Robert Patillo (Photo Source: Courtesy of Robert Patillo)

When it comes to talk radio, Atlanta has some outstanding hosts on the airwaves on local radio station WAOK 1380 AM. One of these hosts is  attorney and Fox News commentator Robert Pattillo who often gives a Black conservative view of current events.

What issues that face the Black community could change the most drastically if we united?
Economic development. If you look at other enslaved or colonized communities globally the U.S. Black community leads the way in the distance which we have come since throwing off the shackles of subjugation.

However, this progress is not without externalities. The socioeconomic divide is most stark in our community where some individuals harbor great wealth but not great control over the economies of our community. We do not own factories, mining, means of production or the land needed for lasting economic independence. This is why unity is so important. If we dedicated ourselves to fully exerting our political power as we did in the 1950s and 1960s we could find a solution to everything from the prison industrial complex to generational poverty. A united voice is a key to no longer being subjected to the public policy and instead of being beneficiaries of the same.

What does the recent decisions not charging police with the killing of unarmed Black men mean for Black people? What message is being sent?
The message being sent is the laws need to be changed on the Federal level. This issue is nationwide and cannot be changed by any single state or municipality. This is not an intractable issue. We know the solutions but simply as a society have not shown the will to do so. We need federal training standards for all officers, mandatory tamper proof body cameras, an investment in better protection for officers and most important a waiver of sovereign immunity for municipalities allowing victim’s families to recover uncapped damages from cities. When a few cities go bankrupt as a result of their officers killing people you will see the rash of police killings come to an end.

What is your opinion of the leadership of President Barack Obama compared to President Donald Trump during this crisis?
President Obama abandoned the Black Community when it came to police shootings. After making an initial statement on the killing of Trayvon Martin, because of the political blowback, he reframed from making police reform and driving cause during his administration. Democrats, in general, felt that they could win because they assumed that no matter what Black voters would come out and support them. Because of this since 2008 Democrats have lost over 1000 elections on the state and national level. Policies could have at a minimum been proposed and debated in Congress to address this issues, however, the fear of the police unions and negative media attention caused the Black Ccmmunity to be left alone with no political allies and as a result, people have died through inaction.

 What are Black people missing by not studying their past?
The past is prologue. In the years that man has been on this planet it is very likely that whatever you or your community has been experienced by your ancestors. Thus analysis of our history, our heroes, and our ancestors can act as a road map leading us through our currents tribulations. If you want to know how to fix the gang problem read African proverbs about Tribal wars. If you are looking for solutions to healing the black family, look to the kings and queens of our past. By studying our history you have what is the equivalent of a cheat sheet to solving the problems of today.

Where are the leaders who will take the place of Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton?
Every generation raises its own generation of leaders to lead in their own ways. There should not be an expectation that Gen X and millennials will produce a new generation of Civil Rights leaders. I’m 32 and don’t think that the future of the Black community will be decided by Civil Rights leaders but rather social media and technology leaders. The new leaders are here and they are already working in their own way to shift the paradigm and move the community forward. We don’t need singular messianic figures to lead us, but rather, through the democratization of information via the internet more people around the country are gaining a voice and learning to lead in their own ways.

How does the media play a role in the miseducation of Black Americans?
The media has been a tool to divide and destroy Black America for generations. Even looking at newspaper accounts from the 18th and 19th centuries you see Black America depicted as ignorant, lazy and violent. Compared to the modern media landscape very little has changed. Between rappers promoting drugs and violence, reality shows pushed fighting and drama and the news pushing the narrative that blacks are violent and ignorant Black America is as susceptible to miseducation as at any time in our history.

However, in today we have the benefit of the internet which allows individuals to choose what information and media outlets. Our community has the ability to counter media miseducation with community education with the ability to change our destiny.

What should Black people do collectively as a community politically and socially in 2017?
2017 is the year Black people should put themselves first. For the last generation, we have accepted second class citizenship in American politics. Whether it is LGBTQ community, the Jewish community, immigrant community, environmental lobby or almost any other interest group; their political agenda has been placed before that of the Black community and we have accepted it. In the mean time, we have experienced mass incarceration and a degradation in the quality of life in our communities. We have to place ourselves at the forefront of State, Local and National politics in order to achieve concrete goals and legislative victories that can propel the next generation into prosperity.

What are you currently reading?
I’m currently finishing up Adam by Adam, the autobiography of Adam Clayton Powell

What books are a must to have a modern political perspective?
Books that I think everyone should read to give a perspective on modern political issues in the Black community are some classics regarding political theory. Everything from Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes, American Crisis by Thomas Paine, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money by John Maynard Keynes and The Complete Works of Seneca the Younger, are a good start.

If you were able to have an intellectual dinner party of great minds, what three persons would you invite and why?
St. Augustus of Hippo, Mansa Musa, and Hammurabi.

In closing, what final thoughts would you like to leave our readers?
The Black community does not have any permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interest. Any analysis of the history of the Black community as it relates to American politics shows that we progress most when we are an independent, swing voting block. As a united group, we are able to swing elections, shape policy and drive the national conversation. But when we are splintered and fight against each other we stagnate and regress. Place your community before your political party or alliances and work to build the future that you know our community deserves. We have the ability and capacity to solved the generational problems of our community, we simply need to put a plan into motion that will advance our people

Mo Barnes

"Mo Betta" Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician.