Response to the Political Landslide — November 2014

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman November 17th, 2014

Relative to the “Tuesday Evening Massacre” by the Elephants over the Donkeys, in January 2009 I wrote an article that warned about our being complacent and resting on the mere fact that we had elected a Black President. I suggested that we should get busy right away doing the commensurate work it would surely take for us to get something more for our votes than just a good feeling about “making history.” Obviously, we failed in that regard, and now we are crying about the massacre that took place on November 4, 2014.
As far back as 2006 this column and my television show warned against our complacency and settling for an emotional victory rather than a substantive victory. Now we have very little, if anything, to show for our record turnout of 2008 and 2012, because we failed to act appropriately on the morning after those elections.
Elephant and Donkey 2
My article, “When Elephants and Donkeys Fight,” was based on an African proverb that states, “When elephants fight, the grass suffers.” November 4th was a graphic illustration of that reality for us, the grassroots. And for the next two years the elephants and donkeys will continue to fight and we will continue to suffer. Why? Because we have no clout with either party; we have no say-so about what happens to us.
Tim Scott2Mia Love
Black voters have been lulled to sleep by patronizing gestures and platitudes from politicians who only want and know they will always receive our votes. They also know that we will not leverage our votes against them nor make demands on them in exchange for our votes. They know all we want to do is vote, and then we will go home and await the next election.

When the donkeys won they did not move us to the front of the reciprocity line. They did not acknowledge us by putting forth specific legislation to benefit Black voters. They did not show their appreciation by spending more with our media during their 2012 campaign. No, they needed our votes, which we gave so generously in prior years, but they refused to reciprocate in any meaningful way. Now the donkeys are blaming us for their defeat, saying “too few” of us voted.

Is it really our fault? Are we the reason many of us are crying about the results of the last election? Are we, the Black electorate and the political talking-heads whom we follow, the reasons we will likely spend the next two years in political purgatory? Maybe so, but the real question is: If we got nothing during the first two years of the Obama administration, when the donkeys controlled both houses, what would make any of us believe we will get anything during the next two years? Maybe this is the slap upside our heads that will make us change the way we play politics.

Here is a solution. Mr. Theodore Johnson III wrote an article in Atlantic Magazine titled, Black America Needs its own President (September 5, 2014)  in which he stated, “The call for a President of Black America may, at first blush, sound odd…But Black America is about 45 million people strong and has buying power of just over a trillion dollars… an economy roughly equivalent to Portugal’s and a population that is about the same as Spain’s. That should translate to a significant amount of economic and political power. But without a leader to marshal this capital, we’re treated like a subcultural afterthought…”

Johnson continued, “Of course, the President of Black America is just a symbolic label, not an elected position. But it needn’t be. After all, who elected Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and King to be the personification of Black America in their respective eras? He or she would carry a big stick, and that big stick would be the marshaling of the Black electorate and Black purchasing power…the Black American economy sustains numerous businesses and products across the nation; no dollar leaves a community faster than the Black dollar. This is unfortunate, but it is also leverage.”
Interestingly enough, a group formed in 2007 devised a plan for a President of Black America, which we called the “POBA.” Unfortunately, Black folks decided to take another nap when it looked like Barack Obama would be elected as the POTUS, and our plan was shelved. In light of Mr. Johnson’s article and our previous attempt, now is the time to find the POBA.

This is a call for one million conscious Black voters to join the POBA movement. These voters/consumers will use our leverage to positively impact political outcomes and the Black economy, locally and nationally. If you want to be “One in a Million,” contact me at We need a POBA not a POTUS.



Selling Black Businesses — November 2014

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman November 9th, 2014

The recent news about Black owned beauty/hair care company, Carol’s Daughter, being sold to L’Oreal USA is rife with opinions, both positive and negative, especially from Black people. Some say Lisa Price grew her business to a point where she could no longer support it and did the right thing by selling it. Others say she “sold out” as in being a “sell out.” When I see stories like this I always think about our recent history at it pertains to Black firms being bought by non-Black businesses, one of which was Johnson Products, in 1992.

Lisa Price owned and ran Carol’s Daughter for more than two decades. Like other businesses, operating capital became an issue. Price filed bankruptcy, as many businesses do in order to reorganize. Subsequently the deal was struck with L’Oreal USA. Price is staying with her former company in some capacity, which will help with brand continuity and consistency.

Small businesses are like newborn babies. Their owners take care of them, nurture them, mature them, and then, in many cases, have to let them go. I imagine this is what Price had to face in making her decision to sell her business. Like parents, you don’t hold on for 20 plus years and not have some reluctance to let go.

