Stewardship — July 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman July 24th, 2016

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” Matthew 25:21

In recent days we have heard much about efforts to demonstrate our frustration and anger about the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Boycotting malls and various stores, depositing funds into Black owned banks, are important and have had some positive effects. We must do more of the same but in a more strategic and organized manner.

Are Black folks, the recipients of $1.2 trillion annually, poor stewards of this tremendous amount of money and, thus, unable to obtain economic empowerment because of our slothfulness? Is that why we find ourselves in “outer darkness,” continuously attempting to “show” others how much money we spend instead of redirecting more of our money to ourselves?

The Parable of the Talents is quite fitting for Black people in general; of course we fit the description of the last steward who buried his talent in the ground and did not multiply it. Unfortunately, we have used our billions in income to buy everything someone else makes no matter the cost.

Parable cartoon
If we cannot demonstrate our ability to manage the resources we have, the small things, how will we ever gain authority over the larger things? How will we ever change the behavior of corporations when it comes to supporting us the way they do other groups? If we refuse to shop at Target, for instance, but go to Walmart instead, what’s the gain? What’s the impact of staying away from the mall for a day or two, or even a week, and then return to spend all the money we withheld?

MLK stated in his final speech, “I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank. We want a “bank-in” movement in Memphis.” That was 1968. Here in 2016, in response to the murders of two Black men some of us are finally getting it. In Atlanta, there was a call for Black folks to open accounts at Citizens Trust Bank. My question was: Why would it take two dead brothers to get Black people in a majority Black city to put their money in a Black bank that has been in their community since 1921?

Don’t get me wrong; I am glad to see the effort, and I trust the bank will not be used as an ATM machine where folks put money in on Friday and take it all out on Monday. I am, however, bewildered over someone having to die before we followed through on such a practical solution by MLK nearly fifty years ago. Is this just another fad, another temporary gesture of outrage, or just another feel-good sign of our frustration?

Additionally, I know “for everything there is a season,” and the effort taking place now in Atlanta at Citizens Bank, started by noted entrepreneur and rapper, Killer Mike, is the right message. killer mikeYes, there have been other messengers but if he is the one that gets our people to respond, not only do I applaud our people, I also applaud Killer Mike. I had a chance to speak with him on the Carl Nelson radio show and he impressed me as a brother who is not egotistical and not concerned about being the HNIC in this issue. He was very respectful and open to learning more about the history of his efforts and willing to listen to recommendations. I appreciated that and look forward to working with him.

Back to the stewardship issue and how it relates to our reactions not only to police shootings of Black people, but also to our overall position in this country. Boycotts, if sustained, can work, but “work” to do what? Yes, they may turn the tide of recalcitrant corporations that only care about our dollars, which we give to them without reciprocity. However, the “work” that any economic sanction effort should and must produce is economic empowerment for Black people. Our efforts cannot be centered on hurting someone else; they must be done in an effort to help ourselves. Thus, we must have a strategic plan and an organized movement to redirect the money we withhold back to our own businesses as much as possible.

As for depositing our money in Black banks, we must do our due diligence, meet and develop relationships with bank managers, and I would recommend doing what the Collective Banking Group (Now called the Collective Empowerment Group) did back in 1995 up to this present day; they wrote covenant agreements with the banks and held them accountable for what they said they would do for their members in return for their deposits.

We must practice good stewardship if we want to be empowered.

 

 

Requiem for Black People — July 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman July 8th, 2016

