Archive for June, 2016

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.

 

 

What really matters? — June 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman June 18th, 2016

Harlins
In 1991, Latasha Harlins was shot in the back of her head and killed by Soon Ja Du, a Korean store owner in Los Angeles, who received a $500.00 fine, 400 hours of community service, and five years’ probation, from Judge Joyce Karlin, who ignored the penalty of sixteen years in prison for voluntary manslaughter. Du received no prison time for her callous act of murder—execution style—of a fifteen year-old Black girl, over a $1.79 container of orange juice. This case and the outrage it brought foreshadowed the L.A. civil unrest now known as the Rodney King Riot in 1992.

Harkening back to the Harlins’ case, I think about the fact that here in 2016, Black lives really don’t matter to some police officers, prosecutors, judges, and other Black folks. Preserving Latasha’s life was not worth $1.79, and to add insult to injury the person who killed her only had to pay a $500.00 fine.

Since that time thousands of Black men, women, and children have been killed, 1134 by police officers in 2015, according to The Guardian. In Chicago alone there have been 1454 shootings and 279 killed as of June 2016, 207 of whom were Black. So just who are we trying to convince that Black lives matter, other than politicians? And if Black lives matter, how much do they matter, how much are they worth?

We have recently seen millions of dollars being paid to victims’ families, but it pales in comparison to the number of lives lost. Just the Black men and women killed by police, if divided into those millions of public dollars—tax dollars—the individual amounts would be embarrassing and insulting, just as in Latasha Harlins’ case. But who cares? Right?

If members of any other group in this country were being killed at the same rate as Black folks are being killed, there would be a collective outrage and indignation such that the problem would be addressed, if not solved, almost immediately.

Moreover, on the economic side of things, just look at the Orlando shootings. Four days after that tragedy $4 million was raised for the victims, and all we hear in the news reports is advocacy for the “LGBT community.” When have we heard so much sympathy and advocacy for Black folks on those news shows? When have we raised significant amounts of money for Black victims? When have we seen LGBT news reporters take commercial breaks in order to shed tears for Black victims? If Tamir Rice didn’t make that happen, nothing will.

Money is pouring into Orlando from private corporations, in part because LBGT’s are willing to leverage their dollars in return for corporate support. (Don’t be mad at them; that’s what we should be doing) The Orlando Magic, Disney, the Florida baseball teams, and Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, have given money and other support in the aftermath of the latest shootings. Over the past three years, we have also seen corporations use their power to affect political change on behalf of LGBT’s. Yet corporations, despite earning much of their profit from Black consumers, did virtually nothing for Eric Garner’s family, Sandra Bland’s family, John Crawford’s family, or Ezell Ford’s family. Why not?

Politically speaking, while 20 bullet-riddled bodies of children in Sandy Hook couldn’t move them, politicians will surely act now on gun law legislation because many of those killed in Orlando were LGBT, the NRA notwithstanding. What if that had been a Black club?

So, do our lives matter? And who are we trying to convince that they do matter? First, our lives must matter to us. We must be just as willing to bring our causes to the forefront as gay people and other groups are. We should see red, black, and green colors everywhere when we are killed or aggrieved. No one else is going to do that for us, so we must do it for ourselves. Are we afraid? Ashamed? Apathetic?

Where does this leave Black people? Latasha Harlins, Tamir Rice, and all of those killed in between and since, are calling out from their graves for us to respond appropriately to what happened to them. Our charge is to make our lives matter to us, first and foremost, and then show a united front to this nation that we will not be relegated to a subordinate class and continue to be ignored, dismissed, and trampled upon by groups that continually parlay our misery into their benefit. Until other groups begin to support us the way we have supported them in this country throughout history, we must commit ourselves to a “Never Again” approach and take charge of our own destiny, our own causes, and our own security.

The only Black things that matter are dollars and votes, but they still don’t count; so why not make them count by leveraging them to get what we want?

 

 

Muhammad Ali – The Legacy — June 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman June 15th, 2016

“Where you been, boy?” When I heard those words in June 1966, I knew I was going to have rough time in the U.S. Navy. My immediate reply to that Petty Officer was, “Who are you calling a boy? I am a man!” I was twenty-one years old, already an angry Black man who experienced separate bathrooms, water fountains, restaurants at Greyhound bus stops that had “Coloreds served round back” signs posted on their front doors, and having to sit in the balcony of the local theater in Winston-Salem, North Carolina during my two years of high school there. I was already angry about Medgar Evers, Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney, and Malcolm X. So I knew at that very moment I was called a “boy” by this southern White guy, I would be a marked man on that ship because of my belligerence and unwillingness to go along to get along.Rota, Spain

Ten months later, when Muhammad Ali refused to step forward to be drafted, I took a step up, got on his shoulders, and have been there ever since. My view from that perch has given me the spirit, the drive, the commitment, and the dedication to do what I have done for decades now. His example gave me the audacity and temerity to stand before anyone, White, Black or otherwise, to state my case and stand my ground. A backbone is much stronger than a wishbone; Ali had backbone, and he passed it on to me without ever knowing it.
Ali3
Ali and those few athletes who stood with him were giants in a land of cowering, timid, “yessah” men. He was bold, brash, brave, and brutal in his in-your-face assessment of society’s ills. Ali was the personification of dreams, the realization of hopes, and the culmination of victory, with his fists as well as his voice, which could only be silenced by Parkinson’s disease.

His impact on my life has lasted for fifty years, and will continue until I die. When they stripped him of his title and took away his right to earn a living, I became even angrier at the government for such a gross injustice. Years later, watching him fight the daily rounds of his real “Fight of the Century,” against such a relentless opponent as Parkinson’s, my commitment to help others grew even stronger.
Ali4
Now that I am in the fight of my life, against my greatest opponent, ALS, which is similar to Parkinson’s in some ways, I think about Muhammad Ali often; I think about his children, especially his “Little Girl” Laila, in the same vein I think about my daughter, Kiah. And I pray that I will be strong like he was until the end. Ali’s strength made me a better person; I have the courage of my convictions and the fearless sacrificial mindset of that man among men.

