Category Archives: race

Towards a political strategy of increasing black sovereignty …

How white capital spreads like a virus …

I don’t think that one need go through a winding, mundane academic discourse for why blacks in the American jurisdiction need to pursue sovereignty.  Everyday, American social culture tells blacks living in the American jurisdiction that we do not belong here.  Socially, blacks have been lumped into a generic “people of color” box, on the false pretense that non-whites share the negative effects of systemic racism; that we are all in the same boat sitting in steerage while whites enjoy the privilege of capital accumulation, access to credit, better jobs, and higher income.  America’s political left argues that this unequal treatment calls for public and social policy that should somehow put whites and non-whites in equal positions economically and politically.

Members of the Left that take this position lack an appreciation for how much time and man has not changed.  Europeans came to North America, the Caribbean, and South America under a charter from monarchs that, in a nutshell, required exploitation of the land and people found in these places.  Monarchs wanted to expand their national power and enrich their coffers in order to finance the competition they experienced between each other.  They borrowed gold from wealthy members of their respective societies and encouraged their surplus labor with promises of religious freedom, greater incomes, and landownership of their own, to help conquer these new worlds.  By these initiatives, western culture would spread and flourish with non-Europeans being either absorbed as best they could or eliminated.

Non-Europeans were never meant to be included in the governance of these new lands or in the distribution of natural resources i.e. land, minerals, etc., that accompanied conquest.  Blacks were brought to the western hemisphere as chattel slaves, the tools that would plant and harvest the tobacco and cotton plantations of the American south and the sugar plantations of the Caribbean.

And like a virus, this occupation by capital of non-white spaces continues in the form of gentrification, where generous monetary policies by America’s central bank inflated assets already held mostly by American descendants of Europeans which provided the collateral that backed the loans that were used to buy homes under stress in black neighborhoods.  Americans of European descent no longer need to use armed force to wrest land from non-whites.  Central banks now aid Europeans with capital to spread their influence.

Reparations won’t happen …

For the past two or three years, a movement of American descendants of slaves (ADOS) has been advocating for government policy that delivers on past promises by the United States government to provide slaves with land as recompense for physical bondage.  ADOS believes that providing a direct capital infusion to descendants of black American slaves is the best approach to closing the wealth gap between whites and blacks while compensating blacks for the labor stolen from them and used to build the American economy.

Politically, ADOS doesn’t have a chance.  There is no definitive support in either chamber of Congress for any reparations initiative.  The only black American in the race for the Democratic nomination for president, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, has not made reparations a campaign narrative. Given his standing in the polls, he does not have the political capital to offer a policy proposal on the matter.  Without a champion in the executive or the Congress providing stewardship for policy or legislation, reparations will not happen.

The current system poses an existential threat to blacks …

After 500 years in the western hemisphere, if blacks are still fighting to close a capital gap that eliminates the buffer between blacks and devastating unemployment, homelessness, and bankruptcies, then it is time to shift paradigms and create a new political economy.  Civil rights violations stemming from race discrimination. Lack of jobs stemming from race discrimination. Poor education funding resulting from racial discrimination. These issues should be non-existent where blacks are not subject to policies and laws designed by whites for the benefit of whites.

It is time for blacks living in the American jurisdiction to pursue public policy and law that generates a parallel political economy where law, technology, and politics converge to provide blacks with a sovereignty that better ensures their survival.

Blacks should start preparing to manage a future electoral clash between whites and Hispanics…

Blacks don’t have the numbers and it will get worse, unless….

Back in August I wrote the following regarding representative democracy’s failure of black people:

“Representative democracy has failed black people in America.  The representatives from the black community in Washington have been converted into agents for their respective party’s leadership, securing the votes needed so that they can pull up a chair at the trough.  Just like social media has turned subscribers to social networks into resource and product for advertisers, the electoral system has turned black voters into lumps of coal with black congressmen acting as the conveyor belt carrying the coal to the primaries and the national elections.”

In addition to this major fail of black leadership and representative democracy will be the further weakening of black political capital as a result of demographics.  According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the portion of the American population identifying as “black” will increase to 13.3% in 2060, barely budging from the 2014 statistic of 13%.  Meanwhile, the population identifying as “Hispanic” will see their percentage of the population increase to 25.5% in 2060 up from 13% in 2014.

The population identifying as “white” will represent 49.4% of the U.S. population in 2060, down from the 2014 figure of 68.8%.

As a voting bloc, I expect that Hispanics will cement their position as the go-to ethnic group that sways at least the popular vote for president. The current “people of color” movement may have run its course by then depending on how much farther the interests of both groups diverge.  Assuming that blacks and Hispanics occupy in 2060 the regions of the country they mostly occupy today, there may not be a demographic clash.  Blacks still mostly occupy the south and southeastern United States while Hispanics mostly occupy Florida, California, Texas, Illinois, and New York.  Two of the states, California and Florida, because of the number of electoral votes they carry, will continue to influence the popular vote and the Electoral College vote.  Hispanics will be in a position to exercise substantial electoral clout.

