Who Should be Houston’s Next Mayor?

With early voting in full swing and the election day less than a week away… people are still up in the air as to who they should vote for when it comes to Mayor of Houston.  Who ever sits in that chair will be yielding a lot of power and will set a tone for one of the nation’s most exciting and rapidly growing cities. Houston is on the move and it needs a mayor who will set the pace. It needs a mayor who can make an increasing young population feel like he or she is in touch and understands the pressing issues impacting young adults. They range from job opportunities to education to affordable housing. Houston needs a mayor that will make a city that has large African-American, Latino, Asian and Gay & Lesbian population feel like their respective needs are being met. Below you will find some links to articles and videos that can hopefully lend some insight.. We wish everyone look in the making an informed decision.

 Peter Brown 



Gene Locke

visit gene Locke’s website: http://www.genelocke.com/index.asp

Gene Locke is quick to laugh and make quips, but has a dignified presence when asked why he wants to be mayor of Houston.

“I love this city. It has been a place of opportunity for me. I came here to go to the University of Houston in the 1960s with basically no idea how I would even financially get through college. And now years later, I sit in an interview with you talking about the possibility of running for the mayor of the city of Houston. That means that Houston clearly has been a place of opportunity to me and I want to keep Houston as a place of opportunity.”

continue reading….




Roy Morales



Anise Parker

Visit Annise Parker’s website http://www.anniseparker.com/home  

Annise Parker has been in city politics for a long time. She knows the players, the challenges and the negotiations it takes to get results in city government.  

Parker says Houstonians are looking for someone with the leadership skills and experience to manage the city through tough economic times. And she says she has those qualifications.  

“I’ve managed the city’s $2 billion budget. I’ve managed the city’s $12 billion debt portfolio. I have conducted audits of city programs and departments. I know how the budget flows, I know what works and what doesn’t and I’ve made a number of reccommendations to improve city processes and city finances.”  

In the past, Parker says city leaders made short-sighted decisions and Houston paid the consequences….  

continue reading article…  






Give National Attention to End Violence Against Women-Is Gang rape Becoming a Spectator Sport?

Young Girl Gang raped for 2 Hours Outside High School Dance

Give National Attention to End Violence Against Women

by Tachelle Shamash Wilkes
Classes were back in session at Richmond High School in San Francisco’s East Bay Tuesday, with counselors available for students to talk about Saturday night’s horrific crime – the gang rape on campus of a 15-year-old student who had just left the homecoming dance… What makes this crime so shocking is that police say at least 20 people were involved in the rape or stood and watched the crime without going for help.
Author Tachelle Wilkes

Tachelle Shamash Wilkes

When I heard about the brutal rape of this high school girl, I was deeply saddened to the core that something like this could go on. “The Code of the Street” was meant to protect our women. However, somewhere down the line it was misconstrued to fit the agenda of men to cover up an array of sins. For these twenty-plus young onlookers to sit there and say or do nothing says a lot about the plight of this world. What if it were your sister who laid on that ground? As a matter of fact, what if she was your mother? Blood runs through this young girl’s veins just as yours. Her reflection is yours.

There laid our young sister who was brutally raped for two hours. This is something that we can’t let go. There is a total disconnect that has emerged in the form of hatred for our women. This is not just a call to stop the violence of young girls, but this is the call to heal our community. Our young boys just as our young girls need mental and spiritual healing. Mothers: Know what your children are doing at all times. Fathers: Be an integral part of your child’s life. They need you. Truth is there are many things that we as women can not teach our young boys, and that is to be a man.

richmond_high_school_1We need to take a moment and really look at where we are heading as a community. Here is a situation that needs light so we can drive negative forces away and bring a new day. Here is the perfect opportunity for the hip hop community to speak out and let the world know that a human life is the most valuable possession on earth. It’s time that we go back to our roots and use our voices as a means to heal and uplift. An atrocity as to what this young girl experienced has to end in this generation, so that we can insure a bright future for our children. The village has to come out of hiding and help raise our youth.

I think that we as a people talk too much. We need to be more action oriented. People need to “adopt” young people. Just because a child isn’t biologically yours doesn’t mean that you don’t have a moral responsibility to be there for them as well. I do, however, think it’s important that we make media who allow the promotion of violence and degradation against women to be held accountable to doing something to rectify this. They need to be put on blast.

Here’s a call for women, activists, and the community to speak out. Contact BET Networks at 202-608-2000 demanding a forum where hip hop artists who have tremendous drawing power for our youth to denounce the rape of our women and girls & contact your local radio stations, schools, churches to create workshops and forums to rid our community of this inhumanity.