History shows that even the largest Black hair care company had to make the same decision in 1998. Soft Sheen Products, founded and operated by Ed Gardner and his family, was also sold to L’Oreal. Prior to that time, in 1987, a Revlon V.P., named Irving Bottner, predicted Black hair care companies would be taken over by White companies in about 15 years. We got mad, but he was right, as other Black hair care giants fell to corporate raiders in the ensuing years,

Now, Carol’s Daughter is another in a long line of Black businesses sold to White and other companies. Motown was sold in 1987 to MCA and Boston Ventures. Essence Magazine was sold to Time Warner; and BET was sold to Viacom. So what’s the problem with the sale of Carol’s Daughter? Is it because it’s a Black hair care business?

In 1949, at a Black Beauticians’ convention in Washington, D.C., attendees voiced their concern about Whites pushing their way into the lucrative beauty shop business, “The old line beauticians were losing a long-waged battle to keep the $450,000,000 beauty business in ‘tan hands’…Big laboratories and constant experiment cost money…Whatever the blame, the fact remains that a highly profitable field is surely and not so slowly being taken out of our hands.” Their concerns then are still ours today, 65 years later.

If a 21 year-old firm has to file bankruptcy it is a pretty good indication of a serious cash flow problem. Where will the owner get the money necessary to keep the business open? If the bank is unwilling to lend it, and there is no angel investor at hand, selling is a logical option. The Black haircare industry is now worth several billion dollars; large companies can’t wait to buy smaller successful competitors, especially those that have already established brand loyalty among Black consumers.

L’Oreal’s purchase of Soft Sheen and Carol’s Daughter, while under completely different circumstances, points to a larger issue for Black people. What is our role in the sale of businesses that we support? Many Black folks get upset at these deals, but we never get upset enough to invest in Black companies or provide cash infusions before they are on the ropes. Black investment groups could have a huge impact on small Black businesses—with due diligence, of course—and make a profit at the same time.

Wealthy Black folks could do the same for the larger Black businesses. Motown sold for $61 million and, shortly thereafter, was resold for $325 million. Imagine earning that kind of profit. Soft Sheen sold for $120 million; would you have turned that down? Essence Magazine was sold without even inviting Black Enterprise Magazine to make an offer, according to Earl Graves.

If we want to hold on to Black businesses, we must work together to save them. In 1998, I wrote: “The sale of Soft Sheen and other Black owned firms is merely a sign of the times. In the merger-charged atmosphere that abounds in this country, everyone seems to be forming partnerships and alliances except Black people. Thus, our companies are being devoured by the highest bidders. There is a literal feeding frenzy for the Black dollar. Black people are throwing our dollars to the sharks, and they are getting fat and happy at our expense. The sad part is we continue to do so, even after being insulted by those who benefit from our dollars.”

Let’s stop crying and start buying.



Too stressed to be blessed — October 2014

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman November 2nd, 2014

Black folks lead the nation in church-going, praise-dancing, shouting, call-and-response, and “whoopin.” We like to “get our church on” and feel good while we are there. We do our holy dances and run down the aisles to lay our money at the feet of preachers, some of whom “anoint” it, by stepping on it, before they spend it. During a 2 to 3-hour period on Sundays, Black churchgoers display their finest clothing, which in many cases pretentiously shrouds our misery, pain, anger, contempt, double-lives, and any number of issues we face during the other six days of the week.Church2

For some, church service is a release, an ecstatic elixir for what ails us—at least for a few hours. It is a time for us to exchange pleasantries with others: “How are you this morning?” “Fine, just fine” is the usual reply, despite knowing all along that we are stressed out about something. We have the all sayings down pat. “Too anointed to be disappointed;” “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good” (That one is quite true); and “I’m too blessed to be stressed,” just to name a few. But what is really behind the masks that we wear? What is beneath the fine clothes and the forced smiles?Church3

One would think that Black church folks would be the most content, being that many of us say we are “Sanctified and Holy Ghost baptized.” But every day many of us prove that we are not content, we are not happy, we are not satisfied, and we are far from being “too blessed to be stressed.” Rather, we are really “too stressed to be blessed.”

The vast majority of our lives is spent dealing with financial issues in the form of working a job or two, with all the overtime we can get, trying to figure out how to pay our bills when we end up every 30 days with more month than money, and studying numerology in an effort to hit the “Lootery,” better known as the Lottery.
We are stressed out about that car we bought that we could not afford or that house we purchased just to impress the Joneses. We are angry because our spouse paid too much for a pair of shoes, a suit, or a big screen TV. We argue about whose money it is, who earned it, and who will spend it. And to make matters even worse, we go on shopping binges to get even, spending money we don’t have, buying something we don’t need, to impress someone who doesn’t care.

More stress, but that’s alright, we can get a recharge at church, right? We get paid on Friday, spend it on Saturday, go to church on Sunday and fall down on our knees to pray, “Lord, have mercy on me.” Just like the song, “Stormy Monday Blues.”

Economic stress, in addition to all the other stressors in our lives, can cause us to miss out on our blessings, thus, too often we are just the opposite of the cute saying, “Too blessed to be stressed.”