Roger Owensby

Gus Rugley

Ray Smoot

Roger Owensby

Patrick Dorismond

vonderrit myers

Tim Thomas

Sam DuBose

Oscar Grant

Kenneth Walker
Lorenzo Collins, Michael Carpenter, Roger Owensby Jr. Timothy Thomas, Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond, Kenneth Walker, Sean Bell, Timothy Russell, Kimani Gray, Ezzell Ford, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Kajieme Powell, Malissa Williams, Vonderitt Myers, Dante Parker, Michael Brown, Tyisha Miller, Trayvon Martin, Dontre Hamilton, Tony Robinson, Jason Harrison, Martin Hall, Bettie Jones, Tanisha Anderson, Yvette Smith, Sandra Bland, Matthewe Ajibade, Eric Harris, Keith Childress, Kevin Matthews, Leroy Browning, Gus Rugley, Ray Smoot, Roy Nelson, Miguel Espinal, Jonny Gammage, Nathaniel Pickett, Cornelius Brown, Tiara Thomas, Chandra Weaver, Jamar Clark, Richard Perkins, Akai Gurley, Stephen Tooson, Michael Lee Marshall, Alonzo Smith, Anthony Ashford, Lamontez Jones, India Kager, Samuel DuBose, Felix Kumi, Walter Scott, Billie Ray Davis, Darrius Stewart, Albert Davis, Jonathan Sanders, Spencer McCain, Freddie Gray, Eric Harris, Charly “Africa” Keunang, Emerson Clayton, Jr., Tommy Yancy, Jerame C. Reid, Corey Tanner, Zikarious Flint, David Andre Scott, Emmanuel Jean-Baptiste, Victor White III, Matthew Walker, Darrien Nathaniel Hunt, Jeremy Lake, Laquan McDonald, Denzel Ford, Pierre Loury, Cedrick Chatman, Alton Sterling, Philando Castille… I could go on, but I am sure you get the point.

“I feared for my life” “He reached for his waistband” “I saw something shiny” “He ran” “He made eye contact with me” “He fit the description” “He resisted” “He threatened me” “He didn’t comply” “He would not put the brick down” “He would not out the knife down” “He weighed 400 pounds” “My hand got caught in the steering wheel” “He dragged me with the car” “He lunged at me” “My gun accidentally went off” “I thought I was firing my Taser” “He was acting strangely” “He was holding a screwdriver when he came to the door” “He had a broom when he came to the door” “He was armed with a soup spoon” “He had a prescription pill bottle in his pocket but I thought it was a gun” “He had a BB gun” “He had a toy pellet gun” “He was obese” “He kept saying ‘I can’t breathe’ so we knew he was still breathing” “The stairwell was dark” “He behaved like a thug” “He was wearing a hoodie” “After he survived a car accident, he approached us with empty hands” “He was running toward us but we shot him in the back” “He did not comply within 2 seconds” “He shot himself while being handcuffed behind his back, with a gun that we did not find when we searched him”

“Our hearts go out to the families” “Our prayers and thoughts are with the family” “This can never happen again” “He could have been my son” “R.I.P.” “Our condolences go out” “She could have been our daughter” “It’s a tragic and sad day for our nation” “We shall overcome” “This has to stop” “We cannot rush to judgment” “We must wait until the investigation is over” “Let the process work” “The video does not tell the whole story of what happened” “We are all saddened by this tragic event” “Our hearts grieve with this family” “They don’t get up in the morning saying, ‘I am going to kill a Black man today’” “They want to go home at night” “All police officers are not bad” “The vast majority of officers are good” “Let’s not indict all officers because of the actions of one or two” “Black lives matter” “Blue lives matter” “All lives matter” “This is not a Black problem; it’s an American problem” “No justice no peace” “Nonviolence is the answer” “We need a national conversation on police violence” “I found no evidence to indict the officer(s)” “It’s Ok Mommy; It’s Ok, I’m right here with you”

These acts are heinous, horrific, terrible, irresponsible, immoral, reprehensible, indefensible, unconscionable, unacceptable, horrifying, shocking, frightening, inhumane, uncivilized, animalistic, disgraceful, shameful, inexcusable, insulting, depraved, shameless, cowardly, outrageous, scandalous, dishonorable, discreditable, appalling, dreadful, irrefutable, atrocious, unspeakable, ludicrous, indecent, disreputable, brutal, wicked, offensive, brazen, unabashed, gutless, spineless, odious, awful, revolting, blatant, and SINFUL.

Black people are disgusted, dismayed, outraged, fuming, livid, irate, sickened, revolted, repulsed, repelled, offended, affronted, hurt, scared, tenuous, intimidated, fearful, incensed, enraged, nauseated, injured, disrespected, tired, sick and tired, and angry.