In today’s society of “make money without making waves,” prominent athletes should learn from Ali. It was not enough to wear hoodies when Trayvon was killed, not enough to turn shirts inside out and throw them on the basketball court in response to a racist franchise owner, not enough to wear “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts after Eric Garner was choked to death, not enough to stand in front of the Walmart where John Crawford was killed for checking out a BB Gun, not enough just to voice outrage after Sandra Bland died inside a jail cell despite not committing a crime, and not enough to say, “I haven’t really been on top of this issue,” when twelve year-old Tamir Rice was executed for carrying a toy gun in the “Open Carry” State of Ohio. Empty gestures are temporary and cause no real changes.Ali6

It’s easier to speak highly of Muhammad Ali than it is to do what he did. I am proud to say that I did what he did, and will continue. I am reminded of the following quote:

“Forty years [after his death], it’s easy to quote Malcolm and put him on a postage stamp—now that we’ve killed him. Martin Luther King Jr. was ultimately abandoned by the civil rights establishment for his stand against poverty and war. Today he has a national holiday, and even conservatives have to honor him—now that he’s no longer here to shame them. Ditto for the Black Panthers. Everybody says their dad wore a black beret—now that J. Edgar Hoover isn’t alive to tap their phones.

Progressive vision almost always lacks mass appeal. While possibly enjoying a bit of rebellious sheen, prophetic insight is decidedly uncool; it involves the sacrifice of family livelihoods, the sullying of reputations, and, at worst, death. Only the afterglow is romantic. Everybody says they would have fought with Nat Turner—now that none of us are slaves.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates – Compa$$ionate Capitali$m (2003)
Ali2
Ali5

 

 

Accountability

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman June 6th, 2016

Black people talk a lot about accountability, especially as it relates to politicians. How do we do that? How can you hold someone accountable who is not accountable to you? Most politicians, Black ones included, couldn’t care less about what we think or what we do, so where is the incentive for them to be accountable to us? Throughout the Obama terms certain Black folks have met with him, supposedly to let him know what to do for Black people, but nearly eight years of that has resulted in nothing specific for Black people—even with the highest percentage of votes cast among all voter segments.

It’s all about power, as we know too well, yet we settle for lip service from political lackeys and the politicians themselves. How can Black people hold anyone accountable if we have no real power over them? Our power resides in holding Black dollars accountable. Black consumer3

What power does the NAACP hold over politicians? This so-called “Black” organization flaunts itself before the world as the “biggest and baddest” Black organization in this nation, yet its national leaders have proven to be corrupt, money-grubbing, hypocrites who hide behind the transparent veil of “nonpartisanship.” What a joke; but the joke is on us because we give them our money, which allows them to continue living their lavish lifestyle while pretending to have real sway over the political system on behalf of Black folks.

You would think that a 100 year-old Black organization would be able to make a couple of phone calls and get some appropriate results for those who have supported and sustained it for a century. You would think they would be able to hold politicians accountable; but they cannot.

The corporations across this country, while they do have the power to hold politicians accountable, even to the point of forcing them to change legislation by threatening to move their companies and boycott various cities and athletic events, do not exercise their power on behalf of Black people. Eric Garner was killed before our eyes and no corporation said it would move out of New York because of it. Tamir Rice was executed and no corporation stood up against that heinous act. Look back at how they responded to Michael Vick and the dog fighting, or Ray Rice, or Adrian Peterson.

As Bob Law has stated so appropriately, these corporations, many of which earn their profit margins from Black consumers, have a “depraved indifference” to the plight of Black people in this country. Corporate execs know they only have to pay off a couple of selected lackeys and things will soon cool down; Black folks will fall back in line and continue to buy their products and services as if nothing ever happened.

Facing that sad reality, where do Black folks go and what do we do in order to hold accountable those whom we support? Back in 1951, then President of the National Negro Business League, Horace Sudduth, said, “Economic freedom is the greatest cause before the Negro today.” In the early 1960’s Elijah Muhammad called on Black folks to “do for self,” and Malcolm X continued that refrain. Then in 1968 MLK said, “The emergency we now face is economic.” In the 1980’s and 1990’s it was Tony Brown, Claud Anderson, Bob Law, Brooke Stephens, Robert Wallace, Kelvin Boston, Julianne Malveaux, the very astute and dedicated Kenneth Bridges of the MATAH Network, and yours truly, sounding that same alarm and giving economic prescriptions for empowerment.

With all of those and others like them, Black people continued to follow the empty path of no-win politics, abandoning our economic base along the way and seeking the largess of politicians who either ignored us or took us for granted. Amateurish? Child-like? Naïve? Uniformed? Misinformed? Apathetic? Call it what you will; we blew it, brothers and sisters. We really blew it.

But that was then and this is now, as the saying goes. The Calvary has arrived. It’s called the One Million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors. one million2This movement encompasses and melds together all of the basic principles espoused by those Black champions mentioned above.

The One Million focuses on three primary factors that must be done in order to meet the goals promoted by our true economic empowerment leaders. First, we must “Organize.” The One Million has done that. organize nblc2Second, we must have a vehicle through which our problems can be solved; the One Million is that vehicle. Third, we must make Black dollars accountable to Black people. By pooling and leveraging our dollars, creating more conscious Black millionaires by supporting their businesses en masse, and by using our own dollars to help one another. The One Million is leading the way to economic empowerment for Black people. To join the movement go to: www.iamoneofthemillion.com