By Mumia Abu-Jamal, M.A.
#496 Column Written 2/13/2001
All Rights Reserved

News Item: Former U.S. President, Bill Clinton, stung
by criticism stemming from the almost $600,000 a year
costs of his offices in mid-town Manhattan, has sought
offices in the city's uptown Harlem district, where
costs are expected to be half the mid-town rate.

Not since the slim, ascetic Muslim Minister, Malcolm
X, strolled Harlem streets, has the chocolate colony
seen such excitement.  This time, an ex-president, one
both loathed and loved, comes to Harlem to establish
his base of operations, and by so doing, has
demonstrated the twin, contradictory sides of his
political persona.

Former president Clinton has, in his long 8 years at
the helm of the U.S. Ship of State, presided over an
explosion in the crippling prison industrial complex,
the expansion of the U.S. death penalty, and the
related contraction of the constitutional right to
habeas corpus, all of which have had a demonstratively
injurious effect on America's Black population.  In
order to obtain his office, he traded in Black death,
by overseeing the state murder of brain-damaged death
row captive, Ricky Ray Rector; in order to retain his
office, he leapt to betray the Black bourgeoisie, by
the abandonment of high justice dept. candidate, law
professor, Lani Guinier, and former Surgeon General,
Dr. Joycelyn Elders.

That said, Clinton remains a genuinely beloved figure
in Black America, so much so that when he was attacked
by his political adversaries on the right, Blacks felt
almost as if they were attacked, and were, by far, the
most vigorous in his defense among American
constituencies. America's perhaps greatest living
writer, Toni Morrison, went just a tad beyond
hyperbole when she affectionately dubbed the Arkansan
"America's first Black president."

Beyond his almost legendary political skills, there
must be other reasons for this weird political
courtship between African-Americans and Bill Clinton.
It's not his much-vaunted upbringing in poverty, for
despite the conventional wisdom, several U.S.
presidents (for example, Garfield, Andrew Johnson, and
Andrew Jackson) had an impoverished youth.

It seems like it's not so much Clinton, the man, as it
is Clinton, the man who spent his youth on the
periphery of the Civil Rights Movement and adulthood
in the proximity of the largest generation of Black
professionals in U.S. history.

It is therefore a case of interaction, and as Clinton
courted the black bourgies, he studiously ignored the
wretched suffering, imprisonment, scapegoating, and
cop repression against the black poor in the urban

And the black bourgeoisie, following their own class
interests, joined him in either ignoring or damning
the so-called "black underclass."  For what else was
that so-called Welfare Reform but more war on the

Now, as the nation's former chief executive takes up
digs in Harlem, the bourgies once again preen at their
new neighbor, while for the poor, it just means more
gentrification, and therefore a harder struggle to
afford rapidly rising rents.

It's about time millions of African-Americans learned
who their real friends are.(c)MAJ 2001

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only with the inclusion of the following copyright

Text (c) copyright 2001 by Mumia Abu-Jamal. All rights
reserved. Reprinted by permission of the author.

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Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of three books: 'Live
from Death Row', 'Death Blossoms', and 'All Things
Censored'. A new biography, 'On A Move: The Story of
Mumia Abu-Jamal', is available at www.MumiaBook.com