Tachelle Shamash Wilkes
Author of “Amanda’s Ray”

Update: 4 people have been arrested with police saying there will be more to come.. They will appear in court today and are expected to be charged as adults. The rape took place for 2 1/2 hours with people coming watching, leaving coming back and watching again.. She was beaten and robbed.. and if thats not enough some are actually blaming the young lady because she knew the attackers and was drinking with them…Also this is not the first time this has happened. Earlier this year in Richmond there was gang rape of a lesbian women which sparked outrage.

Here’s a radio show that people may wanna peep that raises the question…is gang rape a spectator sport
It was recorded the day or so after this happened.

Naomi Klein: The Shock Doctrine-The Deliberate Exploitation of a Crisis to Weaken Democracy


Naomi Kline

Naomi Klein author of the book Shock Doctrine came to last night (October 27th) UC Berkeley at the Mario Salvio Annual Free Speech  Movement  Event and spoke to an overflow crowd of 1200 people. 500 were turned away. Her message was on point and sobering as she laid out all the steps and triggers that have led up to the current economic tailspin many of us are feeling.

Klein went into detail about the Shock Doctrine and how certain tyrannical leaders look for or manfacture crises and emergencies with the goal of pushing through facist type agendas.. She laid out how this took place in New orleans and how it is currently manifesting itself here in California through Governor Arnold Schwatrznegger and his plan to raise UC fees by a whooping 32%

This is a must listen to interview and even though the issue being addressed is one impacting students in California, much of what she speaks on applies to folks everywhere including us here in Texas. What we need to be looking for are examples of the Shock Doctrine in our own backyard. In other words what sort of crises have emerged where those in power were insisting that we do away with formalities and allow  so called ’emergency’ measures to take place..

 Sit back and take notes.. Cause Ms Klein pulls no punches.. We are going to post the Q&A sometime tomorrow.

-Davey D-

Breakdown FM: Naomi Klein podcast-The Shock Doctrine at UC Berekely



Return to The Southern Shift

Houston City Council put 287 G back on the table, but at what cost?

287gToday (Oct 28th 2008) Houston City Council will sit and consider a controversial bill that will deputize Houston police officers to essentially act as ICE agents. The program is known as 287G. This measure has come underfire for a number of reasons, first and foremost it was rejected a while back with both current Mayor Bill White and Houston’s police chief Harold L Hurtt coming out against it.  They like so many community members understand that by having the police act as ICE agents can lead to increased unneccessary tensions between police  and the community.

In many neighborhoods its hard enough to get people to cooperate with the police because of strained relationships from years past.  The 287G program will only add to that strain, resulting in people not willing to call the police for any reason. A simple call for help could have dire consequences especially if folks have a relative or close friend who citizenship is in question.  Adding to that complication is the fact that many folks don’t like to be profiled and 287 G has racial profiling written all over it..

We spoke with a number of activists who have been camped out Houston City hall keeping a watchful eye on the proceedings.  We spoke with Tasha Jackson who explained that she wasn’t quite sure what was motivating city council members  and County commissioners to bring this issue up after it was soundly rejected. She noted that it was disappointing to see all the mayoral candidates had endorsed 287 G..  This raised the question as to whether or not there would be some sort of political backlash since Houston has such a large Latino population. It also raised the question if we didn’t see a strong pushback from Democrats if a possible end game was to NOT expand the voting poll. By that we mean sometimes its in peoples political interest to not have more people come to the party who may make demands on certain wedge issues.

With the Latino vote there are a few things to consider. First there’s been a lot of racially tinged and even hostile reaction to important issues effecting the Latino community from the right leaving very little room for a middle ground. Some of those issues may force a candidate from the left to look closely to see if the right’s reaction has impacted independent and moderate voters and see if those votes outnumber the Latino votes that are being targeted. 



Toni Lawrence-Houston City Council

We spoke with another activist Ceasar  Espinosa of America for All. He explained that  one possible motive for city council member Toni Lawrence who is leading the charge to get the city to embrace 287 G is that she is currently running for comptroller and losing. He feels that by her making this an issue it will help push her name out there and perhaps endear her to a conservative base. He also noted that the same may said for current mayoral candidates. They too maybe trolling for conservative votes.

As of press time, many of the city council members (most are against 287 G) had not shown up to discuss the issue. We’ll keep[ you posted as to what eventually emerges. In any case, this seems like political postering in preparation for pushing Houston’s next Mayor in a particular political direction.

-Davey D-

Immigration enforcement back on table in Houston


ICE-arrestHouston City Council will reconsider a federal program that deputizes local law enforcement officers as immigration agents during a special meeting Oct. 28.

District A councilmember Toni Lawrence said Friday that she had received the necessary signatures from her colleagues on Houston City Council to require a Council meeting and possible vote on whether the city should participate in the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 287(g) program.

Lawrence’s action was in response to last week’s announcement that the city of Houston had decided not to participate in the program.

