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Troy

AALBC.com Starts Its 19 Year This Month

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OK, Facebook got me today.  Every time I log in to Facebook to reply to responses to my posts, I see photos posted from several years ago; from a time when I actively shared personal shots on the platform, appear at the top of my wall.

The two images below were there this morning:

troy-working.jpg

Both shots were taken in a brownstone (a large townhouse, attached on both sides) I owned in Harlem for about 10 years.  During that time I hosted a number of events. I held film screenings in my backyard, a reading series called the Brownstone Series, and for over a year I hosted a photography exhibit.  The image on the left is me giving a tour of the photo exhibit of Black writers.

The image on the right was taken about 7 years ago, but it could have been taken 15 years ago or today.  My morning routine is largely unchanged; a cup of coffee, the newspaper, and me parked behind the screen of a computer.  

I've sacrificed the brownstone, a well-paying corporate gig, to be able to run AALBC.com full time, so I don't host events now.  Money from a good paying job, hosting events, and a big home are nice too but these would be sufficient to motivate me to dedicate the time and energy needed to run an AALBC.com.

For the past year, I've probably put in 60 hours a week or more to upgrading the website.  I would never have done this for a corporation.  While I've had some interesting corporate gigs over the years, I've never cared enough about any of them to put in the amount of energy I put into AALBC.com.  

I know part of my motivation is freedom.  Since I've been running AALBC.com I have pretty much-done anything I wanted to do. In recent years this has meant some financial pressures.  But what is the alternative? To get another 9 to 5?  One could make a good argument that would be a great idea and that I'm spoiled.  No one has ever said that to me; it is an internal battle.

The culture judges folks not by what they do, but how much money they have.  Over the course of running AALBC.com, I've met many brilliant people who were close to being impoverished.  I know brilliance is not a function of the amount of money one has amassed, but being part of the corporate world  for over two decades, this is a mentality that I've fought hard get rid of over the years.  

I also know how much one makes is definitely not a function of the relative value they provide.  Indeed many, particularly in financial services, cause great damage while reaping tremendous personal wealth. Still, people are judged on wealth regardless of how it was acquired.  More importantly, money is also a source of power, without it, you can't accomplish much.  

Money has to be a function of what I do, but again it is not the driver.

I also know I'm motivated by doing something that is positive for Black folks.  I know some Black folks like to say, "Black people are not a monolith."  To me, that person is trying to communicate that they are not part of larger Black community, that they are somehow different, better perhaps.  Meanwhile Black owned business disappear and the opportunities for poor Black to escape their situation go the same route.

Black folks have to be a monolith if we are ever going to do something for not just ourselves, but the most impoverished amongst us.

Hmmm... all I intended to do was post a couple of photos and keep it moving, but looking at them conjures up these thoughts and more.  If you've read this far thanks for indulging me.;)

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Thanks fellas!

I finished migrating all of the old book reviews, over 800 of 'em on Monday. It was pure drudgery :(, but I did get a chance to eliminate all the broken links to and improve the presentation of the book review and integrate them better with the rest of the websites content.

Today I started migrating old author profiles to the new format. It is hard to estimate how long it will take but if I can get it done before thanksgiving I'll be happy.  I started the current website upgrade almost exactly a year ago.  Initially thought it would have about 6 months, it will take at least 18.

 

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The more I move around the site and learn all it has to offer the more I want to petition the Library of Congress to back it up on their servers.  I got one of my associates in the LOC - maybe I can try for two! (smile). Congratulations Troy! I'm so honored to be have you in my network.  Speaking of Library of Congress, did you know the Librarian of Congress is a black woman, right? Carla Hayden is the 14th librarian and the first woman ever to hold the position in 214 years.  Hayden is also the first person of African-American descent to hold the post.   I thought of her when I read this entry because both of you are watching over our history.  

Thank you for all you do!

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Kudos to you, Troy, for your dedication and perserverence in maintaining this site in the face of all odds, giving full sway to quality as opposed to quantity.  We need more people like you!  Carry on.  

And being one of those people who thinks that blacks are not monolithic, I'm surprised that you as a person who insists that we are not a "race" would have a problem with my claim.  LOL  

 

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LOL.

To be clear this is what I believe; we are all humans and race is a concept made up by racists.  Blacks are not a monolith, any more than any other group, of more than a handful, of humans.

