Return on Investment — December 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman December 5th, 2016

Having read some of the post-election statements by our top Black organizations, and after watching some of their leaders on TV news shows, commenting and lamenting the loss by the Dems, I thought about the effectiveness of our champions for civil rights, economic empowerment, and political empowerment. How effective have they been in terms of gains for the collective of Black people, their primary constituents?

While they are mostly run by Black people and receive millions of dollars from Black members and supporters, the reciprocal benefits returned by these organizations are far lacking. In exchange for Black dollars Blacks get “no justice, no peace” marches, demonstrations, 860-mile walks, voter registration campaigns, reports on how bad a shape we are in, emails that ask us for more money, press conferences, and awards programs.

The “Big Three” Black organizations, the NAACP, the Urban League, and the National Action Network, despite having tens of millions of dollars collectively, and despite having the gravitas to be invited to the White House to discuss “Black issues” and the “Black agenda,” give Black people the same old song and dance when it comes to empowerment. Their mantras, “…equality of rights for ‘all’ persons,” “To be Equal,” and “No justice, No peace,” respectively, ring hollow and have not solved the myriad of problems we face. They have been in existence for 107, 106, and 25 years, respectively, having worked on important issues and having developed various programs; but being controlled by the purse strings (puppet strings) of corporate donors, these vaunted Black organizations cannot make headway for Black people.

As the go-to guys for cable news shows, the heads of the “Big Three,” Cornell Brooks, Marc Morial, and Al Sharpton, either have a great deal of personal influence or the news show hosts know they are “safe” and will not say what really needs to be said, and even be irate, about Black issues. They are usually tepid in their rejoinders regarding serious Black issues. They are more inclined to talk about “all” and “people of color,” and “rainbows,” and “minorities.”

Because everything in this country is driven by economics, we understand the penchant for the “Big Three” and other smaller groups to go only so far in their public/on-camera responses to the concerns of Black folks. It’s all about protecting the “old coffers,” to borrow a George W. Bush term.

Speaking of coffers, former President of the NAACP, Ben Jealous, received an annual salary of $320,000; his successor, Cornell Brooks, left a job that paid him over $240,000 per year to accept $150,000 from the NAACP, despite the interim President, Lorraine Miller, being paid over $160,000. Supposedly, the NAACP was in a “financial crunch” during the interim period after Jealous helped raise some $43 million in revenues. Brooks, when you consider his prior experience, undoubtedly is paid considerably more than $150,000 now; taking a $90,000 per year cut in salary without a promise or contract calling for a significant raise in the near future makes sense only if you “got it like that.”

With total revenues of $53,000,000+, the National Urban League compensated President Marc Morial a tidy sum of $836,000 ($700,000 and $136,000 other) in 2014. An additional five employees each received approximately $300,000 ($232,000-$252,000 and $64,000 other) in total compensation for that same year. We don’t know what they are earning now, but it’s a good bet their salaries are higher than in 2014.

The smallest of the “Big Three,” the National Action Network (NAN), a 501(c)4 association, did so well with corporate donations in 2014 that Sharpton was able to give himself a 70% raise from $241,545 to $412,644, including a “bonus” of $64,400. Nice work if you can get it, huh?

Before the hating begins, please know that I am all for Black folks making money, as long as it’s legal, ethical, and moral, of which I make no judgments in the cases I cited. I’m simply writing about ROI (Return on Investment) for Black dollars. This is about where we are, based on what we have done and how much we have paid for it. Over the past 25-50 years I would venture to say Black folks have invested billions of dollars into our Black organizations, and that’s not even counting our churches. Question is: “What dividends have we received in return for those investments?”

You can be the judge of that; it’s your money. But as handsomely as the leaders of our organizations are paid, and as well as our politicians are taken care of, we should all be asking a few questions. Are we in this just to provide good jobs for a few individuals? Do we really expect them to deliver anything of substance to us? How much longer are we willing to follow this path? What is our return on investment?

 

 

What’s in a name? — November 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman November 28th, 2016

When the Axe came into the Forest, the Trees said “The handle is one of us.” Macedonian Axiom

A man came into a forest and asked the Trees to provide him a handle for his axe. The Trees consented to his request and gave him a young ash-tree. No sooner had the man fitted a new handle to his axe from it, than he began to use it and quickly felled with his strokes the noblest giants of the forest. Source: Macedonian Truth.org

The movement that began as THE One Million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors, while aspirational as it rapidly moves toward its goal of one million members, it is also dynamic as opposed to static. This movement is participatory and calls on all members to bring their talents to the table to “contribute” to its progress. In that vein, although there are a few rock-solid principles upon which the moment was established and built, not everything is written in stone and immune to critique and suggestions for improvement. The name of the movement is a perfect example.

Since 2005, when Dr. Claud Anderson’s group attempted to develop what he called Maroon City in Detroit, THE One Million Movement has been through several iterations and has had several names. Beginning with “Bring Back Black,” coined by Bob Law in 2006, it became known as The Nationalist Black Leadership Council in 2007; in that same year the name was changed to The Nationalist Black Leadership Coalition (NBLC) in an effort to illustrate openness and inclusion rather than the perception of a small esoteric group.

