration in a relatively short amount of time.  POTUS was seemingly gaining ground on America’s ills and winning the admiration of friends and the grudging respect of foes. It was a beautiful thing to see in action.

But after several years and well into a second term, for some African Americans an unsettling feeling was creeping into the political discourse…something was missing. What was being ignored were the issues and concerns of a wounded black community…and these persistent problems were fading further and further from the radar screen of the White House and then they literally vanished…a modern day case of benign neglect.

In recent times, only an impromptu exculpatory speech brought on by the highly controversial trial related to the Trayvon Martin affair, has been aimed at the hearts and minds of black Americans. At this late date, it should be obvious that a very public, very political “mea culpa” will never, and could never, be converted into meaningful legislation for the Black communities of our nation…too little, too late. 

The “Yellow Brick Road” led to discovery and disappointment for Dorothy and friends in the Wiz. Sadly, in the real world the, Black community seems similarly destined for disappointment and disillusionment with its handling by the present administration. 

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