By James Clingman
It’s interesting how the young folks have started using a term that describes what the older folks should be doing. I hear young people saying, “I’m grinding,” and I hear older folks whining. Young people know they have to “just do it,” as the saying goes, in order to achieve their dreams. In many cases they are willing to take risks and forego the creature comforts that could accrue to them via high level corporate salaries. They are willing to sacrifice in order to pursue their own path in life, unconstrained by the “rules” someone else sets for them.
We older folks are not as willing to do the work appertaining to progress; instead we are still relying on politicians to make things better for us. We do a lot more whining than grinding when it comes to our collective – and sometimes even our individual economic freedom. I hear it on the radio and on news shows all the time from so-called leaders and from so-called liberated Black folks. They whine about what the “Man” is doing to us, how our collective fate is not in our own hands but someone else’s, what “we need to do,” how “unequal” we are in income, wealth, and social opportunities, and how many of us are in prison. They can recite all the stats and all the history surrounding our current demise.
They reminisce about Kemet and other ancient African contributions to the world. They talk about “Black Wall Street” and invoke the names of our great icons; and they continue to lament and chronicle, as Maulana Karenga says, “Litanies of lost battles.” While many of us are very adept at talking about our problems, far fewer of us are willing to get into the fray and do the work to ameliorate our problems – even though the solutions to our problems are relatively simple to implement.
Co-convener of the One million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors, Amefika Geuka, wrote a “Black Paper” in 2007 in which he stated, “[Our] vision is of a transformed Black community where our people radically improve the quality of their lives and surroundings. We will accomplish this by implementing programs and ventures designed specifically for the unique needs of people of African descent – without apology! This will result in the complete elimination of the ‘slave mentality’ and dependence on the gratuity of others that it promotes. We will cease to be the ‘weakest link in the chain,’ or weakest ‘patch’ in the ‘quilt-like’ fabric of American society and that of the world.”
Rhetoric not followed by action is meaningless; and whining not supplanted by grinding only displays weakness and apathy. Booker T. Washington said, “The world might pity a whining nation, but it will never respect it [until it respects itself enough to do for itself].” If we would turn our whining into grinding, not worrying as much about the external factors but concentrating on our internal resources with which to “accomplish what we will,” Black people would be much better off.
Politically speaking, Black folks are now so engulfed in Presidential candidates, thinking once again that our salvation somehow lies within them. Some of our Black political hacks are whining about which candidate will do the most for us, which is kinda like two enslaved people arguing over which plantation and “master” are better. If we continue to seek the largess of a political candidate without having a reasonable assurance that he or she will do more than talk about our situation, we will continue to get the same thing we have always gotten from them: more rhetoric. Stop waiting to hear their patronizing words regarding Black issues; start demanding what we want, and then be prepared to respond with our votes and our dollars. We must negotiate from a position of strength not with idle threats and saber-rattling, but by withholding our votes and our dollars if they do not support our demands. What do we have to lose?
The State of North Carolina is currently being economically punished because of its stand on which bathrooms transgender persons can use. Corporations are withdrawing their dollars and other threats abound by athletic groups and such. Question: Why isn’t the same thing happening on behalf of Black folks when it comes to voter suppression in that state? Have you heard any corporation threaten to leave or boycott Carolina on behalf of Black people?
The POTUS even spoke up for the transgender people. Similar to the Indianapolis, Indiana case and the purported discrimination against gay people by businesses, corporations said they would move and the NCAA said it would cancel its events in that city if the law was not reversed. Guess what. The law was changed.
We are too busy counting votes to realize that our dollars count for more. Stop Whining and Start Grinding.