Volume 7, Number 7                                                  January 28, 2004

The Farmer

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"Dumb Poker"

by Dr. Ridgely Abdul Mu’min Muhammad

The above diagram represents a concept to describe the relationship between Black people and the white system or what I call "Dumb Poker". It is a variant of whites basic game called "Divide and Conquer", but this time they act like they are divided so that you will think that you had a chance at winning. "Dumb Poker" is also similar to the "Good Cop/Bad Cop" game played by the police department and the two party system of government (Democrats and Republicans). "Dumb Poker" encompasses a number of relationships, such as the Black farmers lawsuit or any court proceedings, Blacks doing business with white folk, Blacks going to school with white folk, Blacks dealings with the US government and possibly many more examples.

The basic structure of this game called "Dumb Poker" is that white folk first "Discriminate" to control the number of participants in the game (divide). Blacks outnumber whites throughout the world, but whites make sure that they engage only a minority of that majority or they simply will not participate. Next "They Cheat" and collude behind the scenes to "conquer" the unsuspecting victim (player "D"). As the game proceeds it may seem like player "A" won and players "B", "C" and "D" loss, but behind the scenes player "A" shares his take with players "B" and "C". Player "D" walks away broke, confused and with diminished self-confidence.

Let us see how this game plays out with the black farmers lawsuit against the USDA filed in 1999. First of all the courts refused to hear a number of previous attempts at bringing the USDA to task. This is the "Discrimination" phase of the game. They limit who and how many can even get into the "game" and they don’t allow the rest to see what is going on in the "playing field" (court).

Next the farmers did not find out until too late that player "A" (the lawyers for the USDA), player "B" (the judge) and "C" (their own lawyers) worked closely behind the scenes to produce an out of court settlement which insured that 40% of the farmers would lose. Settling out of court also prevented the black farmers from telling their stories to a jury of their peers which was another form of "Discrimination".

The farmers also did not know that there was a law produced in 1996, a year after the Million Man March, that changed how rewards from Civil Rights law suits would be handled by the IRS. As of 1996 the lawyer’s fees in non-personal injury civil rights cases would not be tax deductible. This means that the plaintiff would have to pay taxes on the money that he had to pay the lawyers instead of those expenses being deducted before figuring tax liabilities as is done in every other case. So it is possible, and it has happened, that some "winners" in civil rights lawsuits have had an IRS tax liability greater than the residuals that they received from "winning" the lawsuit ("Reparations" beware).

This same scenario with the black farmers is played out everyday in courts across America where black defendants are prosecuted by player "A", sold out by their own lawyers (player "C") and the judge (player "B") sits up their in his black robe condoning the miscarriage of justice.

To demonstrate how this "Dumb Poker" game works in business I will describe an actual set up at a farmers’ market in Georgia. This market is set up as an "auction market". There are about six major buyers that bid against each load of produce that the farmers bring in. What has happened to Black farmers including myself is that the competing bidders allow one of them to get all of the load dirt cheap, then they go back to their warehouses and split the load.

In the educational arena, I witnessed while I was a graduate student at Michigan State, undergraduate black students consistently did poorly on tests. What I found out was that white students who were members of sororities or fraternities would have a file on each teacher, including past tests. The white students would study these past tests knowing that the teachers would take questions from previous tests, mix them up a little bit and produce a new test with many of these same questions. So the white students studied the tests while the black students studied the book.

The US government is divided into the legislative, judicial and executive branches supposedly to act as a check and balance of powers. But when Blacks face this bureaucracy it becomes a question of hide and seek justice, or rights hidden in a "shell game." Here is another example of "Dumb Poker" being played in the black farmers’ fight against the USDA.

President Reagan (the executive branch) in 1982 used his executive powers to cut funds for the Civil Rights division of the USDA that was mandated by congress (the legislative branch). Farmers wanted to sue the USDA for discrimination or negligence in how discrimination cases were handled. However, the USDA claimed that they did not have adequate funding to process the discrimination claims although the farmers had legitimate complaints. The federal courts (judicial branch) later refused to bring Reagan to trial because of executive privilege. So there!!!

"Dumb Poker" has been played over and over again in different arenas with the same results, Blacks losing and white folks getting richer. I would suspect that this same game will be brought forward as Blacks’ call for "Reparations". Now let’s see, who are the players, "A", "B" and "C"? And who is "D" this time, Blacks, African-Americans or direct descendants of slaves?