Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I held off on the whole political reviews for the front running Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama, but recent events have snatched me back to the pen and paper. The Clintons were in Harlem. Actually the Clintons were in Harlem for a while since Bill Clinton held down Prime Real Estate up on 125th Street since the summer of 2000. I know I keep going back to this day but when he arrived, the Black residents of Harlem gave him the Red Carpet treatment. Some of it was justified but in the back of my mind I had misgivings about the level of festivity and adulation given to one man. Even if that Man opened up opportunities for “all” Americans and we (Black People) were able to benefit from those opportunities as well.

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it”, was never so real for people in Harlem. I recall conversations and the Public Relations Hoolpa of the media when Bill Clinton was looking for his Presidential Office in New York City. As a community activist and political analyst, people usually looked to me as the Man who sees conspiracy in everything political, economic and social issue but the truth of the matter is, I base my opinions on patterns, stated and or proven actions and a talent for seeing the loopholes in government, laws and business that the so call "Professional Analyst" seem to miss..

The Congress rejected Bill Clinton’s original real estate interests, which was in the famous Carnegie Hall Towers in midtown Manhattan. The whole issue was one of sticking it in the eye of Bill Clinton as he exited the White House. You had a newly elected George Bush and Dick Chaney in office and a newly elected Republican majority in Congress who with all things Clinton were all about throwing him to the curb on on his Ass as quick as a Tsunami wind. To give Clinton his way for Prime Midtown Manhattan was not going to happen so to the rescue, Congressman Charles Rangel worked out a deal to bring Bill Clinton uptown to Harlem. The move was made, signed and dealt to the residents of Harlem. Once he began moving in the furniture, the PARTY began. The swooning and swaying of the gospel choirs, the podium preaching, flag and banner waving, picture taking and dancing, the bullying of how “we showed them” cheered made me step back with pause. In my mind I said, "Something ain’t right with this picture. You just don’t get something this BIG without a price".

Then I began to see the players, Charles Rangel, Adam Clayton Powell IV, Rev. Calvin Butts, Rev. Dr. Floyd Flake, C. Virginia Fields, Jesse Jackson and Jesse Jackson Jr., even attorney Johnny Cochran (may he rest in peace) got into the mix and many others positioning themselves for the windfall that was to come with ex-President Clinton's move to Harlem. Those windfalls came to Harlem in the form of 5 Billion dollars for Upper Manhattan (Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood) as community improvements, Grants and Loans. Funds that were to create the Empowerment Zone, Minority Small Business Development Centers, Empire State Development Corp., Educational Improvement Programs, Early Child and Pre-K Schooling Programs, Home Ownership Programs, Minority Contracting Jobs for New York City Residents and Waterfront Property Development Bonds.

As Black and Brown people in Harlem, inspired to build upon the limited economics that the Clinton years brought to them and ready to apply it within their own communities with that of the additional economic stimulus package, began to collectively map out their strategy for change. Knowing that aid from the New York State and Manhattan governments consistently invested south of 103rd street, Harlemites prepared to wait in line to ride that ride of their American Dreams in Harlem with aid specificly for them and having the CHAMPION of the People to protect them. Unfortunately no one told Harlem citizens that the economic stimulus package was not for them but for those willing to come on board to expand and assist Downtown into Uptown and for those who are on the Winning Team to make this happen would received the benefits for making this worth while. At the expense of those that have the desire to PLAY FAIR, they hold on to the scraps and bones thrown to the side of the road.

The lists of Gentrifying Atrocities are a mile long and the players involved in making this happen have made great financial strides in building and solidifying their generational wealth at the expense of Harlem residents. The players range from the aforementioned to the wealthiest developers such as Donald Trump and Bruce Ratner (add Jay-Z and Michael Jordan to the list of Ratner investors) to Ford Motor Group, Columbia University brokering deals behind closed doors and expanding into Harlem by use of imminent domain arguments, and Large Corporate Retailers and those entrepreneurs loyal to Team Windfall.

Its what the facts are, political analysts have observed, demographics have detailed and all Harlemites have witnessed their diminishing numbers as residents since the ex-President's arrival to the neighborhood. Some would argue that the events post 9/11, the failing economy, the invasion in Iraq, crime and other socio-economic element have cause the down turn in Harlem. Not true. Harlem actually prospered more during the period of 2000 until 2008 but only for those within that Windfall Circle and under that Most Favorite Business status of the Empowerment Zone and the Clinton deal. So the numbers of Black and Brown residents out of the debate, the discussion, the investment and ultimately in the cold continues to grow with the excuse being the BUSH ADMINISTRATION.