This clout may come in handy on policy issues such as immigration and trade.  Blacks have expressed animosity to policy that favors immigration because they see immigrants from Latin American countries as competitive cheap labor.  Hispanics see immigration as access to better pay and living conditions while trade benefits Latino populations living on both sides of the southwestern border where there is an opportunity to access and transport more goods and services at affordable prices.

The issue for black political leaders will be how best to manage a political environment, based on a failed representative framework, within which the struggle for public capital will only intensify. One solution may be to go external and manipulate the system from the outside.

Manipulate the equation…Raise the ante….

Yvette Carnell last night described a voting strategy for getting the Democratic Party to take notice of black voters without black voters giving away all of their electoral capital.  The “down ballot” tactic allows black voters to exercise the option of skipping Democratic candidates for president, vice-president, Congress, etc., where those candidates do not offer adequate public policy in exchange for the vote.  Ms. Carnell stresses that blacks should just not show up, but should instead go to the polls and cast a vote on other issues reflected on the ballot with the goal of letting Democrats know that the voter showed up but did not see on the ballot a candidate that presented an adequate black agenda.

Another tactic I would suggest is that blacks skip the primaries and that this practice should start in 2020. Skipping the primaries raises not only uncertainty in both parties, especially the Democratic Party, but would force the parties to pay more attention to black public policy needs and start preparing substantive packages in advance of election so that packages can be put in place soon after an election.

I believe these are the sort of tactics that blacks should implement now in order to strategically position themselves as the price giver versus price takers.

Conclusion: A more active listening public administrator

There is no guarantee 40 years out that black political leaders external to the government will follow the above strategies in the face of changing demographics and political power.  Public administrators should get in the habit of being forward looking, however, as demands of the electorate in the political markets will call for changes in approach to governance.  To stay valid, public administrators have to listen to two constituencies: the elected official that oversees them, and the electorate that at least in theory oversees them both.



Capital. The true digital divide

A couple early morning thoughts on the digital divide.  So far the digital divide narrative has occupied two schools of thought that are not necessarily opposed to each other.

Race and the Digital Divide

The first school of thought revolves around race.  Given that within the black American community there is a higher level of poor households, affordability is keeping blacks from accessing the internet via high-speed broadband infrastructure.  If blacks do not have the income to sustain a broadband business model, then internet access providers are less likely to deploy facilities in poor neighborhoods.  Lack of deployment in these neighborhoods may result in a barrier to valuable information that may lead to greater economic opportunities, according to advocates seeking to close this gap.

Rural Communities and the Digital Divide

The second school of thought revolves around rural communities.  The argument is that lower population density as compared to urban areas makes deploying broadband access facilities in rural areas more expensive.  In addition, terrain, such as that faced by internet access providers in mountain states, has traditionally added to the problem of higher costs to provide broadband access facilities.

An Overlooked Divide

There is another divide, one that is often overlooked and it has to go to what is known as “first-mover advantage.” The real value generated by the internet is the ability to extract, analyze, package, and distribute information, and have that information be available digitally forever.  The focus on a gap between facilities deployed in black neighborhoods versus facilities deployed in white neighborhoods or the gap between rural community deployment versus urban community deployment goes to seeking out new suppliers of information.  The civil right veneer that has been placed over the broadband racial divide hides this supply-side characteristic from the policy debate.  It has also created the opportunity for the political left to craft an electoral package that can be sold to voters.

It is the other side of the equation, the production side, that, in my opinion holds more value.  When we look at the history of the internet, particularly the period when the internet was commercialized, its players included white venture capitalists; Web 1.0 internet service providers, i.e. AOL, CompuServ, Mindspring, etc.; and dial-up access providers such as BellSouth.

Black Americans could always access information from analog sources, i.e. television; print media; or word of mouth, but the efficient extraction, cataloging,  indexing, aggregation, and distribution of information via the internet were the domain of companies invested in and managed by whites.  As whites continued to level their first-mover advantage, this gap between producer/owner of capital and consumer continued to grow.

Capital not only seeks a vacuum, it also seeks a return.  Returns from investing in black or even rural communities were not going to be as high as returns invested in affluent neighborhoods, neighborhoods whose residents probably owned shares in the very companies that commercialized the internet in the first place.  Closing the “digital divide” means first closing the capital divide.

What will Government Do Next?

Government will do nothing from a capital perspective to close the digital divide. The Federal Communications Commission has a number of universal service funding initiatives designed to encourage mobile and fixed broadband deployment in rural areas; to facilitate the delivery of health care via broadband; and to reduce the costs incurred by low-income consumers for accessing and maintaining high-speed broadband service.  By subsidizing the consumer demand for broadband services, the Commission hopes to encourage the delivery of broadband services.  But again, the focus is on consumer demand, not bridging the capital gap.

The philosophical underpinnings of the American economy, where capital is to flow freely to its best use may prohibit government from taking any concrete action for closing a capital gap.  If blacks or rural residents had sufficient capital to purchase, construct, or maintain broadband access facilities, using their intimate knowledge of their communities to distribute services, we might see a decrease in the gap.  We should expect that government will stay on a path of incentivizing capital investment in infrastructure development versus trying to repair capital discrepancies via a capital transfer.