Unfortunately, we live on a planet that marginalizes Black people. If we are to change this we have to work together, as if we were a monolith.  Once we are treated was well as anyone else, we can go about our business doing our own thing.

 

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And what is a monolith made up of?  Entities that are all the same.  Blacks are not a monolith but they are a minority, and what is the incentive for the majority to share its power?  Just askin...  ;)

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When you say majority I assume you mean white folks.  The fact of the matter is the folks our Black Monolith will need to rally against are a very small minority of folks.

That technicality aside, there is no incentive for them to share anything.  In fact, over the past 50 years they have increasingly shared less. The wealth disparity in the US. is off the freaking chain, comparable to the gilded age, worse than apartheid South Africa, and worse than most other industrialized nations.

The Black Monolith does not have have to include all Black people in fact it does not need to include the majority of Black folks. We just need a critical mass of influencers, those with a platform to be on the same page.

If we agree that Walmart, as an example, are engaged in slave labor (exploiting the free labor of incarcerated Black men), then we should be able to execute a boycott of Walmart.  But right now many of our so called Black platforms are beholden to Walmart in the form of advertising, so they will not do anything to hurt an advertiser, even if they are enslaving other Black people.

 

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Well, I guess all of the black people who work at WalMart, glad to have a job that pays a $10.00 an hour wage, and all the others among them who appreciate a place who's prices they can afford, would have to be regarded as collateral damage in a boycott of this super store.  

And, I guess a black monolith is akin to a battery ram. After it topples the system, will the old system be replaced with a better one? Or will power corrupt? 

Who knows?  Who cares? You do.  Soldier on.

 

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SO you are saying the Black folks earning $10 an hour justifies enslaving people?  That question might sound hyperbolic, but I mean it in all seriousness.

To me that is like saying all the the enslaved african working in the big house, would lose their relative conform if we ended slavery.

Well we don't need to take down the whole system, we just need to make it work better for more people.  If Walmart were prevented from engaging in slavery, they would have to pay people for the work they do. 

 

 

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Troy, I kinda think you are out of touch with everyday black people. They don't have a lot of lofty goals. They are just trying to survive and to them what Walmart pays is more than the minimum wage and the only skill it requires is knowing how to work a cash register or stock merchandize. The subject of black unity is not a compelling one to them possibly because they've learned that talk is cheap; just like the goods they can get at Walmart.

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I'm sure you are right Cynique.  

But what was different about the people, or the circumstances in Montgomery that allowed the bus boycott to be initiated and succeed?

People risked jobs and endured a great deal of inconvenience for over a year.  There could have tolerated sitting in the back f the bus the way people tolerate making $10 and hour.

You were a grown woman when it took place were people that much different then than now?

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"In 2015, community giving in South Carolina from Walmart stores, clubs, and the Walmart Foundation totaled $30 million."

@Cynique  how I missed reading your contrarian views! When you and Troy mix it up we get solutions!  

Boycotting Walmart would absolutely be counter-productive. (I can't believe I'm writing this lol) Walmart provides employment to folks who would not otherwise have jobs, vegetables  in food deserts, and they give back to the neighborhoods they operate in to empower those people who are inspired to go beyond the $10 per hour gig... http://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/news/2016/10/14/urban-league-awarded-25k-grant/91938268/  - #solutions

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@Troy Yes, people in the south during the Montgomery bus boycott did endure inconveniences but rarely lost their jobs because this would have inconvenienced their white employees.

And, yes, things were different back then.  Racism was more blatant in the Jim Crow south and people were more motivated and full of hope for reform.  Now racism is more subtle and black people are skeptical rather than hopeful, many just resigned to getting in where they fit in.

What I don't think the generations following the civil rights movement realize is that this crusade was driven by just a core segment of the black population made up of those who were dedicated activists.  Just as many black folks were sympathetic to the marches and boycotts and demonstrations but did not participate in them, instead giving moral and often financial support, leaving the footwork to the folks in the trenches.  Here's where you, Troy, may have been misled by the media who made the world think the entire black population was mobilized and aggressive during this time, But  it wasn't.  Half of them were simply spectators who were rooting others on.  And many didn't agree with some of the drastic demonstrations.  Martin Luther King was criticized by some blacks, and ironically, Malcolm X was admired because he believed in just telling it like it was instead of trying to appeal to the conscience of whites by dramatizing black grievances with demonstrations

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Yes Mel, I too am surprised you would write that.  ;)

First that article was excerpted from a press release (I'm sure), if not it certainly read like it. 