Fast forward to 2007/2008 and you have Hillary Clinton courting the Black and Brown vote in New York City. Both Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton have campaigned in Harlem up on 125th Street. Obama in a rally on the stage of the Apollo and then with a quick bite to eat with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Hillary accepting the support of Rev. Calvin Butts of the Abyssinian Baptist Church. For those who don’t know, the Abyssinian Baptist Church is to Harlem, New York and the North as Ebenezer Baptist Church is to Atlanta, Georgia and the South. Although I cannot speak to the leadership of Ebenezer, the people of Harlem can of the hording of opportunities; economic opportunities and favoritism consolidated by the Rule at Abyssinian such as its establishment of a Contracting Group, which hired NO HARLEM BLACKS and investigated for having illegals workers on the payroll. As Rule, which underhandedly ostracized the interests of the people, corporate and wealthy interests moved into Harlem from both the front door and back door with the tools of gentrification handed to them from those who were Charged with protecting the interest of its people politically and spiritually. Who is at the head of the Abyssinian Baptist Church? You will find Rev. Calvin Butts on its throne, the same Butts that had recently endorsed Hillary Clinton.

This is a problem, not only for me, but also for Harlem residents who are already swayed towards voting for Barak Obama. The notion of being burned again is unsettling for a people who are already fighting like Palestinians holding sticks and stones against tanks, jets and high-powered rifles. Now I know someone will read that last statement and call me anti-Semitic BUT since I am Semitic, its hard to label me that so my example STANDS AS IS. What that endorsement says to the people of Harlem is that, “Even with another Clinton as President, you will see even less coming your way and more in TEAM Windfall’s pocket”.

After the Rev. Butts endorsement, Hillary Clinton made a press conference outside the Abyssinian Baptist Church only to be received with Boo’s and Jeers. To the media it seemed as if the responses were those from anti-Hillary and pro-Obama supporters but they were actually anti-establishment and gentrification activist. This isn’t good, especially since the week prior, Hillary allied herself with ex-BET’ founder and CEO, Robert Johnson, someone who not only through his words and actions but how he does business, is insensitive to the very community he comes from. Yes, he may be an American Capitalist at its best and I will be the first to not knock any American for pursuing this way of life if your soul and spirit believes this to be who you are, but to advocate it with a smile while smoking cigars made of ‘greenbacks” leaves me with a chill and I would not turn my back on him for a second.

As I said about the John Kerry endorsement with Barak Obama, I feel the same for people like Johnson and Butts. Hillary should drop them and yet I know it will not happen. At this point the idea that BLACK voters are being lead straight to that same dilemma we have faced for decades and that being “voting for the lesser of two Evils” is becoming crystal clear and that taints the illusion of POWER BLACKS believe they have as the caucuses and primaries continue in America.

As a person who has not made a decision on the candidates, my Pros vs. Cons chart is all over the place on the support factor. While others are concerning themselves with Race and Gender (both are non-factors because Ageism is the real issue with Black Americans) I keep to my formula of “What are the issues” and “Where is your MONEY coming from?” The last question is so important it screams at you. Senator John Edwards in the South Carolina debate hammered this issue several times. Directing it at both Clinton and Obama, “people don't donate that much money if they do not want something in return.” John Edwards was refering to the money donated to both candidates from Corporate Lobbist (Hillary) and Hedge Funds (Obama). The same can be said for endorsement. It is not unusual to find CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP promising Black votes for (financial) favors. The issue is those favors are only consolidated in house and behind closed doors and with their parishioners in mind. In the case of Harlem, if you are not down with Abyssinia and their Christians, you are pretty much Ass’ed out. And that’s what the Hillary endorsement meant for the people in New York City and Harlem.

Booooooo Hillary !!!!!


One Man’s Opinion said...

Okay, Shazza, I am loving the post. You put a lot of thought into it and back it with good information and insight. I didn't get the title until I got further along, because I had no idea who Rev. Butts was. I'm still trying to decide it the "Ass'ed Out" comment was meant to be a pun. It was a great ending to a great post.
You better stop showing out.

Shazza Nakim said...

They Hate Me At Community Meetings. I have even had them throw a few old Ladies my way come up to a Brotha asking personal questions about me and where I live and stuff. So they can figure me out.

When you live somewhere and you have people working to put you out on the street, you gotta do what you gotta do.

PS U know you have me your Blog roll twice?