Archive for December, 2016

Kwanzaa 2016 – Celebration or Lamentation? — December 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman December 28th, 2016

For fifty years Black people in the United States have celebrated the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Established by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday celebrated by millions throughout the world African community. Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense. Our obvious support and celebration of this occasion suggests our commitment, not only to the principles of the Nguzo Saba, but also to their fruition. Thus, we ask you: What Kwanzaa success will you celebrate this year? What have you done during the year that qualifies as a celebratory event during Kwanzaa?

Have you achieved Unity, Umoja, among Black folks in your locale? Are you unified to the point that you love one another more and support one another more? Do you have proof that you have unified around some pertinent issue or cause? If so, then let the celebration begin. If not, let the lamentation begin.

How about Self-Determination? Kujichagulia. What have you done in your city to demonstrate your commitment to determining the future of your children? Are others still controlling your destiny? Or have you taken it upon yourself to build and support your own institutions, open and grow new business, and create your own jobs?

Can you celebrate an accomplishment during 2016 vis-à-vis collective work and responsibility toward one another? Are you celebrating Ujima this year, or are you lamenting about what we have not done? If you have worked collectively on community projects such as neighborhood clean-up, elderly assistance, or tutoring, then your Kwanzaa celebration is in order.

Now, here’s my favorite: Cooperative Economics, Ujamaa. Have you done anything cooperatively this year to increase the economic viability and stability of your community? Have you pooled any of your money to finance a project or to form an investment group to assist micro businesses? Have you purchased Black manufactured products on a consistent basis?

What have you done to build and develop your community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness? In other words, what is your purpose, Nia, and have you actualized that purpose? If you have, then you definitely have something to celebrate.

Have you created anything lately? What has been the level of your creativity, Kuumba, this past year? Is there anything, not necessarily something material, that you created to benefit your community? Maybe it was a new financial institution, a volunteer food service program for those in need, or maybe it was a new resolve and commitment to do better than you did the previous year. Creativity covers a multitude of endeavors.

Finally, how much faith, Imani, do you have in the things you are celebrating? How much faith do you have in yourself? How much faith do you have in your brothers and sisters? How much faith do you have in the Creator’s ability to carry you through in times of struggle? Are you one of “little faith,” or is your faith sufficient to support you in your quest to fulfill the other six principles of Kwanzaa?

Aren’t you tired of mere spoken words? Aren’t you just a little weary of empty rhetoric, events based on words followed by little or no subsequent action? Wouldn’t you like to see us, after fifty years of celebrating Kwanzaa, be able to point to something we built and sustained because of our celebration of values we hold so dear?

On December 26th of every year, after fifty years of celebrating, we should be able to look back and revel in the things we have accomplished through our celebration of Kwanzaa. What will you see when you look back this year? If nothing is there except a mere celebration of principles rather than progress, then you have some work to do. Use this year’s Kwanzaa to act upon the seven principles so that this time next year you will have some tangible accomplishment to celebrate.

Again, my favorite principle is Ujamaa, so I’d like to offer something you can do to celebrate it. Go to www.iamoneofthemillion.com and purchase a few bags of Sweet Unity Coffee for yourself and for Kwanzaa gifts for a few friends. Then celebrate by toasting “sweet unity” among our people.


The founder of Kwanzaa, Maulana Karenga, did more than just come up with some nice words and principles for us to recognize and follow during this season. He has shared many words with us on how we must conduct ourselves at all times—not just during Kwanzaa. One thing he warned against was Black folks getting stuck in a place where most of what we do is lament “litanies of lost battles.” Kwanzaa must be a true celebration of production and progress, not just another lamentation of having lost.

 

 

Power to Power! Bob Johnson on our path forward.

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman December 19th, 2016


One post-election highlight for me was the meeting between Donald Trump and Bob Johnson. Billionaire to billionaire, Democrat to Republican, Black to White, businessman to businessman, capitalist to capitalist, meeting on a relatively even playing field to discuss some of the “what now issues” was intriguing to say the least. After the meeting, Mr. Johnson wrote a press release and did several interviews to disclose the particulars of that meeting.

While the press summed up Johnson’s comments in one sentence, “Let’s give Trump a shot,” there was much more to it than that. How do I know that? I’m glad you asked. Mr. Johnson graciously agreed to allow me to interview him as well, and during our nearly one-hour conversation he spoke openly about his political position vis-à-vis the election of Donald Trump, and his thoughts, recommendations, and reflections on a Black strategy moving forward.

One of the main things Johnson discussed is our penchant to vote as a bloc for one party, in this case the Dems, without reciprocity. His words brought to mind similar words by Carter G. Woodson and Malcolm X on that same point. Mr. Johnson recommended that Black folks should be independent and bloc-vote only for candidates who support our interests, locally and nationally, regardless of their party affiliation. “Amen!”

