MANSFIELD: Striking While the Iron Is Hot

Moneta Sleet Jr., Rosa Parks, Dr. and Mrs. Abernathy, Dr. Ralph Bunche, and Dr. and Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr. leading marchers into Montgomery (1965). Photo via Brooklyn Museum.

There are other aphorisms similar to this title, such as “Make hay while the sun shines” or “Get while the getting is good,” and they all came into common usage to convey a sense of urgency to act when the timing is most propitious. We are entering into the nascent stages of such a time now for black folk in America.

As a child of the ’60s who lived through the Civil Rights era (when some of us truly believed that we had racism on the run, only to be greatly disappointed when it shape-shifted and reemerged even stronger thus leading to civil unrest such as the Hough Uprising in hundreds of cities and towns across the country), I never thought there would be another opportunity for blacks to perhaps make the gains we are on the cusp of at present. Indeed, the window of opportunity appears to once again be opening for us to make substantial strides towards economic equality and parity. I say “appears” because nothing is guaranteed when it comes to racial justice in America as we all know.

Nonetheless, opportunity is like a door that opens, but one that will close if we are not prepared to go through it and seize the time. And due to a number of occurrences, but particularly the brutal death of George Floyd, white America is moving towards a frame of mind that recognizes the wrongness of its ugly past, and some seemingly wants to act to rectify it.

So it behooves us persons of color to take as much advantage of this opportunity as we can. And I’m not talking about coming up with some bullshit schemes that some blacks have learned to emulate by watching and aping whites, but legitimate educational and business opportunities predicated on sound principles and good judgment.

For instance, Tech Elevator, an organization located in Midtown, is launching a 14-week coding and career prep boot camp and is committing $1 million to launch the “Represent Tech” scholarship program “designed to support historically underrepresented groups, creating greater accessibility and inclusiveness for careers in technology.” And it is not alone.

Other organizations, foundations and institutions (and even individuals such as Beyoncé) are dedicating funds to assist existing and start-up black businesses. So my advice for young people of color is to dust off those business plans, make sure they are as tight as possible and step up to the plate, realizing that while nothing is guaranteed, “closed mouths don’t get fed.”


Cheap Wealthy Democrats

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday voted to allow Florida “to block more than a million convicted felons from voting if they have outstanding court fines and fees after serving time behind bars. The justices chose not to overturn a hold on a federal appeals court ruling that would have enfranchised the voters.”

During the 2018 midterm elections, the voters of Florida voted overwhelmingly to finally give the vote felons. But then the incoming Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, immediately began efforts to push a bill through the state legislature to negate the will of the people by creating what amounts to a poll tax.

Now that the court has ruled, Democrats are wringing their hands since most of the disenfranchised individuals are black and would most likely vote for Biden in the upcoming election. But instead of hand-wringing they should be taking action.

While I don’t have exact figures on the average amount each former felon owes in fines and fees, an educated guess puts the figure under a thousand dollars, and not all of the 1.6 million former felons are in arrears with the courts.

What should happen in a perfect world is Michael Bloomberg, who has promised to use his billions to help Biden, steps up and pays off the fines and fees for those disenfranchised. Really, what is 10 or 20 million dollars to him? Chump change.

Failing that, Democrats nationwide should raise the funds. That’s what Darien Pollock, the founder and president of the Street Philosophy Institute, Inc. “a non-profit research organization dedicated to promoting civic engagement and political literacy in marginalized communities, particularly in the rural South” is trying to do. He set up a gofundme page but so far has only been able to raise a little over $2,900. I just donated to it.

If the Democratic Party is serious about beating Trump it would find a way to enfranchise the million-plus voters in Florida instead of moaning, whining and complaining about the Supreme Court decision.

From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsIn

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