After Roy Moore-Where Do Blacks Go from Here?
Courtesy Photo-Charles Moore Jr.-CPA
Roy Moore, a Republican candidate to the U.S. Senate, came on the scene as an individual that revealed some of the most extreme views held by any segment of the American people. In Alabama, a State where there was a perception that such extreme views could still exist, he ran amidst allegations that arose of him having sex with underage girls. Those allegations were being made by individuals that were children at the time, but were clearly women during the time of the election. The Governor of the State of Alabama came on TV and decreed that she believed that Judge Roy Moore was guilty of sexually assaulting the young women, however she would still vote for him before voting for his democratic opponent. This statement, for most of the remainder of the Country, seemed purely outrageous that a woman would be alright with the victimization of underage girls for the sake of political gain. Even more outrageous is that the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, also sided with this alleged rapist pedophile and persuaded the Republican Party in the State of Alabama to bankroll this extremely flawed candidate. During Roy Moore’s campaign he also stated, “…the best time for this country was when slavery was legal.” This statement was surely an attempt at race baiting an audience that already believed America’s melting pot was causing them to have less opportunities. It was believed that the only way that Judge Moore could win this race, with the overhanging of child rape allegations, was by stoking prejudice. This is another move playing out of the playbook used by the President of the United States, who used this tactic to propel himself into the presidency in one of the greatest upset victories in modern electoral history. In addition, no Democratic had won a U.S. Senate seat in almost three decades in Alabama. Of their 7 U. S. House of Representative seats, only one Democrat represents the State of Alabama. You can clearly say that this is a Republican dominated State or, in political circles, called the Consensus Red State.
Although Roy Moore was a flawed candidate, you see why he still had a fighting chance given the scenario that is described above. The Democratic Party believed that in order to win, there had to be a strong turnout among African Americans citizens throughout the State of Alabama. There were some celebrities and black politicians with national recognition deployed to the State of Alabama to convince African American citizens to come to the polls to prevent Roy Moore and his backwards ideology from being elected. These efforts were needed to assist Doug Jones in being elected where no Democrat had been elected in Alabama in the U. S. Senate in three decades.
I talked to my cousin Jackie, whose family lives in Alabama, and there was no consensus from African Americans that the turnout would be significant enough to prevent a win by Roy Moore. At the end of the day, African Americans came to the polls as requested and provided the necessary boost that led Doug Jones to victory in the U.S. Senate in a nail biter.
One of those celebrities that campaigned hard for Doug Jones was none other than, Hall of Fame basketball player and TNT commentator, Charles Barkley. After the win, Charles was asked, “What do you think of the election?” and he said that, “the Democratic Party has to do more for Blacks”. Wow, that is a shocking comment given the fact that 97% of all African American votes are cast for Democratic candidates. So, how can a whole race of people continue to vote for the Democratic Party, as Hall of Famer Charles Barkley states, that needs to do more for the African American population? Not doing enough for a group that gives you a monopoly on this voting block that totals 43,000,000 Americans or 13.3% of the population? That’s an incredible statement. This article will address my view of the accuracy of that statement and then possible solutions for improving the situation.
When “Sir Charles”, as those in the basketball community call him, states that African Americans should get more, what specifically is he talking about? I haven’t talked with him but what I believe he is discussing is “money” and having a piece of the American dream. Is this true or is it “Fake News”? So how is the Democratic Party able to maintain a stranglehold on black votes and not provide economic support? Well let’s explore the following questions. What is it that Blacks want? Who is going to ask for it? If we don’t receive it, what is our recourse?
Let’s explore a few of these questions. Who is going to ask on our behalf? This presents a problem at this point. There is no designated body to speak for the African American or Black community. Most of our leaders are not appointed, but anointed by the same people that are not providing the opportunities that Charles Barkley discussed. Currently, our primary leaders are social by nature and not economic groups. During the political campaigning process, most politicians parade through the Churches to gain access to the Black community. During Sunday worship services you can see politicians or their surrogates, Democrats and Republicans sitting in the pews waiting for their QUE to come forward to speak to the congregation. No other race provides this forum for politicians to bypass economic groups and door-to-door campaigning, while in the process of selling individuals on their political platform and policies. We have replaced the people’s political will with the churches’, as a primary source of scrutinizing political opportunities for African Americans.
The second group type that represents African American interests are civil rights and social organizations, i.e., The NAACP, Urban League, etc. As you can see, these organizations are social in nature and neither type has a primary mission of economic advocacy. Depending on the church to “ask” is troubling because church participation in the African American community is at an all-time low. If you go to the NAACP’s national website their Nationwide membership is 425,000 or less than 1% of the African American population.
This could explain why currently, the Democratic party is at a loss as it relates to economic advocacy, partially because they are looking to our historic leadership structure, the black ministers and the black civil rights groups. If you clearly look at their mission, it is primarily for social advocacy and not economic advocacy. In fact, if you take it further they are both 501(c)(3) organizations that are prohibited from advocacy, based on their nonprofit designation. I believe that we are getting the social gratification, street names for our leaders, programs for diversity, programs for lending, programs for change, but little to no economic results. That doesn’t mean that there are no well-meaning, hardworking, and dedicated individuals that advocate for change.