“I strongly favor having the City’s Police Department participate in both the 287(g) program and the Secure Communities Program,” said Lawrence. “This is a public safety issue, plain and simple. Law enforcement needs to have the tools to keep criminals off the streets, whether those criminals are citizens, legal immigrants, or illegal immigrants.”

ICE’s 287(g) program deputizes local law enforcement to act as immigration agents and the Secure Communities Program gives local law enforcement access to a massive immigration database to check suspects’ immigration history.

Harris County Sheriff’s Office is participating in both programs and has eight deputies who assist ICE in identifying illegal immigrants who enter the Harris County Jail system. Nationwide, the program has resulted in identifying more than 70,000 illegal immigrants since 2006.

Without participating in the 287(g) and Secure Communities programs, illegal immigrants can enter the Houston Jail System and be released without transferring to immigration officials for deportation proceedings.

Last spring, a Houston police officer was critically injured in a shooting by an illegal immigrant who had previously been detained in the City jail and released.

Lawrence encouraged the public to attend the meeting.

“It is important that City Hall knows Houstonians support all efforts to keep our streets safe,” she said. “There is broad support for participation in these programs and my colleagues on city council need to hear support for them next Wednesday.”

Lawrence thanked Mayor Bill White for continuing to work with her on this issue despite last week’s announcement. She also thanked fellow council members Anne Clutterbuck and Mike Sullivan for their leadership in signing on to require this meeting.

Return to the Southern Shift

Michael Jackson Movie ‘This is It’ is Definitely worth the price of Admission

Michael Jackson Movie ‘This is It’ is Definitely worth the price of Admission

by Davey D

Michael-Jacksons-This-Is-22As was the case with his death, the haters coming from places like the NY Post or so-called music critic Chuck Arnold of People Magazine, simply could not wait to find an opportunity to spit their venom on Michael Jackson the King of Pop. Lucky for us all of us got to see the movie at the exact same time as his critics, thus the negativity they spit will be overshadowed because folks who sat along side them have a vastly different opinion of the movie ‘This Is It’ and have been able to express it. How does one go to a packed theater see, people clapping and dancing in the aisle and just feeling it and then go back and write some garbage about it was ghoulish??

The first thing I tell people is go see this movie is bring your kids. Michael is incredible . Yes, its rehearsal footage, but having covered concerts for the past 20 years from U2 to Public Enemy and everyone in between, I can honestly say what you see with Michael is better than 90% of the folks have graced the stage. If you’re an artist, I strongly urge you to go see this movie, bring pen and pad, check your ego at the door and take notes so you can learn the real meaning of the word ‘ENTERTAINMENT“.

Michaeljacksonstage-225If I’m to believe the stories about Michael Jackson being a drug addict, out of shape and out of wack, unless this movie has some new special effects I never seen, than MJ puts that to rest. I want whatever it is he’s has, because he comes with a skill set very few will ever reach-and again this is just rehearsal. You can tell he’s hasn’t brought the entire package not by a long shot. MJ is off the chain.

Several things stood out We know that his staff was working his young dancers day and night. They were doing everything from ballet to spending hours perfecting complicated and grueling routines. These men and women are half MJ’s age, but when they danced together, MJ who was supposedly on drugs was not only able to keep up, he surpassed them. Just to see how he did his routines is worth the 8 bucks. To see his incredible work ethic and desire for perfection is worth the 8 bucks. Just to see how he was dedicated to bringing entertainment to his fans is reason enough for anyone who is an artist from any genre or discipline to pay the price of admission. If you’re an artist this film is required viewing.

MichaelJacksonset-225It’s ironic that I saw the BET Hip Hop Awards just before seeing this movie. I gotta tell ya its gonna be hard to go back and see Gucci man or Souljah Boy hit the stage after seeing MJ.. It’s not so much that he spent money on his stage sets, it’s the perfection he demanded of himself and the people around him. It’s the precision in his dance moves. It’s him knowing every note and lyric to his songs. It’s him unwilling to come up short in his executions. You really come to appreciate good artistry and might find yourself getting annoyed and upset the next time you see someone do a half baked bullshit show.

What also stood out was the staging and sets he was going to unveil in concert. Wow. The way he flips Smooth Criminal, Thriller and my favorite Earth Song are breath-taking. In fact the Earth Song scene is something that President Obama and his fellow politicians who are hedging on getting a comprehensive impactful Climate Change bill, should see. Michael hits a home run with that and actually speaks to the issue in the film. He talks about the direction we are headed where we may do irreversible damage.

