The Peregrine History Forum will sponsor the documentary, “State of the Union: the Color of Freedom is Green” (2002), at the Dardanelles on
Sunday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. A timely discussion on the role of capital in the U.S. political agenda, the 45-minute documentary features comments
from Calvin Butts, Allen Callahan and Kathleen Cleaver.
“We offered a prayer,” says the voice of the late comedian, Richard Pryor. “And the prayer is: How long will this bulls—t go on?”
The camera pans across images of the homeless interspersed with black and white footage of wealthy Whites from the Roaring Twenties era.
“Institutional barriers have been in place for 200 years,” states Cleaver. To put it bluntly, she adds, the rich have become richer and the poor have
I n the background, the faces of Washington, Lincoln, Franklin — symbols of American money, are in juxtaposition with images of American
politicians. “Politicians change,” Butts explains. “But there is a permanent government of business men and women who remain in place. And they
tend to pull the strings.”
“True power is money.” This money is controlled, Cleaver argues, by corporations.
State of the Union shows how political clout is equated with money and not only determines who will be the peoples’ representative, but also
determines the value or lack of value of the individual voters. The moneyed business men and women hand over large sums to certain politicians for
something in exchange. As Allen Callahan charges, the interests of the moneyed folks are not the same as those without money. This situation, he
declares, suggest that “there is no longer a functioning democracy. We don’t know it yet.”
Consequently, the most vulnerable people in this quagmire are the poor and predominantly Black, argues Cleaver. “They are targeted because of
color,” lack of education, and/or impoverishment. These are the people who “really have no power to affect what is happening to them.”
In turn, Butts explains, these people can’t look to the Democratic Party, because the Democrats “have taken the Black vote for granted” while the
Republicans have long written off the Black vote.
Cleaver poses the question: “Who consents to what goes on in government, in Congress?”
Not the Black, poor, or low-wage earner, as the State of the Union shows. In a “political oligarchy,” the votes are not the real fuel of politics. “It is
money.” Money, Callahan argues, determines who runs for office. Money resides in the corporations, entities that are not human. The corporations,
in fact, have the power to cause and to end wars. Callahan continues: “I can refuse to be a chump and [not] participate in my own
disenfranchisement and [not] help them fill out this window-dressing masquerading as democracy here. I can say ‘I don’t want to play.’” But, as Cleaver
argues, there are not many leaders who are concerned with “social justice and transformation.” And if they are, she states, “the media [corporate
controlled] would make fun of them.”
Wealthy Blacks are not among that corporate power base, for “being a member of a racially disfavored group establishes what class you’re in,”
Cleaver explains. “So even if you are major rich, you can still be told to get off the bus.” When you become wealthy, she states, you don’t become
White. Consequently, as Butts asserts, people of color can’t buy an election.
Butts declares that Black people “live with terrorism everyday” because social, economic, and legal justice are being trashed. For both Butts and
Cleaver, the lack of meaningful education, street violence, police brutality, infant mortality, unemployment, and broken families are signs of a crisis
not just in the Black community but in American society where the emphasis is on capital to the exclusion of human rights.
Furthermore, Cleaver adds, “Half the crime in the U.S. is not committed by Blacks and Latino young men. So something else is going on.” “It’s
irrational and it’s destructive,” she concludes, for it’s indicative of a social collapse.
While we are dealing with a level of ignorance because some people “don’t really want to know,” the corporate-sponsored media has taught the
American public to “assume that certain things are irrelevant if it happens among certain kinds of people.”
State of the Union ends with a note of optimism: Change comes one person at a time. Cleaver explains, “We have to get to a point where people
recognize that discrimination, poverty and housing and economic exploitation are morally reprehensible. That takes changing the way people think
and in the way they interpret the world around them.” To effect change, we must have people willing to sacrifice, struggle, educate to free ourselves
from the values of this society. Cleaver concludes, it’ll be the people who make it “morally reprehensible to continue” with business as usual.
Stay for the discussion to follow the showing of State of the Union.