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Romancing the ‘power to vote,’ ignoring our ‘voting power’

James Clingman | 3/20/2014, 2:57 p.m.

The late Amos N. Wilson, an author and assistant professor of psychology at City University of New York, wrote, “The idea that [Blacks] can exercise effective power, political or otherwise, without simultaneously exercising economic power is a fantasy … In the absence of access to and influence on relevant government centers of power, the absence of an ‘independent’ political party, and the absence of an influential, wealthy, nationalistic upper or leading class [Blacks] are unable to effectively secure [our] special interests.”

For example, Wilson also said, “We have a leadership that talks about income equality. A man can have $1 million of land and get an income of $10,000, and another get an income $10,000 working for someone else. Even though they have equal incomes, they are not equally wealthy.”

Politics leads to incomes; economics leads to wealth. That’s why back in 1998 I coined the term, “Blackonomics” rather than “Blackolitics.”

Brother Tarikh Tehuti Bandele wrote in 2006, “Indeed, Black people should register to vote, but not to become lackeys for [any] Party … voting, by itself, should never be looked upon as the ultimate solution. Voting is but a tactic, a strategy, or a means to an end … far too many are promoting the idea that all Black people need to do is vote, and heaven is just around the corner.”

We want “voting power” but settle for the “power to vote.” We fight for the “right to vote” but fail to “vote right.” Voting is a means to gain political power, not an end that simply allows one to participate. If we fail to follow that truism, we may as well not vote.

Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati. He can be reached through http://www.blackonomics.com.