One question is: What do we want? That answer is jobs, contract opportunities (Private and Government), grant opportunities, high quality education, safe neighborhoods, and equal opportunity. We must solve our primary problem which is “WE LIVE IN THE CAPITAL OF CAPITALISM WITH NO CAPITAL AND LIMITED CAPITAL ACCESS.” If we can solve that problem, a lot of the other problems will solve themselves. I will give you a perfect example, the City of Detroit is going through a great renaissance led by billionaire Dan Gilbert. He was able to corner the market because he had access to capital. When he started to invest, there was no business case for lenders to invest in Detroit. Primarily because he could go to the capital marketplace to create interest in a speculative unmatured market he was able to corner the market. Most capital that African Americans have access to, is primarily through lending programs specifically for small and economically disadvantage individuals, which have a million strings in the process and moves slower than business speed. Therefore, only a limited set of us can participate in the capital markets because almost every “i” must be dotted and “t” crossed.
I don’t blame the lenders, because one of the C’s of credit is Character. It is extremely difficult to evaluate the character of people you just don’t know. Are you going to risk your job for a group of people you don’t know? It is not solely the problem of the majority in America to solve the problems of African Americans. As far as business opportunities go, I have participated in many small business programs. It is abundantly clear to me that the diversity programs themselves are the diversity within the Corporations and Government contracting. Fewer than .5% of African American businesses get government or corporate opportunities. There are some small groups of minority businesses that get these opportunities but those opportunities in total are small in comparison to the opportunities or the economic stimulus that our spending habits provide to the economy. The group’s business executives and political leaders in most cases, have limited opportunities for job and contract growth within these diversity programs. Those programs are usually loosely funded, understaffed, and the employees have little authority to drive minority or small business growth. In fact, they are mostly staffed with African Americans, which act almost like human shields. If there is a protest or dissatisfaction with the program the African American that heads it gets the blame. So, most of us shy away from criticizing diversity programs to protect the individuals who staff them.
The question of who makes the ask is very complicated. Our social leaders have been making the ask and it hasn’t been broad enough for the group, nor did it hold enough weight to drive change. African Americans have continued to receive crumbs. Small groups of pastors, business executives, and civic leaders are spread out city-by-city and state-by-state and their collective awards are crumbs. They may receive small benefits, but it equals less than .5% participation. As a result, their bounty is so small their ability to share the wealth is limited to their close friends and associates. African Americans are left in a place where they feel unappreciated, feeling that their votes have been taken for granted.
Now we have another problem. Since the larger group is not benefitting, they no longer participate in the election process and the Democratic Party is paying the price locally, statewide and nationally. It took an extreme case like Roy Moore to get Blacks out to the polls. Without a Roy Moore in every election, Democrats are in trouble. You had better believe that in the next election cycle, Republicans will be coming after Black votes with economic, instead of social, incentives. Why? Because we are cheap. We only receive .5%, they can double that, which is still small compared to the U S and world economy. For everyone that states that this would reduce opportunities for other Americans, it simply is not true. In the world economy it would just give the U S more goods and services to sell to the world and improve the overall economic climate in the United States.
The first part of the solution is that African Americans must start working together. That doesn’t mean you have to like one another, but we must be able to tolerate and improve the trust factor in one another. Just take a second and ask yourself how many Blacks actually have partnerships or joint ventures for growth? I have been in business 26 years and I know very few. To that end, I believe the “First Step after the Dream” is that we push for 21,000,000 African Americans to join the NAACP. The reason is that the NAACP already has a national footprint with 2,200 offices and a structure that can be used to get a consensus of most of the African American community. Unified, we can formulate and list what we collectively desire to “ask” of our politicians and business executives. This will bring together the churches, civil rights group, black business executives, and grassroots organizations. If we really want change, then we must speak as one voice. That doesn’t mean that we will all agree, but at least everyone will have input on what is asked; which is a missing ingredient now.
With most of these social groups, their primary funding sources are corporations and politicians, that don’t provide opportunities. Their contributions come in the form of support for programs, tables at dinners and events, etc. Contributions to these organizations are an essential part of their budgets. If we can get 21,000,000 people to purchase membership in the NAACP at a cost of $100 per year, we can generate $2.1 billion that will give us the flexibility to independently advocate for more economic inclusion.
To resolve the issue of these organization being a 501(C)(3) and not being able to advocate, we will create a 501(C)(6) organization as a spinoff or branch that will provide the advocacy, or we can work closely with the Business League. The Business League can advocate for business opportunities for the 2.9 million black businesses and can also provide these organizations a voice. We must start a Political Action Committee, because votes are one thing, but money is the true driver of opportunities in America.
So where do we go after Roy Moore? What are our “Next Steps After The Dream? The simple but powerful steps I have outlined in this article hold the key to African Americans collectively converting social handouts to economic opportunities. Yes, the Democratic Party needs to do more for Blacks, but we have a few things we can do for ourselves.