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Making Black History – Part 3 Product Distribution — February 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman February 20th, 2017

“Production minus sales equals scrap.”

A good friend of mine, Mitch Melson, made the above statement when we worked at Special Market Services in Chicago during the mid-1980’s. It is so appropriate as we continue our four-part series on how to make Black history in addition to just celebrating it. During that same period the reality of product distribution became even clearer with the development of P.O.W.E.R. (People Organized and Working for Economic Rebirth), a sales/distribution partnership between The Nation of Islam and Johnson Products in Chicago.

Another point of clarity for me back then was the American Health and Beauty Aids Institute (AHBAI) that featured “The Proud Lady” logo on its product labels to denote they were made by Black people. Those efforts, along with Dick Gregory’s Bahamian Diet Drink and its difficulty in getting shelf space in major stores, pointed out the need and advantages of having our own distribution network.

Then in 1999, I met Ken Bridges who, along with Al Wellington, founded the MATAH Network, in an effort to assure that Black manufactured products did not become scrap, but would instead be distributed throughout the United States via what they called, “The Black Channel.” MATAH was a “people, a movement, and a business”—a new paradigm in the distribution of Black-made products. At its zenith MATAH carried some 300 different products. MATAH helped get my first two books in distribution with its monthly “Auto-ship” program, a consciousness-raising component dedicated to sending out books, tapes, and products to those who signed up for this special value.

When Ken Bridges was killed by the DC Sniper, the morning after he and other Black business partners and supporters had consummated a multi-million dollar deal to advance the MATAH Network, the reality of having a Black owned distribution channel was stymied and began to fade into a fond memory.

Now, during this Black History Month, as we reflect on MATAH, P.O.W.E.R., and AHBAI, we see those “pyramids” that were built by our contemporaries, and we see how they “made” Black History. The same issues apply regarding our current willingness to make Black history in addition to just celebrating it, which is a great segue into what Ashiki Taylor and Franklin Mayfield are doing with their effort called “BAM!”

As former MATAH associates, Taylor a Regional Supervisor, and Mayfield the website developer and host for the site, these two brothers got back together and created a means to connect Black manufacturers of products with consumers throughout this country. Their overall objective is to give greater visibility to Black manufacturers, and to get Black consumers to pledge to spend incremental amounts each month on products made by Black people, thus, redirecting a significantly higher amount of our money toward one another.

To paraphrase Amos Wilson, during Black History Month Black folks celebrate the inventions of our ancestors who actually “made history.” We remember George Washington Carver, Jan Matzeliger, Elijah McCoy, Granville T. Woods, and others; but what will our history-making legacy be today? Make history by highlighting and purchasing the Black manufactured products of our contemporaries. BAM brings that opportunity, only this time by using technology to get the word out and to rally Black consumers and producers. In essence, BAM is an online Black channel of distribution that keeps your products from becoming scrap.

One principle of Ma’at is Reciprocity, so this is also a call for Black manufacturers to spend some money as well. As we purchase your products, you should purchase advertising on the BAM website, Black radio, and Black print media. Be willing to sponsor events in some form or another, and buy other Black products yourself. A reciprocal mindset is a conscious mindset, and creates a multiplier effect where one dollar spent has the effect of three dollars spent.

This is a way to make our own history in 2017. It is easy and pain-free. Stop celebrating so-called Black “spending power” of $1.2 trillion and start using it to create wealth for Black people. Redirect more of your consumption dollars to products made by Black people. Make your pledge, and keep it. And for all of you Black producers out there, list your companies on the BAM website and let us know what retail outlets carry your products, thus, making it easier for us to keep our pledges. Go to www.blackamericanmade.com and sign up.

BAM has created a “no excuses” way for us to put our money where our mouths are by adding more Black-made products to our household product mix. Hot Sauce, barbecue sauce, diapers, sneakers, paper products, laundry detergent, baby food, ice cream, beer, and thousands of other products are made by Black people. Make Black history by purchasing as many as you can. Clingman Out. BAM!

 

 

Making Black History – Pt. 2 – Soul City

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman February 13th, 2017

An obscure name to those under sixty years of age and who live outside of the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina area, is the subject of this week’s installment of, “Making history, not just celebrating it.” A man of vision, strength, and determination, who practiced what he preached, Floyd McKissick succeeded James Farmer as National Director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1966, and under McKissick’s leadership, CORE was transformed from an interracial, non-violent, civil rights organization into a group that promoted Black Power.

