The three U’s – Umoja, Ujamaa, Ujima — May 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman May 22nd, 2017

A few weeks ago I received a call from a brother in northern California; his name is Terrance Amen. He wanted to share his economic empowerment plan with me and get my opinion. Subsequently, he sent an e-mail link to his website and videos that explained his vision and concept. Of course, after decades of hearing and seeing plan after plan on how we can move ourselves out of the economic ditch, I couldn’t help but be a little skeptical and lukewarm as I delved into his information.

After checking it out, I called him to ask a few questions and offer any advice I could to the brother. He was open to my feedback, and he was humble enough to accept the fact that he did not have all the answers and that, as a relatively new kid on the block, he had to first establish himself, build relationships with the right folks, and then gain the support needed to bring his concept to full fruition. I liked and appreciated that in him.

Everything is built on good relationships, and Terrance had reached out to me and others to do just that. My first piece of advice was for him to contact other folks who have similar projects; I gave him several names and websites to which he could reach out. I questioned him about the practicality of his project as well as a couple of issues that will surely be raised by “our” people. Been there done that, if you know what I mean.

Brother Terrance explained everything to me in a well thought-out and well prepared manner. His primary rationale for his project is a commonality among all Black consumers: Purchasing products and services, not only from Black people but from everyone else.

He shared with me, “There are companies and organizations that are focused on solving the problems in the Black community, but we don’t work together for the common good of the community. So why don’t we work together? Is it ego, selfishness, distrust, or could it be all the above? In order to solve the major problems in our community, we must form alliances to help each other accomplish our goals. There are many different ways to solve the problems in our community. But if we continue to do things on an individual basis, we divide our power, which makes it harder to solve our problems.”

Terrance suggested we form alliances and focus collectively on economics. He promoted working together, collaborating and pooling our resources, and voting as a solid bloc to leverage political power. Now he had my attention. I told him about THE One Million and our plans for economic and political empowerment, and he and I were off and running. He reflected, “If there are different companies and organizations out there with the same goals, for example, focusing on Black economics, but aren’t working together, we dilute our money, time, effort, and resources. But if we collaborate and work together to achieve the same goals, we would be able to maximize our full potential.” Hmmm. Where have I heard that before?

Amen continued, “Unfortunately, we’re still dealing with the same problems we had 50-60 years ago. Imagine if we supported and promoted the different companies and organizations that were focused on solving the major problems in our community, but in different ways. As individuals, we wouldn’t have to invest a lot of time, money, or effort because we’d be doing this on a national level.”

Terrance’s company is, created specifically to solve major problems in our community, by bringing some of the trillion dollars we spend every year, outside our community, back to our community. Additionally, the money we spend on the 3UFirst site will create jobs, business and investment opportunities, provide sponsorships, build wealth, and fund non-profits.
The three U’s represent Umoja (Unity), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), and Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility). Those principles kind of say it all, don’t they? Question is: Do we merely celebrate them or do we practice them?

What impressed me most about Terrance Amen was his appreciation for reciprocity, one of the principles of Ma’at. He did not approach me with an, “I have THE answer” egotistical attitude. He did his research on me as well; he bought and read my books and, as a result, he joined Before he asked for my support he supported what we in THE One Million are doing and is now planning to attend our next Training and Orientation gathering in Los Angeles in July 2017.

Go to Brother Amen’s website and listen to what he has to say. If you agree then contact him to see where you can work collaboratively on a goal that all of us agree is well worth our time and resources: Economic Empowerment.



Know better, do better, or no better for us. — May 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman May 15th, 2017

The National Urban League’s (NUL) 2017 “State of Black America” (SOBA) report was released on May 2, 2017; it is titled, “Protect our Progress,” and again contains the “Inequality Index. Since 1963 the NUL has used the mantra, “To be Equal,” as part of its overall goal. I have questioned that goal for a long time because, while it may be laudable in an economic sense, it is totally unrealistic. Why should we chase something as elusive as “equality” with Whites on any level, especially when they control upwards of 90% of the resources in this nation.

Also, juxtaposing the NUL quixotic venture to “be equal” against the report by the Corporation for Economic Development and the Institute for Policy Studies, that cites, “If current trends persist, it will take 228 years for black families to accumulate the same amount of wealth as whites,” the futility of the NUL goal is more than obvious. To rub salt on our wounds, that same report also stated, “For Latino families, it will take 84 years.” Put that point into your Equality Index pipe and smoke it.

I say without equivocation that the NUL report is substantive, informative, professionally written, and packed with statistics from which we all can learn and move forward. It’s not just about economic issues; it also covers criminal justice, housing, education, and other critical issues that need our attention.

However, it would be better if it was the first one issued by the NUL, but it has been issued for forty-one years now. Again, it’s good information, but Black folks still suffer from the same problems and have been in the same comparative collective status for four decades.

