Archive for August, 2015

Black Business Stats — August 2015

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman August 31st, 2015

Numbers don’t lie, but some people who use them do.

Taken every five years and published in phases over a period of two or three years, the Economic Census relative to Black owned business ownership has finally been released. It contains information captured in 2012 on Black businesses and those owned by others; it also contains information on revenues and employees within those businesses.

At first take, the numbers are astounding, but a closer analytical review of the stats may cause the reader to question our economic status in this country and the progress we must make in order to reach parity and claim a proportionate share of business in America. This article celebrates the progress we have made by starting new businesses, but it will also dissect some of those data and offer a few solutions to the problems they present.

A comparison of the 2007 vs. the 2012 Black business stats shows an increase in firms from just over 1.9 million to 2.6 million; annual revenues for Black firms went from $135.7 billion to $187.6 billion; Black firms with paid employees went from 106,566 to 110,786; the number of employees within Black firms increased from 909,552 to 1,045,120; and the number of Black firms without employees (sole proprietorships) went from 1,815,298 to 2,482,382.

If you get nothing else from this article please let the previous paragraph sink into your brain. Analyze the numbers and draw your own conclusions about our economic status in this nation. The simple comparison between 2007 and 2012, if looked at critically, should lead the reader to ask, for instance, “How is it that with a $1.2 trillion aggregate income among Blacks, our businesses have only $187.6 billion in annual receipts?” Another reasonable question to ask is, “Why such a dearth of Black businesses that have employees and such and a preponderance of one-person businesses?”

While I don’t want your eyes to glaze over from all the stats, let me point out just one more set. There are 1.9 million Asian firms in the U.S. with annual receipts of $793.5 billion. Indian-Asian firms, specifically, number 382,521 yet command annual receipts of $251 billion. Hispanics have 3,320,563 firms that earn more than $517 billion annually. Crunch the population numbers and see what you find.

That’s it; no more stats. You can look at the entire census report for yourself and see the numbers for all groups across all categories. The larger message in this latest information is not only the celebratory aspect of entrepreneurship and business start-ups among Black people, but also the fact that we do not support our businesses to the degree we should—and can, with $1.2 trillion in our pockets—and we are not growing our businesses to the point of being able to hire others.

Please let this economic information marinate in your mind for a while. It is vital to our economic growth and our collective economic empowerment. We can use these latest data to boost ourselves beyond mere discussions that always include terms like “Black buying power.” Until we harness that so-called “power” and leverage it to our own benefit, it will continue to be power only for those with whom we spend it. And right now, we are not spending very much of it with Black owned businesses.

Caveat: Don’t get so hung-up on comparing Black stats to those of other groups except as a measurement of proportionality. Those groups arrived at where they are via other routes and means. They did not suffer the mistreatment that Black endured under enslavement, Jim Crow, Black Codes, general market and ownership restrictions, lack of access to credit markets and business subsidies, and the list goes on. My only reason for including those few in this article is to point out the fact that they are taking care of their own by not only starting businesses but by growing them and hiring their own people.

Our charge must be to do much better than we are doing right now. We must stop relying on politics and politicians to pull us out of the ditch that many of them dug for us and threw us into. Our charge is to be much better stewards of our $1.2 trillion by cutting way back on what we buy and from whom we buy it. Our charge is to build more businesses to scale and begin hiring hundreds of thousands of Black people, as Economist, Thomas Boston has called for, as well as many others. A great website to keep up with these data is Brother Akiim DeShay’s The numbers are out, y’all. Don’t sleep on them; act upon them. They ain’t lying.



High Stakes Politics — August 2015

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman August 26th, 2015

“I’ll see your two Blacks and raise you two more.”

The vast majority of the news is centered on politics, specifically, the 2016 Presidential race, which is fourteen months away. Black people are being sucked under by a whirlpool of nonsense on TV news outlets, newspaper and magazine commentaries, lectures, and even some protests. Candidates are already going across the nation giving speeches, and the first presidential debate by the red-tie and blue-tie gangs, has already been conducted. Hmmm. (When these politicians are on TV they always wear red or blue ties; and we are divided by red and blue states. The Crips and Bloods must be proud.)Red Blue Ties

Talking heads on news shows are so giddy about the political possibilities, and it is obvious that they see the upcoming election as simply “fun,” as one commentator said. Is it fun for Black people? Are you having fun yet? I doubt it. You’re too busy trying to make ends meet, that is, if you even have any ends in the first place.

Folks are making millions of dollars on the political hype, hysteria, and histrionics, while most Black folks are falling deeper into the abyss of economic despair and desperation. Just think about it; all the cable news shows are replete with political clap-trap—morning, noon, and night. They never highlight economic solutions for Black people, never feature conscious Black people as guests on a regular basis, and never move beyond the mundane discussions and point-counterpoint arguing that takes place between and among so-called experts and intellectuals. Of course, no problems get solved in that process.