The film has a lot of bright moments. As I was watching it, I couldn’t help think about how Michael had saved and eventually transformed the music industry. His creativity especially when it came to videos saved the music industry. After seeing this film, I think many will use his film as a template and follow suit. Yes, we’ve had movies of band concert footage and their backstage rehearsals, but they pale in comparison to Michael Jackson. He raised the bar on this one. if the movie does well, I’m willing to bet that we will see the music industry rush to do similar films with other performers…

Return to The Southern ShiftCorner

An Open Love Letter to BET CEO Debra Lee (Dear Debra)

Each week my man Jasiri X comes with heat. He’s covered almost every major topic impacting our community from the police shooting of Oscar Grant and the uprising in Oakland, Ca to the racist presidential campaign launched by Sarah Palin and John McCain to the Inauguration of Barack Obama to the brutal slaying of Chicago honor student Derion Albert. Name the topic and Jasiri X has covered it.. This time he out did himself.. Dear Debra is incredible .. Please pass this along to Debra Lee of BET..

-Davey D-

JasiriX-copsThis Episode is dedicated to the BET and their CEO Debra Lee. ‘Dear Debra’ is a critical but loving letter exploring the possibilities of Black Entertainment Television. Episode 23 was produced by Kai Roberts and directed bu Paradise the Arkitech of X-Clan, No ducks were harmed in the makin of this video.

Verse 1

Dear Debra,
You’re giving me the blues mo betta
said that I can flow forever but I ain’t got no chedda
and we can’t got together cause I’m too controversial
plus you said ya time is money like a commercial
but my music’s universal
I didn’t mean to hurt you
but that’s what truth does
I did it with true love
see I gave you my heart and you said it was irrelevant
you said that I was smart but that I was too intelligent
I offered you my soul from the start but like the devil did
you said it would rank on ya chart unless I selling it
you said that your just playin ya part that of the ghetto chick
cause that’s what people what you to be
that sounds like frontin to me
see to me you’re more than something to see
baby you and me could set this whole country free
my queen you stepped out of a dream on to the screen
like a vision you was the only one I’ve ever seen

Verse 2
you had religion you was quick to tell em you was christian
but now you hang with gangstas so much you’ve been imprisoned
but you convinced yourself that that’s how we living
but life is so much more than champagne sippin
listen what this isn’t is a black male’s hate
give me one chance I promise it won’t be a hell’s date
we can go to college hill or 106 and park
make love from the sun up till when it get’s dark
I’ll sooth you no matter what level the stress
you are a righteous black queen not a hot ghetto mess
and yes I believe that you’ll switch one day
but now you’re so exposed that I wanna rip the runway
and I know they say that you should shake what ya mama gave you
but you are a reflection of how ya mama raised you
and you get what you give so don’t let karma enslave you
I’m willin to campaign like Obama to change you
for real

Verse 3
I’m so serious I’m so sincere
name the place where ever you wanna go I’m their
we can go to rap city I can get us a booth
cause the ones that’s there now they don’t be spittin the truth
you ask me how do I know the way they living is proof
claimin they freestylin what was ghostwritten for dudes
I wanna kick it with you
I’m on a mission to prove
that I’m a honest dude
this is not a comic view
see I wanna honor you and give you an award
but the ones that sponsor you I wanna give em the sword
they not fond of you they just wanna get you on board
and then they lie to you that’s just like pimpin a whore
see they don’t care what you mean to me or the community
how we can teach the seeds or promote unity
they just want coonery more and more buffoonery
so they can watch those videos like shake that booty b
but I’ll never call you out of your name
just consider this a lane to get you outta the game
cause I’ll take on all 50 states for you miss Debra
and you can call the battle Hip-Hop vs America

Return to The Southern Shift

Former Iraq Vet slams Texas Justice System for killing innocent people as his brother Reginald Blanton is set to be executed

TexasDeathpenaltyA former Iraq Vet slams the US Justice system at the 10th annual Abolish the Death Penalty March..He speaks passionately about the innocence of his brother Reginald Blanton who is scheduled to be executed tomorrow Oct 27th 2009

Return to The Southern Shift

Is the State of Texas About to Execute Another Innocent Man? His Mother Pleads-Save Reggie Blanton

TexasDeathpenaltymarch2The state of Texas since 1976 has executed more people than any other state in the country. With a population of that is 7.6% of the country, Texas has done almost 40% of the executions… 66% of those executions have been people of color… Since 1982 not one single white person has been put to death for murdering an African American. Meanwhile the overwhelming majority of executions have been bestowed upon African Americans who have killed whites.

Over the years a number of people who had strong claims to their innocence have been executed. These include people like; Ruben Cantu, Gary Graham aka Shaka Sankofa and most recently Cameron Todd Willingham. Some of the death penalty cases have been extremely disturbing. In one case, the prosecutor and the judge were sleeping with each other and tried to keep that sordid fact hidden. In another case a judge knowing that lawyers were headed to her office with a last minute appeal, decided to close her office early so that the execution could take place and not be stopped. In still another instance, the defense attorney fell asleep while in court defending his client.