Added to the NBLC was the acronym, “POBA,” which meant President of Black America, a champion for Black folks who would work for and be paid by Black people, advocate for Black causes, and be totally accountable to Black people. That concept was shelved because it was obvious to Black people that Barack Obama had a good chance of being elected, and most of our attention was focused on helping him become the “first Black President.” From 2008 until 2013, the core group of “conscious” Blacks continued their individual work in their locales and waited for the opportune time to get busy once again.

After getting back together and revving up our Black empowerment engines again, we named the movement “One Million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors” and began to recruit members, many of whom are some of the brightest minds among our people. Several months had passed when one of our members, Sister Shandra Witherspoon, who has been a teacher for many years, proposed an additional word to our name: Conscientious. We also moved “Contributors” ahead of “Voters” to show more emphasis on economics versus politics.

I can hear some of you saying, “But the name is long enough, Jim. Why add yet another word to it?” I understand, but it is very important to THE One Million that you know exactly what we stand for, and if it takes a longer than usual name to describe it, so be it. Compared to names of other Black organizations, there is no trying to figure out what THE One Million represents.

We know that consciousness is not enough to cause some of our people to act upon their beliefs. It’s not enough just to be “conscious,” which means “aware, awake, and knowledgeable.” We must also be “conscientious,” which means, “…governed by conscience; controlled by or done according to one’s inner sense of what is right; principled.”

Being conscientious causes a conscious person to take appropriate action to solve the problems of which he or she is well aware and knowledgeable. A large part of our problem as Black people is that many of us are “Rapolutionaries,” “Radio Activists,” Political Pontificators,” “Afrocentricksters,” “Hotep Hustlers,” “Pulpit Pacifists, and “Barber Shop Rhetoricians.” None of those classifications actually move us forward; they only keep us on a conversational treadmill.

THE One Million Conscious and Conscientious Black Contributors and Voters, because we know that everything black (small “b”) ain’t Black (capital “B”), has added another level of consciousness to our name. We are looking for “Conscientiously Conscious” Black people who are not only aware, but willing to work on and “contribute” their skills, knowledge, and treasure to solving our problems and bringing solutions to fruition.

What’s in a name? A great deal when it comes to THE One Million. So, if you are one who says “Your name is too long,” take some time to analyze that name, and see if it fits your personal agenda for Black empowerment. If it does, and you are a “Conscientiously Conscious” Black person, then join THE One Million and get to work with members in forty-two states throughout the country. And when you write your check, just make it out to OMCCBCV—the short name.

 

 

The Billion Dollar March – Revisited — November 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman November 21st, 2016

billionIn April 2005 I wrote an article titled, “Billion Dollar March,” at the behest of “The Ice Supreme Man,” Ashiki Taylor in Atlanta.ashiki The article was in reference to our penchant for marching when we are upset, and then going home to sit down and wait for another crisis. This reaction to our grievances is so predictable and has no effect on the situations against which we protest and demonstrate. The obvious question is, “Why do we continue to do it then?”

Because I don’t do foot marching, I won’t spend my time trying to answer that question; you can ask those who are calling for marches to explain it to you. What I will do, however, is suggest another kind of march: The Billion Dollar March. Just as in 2005, we are confronted with the same problems, the same conditions, the same powerlessness, and the same Black leadership that opts for foot marching as a way to get politicians to change, and as a remedy against unfairness, such as being killed by a rogue cop.

Those of us who were members of the MATAH Network in 2000 will remember our monthly “Standing Order.” We received a book and a tape to help elevate our consciousness; two of the tapes were “Internal Reparations,” by Dr. Conrad Worrill, conradand David Whitaker’s “The Wake-Up Call.” charter3 I listened to both of them this week and, while they reconfirmed my decades of spreading the Economic Gospel, those two messages from two astute, conscious, and conscientious Black men really illuminated—once again—the importance of marching our dollars to Black businesses and wielding economic power as a means to change our situation.

Using dollars to reward and punish is a proven way of getting someone’s attention and, thereby, causing them to change their ways. Look at the many examples that have taken place just over the past ten years or so. Nations and their products were boycotted; sports organizations, entertainers, and conferences refused to hold events in cities whose policies went against their beliefs; and most recently we saw NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, take the All-Star Basketball game out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Now in reaction to the election, three NBA team owners are boycotting all Trump hotels.

Billionaires like Mark Cuban give their dollars marching orders. We must do no less. Our Billion Dollar March must be organized, measurable, maintained, sustained, and used to empower us. It must not be done solely to hurt someone else; it must be implemented to benefit Black businesses owned by conscious and conscientious brothers and sisters, because we know that “everything black ain’t Black.” The businesses we support must use some of their windfall profits to build a war chest to sustain the coordination of our Billion Dollar March.