Bob Johnson, based upon what he called a “Seismic shift” in our politics, said we must follow what former U.S. Representative, William “Bill” Clay, Sr. told us: “Your political philosophy must be selfish and pragmatic. You must start with the premise that you have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, just permanent interests.” My follow-up question was, “Then would you recommend that Black voters register as ‘Non Party Affiliated’ at their local Boards of Elections?” His answer: “Absolutely yes.” Bingo!

Remember when Donald Trump was asking Black folks, “What do you have to lose” by voting for him? My immediate answer to his question was another question: “What do we have to gain?” Without my leading Mr. Johnson in any way, during their conversation Johnson shared his message to Trump on that question by saying, “You should be telling Black people what they have to gain by voting for you.”

Johnson cited some very basic business principles, which he has put into play via his conglomerate of ventures, for instance, an equity fund to assist mid-level businesses. I asked if he thought Blacks should form a similar collective fund for start-ups and micro businesses, and why we don’t have such a fund now. He agreed that we should have a fund, but on why we don’t have one, he simply said, “That’s a head, problem, Jim.” In other words, the only thing stopping us from doing that is our lack of consciousness and willingness to sacrifice for and support one another. Again, that’s much of what I have written and spoken about for twenty years—Psychological Enslavement.

By that time in our interview I was on cloud nine because Robert L. Johnson, owner of numerous businesses and donor of millions of dollars to political campaigns, was confirming the work and philosophy of THE One Million Conscious and Conscientious Black Contributors and Voters (OMCCBCV). I never mentioned our movement to him during our conversation, but his answers to my inquiries definitely substantiated the direction THE One Million is taking to move Black people from our current status to our highest potential.

There was so much we discussed, and Mr. Johnson’s responses, insights, and directions are just what we need to do NOW. We cannot afford to wait, to analyze, to meet, to hold a convention, or continue to theorize the future and lament the past. We can shape our future; we can determine our destiny simply by doing what not only Bob Johnson said but what many of our elders have said over the years. We simply need to ACT.

My entire Q and A with Bob Johnson will be published soon, but I wanted to let my readers know about it now, so that we can start moving immediately to leverage our dollars and our votes against the two systems that run this nation and the world: Economics and Politics. The OMCCBCV has already planned to kick-off one part of that strategy in February 2017. Stay tuned.

Please watch for my entire interview with Bob Johnson and start planning for major changes in the way we play politics and the way we use our economic clout to build a strong foundation for our children and grandchildren. What Mr. Johnson shared with me is not esoteric or proprietary, and it’s certainly not new. However, sometimes with our people, the same message can come from different sources and depending on the messenger our people will follow it. I am grateful that Mr. Johnson chose to speak out on these issues. More to come.

 

 

Stop Drinking the Fool Aid — December 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman December 12th, 2016

“Negroes … sometimes choose their own leaders but unfortunately they are too often the wrong kind. Negroes do not readily follow persons with constructive programs. Almost any sort of exciting appeal or trivial matter presented to them may receive immediate attention … and liberal support.”
Carter G. Woodson

The term “Drinking the Kool-Aid” has been taken to a new level among many of our people. In many circles we have gotten so intellectually lazy that we will believe just about anything from anyone, that is, as long as we don’t have to do anything except trumpet a utopian message, and if we never have to sacrifice for the collective benefit of one another. The Kool-Aid cliché, as far as I am concerned, has now become “Fool-Aid,” and Black folks are gulping it down by the barrel.

There are so-called Black leaders who, despite their unseemly tactics, their portrayals of themselves as “honest” brokers, and their shadowy deal-making and sellout prowess, seem to be exempt from exposure by our people. While Black folks have always had to deal with these scoundrels, we have been reluctant to call them out – to expose them for what they really are.

On the other hand, we have leaders among us who are totally dedicated to the collective economic advancement of African Americans. These are the ones who are usually sacrificed by Black people — thrown out because they are a threat to the establishment or because they are “too Black.” That frightens some people and, sadly, we play into that fear by participating in the demise of the very people who would help pull us out of our economic problems.

We willingly drink the Fool-Aid of those who are only interested in themselves, only to end up in the same place or even further behind than we were before we took the first sip. That must change. But it won’t change simply because it ought to change; it will only change when we change our behavior and our penchant for choosing the “wrong kind” of leader.

I have seen folks stroll through our communities and be held up as paragons of Black liberation, all while filling their pockets with the filthy lucre from their sell-out deals with the powers that be. They have their hands in every deal, every program, every transaction, and every scenario that involves Black people, making certain that they will be the first in line to be paid. They rob the community and blame that same community for not moving forward. How can we move forward with crooks like these among us?

Many people, Black, White, and otherwise have drunk the Fool-Aid of folks like Jim Jones in Guyana, David Koresh in Waco, Texas, Marshall Applewhite in San Diego (Hale Bopp Comet), Warren Jeffs in Eldorado, Texas (Yearning for Zion Ranch), and many other cult figures. We have been mesmerized and captivated by individual preachers, politicians, and leaders who have absolutely no interest in anything other than their own selfish interests and advancement—usually economic.