A few more data points from the SOBA and, as the preachers say, “The lesson will be yours.” Of course if we fail to heed the lesson, it’s all for naught. Our penchant for 140 characters belies the necessity to read much beyond that, but I hope you will get a copy of the NUL report, READ it, draw your own conclusions, and develop your own action plans to address our problems appropriately.

Here is an interesting paragraph in the report: “Over the past 30 years, the average household wealth of white families has grown 85% to $656,000, while that of blacks has climbed just 27% to $85,000 and Latinos 69% to $98,000.

And another: “The report comes on the heels of a detailed proposal released by Black Lives Matter activists, which outlined specific economic demands including ‘restructuring the tax code’ to ‘raise the estate tax’ and ‘capital gains tax’ and end income caps on payroll taxes that fund Social Security and unemployment.” Trump’s plan does away with the estate tax and lowers the capital gains tax. It also eliminates the Alternative Minimum Tax, which in 2005 added over $31 million to Trump’s tax bill. So how are those “demands” working out for Black Lives Matter?

The SOBA states, “The 2017 [NUL] Equality Index provides a veritable ‘line in the sand’ from which to measure where the country goes from here…As the [NUL] continues to press the case for closing the divide in economic opportunity, education, health, social justice and civic engagement…” The report goes on to point out, “Change often happens slowly. The Equality Index offers solid evidence of just how slowly change happens, making it an important tool for driving policies needed in the ongoing fight against inequality.” “Slowly”? I’d say. 228 years is a long time.

Finally, the SOBA cites its Main Street Marshall Plan as a “bold, strategic investment in America’s urban communities that protects our progress…a sweeping and decisive solution to our nation’s persistent social and economic disparities.” Dr. Ron Daniels has advocated for a Marshall Plan for America’s “dark ghettos” for longer than I can remember.

Dr. Bernard E. Anderson, Professor Emeritus, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and Presidential Economic Adviser, wrote, “The proposed Trump budget would be devastating for the Main Street Marshall Plan…It would do little to accelerate economic growth, reduce long-term unemployment, expand economic opportunity for minority group workers, or ease the burden on low-income families.”

Further, Anderson writes, “The budget proposal threatens to truncate the modest, but steady progress the economy has made over the last eight years, and would make the struggle to erase racial inequality increasingly difficult.”

I don’t know about the NUL et al, but I’ll take reparations and call it square. Chasing nirvana and Camelot, where all is good and everyone is equal, will continue to be a chase without end as well as a poor use of our precious time. It’s not our place to initiate dialogues and conversations to change the hearts of racists and eliminate racism; operating from a position of weakness and dependency, we will never meet those ideals. We must take care of ourselves and not be diverted by ancillary and peripheral issues. “To be equal”? Naah, I’ll take economic empowerment.



Rights? What rights? May 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman May 6th, 2017

“They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior that they had ‘no rights which the white man was bound to respect’; and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, Dred Scott Case, 1857

Isn’t this 2017? The above words were spoken 160 years ago. Obviously, in light of federal prosecutors not finding any cause to indict the cops who killed Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Justice Taney’s words still ring true. To that end, Black people have no civil right to life that prevents us from being shot and killed by police officers who are, in turn, given a paid vacation and allowed to go free. Sickening? Frightening? Evil? Uncivilized? All of the above?

Before you start throwing out all the excuses for Mr. Sterling’s demise, I know he had numerous arrests and convictions for other crimes, none of which, however, called for the death penalty. I know he was a “big man,” and I know he was struggling against the two officers. I know he was tasered and they said it had little effect on him. I do not know if the gun they pulled from his pocket was put there or if it was his.

I do know what I saw and what I heard, and one point jumped out at me—and still does. What happened to Sterling reminded me of a Black man named Nathaniel Jones, another “big man” who was killed by Cincinnati police officers. Yet another more recent memory is Eric Garner, a “big man” also killed by police. Jones and Garner were killed as the cops repeatedly said, “Put your hands behind your back.” Sterling was killed as the cops were saying “Get on the ground!”

Lawful orders, yes, but they do not rise to the capital punishment level. What gripes me is that the cops yelled “get on the ground” at Sterling when he was already on the ground and they were on top of him. They shot him three times and then told him to get on the ground; then they shot him three more times. Again, he was already on the ground and under their control when he was shot at point blank range.

The U.S. Department of Justice, under Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, says it can find no indication that Sterling’s civil rights were violated. In other words, Alton Sterling had no rights the two White cops were “bound to respect.” They could force him to the ground, put a knee on his neck, and shoot him six times, all with the full support of the DOJ. Of course, they did not know their dastardly act was being videoed, but I am sure they knew it was on audio via their own communication devices. So they yelled, “Get on the ground!” for evidence that Sterling was not on the ground yet.

Three questions: What? So what? Now what? The “what” part has been disclosed, and the DOJ has said “so what?” Now it’s up to us to say, “now what?”

Though I have said this for decades, I will repeat myself. The only way to deal with these kinds of situations is through economic sanctions. What made the NCAA and the NBA pull its games out of North Carolina in response to a bathroom law that affected transgender people, who felt the law discriminated against them? Why did then Governor Mike Pence succumb to corporate leaders that said if a proposed law that discriminated against gay people was not rescinded they would move their businesses out of the State of Indiana?

