Solid Foundations — May 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman May 23rd, 2016

For decades several conscious and committed Black men and women have spoken, written books, taught, advised and, more importantly, initiated economic empowering projects and movements to help propel us to a higher level of mutual support and, thus, creating a solid foundation upon which our children can stand and build upon. We have demonstrated, in many ways and by several means, the solutions to the economic problems to which many of our “leading Blacks” just give lip-service.

This article is dedicated to Black folks who are willing to pay their blessings forward by helping others among us. It also cites, by way of relevant example, the magnitude and power that has accrued to one relatively small group of people in this country who work collectively in support of one another.

Sheldon Adelson, the international casino magnate, with a net worth of $25.5 billion (Source: Forbes Real Time Ranking), is among the ten wealthiest persons in the U.S. and ranks high among the wealthiest in the world. Of course, if you have not heard, he gives hundreds of millions to the Republican Party and its candidates. But he also started the Adelson Family Foundation in 2007, the primary purpose of which is to strengthen the State of Israel and the Jewish people; the Adelson Medical Research Foundation focuses on healthcare.

Aside from Adelson’s political ideology, something most of us would concentrate on and spend hours discussing, he is using his wealth to empower his people and to pay for medical research, special housing for the afflicted, and education for children with special needs—laudable by any measure. His is just one example of a member of what could be called a “minority group” that should, among other things, cause us to reflect on our philanthropic actions toward one another, that is, the power to control our collective financial assets to empower ourselves.

Sometime in the very near future, the Blackonomics Foundation will be introduced; formally established a few months ago, it will not be unveiled for several more months. Timing is everything, you know. Until then, and even afterward, there are Black foundations that are doing great work and are worthy of our praise and our dollars.

In my first two books (1998 and 1999) I lauded basketball great, Dikembe Mutombo Mutomboand his foundation, whose mission it was to build a hospital in the Congo. I also acknowledged Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning for contributing to that worthy cause. By the way, only three or four NBA players helped Mutombo in his effort to raise $49 million for the hospital. (The lack of support for our foundations, however, does not only exist among those who are super-rich; those of us at the lower rungs of the economic ladder fail to support them as well.)

There are others, but here is a great example: For nearly two decades now, NBA Hall of Famer, Alonzo Mourning, Mourning foundationand his wife, Tracy, have headed many charitable efforts as part of their commitment to “give back” to their community, especially to the young people of Miami. The Mourning Family Foundation has raised tens of millions of dollars toward that end and helped thousands of people; they are truly exemplary of what more Black folks should be doing.

In 2013, Mourning hired the former President of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, Bill Diggs, who invited me to speak at a chamber function in Miami a few years ago. With Diggs at the helm as President, and the Mourning’s having paved the way and set the tone, their Foundation will continue to maintain its high standards of excellence for years to come.

You folks in Miami should direct some of your money to the Mourning Family Foundation and show that you are willing to support this worthwhile charitable organization. Go online, check it out, and make it a monthly recipient of your overall tax-deductible donations. We must do a better job of supporting those who support us and our children.

Relatively speaking, each of us can do better, not only rich athletes but also the rest of us. If we would simply reflect on the greatness of our ancestors, their will to live and to provide for us, their progeny, we would do better. If we would consider the benefit of collective economic activity, the potential treasures we could amass for our progeny with our resources, Black people would surely live up to the greatness that is within us all.
Mourning
Mutombo cited a proverb to drive home his message, “Judge not the poor for their poverty, but judge the community for its indifference.” Well stated; but well-done beats well said every time. So I also say, “Well Done,” Alonzo and Tracy Mourning. http://www.mourningfamilyfoundation.org/

 

 

Let’s stop the bleeding — May 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman May 16th, 2016

There is a crisis of monumental proportion in our so-called “Black communities;” a crisis that if not checked will prove to be our demise. We are bleeding so badly that we are in a comatose state and on life support right now. But we still have a strong heartbeat; so we can be revived by those who have the financial and intellectual talents and the willingness to make the requisite individual sacrifices necessary to restore us to a more healthy state.

A cadre of individuals, not featured in the dominant media, is devoted to leading the charge for economic empowerment among Black people. These brothers and sisters are not afraid; they are not ashamed of being Black; they are not hiding behind organizations and in corporations; they are strong and unwavering in their message of economic empowerment. They are our Emergency Medical Technicians, the first ones on the scene to stop the bleeding and take us to a place where we can be treated and recover from our wounds.

Yes, we are bleeding profusely brothers and sisters, and we must stop the bleeding, not with a Band-Aid but with stitches. Our life-blood—our dollars are flowing out of our neighborhoods. The professionals call this phenomenon “float” or “expenditure leakage,” which translates into what the experts at the Brookings Institution called a “market opportunity to provide competitively priced goods and services to inner-city consumers.” A 1999 report issued by the Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, written by Robert Weissbourd and Christopher Berry, cited some glaring and, quite frankly, embarrassingly stark statistics that portray Black people as nothing more than “economic opportunities” for others.