Here’s the caveat for Black people: As I warned in 2007, watch out! The “okey-doke” is afoot. While political discourse is dominating the news, real issues that connect to Black economic growth and power are given very short shrift. Each news channel has its own Black faces, none of whom is able to go “off the plantation,” to speak directly to the important issues relevant to Black people. They consume hours of air time doing their best imitation of Pavlov’s dog, salivating over their preferred candidate and offering milquetoast assessments to Black issues, mainly through a political lens, as if that will solve our problems. I have a strong stomach, so I can watch some of their political chitchat.

Black Lives Matter (BLM) is certainly disrupting the political business-as-usual process these days, but they are waiting for the candidates to give them a plan through which Black lives will indeed matter. The candidates give them scripted rhetoric but no specific public commitment regarding real change. Asking politicians to do the right thing will only keep us waiting for another fifty years; we must demand what we want, very specifically, and get a verbal and written commitment from them before we give them our votes.

Politicians are many things, but one thing most of them are not is stupid. They will say whatever makes us feel good; they will dodge our issues or simply ignore us; or they will do what Hillary did when the brother in BLM “asked” what she would do to help. She turned the question back on him, saying, “You tell me what you want.” She was absolutely right.

Presently, politicians control the game. We must start and control our own game. They have no reason to deal with our issues vis-à-vis police brutality and other inequities because there is no price for them to pay for not supporting us.

Where is their indignation about what happened to Sandra Bland and more recently Charnesia Corley,Corley who was humiliated by police officers who forced a cavity search on her in a gas station parking lot in Harris County, Texas, in plain sight of passers-by? All Black people are hearing is the same political rhetoric that we hear each election cycle; but whose fault is that?

Most politicians only value Black folks when it’s time to vote. Ann Coulter said, “Our Blacks are so much better than their Blacks,” in her defense and support of Herman Cain. We are just pawns on their chessboard, chips in a high stakes poker game.

The solution is grounded in economics, the same weapon other groups use to gain political concessions. I recently posed two questions to a Black Republican who recruits Black voters: What will Black folks get if we all vote for the Republican candidate? What will Black folks lose if we do not vote at all? He could not answer those questions. The same questions apply to the Democrats, but more importantly they apply to us. More specifically, we must stop “asking” and start demanding—with the collective power to reward and punish.

We can win this fight; we simply have to use the right weapon. You cannot properly defend yourself in a gun fight if your weapon of choice is a switchblade.



Happy Birthday, Marcus Garvey — August 2015

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman August 15th, 2015

By: James Clingman

Happy Birthday, Marcus Garvey! 08/17/2015
This is not a history lesson; it is simply about homage, recognition, and appreciation of a Black man who loved his people so much that he sacrificed beyond what most of us would say is reasonable.

Marcus Garvey cared so much about his people that he kept coming back, even after being stymied and stigmatized by the white establishment as well as by some of his own people. After all of the negative experiences he suffered at the hands of his enemies, he kept coming back to fulfill his mission of raising the consciousness of Black people, organizing Black people, and leading Black people to economic prosperity. He even promised to come back in death as a whirlwind or a storm, bringing with him millions of Black slaves who would aid us in our fight for freedom and keep the pressure up until we have succeeded.

When you think about how hurricanes that hit the United States originate near the African Coast, it makes you wonder if Brother Marcus is not fulfilling some of his prophecy. In addition, considering the debacle that Firestone Tires suffered with all of the lawsuits against it a few years ago, I wondered then if Marcus was taking his retribution for that company’s role in thwarting his work to connect Blacks in the U.S. with our brothers and sisters in Liberia and West Africa via the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). What goes around comes around. Right?

Marcus Garvey was principled, he had backbone, and he was fearless – all because he loved his people dearly. Love is the most powerful weapon we have. If Black folks had “Marcus Garvey Love” for one another, imagine where we would be as a people.

Brother Garvey’s life should be celebrated just as other icons of the Black experience are commemorated. How can we continue to leave him out? After all, Garvey did what many of those we honor each year only talked about; he demonstrated the viability of economic control of our resources. Garvey showed our people how to pool our dollars and how to do for ourselves; he carried us to new heights, collectively, by utilizing our own resources to build the UNIA and numerous Black owned businesses.

”More and more Blacks realize that simply subscribing to civil rights is not enough; they must have economic control. I think this is becoming a greater and greater realization in America.”  Dr. Julius Garvey, son of Marcus Garvey.

Julius Garvey and Nijel
Ironically, it was Brother Garvey’s dedication to true nationalism that led to his demise by those for whom he so valiantly and relentlessly fought. Unfortunately some Blacks were jealous and envious of Marcus’ ability to rally the people, to get Black people to raise huge sums of money, to march and demonstrate in overwhelming numbers, to turnout the vote in unprecedented fashion, and to deny the takeover of the UNIA by “outsiders.” Black “leaders” of his time even came up with a “Marcus must go” campaign. Can you imagine that? I certainly can; been there, done that. Anytime a strong Black man or Black woman stands up for our people, it is almost inevitable that another Black person will lead the charge against them.