Why has no athletic group, Louisiana State University, or any major corporation in Baton Rouge threatened to move and/or cancel anything in light of Alton Sterling’s death? It’s because Black folks are so crisis-oriented, for the moment rather than the long haul; we do not seem to be willing to organize ourselves around practical economic strategies that would surely make it clear to everyone that we are just as serious about our rights as other groups are.

Folks in Baton Rouge should demand corporations threaten to do what those in Indiana and North Carolina did. LSU should do what the University of Missouri football team did by refusing to play until justice is achieved for Alton Sterling. The NCAA should cancel its tournaments as they did in support of the transgender population. (After all, being killed is much more serious than going to the bathroom of your choice.) If they refuse, then do not support them.

There must be a price to pay for mistreatment against Blacks. As the saying goes, “Think globally; act locally.”



What do Blacks Control? — May 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman May 1st, 2017

The Vietnamese control the nail industry; the Koreans control the major distribution channel for Black hair care products; Jewish people control the music industry; the Indians/Pakistanis control a major portion of the hotel/motel industry; and the Chinese control economic enclaves, as do Greeks, Italians, Mexicans, Cubans, Polish, and Irish people. What do Blacks control?

That question opens up a lot of avenues for thought, conversation, and action by Black people. Considering our intellect and creativity, undergirded by our economic resources, it makes sense to me that we should be able to identify some portion of the U.S. economy that we control. Based upon the items and services on which we spend our money there must be some niche that we can control. Rather than seeing an increase in control over things only we purchase, Black folks have witnessed a decrease, about which we have been warned by Black and White business owners over the years.

In 1949, Black beauticians expressed concern that whites were pushing their way into the lucrative beauty shop business. The following is an excerpt from industry leaders at a national conference:

“The old line beauticians were losing a long-waged battle to keep the $450,000,000 beauty business in tan hands. The move [is] for non-colored promoters to buy up beauty shops and rent out booths…they have moved into the actual operating end. This year’s convention saw two-thirds of the demonstrators white, or merely having colored to front for them…whatever the blame the fact remains that a highly profitable field is surely and not so slowly being taken out of our hands.” Source: The History of Black Business in America, by Juliet E.K. Walker, PhD.

In 1986, Irving Bottner, a Revlon executive, predicted Black hair care companies would be “taken over by White companies in 15 years.” His insulting prediction began to come true 12 years later.

In the 1990’s Black funeral homes were gobbled up by, “… the ‘Big Three’ death care businesses — Service Corporation International (SCI), The Loewen Group, and Stewart Enterprises. [They] owned 15 percent of the country’s 23,000 funeral homes, handled one in every five funerals, and enjoyed average profit margins approaching 25 percent. Canada-based Loewen Group, which deliberately targeted black-owned funeral homes for acquisitions, bought up more than 340 properties between 1996 and 1998, and reported an operating profit of nearly 58% in 1997. After studying federal census and crime statistics, the Loewen Group apparently concluded that higher mortality rates — coupled with a cultural preference for high-markup burials — made funeral homes in black communities attractive properties.” Source: Even though these conglomerates’ businesses have declined, many Black families even today believe they are supporting a Black owned funeral home without knowing who the real owners are.

What about Black bookstores? Many have closed their doors because the big-box stores, many of them now closed due to online sales, could sell Black books cheaper. Black publishers have also been shunned by Black writers over that last twenty years or so. Haki Madhubuti, Founder of Third World Press, in Chicago, told me some very interesting stories about what he has gone through as regards Black writers’ support of his business. He is one, however, who has sustained his business for over forty years despite some very well-known Black writers opting for White publishers.

Those four examples alone show Black folks’ loss of control of industries in which our consumption dollars dominate. Who uses Black owned beauty salons? Who buys Black hair care products? Who has is the exclusive consumer of Black owned funeral services? Who writes and buys Black books? Pardon the rhetorical questions.

Don’t blame the Koreans, the Vietnamese, and the Indians; they are taking care of business, and even though Black folks danced to the “TCB” mantra by Aretha Franklin, the “sock it to me” part has been directed at us. Consequently, as Booker T. said over 100 years ago, we get no R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

In 2000 the MATAH group began work on leveraging control of the Grenadian nutmeg crop for Black Grenadian nutmeg growers. In 2006, Dr. Claud Anderson, after being dissed by the Black Mayor of Detroit, began work on carving out a niche in the fish industry, again where Black consumer dollars abound. Now, in 2017, THE One Million is working hard on getting Black consumers to purchase coffee from a Tanzanian company founded by David Robinson, Jackie’s son. The best coffees come from Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Kenya, and the only way to control a significant share is by demanding and purchasing it ourselves. T-C-B!

Economic empowerment declares that we must control one or two products where we have a competitive advantage in terms of consumption—if not production. A lot of will and a little sacrifice are all it takes.