Defining Progress – What Is Progress? What Does It Mean??
“Don’t stick a knife in my back 8 inches, pull it out to 4 inches and tell me we’re making progress.” ~Malcom-X
When defining progress, it is important to realize progress is relative to something or some state that already exists. It is thus defined by where you are or what you have and where you want to be or where you want to get. If you ask me to tear down a building and hand me a sledgehammer and a crowbar, I can make progress on your project. Depending on the size of the building and whether or not I have any assistance, it might take me quite awhile… or, it might prove impossible.
I could not bring down a skyscraper with just a crowbar and a sledgehammer. That’s not going to happen. If you gave me a bulldozer I could probably make quick work of a house, but a skyscraper? Not going to happen. Although, I could certainly get to work on the project and day after day you could say, “I was making progress.”
If I were worth say, $8 billion dollars, and you were the trustee over my estate, charged with releasing money as needed, you could give me a couple of million dollars a year and with compound interest, I would die before ever actually acquiring my full $8 billion. You could argue that $2 million a year was nothing to sneeze at and call that “progress.” However, if my goal is to take over my complete estate, I may asymptotically approach that goal, but I’ll never reach that goal. All along the way it might be said that “I was making progress towards achieving my goal.”
Understanding An Asymptote
An asymptote is a line that continually approaches a given curve but does not meet it at any finite distance. It will forever approach the curve – destination – but never touch or reach it. When we talk about progress in the struggle for the civil rights of Black people in these United States, we’re looking at an asymptotic relationship.
Slavery is no longer economically viable. Free the Slaves. Progress. But what did that actually mean? Yes, suddenly we had a large population of African-Americans who were no longer enslaved, but whom had none of the wealth of this nation they were so vital a part of its building. “Give them all 40 acres and a mule.” First understand that very few freed Slaves actually received 40 acres and a mule… but let’s say they did. They had no money to buy seed. If they had seed, they needed implements to clear the land and till the soil. What exactly were they supposed to eat or live on until their first harvest? Were they making progress? that certainly was the argument. The question is, “progress towards what?”
Remember, progress is relative. They were making progress away from their previous state, but what were they moving towards? The only goal they could be moving towards in this country is full equality under the law as defined by our Constitution. It is 2015 now. Slavery ended in 1865 with the passage of the 13th Amendment. It’s been 150 years now and we’re still making progress.
Your True Intentions Are Showing
If I owe you $5,000 dollars I can do one of several things. I can write you a check and clear my debt. I can pay you in cash, get a receipt and clear my debt. If I don’t have the full amount, I can offer to make payments – progress – if you will accept that. Whether or not you accept anything less than payment in full, depends entirely on your assessment of what I am capable of paying you.
If you owe your bank $5,000 and your balloon payment comes due, the bank will simply take it out of your account. Why? Because they know you have it. The payment is due. It now becomes their money. What about other types of debts?
This actually happened to one of my brothers-in-law years ago. He was driving down a street and noticed this beautiful gazebo sitting on this park like lawn. There was a stately mansion in the distance but as there were several parks in the area, he and his wife figured it was a park, pulled over and took their picnic basket and set up in the gazebo to enjoy an impromptu picnic on a nice summer’s day.
They were surprised when shortly into their meal a golf cart pulled up and two men in dark suits got out. Come to find out, they had picked the Governor’s mansion to have a picnic. Security was cordial and allowed them to finish. They could have made them leave immediately. When you’re trespassing on someone else’s property, you owe them your immediate removal. The security detail after determining they were no threat allowed them to make progress in leaving. “We’ll give you 45 minutes to finish but this is private property… be advised.
If you live next door to me and you throw a party and some of your guest are blocking my driveway or park on my lawn. Depending on my mood or what projects I’m engaging in, I might tolerate it for just that one occasion. I do try to be a good neighbor. However, it happens again, I’m going to speak with you about it. If it happens after I speak with you about it. I’m going to make an adjustment in my thinking and conclude you’re doing it intentionally. At this point I’m calling the police and a towing company. Why? Because your true intentions are showing.
When Black people are denied their voting rights, their neighborhoods do not receive the same funding as white neighborhoods, their schools are under funded, their roads are not repaired, predatory policing tactics are employed against them, your true intentions are showing.
We see these intentions in Fortune 500 companies. Certainly they all employ minorities… in their lower levels. However, as one moves up their corporate chain, minorities rapidly begin to disappear. In fact, females begin to become scarce as you approach the top levels. Rather than promote a minority or a female from within their corporation, they will go and hire a white male from outside the corporation, put them over the people who’ve been there and actually have a much better understanding of the business. This is neither accident nor coincidence. This is strategy. The people from within the corporation have worked with and formed relationships with the people on and below their level. They feel a responsibility and a sensitivity to these people who’ve helped them achieve their success. The people brought in from the outside only have an allegiance to the people at the top who brought them in.
We’re No Longer Interested In Just Progress
When President Barack Obama was elected, many people marvelled and patted themselves on their backs and pointed to all the progress we’ve made and how far we’ve come. Of course on the very night of his inauguration, a group of racist Republicans was meeting to decide that no matter what he tried to do, they would block him at each and every turn. Some would call this treason! At the time President Obama took office, we were in the middle of not one but two wars. Our economy was in free fall. Major banks were failing, our housing market had collapsed, our automotive industries were teetering on bankruptcy and the President the American People had elected to fix all this mess… They were conspiring to thwart and oppose at every opportunity.