In this contemporary era of Black folks complaining about gentrification, my memory of McKissick and how he would respond to this issue stands out; he graphically illustrated the sacrifice, the will, and the “can do” attitude we must have in order to stop the economic and political assaults against us. I attended North Carolina College, now North Carolina Central University in Durham, in the mid-1960’s. McKissick’s name and his legal services were never far from the mouths of students who marched downtown to participate in the restaurant sit-ins.

With what were then called “National Defense Highways” coming through Durham’s Hayti District and other Black enclaves, under the guise of “Urban Renewal,” McKissick’s answer to gentrification was Soul City, North Carolina, developed by Black folks, where Blacks could feel the pride of ownership and control of their community.

“In 1968 McKissick set out on a journey to bring his Soul City vision to fruition. McKissick argued that Black Power as an organizing principle could enrich and revolutionize African-American communities. To this end, he pushed for increased African-American control over communities, governments, economics, and schools and used CORE to assist local community leaders in these efforts.”

“Soul City is located in the predominately black area of eastern North Carolina, and was a planned community with an infrastructure capacity sufficient to support an eventual population of 55,000. In July 1972, McKissick received $19 million in federal aid in order to achieve this goal. Within months he became the minority campaign chairman for President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign. Although Soul City was declared economically unviable in 1979, McKissick and a few other people continued to live there.” Source: http://www.blackpast.org

I remember driving to Soul City just to take a look, and when I got there, I even thought about living there. Homes were still being built and businesses had not moved in yet, but I really liked what I saw. It was proof that, despite resistance, even from Black folks, McKissick persisted not only with an economic strategy but also with a political strategy.

In April 1991, New York Times writer, Glenn Fowler, wrote an article titled, “Floyd McKissick, Civil Rights Maverick, Dies at 69,” in which he stated, “Before the 1972 Presidential election, Mr. McKissick angered many blacks by switching from the Democratic Party to the Republicans and supporting Mr. Nixon’s re-election campaign. He argued that blacks were ill-advised to put all their hopes in the Democratic Party.”

McKissick’s political admonition and his economic plan still ring true today.

What’s the application for us? How can we use Brother McKissick’s work to make Black history today? I’m glad you asked. First we must understand that, politically, we have no permanent friends or enemies, just permanent interests. Then, we must pool and leverage our dollars to gain a significant piece of this rock called the United States, starting with the neighborhoods in which we live. Buy the property, the vacant lots, and the abandoned storefronts, rather than complain about them. Open and support neighborhood Black owned businesses, and grow those businesses to the point of being able to hire Black youth.

Real estate development is essential for the economic empowerment of Black people, and we have many architects, CPA’s, construction management professionals, and construction firms who could form strategic alliances to develop large tracts of land. They could transform our neighborhoods into viable communities in a couple of decades; they could get the tax credits and abatements, and take advantage of “Tax Increment Financing” (TIF) that other developers use to gain ownership and control of various sections of cities.

To make Black history we must use the patterns left by Floyd McKissick, Phillip Payton of Harlem, Herman Perry in Atlanta, Annie Minerva Turnbo-Malone in Chicago, George Tyson in Atlantic Beach, South Carolina, and Joe Dudley, Dudley Products, in Kernersville, North Carolina. Own the real estate, control it, and develop it.

If we develop land, we are being true to what Dr. Amos Wilson suggested; we will be building and celebrating our own “pyramids” in addition to annually celebrating the “pyramids” built by our ancestors. While we remember Soul City, Greenwood, Hayti, Black Bottom, Sag Harbor, Bronzeville, Five Points, “The Harlem of the west” in Denver, Sweet Auburn, Mound Bayou, and so many other Black enclaves, we must reactivate our resources and rebuild more pyramids.

 

 

Making Black History — February 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman February 4th, 2017

“There are [Blacks] who are willing to worship the pyramids of 4,000 years ago but will not build pyramids in the present so their children may see what they left behind as well. We have a leadership who rallies the people to look at past glories but leave their children neglected…”
Dr. Amos Wilson, Afrikan Centered Consciousness versus the New World Order

It’s that time again, y’all. Black History Month! The time of year when we celebrate our history. Consider this: Let’s make Black history in addition to just celebrating it this year. Having used Amos Wilson’s quote many times in my attempt to get us to move from being passive to being active, I draw upon his wisdom once again in hope that we will change our behavior when it comes to Black History Month, by making some history of our own.

History has shown us what our ancestors have done, but we must take their victories to a higher level by building upon what they have done—not just talking about it. This month, God willing, I will write four articles on making Black history, and offer ways to improve on what has already been done by following the paths left by our people and building something now. Then, next year this time, we will have more to celebrate—something our children can see in their present rather than in their past.