In the case of Todd Willingham, evidence surfaced on numerous occassions including what the Texas Forensic Science Commission discovered, where they concluded that the fire he was accused of starting which resulted in several deaths, was not arson at all and that he may have been put to death wrongly. Complicating this is Governor Rick Perry who not only rebuffed previous findings that stated no arson was caused, but at the 11th hour of the Texas Commission investigation attempted to disband and replace 4 of the members to perhaps get a more favorable ruling. He is accused of impeding justice and people calling for him to be investigated.

TexasDeathpenalt3Today the state of Texas the case around Reggie Blanton is sparking controversy as many feel he is innocent and was railroaded by the state of Texas. He has been on death row for 10 years and is scheduled to be executed Tuesday Oct 27th 2009 . His mother Anna Blanton and his brother gave impassioned pleas to a large crowd at the 10th annual Abolish the Death Penalty March in Austin, Texas this past weekend. She asked us all to take action and hold Governor Rick Perry and Judge Juanita Vasquez Garner accountable..She talked about how the family had been severely punished to the point of not even being allowed to her not even being allowed to see her son..She spoke about the treatment Reggie has recieved inside prison and how the corrupt system has not allowed her son to present crucial evidence. She asked that people call the Governors office at 512-463-2000

Reggie’s brother an Iraq veteran also spoke and talked about how he served in the military because he believed in things like our justice system. He noted that he is now angry and disillusioned. His speech was heartbreaking..

Here’s some more information of the Raggie Blanton case..



Save Reggie Blanton..

Return to The Southern Shift

Governor Rick Perry and his Texas Death Machine are in Big Trouble

Governor Rick Perry and his Texas Death Machine are in Big Trouble
by David A. Love, JD


Perry State Of StateWhen criminals are about to be caught, they try to hide their wrongdoing. When drug dealers hear the police sirens, they dump the stash in the alley or flush it down the toilet. When the Nazi officers in the concentration camps heard the allied forces approaching, they destroyed—and in many cases murdered—the evidence.

There’s something about the light of day when it shines its truth upon you.

And when a Texas state commission started looking into a report that a faulty arson investigation apparently put an innocent man to death, Gov. Rick Perry replaced the commission and called the dead man a monster.

Because that’s what Southern hick town justice is all about.

Cameron Todd Willingham is now a free man, but unfortunately it took death to release him from the confines of his prison bars. He was executed on February 17, 2004 for the 1991 arson deaths of his three children. Gov. Perry refused to grant him a 30-day stay, despite questions about his guilt. According to a bogus forensics report, Willingham’s house was intentionally burned down.

In 2005, Texas instituted a forensic science commission to investigate mistakes and wrongdoing by forensic scientists. Baltimore fire expert Craig Beyler, who was hired by this commission to look into the Willingham case, concluded that there were no scientific grounds to characterize the fire as an act of arson. As The New Yorker reported, Beyler said the approach of the arson investigator in the case denied rational reasoning, was based on “folklore and mysticism rather than science,” and violated “not only the standards of today but even of the time period.” This, in a state whose fire investigators typically had a high school diploma, and unlike other states, no requisite experience and no specialized training or qualifications.

So, the Texas commission was reviewing Beyler’s report, and Gov. Perry, running for reelection, eliminated the members of the commission before they could issue their findings. Pure politics. After all, we don’t want people going around and talking about the execution of innocent people.

Meanwhile, Judge Sharon Keller, presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, that state’s highest criminal court, could find herself in deep trouble. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct initiated impeachment proceedings against Keller for incompetence, violating her duties as a judge and casting public discredit on the court. For a state such as Texas— with such abysmal standards of integrity in its criminal “justice” system—you must wonder what she did to stand out among the crowd.

Keller refused to keep the court open after 5pm when she knew Michael Richard, a death row inmate, sought a last-minute appeal challenging the constitutionality of his punishment of lethal injection. The inmate was unable to file an appeal and was executed. Also, Keller rejected a new trial for Roy Criner, a mentally retarded man convicted of rape and murder, even though DNA evidence showed that he did not rape the victim.

“We can’t give new trials to everyone who establishes, after conviction, that they might be innocent,” Judge Keller said. “We would have no finality in the criminal justice system, and finality is important. When witnesses testify, and when jurors return a verdict, they need to know that they can’t come back later and change their minds.”

Keller was unrepentant, and Perry said the execution of Willingham was appropriate based on the “totality of the issues”.

Ex-governor Mark White suggests that Texas might have to do away with the death penalty altogether, given that it does not deter crime and is unfairly administered, with a risk of executing the innocent. Bad habits are hard to break, and with 423 executions since 1974, including 152 under Gov. George W. Bush, Texas has the most voracious appetite for capital punishment. But perhaps the Willingham case is what is needed to end the barbaric practice.

