Award Shows – Confusion, Delusion, Exclusion — July 2014

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman July 6th, 2014

Searching through a dictionary of obscure words, I came across the word, “Babeldom,” which means “a confused sound of voices.” Babel, of course reminded me of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11.tower-of-babel-19-jun-091 Next, I thought about the BET Awards and, of course, economic empowerment. What? C’mon, Jim, that’s a stretch. Yeah, maybe, but go with me on this one and let’s see.

I did not watch the awards show, but I did see a news clip of Nicki Minaj’s acceptance speech as well as many of the various comments about the show on Face Book and Twitter. Despite Ms. Minaj’s esoteric words, I did pick up on her reference to BET being Black owned. I wondered how many in the audience thought the same—or even cared.

Having seen some of these shows in previous years, when I saw the word, “Babeldom,” I made three connections to the collective economic condition of Black folks. The first one centered on language and the “confused” state of many of our people; the second dealt with arrogance, ignorance, and acceptance of mediocrity; and the third was responsibility.

The builders of the Tower of Babel were arrogant, not only because they thought they could build a tower up to heaven, but also because they wanted to “make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” They were also ignorant of God’s power over their lives because even though they considered Him their deity, they chose to “do their own thing” despite His instructions to their forebears in Chapter 9. They thought they were “all that,” but He stopped them in their tracks.

A few years ago I did a sermon titled, “Babbling or Building,” in which I compared talking “in a confused state” (Babeldom) and actually building something, according to what we say we believe and spiritually hold dear. This is not a sermon, but I hope someone in the ranks of hip-hop will see it and respond appropriately to this message.

The quandary for many of our people is that we are walking contradictions to much of what we say; our actions belie our words and in some cases make a mockery of them. For example, virtually every awardee on these shows begins by saying, “I want to thank God…” Their actions, however, reflect the exact opposite of one of God’s most important principles: Being a good steward of their financial blessings.Rossplies jewelry

There is probably a few billion dollars in the bank accounts of the BET awardees and attendees, more than enough to do great things for Black people. Question is: How are those dollars being managed? There was a lot of babbling in the room that night; I wonder how much building was taking place, notwithstanding Minaj thinking that BET was Black owned.

What is the end game for many of our talented young rappers? Is it receiving an award? Is it being able to buy all the expensive vodka and brandy they want? Is it blowing $100,000 at a strip club?raining money Is it having ten cars, five homes, and a $100,000 wardrobe? I don’t know, but much of what we see does not speak to good stewardship of their blessings, especially in light of their consistent and obligatory need to say “I want to thank God.”

I know there are a few conscious hip-hop builders, but the babblers get the most recognition, which is by design. Here’s a thought: A “Black Consciousness Award” for next year’s show, based on the redeeming value of the artist’s actions not just his or her rhetoric.

Hip-hop artists, please refrain from the “Babeldom,” and offer words of wisdom to the nation when you speak. You are wasting your influence and squandering your precious resources. Use your tremendous leverage to get Viacom/BET to do more than give you awards. Build and leave an economic legacy from your work; we hardly need to see an award show every month or so anyway.

Don’t be arrogant or ignorant, and do not accept or allow your name to be associated with mediocrity and buffoonery. Use your wealth to build something positive, not just for yourselves individually but collectively for your people as well. You have the ability and resources to do that. Do you have the consciousness to do it?

I am sorry this message could not be communicated in 140 characters, but some things are just too important for such brevity. I leave you with a few more words, directly from God, about those who tried to build the Tower of Babel. He said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.”



The Power of Power Talk — June 2014

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman June 28th, 2014

The recent gathering of serious, conscious, and intelligent brothers and sisters in Washington, DC on June 21, 2014, was so refreshing and stimulating. The event was called Power Talk One, and it was organized by Carl Nelson, radio talk show host par excellence, whose show is carried from 4-7PM weekdays on WOL-1450, in the District of Columbia and across the nation. Gatherings like this one are too few and far between, and I am so excited about its future plans, which will be shared in various circles very soon.

Some doubted the turnout would be significant, but there was standing room only at the Plymouth Baptist Church, as 1200 people showed up. The sanctuary was filled, including the balcony and choir sections, as well as the overflow room where attendees could listen to the proceedings. It was scheduled to end at 6PM but did not dismiss until 9PM.

Power Talk One was sponsored by a Black owned corporation, Radio One, which is significant because too often Black event planners and organizers run to corporations owned by non-Blacks for financial support. A few years ago I spoke at a Juneteenth celebration and said, “How can we celebrate our freedom if we cannot pay for our freedom celebration with Black dollars?”

My point is that we should not overlook the pleasant and rare fact that a Black company was the sole sponsor of Power Talk One, a Black event. Props to Cathy Hughes and Radio One.

