Brilliant Minds Collective

I Grew up in Harlem, NY: Opinion

 Co-Host of Word on the Street 

Airing nightly on 95.5 FM WSB 


I grew up in Harlem, NY. In Harlem at that time, gangsters and hardworking Black men and women lived side by side. It was the “corner boys” who once ran after a man who stole my grandfather’s Black Buick, caught him, and beat him at the red light while someone ran upstairs and got my grandfather. It was the neighborhood gangster who told a stick-up kid to leave me alone after school one day because “he is gonna be someone one day”. 

I grew up around Black men and women who made money in separate worlds but spent those dollars alongside one another. This brings me to where we are in our politics as Black men and women. 

Why can’t we live in a world where those of us who want Capitalism, small government and less regulations, live alongside those who want big government, more socialism, high taxes and more regulation? Why can’t I, a Black republican, vote differently than you, my Black neighbor? 

I am part Garveyite (less government), part Malcolm X (white liberals are bad) and part Toussiant L’Ouverture (burn the entire thing down). I think like those Black men and women in 1980s Harlem who knew that the hardworking people needed the gangsters, and the gangsters needed the honest working man. They co-existed as neighbors in mutual respect for decisions made in life. 

The vitriol visited upon people like me is one of the most fascinating things you will ever see. Take for instance, calling me and other Black Republicans “slaves on a plantation”. How can it be a plantation with a small number of Blacks? Shouldn’t the other group made up of 90% of Black people be the plantation?

[Editor’s Note: Almost 29 million African Americans registered to vote in the 2022 midterm elections. Of that number, almost 20 million said that they were more inclined to vote for Democratic candidates.] -Pew Research Center 

How is it that I can be accused of selling out, when Black democrats vote every election for the same party who ignores you between election cycles and only gives you cursory attention when they’re seeking your vote. And what exactly are we selling out? People? How is that even possible? I live in the metro Atlanta suburbs, in a working-class neighborhood. I have nothing in common with Black professionals who live in Buckhead or John’s Creek, nor do I have anything in common with Black families in Pittsburgh. Except skin color. And for me, skin color doesn’t make us alike. One of the funniest things I always hear is “all skin folk ain’t kin folk” well, duh. isn’t it obvious? 

I am a student of the Art of War by Sun Tzu. In this book, Sun says ” If you have a smaller army, spread it out and appear to be bigger than you are and attack from several different areas thus appearing to be bigger” 

Based on this age-old battle stratagem, doesn’t it make sense that we vote on both sides of a two-sided system?  

Oh, and by the way, the Gangsters in my analogy are the Democrats and the Hard-working people are the Republicans.  

During the Civil rights movement, every southern segregationist was a Democrat. And every civil rights hero and sheroe sat down and negotiated with these men. They talked to and negotiated with rabid racists to get what they needed. How is it that today many of us won’t even discuss, much less vote for people with whom we can negotiate our needs. We are acting like children who don’t get their way and threaten to take their marbles home. The real world dictates that “enemies” “frenemies” and allies all talk and negotiate to get what they want. Except US…

1 Comment

  1. So well said. Thank you for a clear and direct description of the state of our discourse.

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