Historically, the word 'black' always meant something bad. Black cat. Black magic.
According to Webster's Dictionary, among one of its meanings, 'blackout' means "to impose." Which is what Chicago-based attorney and national radio host Warren Ballentine has called for.
Beginning October 29 through November 2, Ballentine is calling for all Black Americans to take part in a National Blackout.
Look at the things that are happening in this country: unequal justice rapidly increasing. Black women popping up dead without a peep of media attention. President Bush commutes Scooter Libby's sentence but does not life a finger about six young Blacks -- the Jena 6.
Hate crimes, such as hanging nooses where Blacks can easily see them, are simply played of as pranks. Bush vetoes legislation to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program, claiming that it costs too much, "but we can fund billions of dollars for a war," says Ballentine, who hosts a morning talk show on XM Radio (Channel 169) and on several Radio One stations around the country.
When I first learned of Ballentine's plan, it clearly reminded me of James Baldwin's Blues for Mister Charlie. It was about the Black citizens of a Southern town who chose not to work for one day, and how it affected Whites.
Blacks spend an estimated $715 billion a year in the U.S., at least two billion a day. If we stop spending our money for one day, what impact that would make. "I want to scare the bejeeves out of the boys on Wall Street, Capitol Hill, and the lobbyists, and let them know that enough is enough," explains Ballentine. "As taxpaying citizens, we are tired of being taken advantage of and being lied to."
November 2 is National Blackout day. I am participating, and I urge you as well. I am keeping my hard-earned bucks in my pocket all week. No grocery shopping. I've filled up my gas tank so that I won't have to go there as well.
Why stop buying a few days before November 2, Ballentine was asked. "I don't want to come out and call it a one-week blackout," he says. "But if everybody gets everything by October 29 -- get your gas, toilet tissue, food, everything you need -- that means Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday that you are not spending money. Now, essentially a one-day blackout has turned into a four-day blackout. That's eight billion dollars that will not be in this economy."
Almost every caller to Ballentine's show claims they will support the Blackout. But of course, there are some who don't, such as a White caller. "Do the Blackout," the person urged, "but why don't you do something else. Just stay at home so we (Whites) don't have to see you."
"I have had a death threat, but I don't worry about things like that because I am a child of God," Ballentine points out.
Yes, we know that Denzel Washington's new movie also premieres November 2. "If you go see that movie (that day), you are paying Universal (the movie's distributors) not Denzel. He already has been paid," says Ballentine.
Furthermore, if this National Blackout is to be successful, Blacks must not make a mad dash to stores in the days prior to and on the days immediately following it. If stores and other businesses, most of which are corporate owned, have a major increase in sales as a result, then the Blackout will not create the impact that those of us who are participating wants to see.
The producers of the American economy, along with elected officials in Washington, need to feel the pain, if only for a few days.
We as Blacks in this country must also realize that our money is just as good as others. That our concerns are as real as others. That we are just as relevant as other groups. We need to make Mister Charlie Economy sit up and take notice of persons of color as serious economic players -- thus far we have just been getting economically played in this country.
The National Blackout is just the beginning. "We are calling for a national march on Washington after the National Blackout," notes Ballentine. Check out his truthfighters.org Web site for more details.
"I am trying to awaken the social conscience of the American people," concludes Ballentine. "If we don't wake up and see what is going on in this country, one day we are going to wake up and say, 'What went wrong in this country?'
"I am not just talking about Black folk, but (all) the American people," he says.