My take on this subject is that the death penalty never was intended to be fair, as it is a holdover from Jim Crow lynching. Capital punishment was an effort to transplant lynch mob justice into the courtroom and make lynching official, if not respectable. A broken system that was designed to be broken—just clean it up and no one will notice, they thought. Guilt or innocence is of little concern here, as finality reigns supreme.

And Judge Keller essentially said as much.

It is no accident that the states of the former Confederacy— the states with the most violent racial history, a deep legacy of extrajudicial terror and killings— have been among the most enthusiastic executioners. Interestingly, those states also seem to have the lowest educational and health standards. Typically, the inmates on death row are people of color, and poor white folk like Mr. Willingham, those who lack resources and are unable to afford the best justice money can buy. We will never know how many people have been wrongfully executed.

But Cameron Todd Willingham certainly would not have been the first.

And perhaps we will never know how many opportunistic individuals have built their political careers on the corpses of the executed, whether guilty or innocent.

Rick Perry and Sharon Keller now have ethical clouds hanging over their heads.

They utilized death as a political tool, but now, ironically, the death machine that helped bolster their careers could be their undoing. Yet, both are appropriate spokespersons for the death penalty. They have helped perpetuate an inherently unjust, incompetent and capricious system that legalized the lynch mob.

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member David A. Love, JD is a journalist and human rights advocate based in Philadelphia, and a contributor to The Huffington Post, the Grio, The Progressive Media Project, McClatchy-Tribune News Service, In These Times and Philadelphia Independent Media Center.

He also blogs at davidalove.com, NewsOne, Daily Kos, and Open Salon.

Return to The Southern Shift

Breakdown FM Podcast: Wall Street Gangsters, Wu-tang Clan & the Economic Coup in America

DaveyD-leather-225Does Cash Rule Everything Around Me? From the looks of things yes. We sat down and spoke with former Wu-Tang Clan manager and author/entrepreneur Cedric Muhammad of Blackelectorate.com to have an indpeth discussion about today’s current economic situation and how its impacting us.

We started off talking about the recent decision by investment bank Goldman Sachs to give out more than 20 Billion dollars in bonuses, after being bailed out with tax payer money. How could such a thing happen? Where’s the public outrage?

Cedric explains that the US is no longer a democracy but a plutocracy where a wealthy few rule everything. The blatant disregard by Goldman Sachs to the American public underscores the the type of control investment bankers have over all aspects of our lives here in America. Cedric explains that it’s almost impossible for President Obama to do anything because his seat in the White House is strictly controlled. As was spoken about in Michael Moore‘s movie ‘Capitalism‘, a coup has taken place in this country and we are sadly seeing it play out before our eyes.

Cedric Muhammad talks about this economic coup in our interview. His analysis is compelling. We talk in great detail how and why this happened. We also talk about how it is foolish to see this as a Democrat vs Republican situation. Cedric talks about how outfits like Goldman Sachs have members of both parties on the payroll.

We talk about the significance of Oliver Williamson of UC-Berkeley and him winning this years economic Noble Prize. We talk about the emerging economic models that exist in various ethnic communities and how they have allowed groups of people to prosper even in rough economic times. Cedric speaks about the important model set forth by Rza and his Wu-Tang Clan and why we should pay close attention and even mimic them. We also talk about how the Hip Hop political movement has allowed itself to be severely compromised and co-opted.

breakdownFM-logo-podcast-30This is an incredible and enlightening interview. It’s probably one of the most important ones you can listen to…click the link below to hear.


As you listen to the podcast peep out this insightful article that further explains the points raised by Cedric Muhammad..

Economic Governance: The Organization Of Cooperation: Why Wu-Tang Clan and The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Could Have Won The 2009 Nobel Prize In Economics

cedricmuhammed2(Cedricmuhammad.com) Of all of the chapters that I wrote in my new three volume book series on entrepreneurship, The Entrepreneurial Secret (http://www.theEsecret.com/) the one that gave me the most anxiety from a technical standpoint was Chapter 4 of Volume I, entitled, “The Secret of Capital And The Business Firm.” It is a chapter that makes some strong assertions, such as the economics profession does not understand what capital is; money is one of the least of all of the forms of capital; entrepreneurs should understand that a business firm is actually a society; and that 90% of Black businesses have no more than a single paid employee partly because the science of what a business firm is, and legal forms of business that encase it (i.e. sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations) were never taught to Black Americans, or worse, denied to them.

My anxiety stems from the fact that we the people have been made so ignorant, miseducated, and misled on economic matters that it is difficult to get into certain economic truths without being misunderstood or mislabeled. As I wrote in the Preface to The Entrepreneurial Secret this is due to the fact that the public school system does not teach economics, the news media cannot explain it properly and the book publishing industry divides and compartmentalizes knowledge in the field into too many categories. On another level, we’ve been systematically denied certain elements of business knowledge and funneled into a phony capitalism versus communism shouting match that produces more debate and distraction than development.