After everything is said and done, much is said and little is done. Our words are like a needle on a scratched record; we are stuck, and we keep repeating the same thing over and over again. If you are conscious and conscientious, join the One Million, and this time let’s take appropriate action to deal with these horrendous times in which we live. www.iamoneofthemillion.com

Note: At the time of this writing four police officers in Dallas were killed and seven were injured by a Black man who was tired of and angry about Black people being killed by police. Pray for their families too.

 

 

One Shining Moment — July 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman July 4th, 2016

More than a couple of million folks have responded to the words spoken by Jesse Williams, which points out the fact that many Black people are mesmerized by words that excite us and stimulate our emotions. Rather than initiating practical and appropriate actions as a result of words that make us feel good, we usually end up celebrating, espousing, regurgitating, and discussing, ad nauseam, those words instead of implementing strategies that make us “do good.”

The speech by Williams was important and relevant, especially to Black people. I appreciate his words and his willingness to make his statements on such a widely viewed stage. He used his fame and the very popular BET Awards Show to put forth a message that has been spoken and written by others before him, but also one that we need to hear over and over. Seems to me that when someone famous says the same things other non-famous folks have said, it takes hold quicker and our light bulbs come on faster. Questions: “How long will the message last, and will we act upon it?

Jesse Williams’ background, political affiliations and motivations notwithstanding, his message was more important than the messenger. But since we are so attuned with what our celebrities say, he had instant credibility with many young and older folks alike. This is not to suggest that we discriminate against a message because of its messenger. A moron can bring a valid message. Suppose Clarence Thomas had said the same thing Williams said. Would we reject that message?

My point is that Black folks should be able to discern a positive message that comes from any messenger, so that we can know “why” the message is being promulgated and be able to respond appropriately to that message. Emotional catch-words and phrases are fleeting and seldom cause any improvement in our wellbeing. Remember: “I have a dream!” “Down with dope – Up with hope!” “No justice, no peace!” “Yes we can!” and all the other words we have heard and chanted millions of times?

I’d rather we follow words from Richard Allen, “To Seek for Ourselves,” Marcus Garvey, “One God, One Aim, One Destiny!” and Elijah Muhammad, “Do for Self.” I chose to hear some of those words in Williams’ speech, and I give him credit for speaking on the subject. It’s on Mr. Williams now to show us what he meant by putting his words into action; and it’s up to the rest of us to develop strategies and initiatives that will move our people forward.

Jesse Williams spoke on issues that I have written articles on as far back as 1994, more specifically, one titled, “The Young and the Relentless,” in which I described how many young Blacks were becoming entrepreneurs. Rather than falling for the okey-doke of buying and wearing someone else’s brand, they were developing, marketing, and selling their own brands. Unfortunately, as the article also cited, many of our young entertainers had succumbed to the lure of “OPS” (Other People’s Stuff) e.g. Adidas, Nike, Hilfiger, etc. rather than “OPM” (Other People’s Money).

It is ironic that in April 1997 Forbes Magazine featured a front page article titled, “Badass Sells,” by Joshua Levine, which aptly illustrated much of the tremendous economic potential within the younger segment of Black America. It also described how the hip-hop culture had been co-opted by designers such as Hilfiger and manufacturing giants like Nike. Now in 2016, Alicia Keys is featured in a commercial for Levis jeans, in which she says, all women are “Badass,” so I guess it still sells.

But I digress. Will Jesse Williams’ comments simply become last month’s shining moment for Black folks, or will his message finally be transformed into real economic progress for our people? Will his two minutes of enlightenment and in-your-face rejoinder to our plight make their way into the pantheon of speeches by our learned elders, or will they drift off into oblivion never having gained traction or made a significant difference in our lives?