Too often we forget, if we ever knew it at all, the importance of our brothers and sisters who stood tall on our behalf. Marcus Garvey, born August 17, 1887, is certainly deserving of our recognition and our honor. His words, “All I have I have given you,” are exemplary of this man’s love for us. We should be proud of his accomplishments, and it would be wonderful if we would emulate his spirit, his love, and his tenacity as we make our way to economic freedom.

I will close with a portion of Marcus Garvey’s letter from the Atlanta prison to which he was sent as a result of trumped-up charges and a “kangaroo court. He was later deported.

“I have sacrificed my home and my loving wife for you. I entrust her to your charge… I have left her penniless and helpless to face the world, because I gave all, but her courage is great, and I know she will hold up for you and me… After my enemies are satisfied, in life or death I shall come back to you to serve even as I have served before. In life I shall be the same; in death I shall be a terror to the foes of Negro liberty. If death has power, then count on me in death to be the real Marcus Garvey I would like to be.”

The appropriate way to honor Garvey is by practicing what he did. Honor him by following his example for self-empowerment. Happy Birthday, Marcus Mosiah Garvey!



Sol-U-tions — August 2015

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman August 9th, 2015

With as much meaningless and non-redeeming information being discussed on radio and TV among Black folks, I often wonder if we even want to hear solutions to our problems, much less do anything to help solve them. It seems we want to spend most of our time posing silly questions and discussing issues that lead to yet another problem. It is apparent, and obvious in some circles, that many Black folks simply want mindless, no-reason-to-think, and no-reason-to work topics of discussion in their public and personal discourse. These brothers and sisters should take a new look at the word, “Solutions.”

The most important letter in that word is the “U.” It is amazing how many of our people love to talk about our problems and, not as often, the solutions to those problems and never raise a hand or spend a dollar to solve the problems about which they speak. All the rhetoric in the world will not solve our problems. We must be willing to work on the solutions.

There is a role for each one who wants to work on solutions, however, too many of us sit back and say what needs to be done without coming to the realization that the “U” in solutions means “You.” The word, “solutions” is speaking directly to you; it is asking what are “U” willing to do to effect appropriate change for Black people?

We often hear brothers and sisters say what “we need” to do, but many of them aren’t doing one thing to help achieve what they say “we need” to do. If we would simply charge ourselves, as well as to others, to get to work, the “U” in solutions would take on a more personal aura. Standing on the sidelines and pointing out what Black folks need to do, without bringing your resources to the table, increases the load on those doing the work.
The 20/80 Rule says 20% of the people in a group do 80% of the work. We do not have the luxury to comply with that rule within our movements and organizations. Our issues require an “all hands on deck” approach. There is something each of us can do, but the first step is to look at the “U” in the solutions we propose.

I used to teach in my business planning class that ideas are a dime a dozen; everyone’s idea is the best thing to come along but, unfortunately, those ideas go to the graveyard with the person because he or she never moves to the action required to bring the idea to fruition. Economic freedom takes work and it takes sacrifice, as Bev Smith said on her show one evening as she interviewed a young rising star named Marcus Jackson, from Philadelphia.Marcus Jackson

Jackson heads the State of Pennsylvania contingent of the One Million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors (OMCBV&C), and he spoke eloquently, coherently, and practically about the need for Black folks to consider their individual contribution to our quest for political and economic empowerment. Bev Smith was obviously taken by the young man as she offered her response by first agreeing with Jackson’s contentions and then by telling her audience that his is the example they should emulate. She said, yes, it’s hard work, it does require sacrifice even to the extent of not getting paid for your time, but if we are ever going to end up where we say we need to be in this nation, those sacrifices must be made—on an individual basis on behalf of the collective. Right on, Bev Smith!
Bev Smith
Marcus Jackson, 31 years of age, and others in his age group within the OMCBV&C, are leading the way to true empowerment, uncompromising in their political and economic positions, and willing to go that extra mile and spend that extra dollar toward that end. They proudly declare “I am one of the million!” and they understand the work they must do and the sacrifices they must make for our people, just as 32 year-old David Walker, 36 year-old Malcolm X, 33 year-old MLK, and 30 year-old Marcus Garvey did, as he set out for the U.S. to meet with Booker T. Washington and take up the economic empowerment mantle.

The “U” in the solutions most of us speak about is the key to our advancement, to achieving our goals, and empowering ourselves. It all begins with “U.” The OMCBV&C, with members in 31 states, is the key organizational movement that is doing the work necessary to move us beyond the problems and closer to impactful life-changing solutions. It’s not yet at the one million mark, so there is still room for “U.”
Go to and read the information; if “U” find something “U” like, sign up and add your “U” to the solutions to our problems.