By David Rambeau
April 24, 2012
Back in the 60s when there was much social and political ferment in our communities, many of those involved in “The Struggle ” were regularly reading writers like Frantz Fanon, Stokely Carmichael, W. E. B. Dubois, Walter Rodney, Malcolm X and a host of others to use as references to make points during the heated public discourse that occurred. Nowadays those who have benefited from that strife seem to have forgotten, and more likely denigrated, the historical perspectives that were brought to bear in the many arguments back then over contemporary issues. As far as I can tell every comment today comes off the top of the head, the cuff of the sleeve or the seat of the pants. Freedom of speech is fine, but you hope they would add some intellectual yeast to their comments. They never do.
The annual interest on Detroit’s debt to its creditors (banks, for example) is $600 million on a debt of about $12 billion or a rate of 5% annually. Negotiate a cut in that rate to 2.5%, the interest declines to $300 million and then Detroit has a tidy budget surplus. No state financial (review) control committee, (three white boys and seven negroes) no control (consent) agreement for the city council (five negroes and four blacks). If you’re keeping a cultural and financial scorecard. (I use the term “negro” in the socio-historical context delineated by E. Franklyn Frazier in “Black Bourgeoisie”.)
And a little wiggle room for the city’s budget and some anguished creditors. But they can handle it. In ten years at 2.5% instead of 5% they still suck $3 billion out of an improverished, non-productive, dependent community, far more than what they deserve.
The banks shouldn’t be getting a quarter in interest after what they did to the people with their sub-prime mortgages, but that’s another story. Have you heard of any pressure the city (the mayor, his minions and the city council) is putting on their partners? That’s right, when you owe your creditors in the billions, they are no longer merely creditors, they’re partners. Or don’t you know how the game is played with the big boys. Check out Billie Sol Estes.
When you need a break they give it to you. When you’re in a tight situation, they better give it to you or you go belly up…if you’ve got any guts. (The system of exploitation has to be maintained without warfare or collapse. That’s what’s happening right now in Europe. We are Greece or Spain or Italy confronting Germany, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.
(Comparative analysis is always instructive, to a point, but I digress.)
At least that’s what you tell them, and let them sweat with that thought for a few minutes. The banks got bailed out by the President, and now you ask them for payback. What can they say, “Go see the colored guy in the White House.”
I don’t think so.
Meanwhile what do these bid whist negroes do, these alienated individuals devoid of history, culture, ideology, organization and identity? They rationalize. They go along to get along; they write mediocre op-ed pieces for the corporate media to disguise their dilemma. Whom do they think they are fooling? They must do something or they’ll have to commit suicide.
However, ghosts don’t have to commit suicide. Ghosts are capable of looking in the mirror, seeing something dark and nappy and believing that it’s relevant. The blues is real; the slam dunk is real. They, in contrast, are an unfortunate necessity for the system, a pimple on the pig’s behind, a well-dressed, suburbanly attired pimple, but a pimple nevertheless. The Black Power political run in Detroit from 1973 till 2012 has come to a close with the control (consent) agreement. We’re back to where we started with minor changes to placate the upwardly mobile and frustrate the masses.
In the 60s and 70s a serious challenge to things as they are, or were, was disturbing the system. After WWII the powers-that-be wanted to return to business as usual, but couldn’t, so when challenged on the home-front, adjustments were made. Eventually we got some affirmative action, some voting rights, an increase in elected officials and a modicum of change, particularly for those in position to take advantage of the opportunities.
However, systems counter-attack, which brings us, in a sentence, to what’s going on in Detroit today. I understand the mayor and the council majority. They get to continue receiving their checks every two weeks, their pensions and benefits, their elected positions of status, their non-union, at-will staffs whom they can torment whenever they choose, and other perks to inflate their egos. So what if they’ve signed away their power and the people’s democratic rights. You can’t have everything. It’s tough out here being a pimp, or a pimple. Anything beats being unemployed or on welfare or being homeless. Besides, nobody is hiring ex elected officials these days.
So what’s next? The unions and the black-blacks (the people of color who holler, and march and present two minutes of rhetoric at government meetings) must punish those who sold them out. They’ve got to recall them. That requires organization, patience, focus, resources and work, none of which are easy to come by. And that’s just the first step. The process only gets increasingly difficult. That’s what makes it interesting and that’s what separates the men from the boys, in addition to history, culture, ideology, study and identity. A luta continua.
This has been another Rambeau Report for For My People. If you want more information, access your public library and read Thomas J. Sugrue, “The Origins of the Urban Crisis”, “Capitalism and Slavery” by Eric Williams, and “The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual” by Harold Cruse. For openers. Post your comments on my facebook site at http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1047977978 or send a letter to the editor.
David Rambeau is a free-lance writer located in Detroit, MI. Access his websites on facebook: David Rambeau – and – Concept East Theater. (Check out http://sylviatestblog.blogspot.com/2012/04/friendsofbroadside-fwd-uban-theater.html for more information on Concept East II.)