By Toure Muhammad
CHICAGO—Media personalities, Black business owners, activists and others joined Charles S. Dutton, producer of the new film, The Obama Effect for a real barbershop discussion about politics, economics, and community here July 11.
Organized by Kenya Roberson of FAM Entertainment, the event, “Community Day of Conversation” held at the Hyde Park Hair Salon—the official barbershop of U.S. President Barack Obama—was designed to both allow Dutton an opportunity to discuss the film as well as have an empowering and inspirational conversation with community about social, political and economic issues affecting the Black community.
WVON’s Kendall Moore, who emceed the discussion, urged the audience to go home with something that they can do that will help improve the community and ask themselves honestly have they benefited from Obama’s presidency and what would it mean if he’s not reelected.
Other participants included Rev. Walter A. Jones of Fathers Who Care, Kelly Price, author of Perfectly Planned and anti-domestic violence advocate.
I was honored to be a requested speaker at this event and echoed the words and advice of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan who told us many years ago that “politics without economics is symbol without substance.”
In order to have a strong political effort, we need strong business like the Gardners of Soft Sheen and John H. Johnson of Johnson Publishing who were a key reason why the late mayor Harold Washington became the first Black mayor of Chicago.
They put their money behind a candidate they could believe in. Those elected officials that we believe in need not only our vote, but they need money to run a successful campaign. This will help us to better hold them accountable as well. This is why we need to support quality, community-mined Black businesses that we can support. We share common concerns about the community.
Now, that may seem like a challenge, but what many of us do now is not working. Does it really make sense to complain about the Republican Party then go to a store, spend your money and that store use a portion of their profits earned by your support and fund mainly Republican candidates that you disagree with?
A prime example of the kind of power Black businesses should have and exhibit across the country for both local and national campaigns is this film produced by Dutton and Barry Hankerson. They produced the film independently.
“The Obama Effect is a pro-Obama film,” said Dutton, who wrote, directed and stars in the film opened the conversation explaining why he made this film independently and really gave lessons to up and coming filmmakers on the key to controlling their own destiny in the entertainment business.
“This is an unapologetically, unabashedly, and unashamedly pro-Obama film,” said Dutton. “I could have pitched the idea to a studio and probably got it made by a studio… but I didn’t want a studio or studio executive dictating to me what kind of film I could or could not do on the first Black president. On that some token, we never reached out to the Obama campaign or the cabinet because I didn’t want to be dictated to on that side of the fence either.”
“It’s a film that let’s you know in the end that the rumble ain’t over; 2008 is history and this one is survival,” said Dutton. This is possible only when you have the resources to fund your own dreams and vision.
Overall the conversation focused on why Pres. Obama deserves and needs a second term and what the community can and must do to not only re-elect Obama but also how the community and the businesses can and must unite to ensure his reelection and to develop opportunities for community development that are driven by the community, but supported by Pres. Obama.