Please note the report was not casting aspersions on Black folks, rather it was simply pointing out some facts about inner-city neighborhoods and their consumers and suggesting ways that businesses and government entities could better serve the residents as well as their own interests. It stressed investment opportunities within under-served neighborhoods and was positive in its approach to suggesting ways to effect much needed change.

Nevertheless, my take on this issue conjured up visions of massive hemorrhaging, and it very strongly suggested that we need to stop the bleeding. The report compared one of Chicago’s Southside neighborhoods to the affluent northern neighborhood of Kenilworth. It stated, “…urban neighborhoods like South Shore in Chicago have more buying power than the wealthiest of suburbs. South Shore’s median family income was $22,000 back then; Kenilworth’s was $124,000. But South Shore had $69,000 of retail spending ‘power per acre,’ nearly twice that of Kenilworth’s $38,000.” That means inner city residents, despite their tremendous resources, are virtually bleeding to death. Literally millions of dollars are leaving our neighborhoods, which in turn, also negatively affects our employment opportunities. It continued, “For business, this translates into lost sales, or what marketers call ‘float dollars.’ For inner city residents, these are ‘float jobs,’ as crucial dollars that could employ local residents and fuel the neighborhood economy are spent elsewhere.”

The only thing that has changed during the last sixteen years is our collective annual income, which is much higher. The problem is that we don’t learn from information like this and use it to improve our situation.

We are bleeding, brothers and sisters, and our blood is Type O, the “universal donor”—everybody benefits from it. We have EMT’s ready, willing, and able to apply the tourniquets and even to stitch up our wounds. It’s up to us, however, to access their expertise, to follow their instructions, and to take the prescriptions they write for us. If we are going to stop the bleeding, if we are going to put an end, once and for all, to the preventable loss of life blood – our dollars – from our neighborhoods, we must make the changes being recommended by our true economic leaders.

We must consider our “spending power per acre” as cited in the Brookings Report, just as others are considering it and gaining a stronger economic foothold in the billions Black people earn and spend each year. We must redirect a greater portion of our $1.2 billion aggregate annual income back to ourselves via our own businesses, and we must develop a culture of wealth retention, a culture of collective economic empowerment among our people, regardless of where we reside.

“Being poor doesn’t always mean being without resources. Anacostia is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., yet the total income of all its households is $370 million per year. The principal affliction of poor communities in the United States is not the absence of money, but its systematic exit.” Michael Shuman, Going Local

So, put the Band-Aids away; we need sutures. Let’s stop the bleeding, Black people. If we fail do so, our words are merely “Sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

 

 

Power Talk Three — May 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman May 9th, 2016

carl2Veteran radio talk show host, Carl Nelson, will present his third Power Talk event on June 17-19, 2016 at Union Temple Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. The event has featured the likes of Tony Browder, Ashra Kwesi, the late Dr. Frances Cress-Welsing, Pastor Willie Wilson, Dr. Claud Anderson, and Dr. Patricia Newton, among many others. The speakers are called “Power Talkers,” and rightly so because they are most knowledgeable in their particular fields of endeavor. They are unapologetically Black, and they impart their wisdom to a Black audience in an effort to create what I will call, “Power Doers.”

But, no matter who is doing the talking, if there is no subsequent follow through, quite frankly, what’s the point? Do we talk merely so that Black people can have more information, or is it merely to repeat the information we already have? Or is information just a “booster shot,” a reinforcement of sorts to keep us from being so discouraged that we give up on ourselves? If we do not respond appropriately to what we hear, specifically by executing strategies to eliminate some of the problems we discuss at these kinds of events, then we have relegated ourselves to mere cheerleaders for those who share their information with us. We do that so well (“Ase!” “Amen!” “That’s right!” “Teach!” “Tell it!”), but then we leave our haven of knowledge, go back into the real world, and do absolutely nothing except wait for Power Talk Four.

Our events should have legacies that we can celebrate and share when we meet again. We should have victories as a result of thousands of us coming together at an event, especially at a Power Talk event that showcases some of our top brothers and sisters. They are not the run-of-the-mill, milquetoast, talking-head Blacks who earn a great living discussing mundane issues and offering meaningless solutions to Black problems. Not only should we hear their words; we should act upon them.

At this year’s Power talk Three, there should be something that has taken place over the past year as a result of the information and instructions discussed at last year’s event. Doesn’t that make sense? I was one of the Power Talkers last year and have been invited to come back this year; as many of you know, I am also a “doer” even more so than a talker. So, during my speech last year I noted 16 things Black folks can do in response to my words.