In my book I make the case that macroeconomic policy does matter, and that a debate over market forces and State control of an economy is important (I devote an entire chapter to this discussion). But a central theme of my book is that what leads to wealth creation, economic development and growth is self-improvement, enlightened self-interest, cultural traditions of pooling money, the proper use of the business firm, and the standardization of a business organization so that it does not depend upon a single personality. None of these five elements fits neatly into the mainstream economic profession nor does it revolve around the Free Market versus State debate that dominates the capitalism-socialism paradigm.

In The Entrepreneurial Secret I define the business firm as a form of society, a social institution, not to be defined by a ‘State’ or ‘Free Market.’ It is a vehicle where human beings unite, pool resources and capital, organize them in hierarchical structures and make decisions, even on how to resolve conflict. In that sense I see the business organization not unlike a ‘gang’, sorority, tribe, or religious order.

Oliver Williamson

Oliver Williamson

And this is why I was so impressed with the fact that Professor Oliver Williamson of California, Berkeley was a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics (http://nobelprizelaureates/2009/press.html). You see Professor Williamson’s view of the firm is similar to the one I express in my book. Here is the most relevant portion of the official press release announcing his victory:

Economic transactions take place not only in markets, but also within firms, associations, households, and agencies. Whereas economic theory has comprehensively illuminated the virtues and limitations of markets, it has traditionally paid less attention to other institutional arrangements…. Oliver Williamson has argued that markets and hierarchical organizations, such as firms, represent alternative governance structures which differ in their approaches to resolving conflicts of interest. The drawback of markets is that they often entail haggling and disagreement. The drawback of firms is that authority, which mitigates contention, can be abused. Competitive markets work relatively well because buyers and sellers can turn to other trading partners in case of dissent. But when market competition is limited, firms are better suited for conflict resolution than markets. A key prediction of Williamson’s theory, which has also been supported empirically, is therefore that the propensity of economic agents to conduct their transactions inside the boundaries of a firm increases along with the relationship-specific features of their assets.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, uses a phrase, ‘relationship-specific.’ The untapped area in the field of economics which remains is that which revolves around ‘relationship-specific’ activity, and how such factors like love, envy, ambition and trust influence trade and commerce. Yet, the profession is only now getting around to how firms, associations, households and agencies are formed and impacted as a result of these forces. That Professor Williamson is being recognized for his work which looks at economic reality outside of central governments and markets is a positive sign.

On an empirical, conceptual, and anecdotal level my recognition of how people unite, resources are ordered, capital is arranged, and decisions are made in the firm is influenced by the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and my experience as General Manager of Wu-Tang Management. The economic blueprint of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, in its entrepreneurial aspect (contained in the 1965 book Message To The Black Man) encourages, “If there are six or eight Muslims with knowledge and experience of the grocery business – pool your knowledge, open a grocery store – and you work collectively and harmoniously, Allah will bless you with success. If there are those with knowledge of dressmaking, merchandising, trades, maintenance – pool such knowledge….help to make jobs for your own kind. Take a lesson from the Chinese and Japanese and go give employment and assistance to your own kind when they are in need. This is the first law of nature…”

To the Honorable Elijah Muhammad the business firm is a society within a society. The connection of his insights and reference to the ethnic communities that have been foremost in wealth creation around the world and in the United States as immigrant groups is worthy of deep study.

When I was interacting with Wu-Tang Clan (beginning in 1993 when I met them as a young concert promoter still in college) or serving as part of management for over a two-year period in the 1990s I saw these principles practiced at a high level, and was involved in helping to execute them (along with an incredible four-man combination of Mook, Divine, RZA and Power) on the group’s behalf inside of the music industry and outside of it.

I will argue the unparalleled achievements and example of Wu Tang with anyone.

There has never been a greater model for community and economic development – in a business context – provided by any single artist or group in the music business than that given by the Clan. Perhaps one day someone will make a detailed study on this subject.

One of the reasons for the group’s success was that it was never burdened by any superficial ideological debates. Everyone was clear on what the goal was and in many ways we embodied the first law of nature – self preservation – and building wealth according to the cultural kinship systems of the Chinese, Jewish, and African traditions for example, where individuals support a collective and the collective finances the individual (entrepreneur). We made mistakes and errors, and fell victim to the same vices and imperfections that we all struggle with, but at its highest level of operation, there has been nothing like the Clan, before or since.

I touch on some enlightening and hilarious anecdotes in The Entrepreneurial Secret.