Power Talk One brought in men and women from Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, North Carolina, Detroit, Georgia, Illinois, Oklahoma, Maryland, Philadelphia, Virginia, Ohio, Florida, and points in between. They came because of Carl Nelson’s powerful radio show and his many years of dedication and commitment to the unyielding pursuit of knowledge and commensurate action. They came because they know Carl’s show informs Black folks (and anyone else who listens) of important issues that will have a positive effect on his audience.carl2

They came because they know the Carl Nelson Show features a wide variety of guests, many of whom should be featured on TV news shows and national panels that deal with Black issues but are not included on the usual list of Black go-to guys and gals. They came because the Power Talk One list of speakers comprised the likes of Dr. Claud Anderson, Dr. Francis Cress-Welsing, Dr. Tony Browder, Dr. Umar Johnson, Dr. Patricia Newton, and the venerable and indefatigable Dick Gregory. Yeah, that was the icing on the cake; and those brothers and sisters turned the place out.Power Talk1

“The positive energy in the room was palpable,” said an ebullient and proud Carl Nelson. Folks from every corner of this country were there, some having slept in their cars after driving hundreds of miles to be at this event,” Nelson continued, “they were eager not only to hear but to interact with our august group of speakers. The meeting exceeded my expectations and I am so honored to have been involved.”

The Power Talk One gathering was certainly not unique, but it was necessary, timely, and significant as it relates to how we must not only “come together” but also “work together” on solutions so desperately needed for Black people to move in a positive direction toward economic empowerment, historical relevance, educational excellence, and social consciousness. I applaud Power Talk One and Carl Nelson for bringing this event to fruition. Power talk2

As we move forward, it is vital for us to do more to help ourselves with the tremendous resources, both financial and intellectual, that are available within our ranks as Black people. In light of our people always looking for what we already have, it is refreshing to see a group of Black people, from grassroots to PhD’s, in one room, with no one trying to be the HNIC, and with so much positive energy, seeing and hearing what we have and being willing to utilize those resources.

One last but important thing: As I always say, everything we do takes money. Radio One stepped to the front and sponsored Power Talk One. I am calling on all those business owners who attended and those who could not, to buy advertisements on the Carl Nelson Show. Ad revenues provide the opportunities to present these kinds of events to the public. Let’s practice the Maát principle of Reciprocity to show our gratitude for Power Talk One. I have already gotten one company (maybe two) to buy ads. Do your part to support Power Talk, but not just by saying how great it was and how good it made you feel. Help sustain it with your dollars. This was not just a “rap and clap session;” there is action to follow but, as usual, we have to write some checks. Power Talk3



Race to the Bottom — June 2014

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman June 22nd, 2014

If you and your children were sitting at the dinner table, with no food and no prospects for getting any, what would you say to them and what would you do? Would you tell them they have no food because you cannot get a job? Would you tell them the reason they are hungry is that racism exists? Would you try to make them understand that their lack of food is the fault of some Asian, White, or Arab boogeyman who wants Black people to starve to death? What would you say?

Would you swallow your pride and ask a friend or relative or social agency for immediate help? Would you go out and get them some food by any means necessary? Rob? Steal? Borrow? Would you go to a church and ask for food? What would you do?

That scenario, as farfetched as it may seem, is something we should at least think about. As the so-called middle class swiftly disappears, and poor people having to deal with issues like this every day, it would be wise to have a plan just in case we find ourselves at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs triangle.
At this point in our nation, despite what we are being told, the economy is not growing and not getting better, especially for Black people. It does not matter how “optimistic” Black folks are, as the Urban League Report states, we are in serious trouble in this land of plenty. You cannot pay your grocery bill with optimism; you cannot stay cool or warm with a fuzzy feeling; and you cannot tell your children to be optimistic and make their hunger pangs stop.
Hosehold expenses
The realities of life require pragmatic responses, and our response to being economically weak, fragile, and unstable is ridiculously inappropriate. When we were in second place in this country, as it pertains to population, business ownership, and attention from the politicians, we received a few concessions via a couple of laws that soon morphed into benefits not only for us but for virtually everyone else. We were the “minority du jour” for a few decades, but others have now passed us by.

Now, after being passed by Asians, Asian- Indians, and Hispanics when it comes to business ownership and profitability, we find ourselves in fourth place. To quote Dr. Claud Anderson, who warned us many years ago about moving to third place, “If we didn’t get anything when we were in second place, what do you think we will get in third place?” Now we are even further behind, so much so that some of us are faced with having to decide how our children will eat.

Let me put it in graphic terms. According to the 2007 economic census, Black business receipts totaled $136 billion; Asian businesses, $506 billion; Asian Indian, businesses $152 billion.