Second, Walmart generated revenues just shy of half a trillion dollars last year.  $30 million isn't even a rounding error.  This would be like you or I donating a penny to a thousand different organizations, for them to divide.  Then writing a press release to pat ourselves on the back. Websites dutifully get their unpaid interns to publish this stuff because they have no other content to publish, because they can't pay journalist and remain in business.      

Third, sure Walmart provides millions of jobs.  But even if we ignored the horrifically low wages relative to revenue, that about the millions of higher paying jobs that were lost as a result of Walmart putting countless other business out of jobs.

Finally even if Walmart donated a sum that was meaningful relative to their bottom line, paid employees a living wage, and did not engage in monopolistic practices, none if this would justify the enslavement of Lord knows how many Black people.  

But if we looked at Walmart for what they are, sans the propaganda and hype, all Americans should boycott them not just the Black ones.  

 

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The problem is there isn't an alternative Troy. You can't provide the millions of workers with an alternative if they boycott. Wal Mart will simply push forward and hire other people who are willing to accept the wages and the wheel continues to roll downhill. The only thing you can hope for is another superpower will challenge their dominance and actually pay a living wage with benefits. It's the Trader Joe/Sprouts vs Whole Foods scenario. Whole Foods charges too much and it opens the door for more accurate pricing and Sprouts, Trader Joes, Fresh Market capitalize on Whole Foods failing to adjust and do the right thing. Wal-Mart dominates the low end marketplace, but they are getting their asses handed to the in e-commerce and this is also leading to an opening in brick and mortar. The only company capable of creating a better situation and forcing a change is Amazon and they have proven they can wipe out the competition and build their own and I see in the next 5 years Amazon getting into the retail space with superstores to rival Wal Mart. This is the only thing that will fix the situation.

People are no longer able to boycott as they did 50 years ago. We aren't confined to one area anymore. This has removed the ability for us to sustain through a boycott. If Blacks were still concentrated in one area then we could sustain a boycott.

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There are always alternatives Bruh :)

I was actually contemplating the prospect of customers boycotting Walmart, not the employees stricking.  But a strike--assuming not scab intervention--would have the immediate effect of shutting the franchise down and that may make sense too.

No I'm just talking about people like you and I spending our dollars are other stores; until Walmart ends the practice of using slave labor in our prison systems.

 

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I stopped shopping at Wal-Mart a long time ago, but that parking lot stays on Full. We live in a want it now society which just doesn't fit the idea of boycotting. The only alternative is a big competitor willing to pay working wages and the only competitor willing to take on that, that I can see is Amazon. We both know that isn't the answer, but it's the only company that can force a change in culture because the people won't do it. 

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@TroyI'm assuming that if you had your way, companies would not be in business to realize big profits by providing the supply for a demand.  Instead, they should mainly concern themselves with making life easier for those who are not as fortunate as they are. In other words, you think WalMart should function as a charitable organization. :unsure:    

 And, in keeping with maintaining your image as a player in the publishing industry, I'd be willing to bet that you spend your money at high-end, name-band stores - who outsource their work load. ;)

I'm not that big a fan of WalMart's merchandise  but where I live, its location is convenient, and I can usually find what I'm looking for there.  And as I have previously stated, all its black workers seem perfectly content with their unskilled jobs which provide them with the money for hair weaves and extensions, body piercings and colorful acryllic fingernails. So, who am I to burst their bubble?  :(

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Well Cynique if I had my way companies would not have the ability to make profits by enslaving Black people. It is not clear to my why folks are so willing to over look this thing.  Just because our sensibilities are not offended with the sight of negroes in picking cotton does not make the situation any less cruel.

Walmart can make money without taking advantage of enslaving people.

@Cynique, you should try to catch Ava DuVernay's Documentary ‘The 13th.’  I have not seen it yet, but I heard that they talk about Walmart taking advantage of slave labor right here in the United States.

And as far as fashion you definitely got me wrong on that point. I never was into brand names.  Besides today, I don't have the income to waste on over priced brand-name clothing.  I go for function and price over brand names.  I only buy clothing when something wears out, and my clothing takes a long time to wear out. So I don't buy new clothes very often.  Remember, I sell African American literature ;-)

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