Will Jesse Williams’ one shining moment become activated within us to the degree that we begin to coalesce and collaborate to build an economic foundation from which we can truly have an impact on public policy? Fiery rhetoric, overwhelming applause, and two million “hits” and “tweets” are not enough to get the job done. We must have action; we must have a critical mass of Black people who are willing and able to work to make our economic and political empowerment a reality. (See: www.iamoneofthemillion.com)

Yes, we had yet another shining moment when Williams took the stage to accept his award. Will its sheen fade to Black, or will that moment turn into momentum for Black progress? Remember: A moment is not a movement, but a moment can start a movement.

 

 

Black Trade Deficit — June 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman June 29th, 2016

The more I see the statistics relating to the so-called Black Economy and Black Buying Power, the more desperate my message becomes and the more insulted I feel. How can we get so excited about having an annual aggregate income of more than $1 trillion while we are at the bottom of every economic category in this country? We create vast wealth for others at the expense of creating and retaining wealth for ourselves? Black America is operating at a huge trade deficit. We must change that.

Just as the government is concerned about the national trade deficit, Black folks should feel the same about ours, and we should finally do something about it. Our trade deficit is horrendously out of kilter, and it’s getting worse every day. Oh yes, I almost forgot; we are currently enthralled with who will be our next President, and it’s difficult to draw our attention away from that circus, isn’t it? But can’t we walk and chew gum at the same time?

We cannot afford to neglect our trade deficit while we discuss politics as usual and prepare to cast our votes for folks who either don’t care about us or take us for granted. What a choice, huh? Well, we have other choices. We can choose to redirect more of our $1 trillion toward our own businesses; we can choose to start and grow more businesses; we can choose to create more jobs for our children; we can choose to teach our children how to be entrepreneurs; we can choose to pool our dollars and leverage them to our own benefit; we can choose to use our dollars to create more conscious Black millionaires; and we can choose economic freedom over economic enslavement and modern-day sharecropping.

Several years ago, I read an article by the so-called Black Conservative, Larry Elder, in which he stated, “…despite slavery, Jim Crow and racism, the progress of American blacks is simply astounding. If black America were a country, it would be the 15th ‘wealthiest’ country in the world. He was using Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to prove his case.

A little Economics lesson is in order here. First of all, GDP and wealth are not the same as annual income. GDP is a collective measure of income produced per capita by a nation’s citizens. “Black America would be ranked 34th in per capita GDP at 23,000 each. (The entire U.S. per capita amount is more than $53,000.) Add to the equation the cost of living in this country, and Blacks would rank 44th in the world.” (Source: Pundit Fact, By Derek Tsang, September 2014)

The components of GDP are consumption, investment, net exports, government purchases, and inventories. Consumption is by far the largest component, totaling roughly two-thirds of GDP.

Blacks save and invest very little. Exports? Not much going on there either, although our brothers and sisters in Africa and the Caribbean eagerly await the day when get our act together and start taking care of business. Government purchases? Well, we have a lot of government jobs, if that counts. And finally, our inventories are not much to speak of either. Consumption? Black folks really make the grade in that category. Our consumption is as high as 95%, and most of what we buy is from businesses other than our own!

Using aggregate income to say we would be the 15th “wealthiest” nation in the world is absurd. Currently Blacks hold about 2% of this nation’s $85 trillion wealth, which is mostly tied up in home ownership, much of which was lost during the housing crisis of 2008. We must stop being mesmerized and lulled into complacency and false pride regarding our aggregate $1.2 trillion income. We have a dangerously high trade deficit, and we should be working to reduce that deficit by producing and selling more.

Yes, that line about Blacks being the 15th richest “country” in the world sounds good. It’s balm for our injuries, consolation for our wounded psyches, and ammunition for those who say, “We’ve come a long way, baby!” But what good is it doing us if we consume everything someone else makes, fail to save a minimum of ten percent of what we earn, have no import/export relationships with Africa, the richest land in the world, and fail to control the distribution of our products? What good does it do us to have a $1.2 trillion income if we are in a constant trade deficit with other groups in this country?

The Black trade deficit is way out of balance, and we had better get busy fixing it before we become totally dependent on “foreigners” to supply our sustenance. No one can take care of us better than we can take care of ourselves. We proved it once upon a time; we can do it once again.