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Sunday
Apr 20th

MATAH: Time to demonstrate economic self-interest, power

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You knew someone would use this line sooner or later, and considering what happened on the latest, “most crucial election” in our history, I could not pass up the opportunity to ask the question, “Can you hear me now?” Why? You knew someone would use this line sooner or later, and considering what happened on the latest, “most crucial election” in our history, I could not pass up the opportunity to ask the question, “Can you hear me now?” Why? Because I have been writing this column since 1993, telling our people to wake up from our political deep sleep, and move toward collective economic empowerment, and it seems most of us still fail to heed the message. After seeing the latest “selection” of those who will rule the political roosts for the next two to six years, I ask, “Can you hear me now?”

In my neck of the woods, the local Black politicians, as well as a few national ones, told us once again that this election was crucial (aren’t they all?) and it was imperative for Black folks to get out and vote to change the political landscape of our city and the country. I have not seen the final results, but I would venture to guess turnout among Black folks was once again quite dismal. They know us so well, they predict low turnout when it rains. That’s ridiculous! On election Tuesday, I drove 500 miles, every mile of which was in a driving rain, to get back to Cincinnati in time to cast my votes. I am not buying that rain excuse, but I do understand why some of our people don’t vote. The more we do it, the less power we have.

We woke up on Wednesday after the election and found no Black person with any significant control in this country’s entire political system. No Black governors and no Black senators, in 2002, despite our being here since the country started. Does that mean anything to you? Does it say that we have been doing something wrong? And, already some of our Black leaders are telling us to get ready to vote in 2004. Is that the best they can offer us?

We get so hyped for elections that we lose sight of what happens between elections. In case you haven’t heard, economics happens, folks. Business happens. Economic empowerment happens. The question is: What do we do between elections? Do we wait until the next “crucial” election, or do we build our businesses and lay the foundation for an economic future for our children? From what I have seen, the answer is obvious.

But, can you hear me now? Can you hear me when I say we must change our attitudes and our actions when it comes to economics? Can you hear me when I say, “Wake up, my people?” Stop placing all your eggs in the political basket, please. If a Katherine Harris and a Jeb Bush can get elected and re-selected in Florida, of all places, doesn’t that tell you something? Can you hear me now?

If what was anticipated to be a new day for the Democrats to control the Senate by an even greater margin and maybe even take over the House of Representatives, as some predicted, if that turned out to be the biggest debacle since the “Contract on [Black] America,” can you see a need for change? If you thought Black folks had political power before this election, what must you think now? Black folks don’t control jack in the political system. You know it and I know it. And, as Martin Delany, Booker T., Marcus Garvey, and many others have told us, if we want to control anything politically, we had better get our economic act together. Can you hear me now?

I am not saying I told you so; I would never do that. I am only trying to get us to change directions. I love our people too much to sit idly by and not continue to share these messages of empowerment. But the next step is yours. What are you going to do?

There is the MATAH Network, the work of which carried our brother, Ken Bridges to his death after he and other forward-thinking brothers and sisters culminated one of the biggest deals in Black business history with Grenada Nutmeg Oil (GNO). MATAH has also formed a partnership with Mariandina Nutritional Products, developed by a Black doctor from Africa. What are you waiting for
 

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