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Reality Check


( – It is not an exaggeration to say that day by day, week by week, month by month and year by year most Black newspaper columnists, Black television and radio commentators, Black civil rights leaders and especially Black politicians read, write and talk about Black politics from every possible angle. Unfortunately for Black folks they don’t do the same with the critical subject of economics.

What they and the rest of us need to do is to take time to read a March 20, 2013, column by the gifted Professor James Clingman. The column entitled Putting Economics Before Politics if we want to know the real deal about that important subject.

Clingman’s first paragraph states the following, “It is always been intriguing to me that we have elected thousands of Black politicians since Reconstruction, especially since 1970, while the number of Black economic advocates pales in comparison. While understanding that Black economic advocates are not elected per se, it is obvious to me that if economics is at the bottom of everything in this country, Black people should have at least as many Black economists, economic advocates and economic literary instructors as we do politicians.”

Clingman’s closing paragraph in the same column states that “Economics is about empowerment and our dollars should be used more wisely to that end. Politics is about self-interest and our votes should reflect that truth … The best help is self-help. We must organize and rally around basic economic principles. And until we our really serious in playing the political game, we must wean ourselves of the milk and pabulum of political dependence and get on a steady diet of competitive economics and mutual respect.”

What Clingman is really telling us is that there is no political power without economic power. There may be a limited degree of political influence but to have political power a group must first possess economic power.

Fortunately, there is a growing number of young Black folks following the guidance suggested by Clingman.


  1. Peter Bailey is a journalist, author and lecturer. He was an associate of Malcolm X’s and a member of the Organization of Afro-American Unity.

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