In my book’s chapter on capital and the business firm I devote 12 pages to different arguments over the nature of the business firm. What I present kisses and embraces certain aspects of Nobel Economist Professor Williamson’s work which makes clear that the government and market are quite often not the place where real economic activity takes place. It is in informal institutions like associations and households where transactions take place, often without money changing hands. Just look at a family and how many ‘trades’ take place without cash being involved. Consider the New York-based Jewish diamond trade where contracts in the millions of dollars are sealed only with a handshake and a Hebrew-Yiddish greeting of ‘mazel and brucha’ (luck and blessing).

Yet, despite overwhelming evidence, the economics profession looks down upon kinship systems (families, tribes, ethnic groups, ‘gangs,’ religious groups) that often have more trust than formal systems dominated by markets and central authorities. The obvious truth that trust is a form of wealth, seems to be a fact that Western economists only seem willing to acknowledge after stock market crashes and financial panics.

What the work of Nobel Economist Oliver Williamson makes clear is that whether markets or strong governments exist or not there are always benefits and a principal role for what he terms ‘private ordering’ – the lead role of associations, households, firms and agencies in undertaking economic activity.

Every ethnic trading network and group savings association in the world already knew this.

Wu-Tang Clan; The estimated $80 million Muslim ‘economic empire’ of the Nation of Islam prior to 1975; Jamaican ‘partners;’ Ethiopian ‘ekoub;’ Jewish aktsiyes;’ and the Chinese system of doing business known as ‘guanxi’ are not created by governments or ‘markets,’ they are relationship-specific institutions that emerge culturally and defy the understanding and logic of the economics profession.



As I write in my book, Wu-Tang really was a clan and RZA was our head. We were the product of an entrepreneurial vision, voluntary association, kinship system (everyone involved was either a blood relative, childhood friend or serious student of Islam and universal principles). There were elite inner circle elements to the decision-making, and others that were more ‘democratic’ and still more that were authoritarian. Only an understanding of the nuances of the theory of the business firm (and not how markets or central governments work) and the hierarchy it creates or enables would explain how and why the Clan achieved so much.

In an interesting interview with CNN to promote his new book, The Tao Of Wu, CNN and RZA have the following exchange:

CNN: You say you ran Wu-Tang like a dictatorship in its first five years. I know you and Raekwon have had creative differences and Ghostface Killah is suing you over royalties. Ever regret the dictatorship approach?

RZA: I don’t regret it because it got us to the power we are. …To me, in the beginning, the dictatorship led us to such a strong foundation that even though Wu-Tang seemed to be crumbling, it didn’t fall because of the root foundation of one man’s idea. But now as it’s coming back together — we’re living in the twilight age of it right now — it’s still surviving because of the democracy of it.


RZA’s assessment of the drawbacks but undeniable progress made with a ‘dictatorship’ would enlighten those who don’t understand why certain societies and electorates turn to authoritarian rulers with egalitarian messages (Venezuela, Cuba) or dominant spiritual leaders (Iran, Vatican, Nation of Islam). Much of it has to do with the shortcomings of ‘markets’ and ‘governments,’ and the ability of special human beings to inspire the greatest forms of economic wealth – trust and love – which always decrease transaction costs and provide a foundation for development.

On another level the theory of the firm explains why the entrepreneur is often more efficient than ‘markets’ at gathering, allocating, and determining the use of resources.

For the valuable role of direction and execution of resources that they fulfill, as well as the risk-taking they assume, there is always a dispute within groups (filled with envy, ambition, and structured on hierarchy) over how much of a ‘profit,’ reward, or compensation the leader or head should enjoy as opposed to the rest of the body.

In my book I make clear why I believe the word ‘entrepreneur’ is more accurate and appropriate than ‘dictator,’ to describe the dominant leader.

Yesterday, from Memphis, Tennessee, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, in an address commemorating the 14th anniversary of the Million Man March (http://noi.org/) represented one of the deeper regions of the Teachings of Honorable Elijah Muhammad connecting the structure and function of the human body, the origin of the universe, and the next stage of community and economic development that should take place in Black America, wasted urban areas, and distressed rural areas.

That anatomy, physiology, and universal order should enter a discussion on economics may be strange to some, but the deeper economists think into reality and study societies and their basic unit, the individual human being, the more they will see the unity of that which previously seemed disconnected.

I don’t believe in revisionist history, but the deeper economists get into anthropology, theology, cosmology, astronomy, anatomy and physiology – and I can’t leave out botany and zoology – the more likely they are to broaden the pool of likely recipients for the highest prize in the profession.

The Wu-Tang Clan and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad absolutely practice what Nobel Prize Economists Elinor Ostrom and Oliver E. Williamson have studied, “Economic Governance: The Organization of Cooperation.”

One day it will be acknowledged, if I have anything to do with it.

Cedric Muhammad
October 19, 2009

Return to The Southern Shift

« Older entries