Do Black people now have the right to vote? Technically yes. However, Republican controlled districts have been busily closing polling places in areas where African Americans vote, requiring new and unnecessary identification – a poll tax – to target poor and minority voters. For instance, Texas won’t recognize a Student ID but they will accept a gun permit.
Let’s look at what all is involved in getting a gun permit. Since I happen to own one in the State of Indiana, you’ve got to first go and get two money orders. One made out to the State Police and one made out to your local police department. You then have to go and get fingerprinted. Struck me as odd since my local police department did it all over again once I got down there. You have to fill out the application form on-line which of course requires a computer and Internet access. I suppose you could go to your public library and use their computers. All in all, I had to go to 3 different places to assemble the documentation I needed. My total cost since I opted for a lifetime permit – going through this process, once is enough – was around $130.00 not including my gas, time and parking. Of course implicit in this is that you actually own a firearm.
How many poor people have that amount of money or time to spend? How many even own handguns? Accepting a gun permit is facilitating a certain segment of the population in voting while trying to exclude another segment. If you don’t own a car, why would you need a driver’s license? Not to mention, driver’s licenses are not free! Okay, so they will give you a free State ID for voting. However, to get that ID you must first assemble all the other documentation they require and get to a License Branch. Of course if you don’t own a car, that too becomes problematic. This is a strategy plain and simple. Telling me I have the right to vote is not progress when you then turn around and make it difficult if not impossible for me to fulfill my franchise.
If you’ve got my 40 acres and a mule, don’t give me an acre, rent me my mule and tell me to take it slow. I want it NOW! There’s no debate, no discussion and no negotiations needed… just do it!
No Unarmed Person Of Any Race Should Ever Die Being Arrested Or In Police Custody
This is a very simple proposition. We train them, give them vehicles, radios and technology. If they cannot arrest an unarmed civilian without murdering him or her or causing serious bodily harm, they should be fired immediately. No debate. No negotiation. No taking it slow. Right now… no, make that yesterday!
Ask yourself why cities will pay out multiplied millions in “wrongful death” suits and keep these Cops on the force? Cities will pay out multiplied millions in overtime pay to control a population inflamed by the murder of an unarmed Black 18 year old and still keep the murdering Cop on their payroll. If you owned a restaurant and the dishwasher broke over $100 dollars worth of your plates, you’d fire him. Yet these cities are willing to keep and pay Cops who’ve cost them multiplied millions of dollars. Why?
I won’t say that Baltimore went up in flames, because in reality very few buildings were burned. The damage and unrest were actually limited to a relatively small portion of the city. The question nobody has asked as of yet, is “Why Did Freddie Run???” No, think about this for a moment. Think critically. I’m sure by now you’ve seen Freddie’s arrest record. What? Close to 20 felony arrests? Freddie was only 25 years old. Since juvenile records are sealed, we must assume that these felony arrests came after he reached the age of 18.
Any one of those felony arrests, had they got a conviction would have had him in jail or prison for at least 3 years. Any 3 felony convictions would have qualified him as a habitual offender and put him away for 30 years. He would not have been on the street walking around. He would have been in prison.
Next point. Did you notice that there were no outstanding warrants for Freddie Gray? It was not a case of “oh damn! It’s the ‘Po Po.'” They specifically said, “eye contact” was made and he ran. Ask yourself why. It is not like he’d never been arrested before. He knew he was clean, no warrants, so why run? Was something else going on?
Who Needs The Mafia When You’ve Got Cops?
Here in Indianapolis, the Cops control the drug trade and flow on our streets. I’m not making this up to cast disparaging remarks on my city. This is common knowledge on the streets. We’ve had numerous Cops arrested and sent to prison over narcotics.
Some years ago – back in the 80’s – there was a scandal involving at least 3 local police officers, speeding back from Detroit. They were doing well in excess of 100 mph in their personal cars. I believe a couple were driving a Porche and one was driving a Ferrari. Now I don’t know what they pay Cops up in Baltimore, but here in the “People’s Republic of Indiana,” Cops don’t make enough money to own those types of cars unless they married extremely well, or they’re dirty as hell! When they were pulled over by law enforcement for speeding, they flashed their badges, received “professional courtesy” and kept going. Several of the Cops who stopped them felt something just wasn’t quite right and reported them. It made the news. There were the normal noises about an investigation, and the story just sort of faded away. I figure it was a drug run.
I personally know of people who were small time drug dealers who were approached by the police to work for them and when they refused, they wound up dead. Execution style. I reported this to a homicide detective investigating one such murder and he dropped his head, nodded, indicated he knew about it and said that it was out of his hands and that Internal Affairs was looking into it. Well, they’ve been looking into it for over 15 years now evidently with no success. It is easy to overlook what you don’t want to find.
I remember the scene in the movie the “Untouchables,” where Sean Connery’s character is telling Elliot Ness, played by Kevin Costner, “everybody knows where the booze is. The question is how far are you prepared to go to stop it?”
What needs to be done isn’t easy. You cannot debate, negotiate or sneak up on it and tell yourself you’re making “progress.” Power is never ceded without force. Accepting the illusion of “progress” has now risen to the point of delusion. Everybody knows what needs to be done. If I walk into a convenience store and take a box of “Cigarillos,” that’s considered a justification for my murder. If a Banker loots the pensions, retirement plans of hundreds of millions of our Citizen, they don’t even worry about going to prison.
If a battered wife fires a warning shot into her own ceiling to stop her abusive husband, she faces over 20 years in prison. If two Cops murder a 12 year old boy in a park they’re not even charged. So, what are you prepared to do? How long will you settle for being told you’re making progress?