So, while the “Drinking the Kool-Aid” cliché has become sort of comical and caricature-oriented in its connotation, “Drinking the Fool-Aid” gives a much more enlightened description of the dangers that lurk in actualizing the phrase.

I contend that Black folks are far too intelligent to be reduced to a bunch of voluntary “Fool-Aid” drinkers, lapping up every word spoken by anyone, without doing our homework and making sure that what they say is true and illustrated by their subsequent actions. In other words, don’t believe everything you hear or read on the internet. Don’t be a sycophant for a shyster or a puppet for a prevaricator. Hold their feet to the fire after they speak, and use your own discernment to ascertain the wealth of their words—or the lack thereof.

As Woodson intimated, Black folks have authentic leaders who have “constructive programs” but who are seldom followed. Unfortunately, we have more folks drinking the Fool-Aid of hucksters than we have those who refuse it or at least read the label before they are willing to take a drink. But to borrow a verse from Matthew 7:13 “…For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”

Think for yourself, and be willing to accept the consequences thereof. Fool-Aid may taste good, but it will make you very sick.

 

 

Return on Investment — December 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman December 5th, 2016

Having read some of the post-election statements by our top Black organizations, and after watching some of their leaders on TV news shows, commenting and lamenting the loss by the Dems, I thought about the effectiveness of our champions for civil rights, economic empowerment, and political empowerment. How effective have they been in terms of gains for the collective of Black people, their primary constituents?

While they are mostly run by Black people and receive millions of dollars from Black members and supporters, the reciprocal benefits returned by these organizations are far lacking. In exchange for Black dollars Blacks get “no justice, no peace” marches, demonstrations, 860-mile walks, voter registration campaigns, reports on how bad a shape we are in, emails that ask us for more money, press conferences, and awards programs.

The “Big Three” Black organizations, the NAACP, the Urban League, and the National Action Network, despite having tens of millions of dollars collectively, and despite having the gravitas to be invited to the White House to discuss “Black issues” and the “Black agenda,” give Black people the same old song and dance when it comes to empowerment. Their mantras, “…equality of rights for ‘all’ persons,” “To be Equal,” and “No justice, No peace,” respectively, ring hollow and have not solved the myriad of problems we face. They have been in existence for 107, 106, and 25 years, respectively, having worked on important issues and having developed various programs; but being controlled by the purse strings (puppet strings) of corporate donors, these vaunted Black organizations cannot make headway for Black people.

As the go-to guys for cable news shows, the heads of the “Big Three,” Cornell Brooks, Marc Morial, and Al Sharpton, either have a great deal of personal influence or the news show hosts know they are “safe” and will not say what really needs to be said, and even be irate, about Black issues. They are usually tepid in their rejoinders regarding serious Black issues. They are more inclined to talk about “all” and “people of color,” and “rainbows,” and “minorities.”

Because everything in this country is driven by economics, we understand the penchant for the “Big Three” and other smaller groups to go only so far in their public/on-camera responses to the concerns of Black folks. It’s all about protecting the “old coffers,” to borrow a George W. Bush term.

Speaking of coffers, former President of the NAACP, Ben Jealous, received an annual salary of $320,000; his successor, Cornell Brooks, left a job that paid him over $240,000 per year to accept $150,000 from the NAACP, despite the interim President, Lorraine Miller, being paid over $160,000. Supposedly, the NAACP was in a “financial crunch” during the interim period after Jealous helped raise some $43 million in revenues. Brooks, when you consider his prior experience, undoubtedly is paid considerably more than $150,000 now; taking a $90,000 per year cut in salary without a promise or contract calling for a significant raise in the near future makes sense only if you “got it like that.”

With total revenues of $53,000,000+, the National Urban League compensated President Marc Morial a tidy sum of $836,000 ($700,000 and $136,000 other) in 2014. An additional five employees each received approximately $300,000 ($232,000-$252,000 and $64,000 other) in total compensation for that same year. We don’t know what they are earning now, but it’s a good bet their salaries are higher than in 2014.

The smallest of the “Big Three,” the National Action Network (NAN), a 501(c)4 association, did so well with corporate donations in 2014 that Sharpton was able to give himself a 70% raise from $241,545 to $412,644, including a “bonus” of $64,400. Nice work if you can get it, huh?

Before the hating begins, please know that I am all for Black folks making money, as long as it’s legal, ethical, and moral, of which I make no judgments in the cases I cited. I’m simply writing about ROI (Return on Investment) for Black dollars. This is about where we are, based on what we have done and how much we have paid for it. Over the past 25-50 years I would venture to say Black folks have invested billions of dollars into our Black organizations, and that’s not even counting our churches. Question is: “What dividends have we received in return for those investments?”

You can be the judge of that; it’s your money. But as handsomely as the leaders of our organizations are paid, and as well as our politicians are taken care of, we should all be asking a few questions. Are we in this just to provide good jobs for a few individuals? Do we really expect them to deliver anything of substance to us? How much longer are we willing to follow this path? What is our return on investment?