I posited that some of our people are waiting for the world to end; some are waiting to be put into FEMA camps; some are waiting for racism to end; some are waiting for reparations; some are waiting for political fairness; some are waiting for equality; some are waiting to be rescued by who knows whom; and some of us are just waiting to be exterminated by the powers-that-be. My question was: “What are we doing while we wait?” As Red said in the movie, Shawshank Redemption, we had better “Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’”, thus, I offered the following things to do while we wait:

♦Work to raise our consciousness to a level of “unconscious competency;”
♦Leverage our collective dollars against injustice and inequity by withdrawing them;
♦Use our collective consumer dollars to create conscious Black millionaires;
♦Leverage our collective votes against “politricksters”;
♦Establish more viable, professional, well-managed businesses, and support them;
♦Establish Black owned and controlled trusts, equity funds, revolving loan programs, legal “offense” funds, and endowments;
♦Form strategic alliances and partnerships that can take on larger projects;
♦Scale up our businesses to the point of being able to hire our own people—our own youth;
♦Teach our youth the history of Black business—even before we were brought here;
♦Teach entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial thinking to our young people;
♦Make our demands on politicians from a position of economic strength;
♦Vote as a bloc for those who publicly state and commit in writing their support for our interests;
♦Withhold our votes from anyone and any party that does not support our interests;
♦Hold ourselves accountable for our own freedom;
♦Organize ourselves around practical economic and political solutions that benefit us; and
♦Commit some of our time, talent, and treasure to the uplift of our people,
WHILE WE WAIT!

I will add one more: Join the One Million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors at www.iamoneofthemillion.comone million2

To the attendees of Power Talk Three, commit to being “Power Doers” when you leave. That way, when it returns next year, we will have much to celebrate. And to the Power Talkers, as my colleague, DSC_0108Amefika Geuka has proposed, commit to joining the Harvest Institute Think Tank, and use your collective talents to help us actually solve our problems.

 

 

Stop whining—Start grinding — May 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman May 1st, 2016

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
— William Arthur Ward

It’s interesting how the young folks have started using a term that describes what the older folks should be doing. I hear young people saying, “I’m grinding,” and I hear older folks whining. Young people know they have to “just do it,” as the saying goes, in order to achieve their dreams. In many cases they are willing to take risks and forego the creature comforts that could accrue to them via high level corporate salaries. They are willing to sacrifice in order to pursue their own path in life, unconstrained by the “rules” someone else sets for them.

We older folks are not as willing to do the work appertaining to progress; instead we are still relying on politicians to make things better for us. We do a lot more whining than grinding when it comes to our collective—and sometimes even our individual economic freedom.

I hear it on the radio and on news shows all the time from so-called leaders and from so-called liberated Black folks. They whine about what the “Man” is doing to us, how our collective fate is not in our own hands but someone else’s, what “we need to do,” how “unequal” we are in income, wealth, and social opportunities, and how many of us are in prison. They can recite all the stats and all the history surrounding our current demise. They reminisce about Kemet and other ancient African contributions to the world. They talk about “Black Wall Street” and invoke the names of our great icons; and they continue to lament and chronicle, as Maulana Karenga says, “Litanies of lost battles.”

While many of us are very adept at talking about our problems, far fewer of us are willing to get into the fray and do the work to ameliorate our problems—even though the solutions to our problems are relatively simple to implement.

Co-convener of the One million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors (www.iamoneofthemillion.com), Amefika Geuka,DSC_0108 wrote a “Black Paper” in 2007 in which he stated, “[Our] vision is of a transformed Black community where our people radically improve the quality of their lives and surroundings. We will accomplish this by implementing programs and ventures designed specifically for the unique needs of people of African descent – without apology! This will result in the complete elimination of the ‘slave mentality’ and dependence on the gratuity of others that it promotes. We will cease to be the ‘weakest link in the chain,’ or weakest ‘patch’ in the ‘quilt-like’ fabric of American society and that of the world.”

Rhetoric not followed by action is meaningless; and whining not supplanted by grinding only displays weakness and apathy. Booker T. Washington said, “The world might pity a whining nation, but it will never respect it [until it respects itself enough to do for itself].”

If we would turn our whining into grinding, not worrying as much about the external factors but concentrating on our internal resources with which to “accomplish what we will,” Black people would be much better off.

Politically speaking, Black folks are now so engulfed in Presidential candidates, thinking once again that our salvation somehow lies within them. Some of our Black political hacks are whining about which candidate will do the most for us, which is kinda like two enslaved people arguing over which plantation and “master” are better. If we continue to seek the largess of a political candidate without having a reasonable assurance that he or she will do more than talk about our situation, we will continue to get the same thing we have always gotten from them: more rhetoric. Stop waiting to hear their patronizing words regarding Black issues; start demanding what we want, and then be prepared to respond with our votes and our dollars. We must negotiate from a position of strength not with idle threats and saber-rattling, but by withholding our votes and our dollars if they do not support our demands. What do we have to lose?

The State of North Carolina is currently being economically punished because of its stand on which bathrooms transgender persons can use. Corporations are withdrawing their dollars and other threats abound by athletic groups and such. Question: Why isn’t the same thing happening on behalf of Black folks when it comes to voter suppression in that state? Have you heard any corporation threaten to leave or boycott Carolina on behalf of Black people? The POTUS even spoke up for the transgender people. Similar to the Indianapolis, Indiana case and the purported discrimination against gay people by businesses, corporations said they would move and the NCAA said it would cancel its events in that city if the law was not reversed. Guess what. The law was changed.

We are too busy counting votes to realize that our dollars count for more. Stop Whining and Start Grinding.