We are indeed blessed each day we are allowed to live, but we take that for granted, and the rest of the day is shot because we failed to acknowledge that all-important blessing. Each morning we immediately allow stress to engulf us; we wallow in it and give in to its sinister motives. All we know is, “Gotta make that money!” “Gotta get paid!” We have already been blessed but we are too busy acknowledging our stress to recognize our blessing.
Black folks earn more than $1 trillion annually; where is it? Are we too stressed to be good stewards of that blessing? Anything someone else makes, we buy it. Is that good stewardship of our financial blessings? We fail to see our blessings because we are blinded by the stress to obtain more things. Our problem is that we give away our financial blessings in exchange for stuff other folks make, thereby denying ourselves the greater benefit of our financial blessings.

Since this is a scripturally based article, I suppose its application should begin in the Church. A very practical agenda for Black churches should include stewardship seminars, forums for members who have their own businesses and for those who may want to become entrepreneurs; and our church leaders should always do everything they can to empower the members collectively.

Being too stressed to be blessed is a sad state of affairs for anyone, especially Black folks. I know we are the most stressed people in this nation, but it does not have to stay that way. By implementing some very practical economic strategies we can start telling the truth when we say, “I am too blessed to be stressed.”Church7



Black vote in vogue—again – October 2014

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman October 27th, 2014

Voting2The Black vote is said to be the determining factor in whether the Democrats hold the U.S. Senate. President Obama is on Black radio shows, and of course “Little” Al’s TV show, giving us the rundown on how important our turnout is to next month’s election. The Dems and Repubs are outwardly admitting that the Black vote is the X-factor in this election. Isn’t it great to be wanted and needed, even if it is just for one day? All across the nation, Black is popular once again, all because it’s voting time.

How should we react to this latest patronization of the Black vote? Well, let’s look at our situation. Black folks are being beaten, shot, and killed, and we are told to vote. We have the highest unemployment, the lowest net worth, the highest incarceration rate, and many of our leaders tell us simply to vote. We are treated unfairly by the criminal justice system, excluded from economic opportunities, and we are told to vote.

Young Black males are 21 times more likely to be fatally shot by police than their white counterparts. The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data, show that Blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police. All of this, and we are told to vote.

It’s no wonder young Blacks are turned off by many of their elders. They are the ones taking the tear gas, the batons upside their heads, the abuse, and the lethal methods used by police officers; it is only after that or between the real battles that the usual suspects show up to march, hold a press conference, make a speech, and high-tail it out of town on the next thing smokin’.

Political hacks are telling Black voters to cast our votes to make sure Democrats maintain control of the Senate during the last two years of the Obama Presidency. My question is: What happened during the past six years of a Democrat controlled Senate? Other than Obamacare, which was passed strictly along party lines in the Senate, what has that body done for Black folks?

One of our Black Senators, Republican Tim Scott, Tim ScottCoreyis busy “discovering” what it’s like to work at low level jobs in South Carolina; and since Democrat, Corey Booker, accepted a “challenge” to live on a $35.00 food stamp budget for one week, albeit, while earning $13,000 per month as Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, you can’t find him with a search warrant. As Malcolm said, Black voters are political “chumps.”

To add insult to injury, the DNC is busy buying ads in Black newspapers, now that they need us again. The ads, titled, “Get his back,” come after the 2012 Obama Presidential campaign raised $1 billion but only spent $985,000 with the Black press. “>

Since the Senate Democrat Class of 2008 took control, Black folks have done worse. The Wall Street Journal (August 2014) reported, “The real median income of African-American households has fallen by 9.5%, more than any other major census classification.” Since MLK spoke in 1963 we went to sleep and co-opted his dream; and we have not awakened yet. No one can work while asleep.

Now we are being told we must keep the Democratic Senate in order to allow Barack Obama to build his legacy during his final two years. Well, I ask: What about our legacy? What will be the legacy of Black voters, without whom there would not be a Black President? Will our legacy simply be that of a bunch of emotional automatons who just felt good about having a Black President? A naïve voting bloc that gave its entire “quid” but received no “quo”?

Politicians work for us; we don’t work for them. At least that’s the concept. Politics is, to borrow a phrase from Dr. Freddie Haynes, a “Cauldron of contradiction,” and we are lost in that morass of political never-never land, thinking that voting is the answer to all our ills.

Black people should not become lackeys for any political party, but in total contradiction to that, we allow ourselves to be taken for granted and used during every election. The current message to Blacks is simply, VOTE! They don’t have say for whom because they know we will vote Democrat. That’s insulting to Black people, but it’s quite obvious that we don’t care.

But, in yet another effort to admonish and beseech the Black people to be critical and analytical thinkers, especially when it comes to voting, I leave you with two questions for this upcoming election: What will Blacks gain if we vote? What will we lose if we don’t?