In addition to supporting and growing our local Black businesses, we must adopt a consistent, continuous, habitual movement centered on buying from ourselves. Every Black household should have Black-made products coming in at least once per month. Goods and services that we use on a regular basis, offered by Black producers, must find their way into our homes continuously. THE One million will keep track of our participation via pledges and feedback from our members and the businesses we support.

Nationally syndicated columnist, William “Bill” Reed, recently wrote, “Blacks spend less money in black-owned businesses than other racial and ethnic groups spend in businesses owned by members of their groups. How many blacks go out of their way to patronize black-owned businesses? African American buying power is over 1 Trillion; and yet only 2 cents of every dollar an African American spends goes to black owned businesses.” A Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management study found that a million jobs could be created if black consumers spent $1 of every $10 at black-owned stores and other enterprises.”

What’s wrong with us, y’all? Worrill, Whitaker, Reed, and others have given us the formula for economic success and, thereby, political success, for many years. We don’t need another foot march, we need –and must have, a Billion Dollar March.

Here is our charge: Start right now to redirect $1 billion back to ourselves in 2017, via the example now being shown by THE One Million Conscious and Conscientious Black Contributors and Voters. We are buying and promoting a ubiquitous product, one that is consumed worldwide in amounts on par with oil and wheat: Sweet Unity Farms Coffee from Tanzania. To purchase, go to our website at www.iamoneofthemillion.com/products.html. We are also getting our tax returns prepared at Compro Tax Offices. Buy Black products and professional services. If one million of us spend $1,000.00 per year at Black businesses we will bring our Billion Dollar March to fruition.

So take a load of your feet; let your dollars do the marching.
billion3

 

 

Bible Lessons – Then and Now

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman November 14th, 2016

“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King.”

This article is being written without the bias or prejudice of commentators and political pundits. It is unfiltered and a result of my not having watched the final vote tallies and not even knowing who won the presidential election until 7:30 A.M., the morning after. I have not yet watched or listened to news shows and have not discussed the results, in-depth, with anyone.

That disclosure is important because I want you to know this is not an emotional treatise; it is a pragmatic substantive assessment of what took place not only last night, November 8, 2016, but throughout history as well. We are too emotionally engaged in politics rather than being substantively engaged; and now as many grieve and cloak themselves in sackcloth and ashes, the undeniable and inescapable question is: What now?

In the early chapters of Exodus we find that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart against releasing His people. After multiple plagues, Pharaoh still resisted. God told him, “But I have raised you up (spared you) for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

Judges 2:11 says, “Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals…the people did what was right in their own eyes,” instead of what God wanted them to do. On several occasions they cried out for a Judge, which God sent each time, but even after twelve Judges, the people reverted back to “doing what they saw fit.”

In 1st Samuel 8, the people cried out for a king, even though God was their King. After Samuel warned them of what they would suffer under an earthly king, the people, nevertheless, said, “We want a king!” They got Saul, the leader they surely deserved. And in 2nd Chronicles 7,
God similarly warned King Solomon against forsaking His word.

This is not a sermon but a reflection on similarities between then and now. God turned His people over to the Philistines, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and other evil doers, in order to show His people the error of their ways. Last night this nation elected a man who has actually insulted God by saying he has “never asked God for forgiveness” because he is “a good person.” After saying that, he was endorsed by Jerry Falwell, Jr. and other so-called “evangelical Christians.” 1st John 1:10 says, “If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.” Trump went on to say that he does not “regret never asking God for forgiveness…”

My point is this: We now have a king. We have a king who has let us know what kind of person he is and what he wants to do during his reign. Against all odds, he won authority over us, despite all of the evil things he has said and done. So now we should reflect on our situation and determine what we must do.

Don’t get depressed; don’t hurt yourself or someone else; and don’t check out and never try again to move forward. Look for the lesson in this, especially if you are a spiritual person and believe that God is in control of all. Who knows? Like He did with Pharaoh, God just may have “raised up” Donald for this day and time.

In the confusion, hurt, and anger you may feel, you must act upon the lesson (I see it as an opportunity) by changing your life, or at least by improving on the positive things you are already doing. After all, we have seen this act before, historically and contemporaneously, and we have survived.

The 9/11 mantra was “May God bless America,” to which I wrote back then, “America should bless God,” because He has already blessed us tremendously. Yet, even after 9/11, we acquiesced to politicians who legislated in opposition to scriptural tenets; we turned a blind eye to our current President when he supported abortion and marriage between two men or two women. Maybe we are being held accountable now.

“As I close,” there are several economic lessons in Scripture; I will cite two, one old and one new. In Genesis 41, Joseph’s work gives us a great example of warehousing, storage, inventory control, and distribution. He prepared for the future of his people by acting before a crisis rather than waiting for one to occur. In Acts 2, the first Church demonstrated its members’ understanding of collective empowerment by pooling their financial resources so that everyone could benefit.

We must learn from righteous economic and political examples of the past, and implement their lessons in today’s world.