The number of Black businesses that had employees was 106,566; Asian businesses, 397,426; Asian-Indian, 109,151. The number of employees in Black businesses was 909,552; Asian businesses, 2,807,771; Asian-Indians, 844,177.

Now compare the above statistical data to the following: There were 1,197,864 Black owned businesses in 2007; 1,549,559 for Asians; and just 308,491 for Asian-Indians. My point is grounded in these data but also in the economic plight of Black people compared to other groups. Being in fourth place, with a $1.1 trillion annual aggregate income, is unconscionable and outrageously self-defeating.

So while you may not be confronted by such a drastic situation as the one noted in the beginning of this article, you are now facing drastic price increases for food, energy, and gasoline. These are day-to-day necessities. How will you deal with acquiring what you need?

One way is to find an additional revenue stream. There are ways to get more money, that is, if we are willing to make the requisite sacrifices. It takes money to make money, you know. Another way is to grow some of your own food; if you have a little dirt somewhere, drop some seeds into it, and cut down on your food bill. Bartering goods and services is also a great way to save money; form a bartering circle in your church, for instance.

Finally, start a business and support the businesses we already have. Circulating our dollars among our own businesses is a sure-fire way to be economically empowered; but you already know that, don’t you? If not, just look at the groups in front of us and see what they are doing.

We are at the bottom now; when this nation’s economy collapses it, will collapse on us. Poverty



How much are you worth? — June 2014

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman June 16th, 2014

In a 2010 report titled, Lifting as we Climb: Women of Color, Wealth, and America’s Future, posted by Insight – Center for community and Economic Development, a startling and unbelievable statistic was cited. Written by Mariko Chang, Ph.D., with the help of Meizhu Lui, Director of the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative, the report stated the median wealth for Black females from “36-49 years of age is $5.00!”

If you took statistics you may remember that the “median” is the number in the middle of a given set of numbers arranged in order of increasing magnitude. That being true, this statistic also means that some Black women in that age group have even less wealth, while the others cannot be too much higher, considering that $5.00 is right in the middle. Just for disclosure sake, the report used the term “women of color,” which includes Hispanic women.

So what are we to make of yet another indicator of Black economic disparity—or should I say economic despair? Do we just shake our heads and continue down the path of apathy, giving into the notion that there’s nothing we can do about it? Do we view it as a microcosm of our overall economic condition? Or, do we address this issue head-on with our “leaders” and demand economic, political, educational, and social change?

For perspective, the report also cites the following: “White women in the prime working years of ages 36-49 have a median wealth of $42,600. Prior to age 50, women of color have virtually no wealth. Moreover, in comparison to their same-sex white counterparts, women of color in the two youngest age groups, have less than 1% of the wealth of white women…” The report also noted the same relative statistics for Black men.

Compared to White people, Blacks are so far behind that it’s almost meaningless to even discuss the “gaps” in income and wealth. In addition, compared to Asians and so-called “East Indians,” who even exceed Whites in some categories, we have moved to fourth place on the economic scale, only barely ahead of Hispanics.

Notwithstanding John Sibley Butler’s “Economic Detour” that Black people had to take to create wealth in this country, the discrimination against us in credit and land ownership, the lack of government assistance as opposed to the subsidies White companies received, we have come quite a distance in spite of having to run from behind with weights tied to our feet. But how much consolation can and should we take from that?

We are still in very poor economic shape as a whole, which the $5.00 wealth of Black women 36-49 years of age graphically indicates. Our families are still at the bottom in median net worth; our businesses are at the bottom in receipts and number of employees; and our children are still at the bottom in education and employment, but at the top in incarceration.

Doesn’t this suggest to you that we have to change our economic behavior? Doesn’t it indicate a dire need to develop multiple streams of income for our people? Doesn’t our position in this country, much of its wealth having been built on the backs of our enslaved ancestors, point out that business as usual is a prescription for failure? How many more reports do we need? The one I cited was written four years ago in 2010, but there are so many others that were written over 100 years ago. What are we waiting for, the next crisis?
Some of our women are worth less now than they were on the auction block, and we are sitting around waiting for Barack Obama to make things right. We are ensconced in discussions about politics and politicians who are doing absolutely nothing to help us. We are spending our time on voting rights instead of economic rights, not understanding that our voting rights only lead to economic rights for the politicians and their hacks. We are not asleep; we are in a coma!

For twenty-one years I have been sounding the alarm via this column, first locally in Cincinnati, Ohio, and then nationally via the National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA), and others have done much the same thing for even longer. It is beyond frustration, disappointment, discouragement, and disillusion that I submit another wake-up call to my people in hope and prayer that we will work together to change our economic situation in this country. Even though a segment of our women are only worth $5.00, we have the collective wherewithal to raise that value exponentially. We have the economic capability to determine our own worth. Do we have the will?