This first feature of “Making Black History” is centered on a call being put forth by THE One Million Conscious and Conscientious Black Contributors and Voters (OMCCBCV). See: http://www.iamoneofthemillion.com/our-planks.html and read Plank #1) Imagine the impact of millions of black voters going to their respective Boards of Elections and changing their registration designation to “No Party Affiliation” (NPA). Now that is a great way to MAKE Black History rather than sit back and reflect on the Black history made by our progenitors.

The original NPA idea came from co-convener of THE One Million, Amefika Geuka, who recently discussed with me a mass movement by Black voters to declare our independence of both dominant political parties. We decided to launch the effort this Black History Month (Feb. 2017). We want at least One Million Black voters, in the next ninety days, to register “NPA”, thereby, serving notice on all politicians that Black folks will no longer be their puppets and will no longer be ignored.

Changing our designation to NPA will strengthen us collectively and give us the power to leverage our votes for our own best interests—our “permanent interests”—as a viable, resolute, and independent voting bloc. It will let politicians know that we are serious about quid pro quo, something they understand all too well. Finally, we will be able to get some “quo” in return for our “quid.”

Now, I understand that many Black people who are died-in-the-wool Dems or Repubs will never register as NPA, but this is not about waiting for or even trying to coax all Black voters to comply with this very sensible and simple strategy. A critical mass of Black voters, willing to close ranks around Congressman Bill Clay’s famous assertion: “We have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, just permanent interests,” will give us the leverage we must have, nationally and locally, to determine the outcomes of various elections and gain reciprocity from those whom we support.

So, this is my first recommendation on how we MAKE Black History this month instead of just celebrating it and being told what our history is via commercials, sales, and folks who know very little or no Black history. A case in point is the recent Tweet by Vice President Mike Pence, who wrote, “As Black History Month begins we remember when President Lincoln submitted the 13th Amendment, ending slavery, to the states.” Say what!?

He suggests we celebrate Black History by acknowledging a White man—someone who did not end slavery by “submitting the 13th Amendment.” I wrote to Pence and suggested to him, in keeping with his “Lincoln freed the slaves” theme, that he should make history by calling for the “exception” clause to be removed from the 13th Amendment (THE One Million’s Plank #11). Then slavery in all forms and under all circumstances, especially for those “duly convicted of crimes” would be eliminated. Don’t you just hate condescension?

The call for us to register as “NPA” is also in line with the advice business mogul, Bob Johnson, gave in his interview with me. (See entire interview on www.triceedneywire.com) He agrees with this tactic, and I will be reaching out to him to be the National Honorary Chairman of this effort. Meanwhile, just go do it; we don’t need fanfare or hoopla.

Get to your respective registration Boards and change to “NPA,” and let’s stop accepting someone else’s interpretation of Black History. Let’s make our own.

 

 

Sustained Persistence — January 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman January 30th, 2017

Listening to all the Black chatter about the post-Obama era, all the indignation, the whining, and the lamenting about Trump, makes me think about the Standing Rock protest and standoff in North Dakota. In April 2016, Standing Rock Sioux elder, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, began a resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline that soon grew to thousands of people. The protesters refused to leave even under orders from government powers and in the face of armed national guardsmen, pepper spray, attack dogs, and police in riot gear.

They set up a small village, lived in tents and trailers, and hunkered down for the long haul. Then the cold weather came, and boy was it cold! To add to the protesters’ misery, police used water cannons on them in the freezing cold. Temperatures dropped to twenty below, not to mention the wind chill, and in November two feet of snow fell in the area. Yet the protesters said they will not leave until the pipeline is rerouted away from their sacred land and the water sources they depend upon. You reading this, Flint residents?

Despite 141 protesters being arrested, bringing the total number of arrests since the protests began to more than 400, Chairman Dave Archambault said, “The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is not backing down from this fight…We are guided by prayer, and we will continue to fight for our people. We will not rest until our lands, people, waters and sacred places are permanently protected from this destructive pipeline.”

That’s what we call “sustained persistence,” which obviously is a redundant term, and we need “sacrificial resistance.” It reminds me of those who withstood the fire hoses and dogs during the civil and voting rights battles. It also brings attention to the importance of maintaining, supporting, and sustaining our protests over the long haul rather than simply a day or two. Not since the Montgomery bus boycott, which lasted for 381 days, have Black folks demonstrated the will and commitment to sacrifice for long periods of time for our causes.

Today we have protests that last for a few hours; we hear a couple of speeches and return home to await the next call to do the same thing. Think about how many protests Black people have called over just the last five years. Think about our tepid responses to the police killings of Eric Garner, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, and many others. We get “fired up” but we are not really “ready to go” because we end up going nowhere, and we fail to resolve the problems we are protesting.

The recent march led by Al Sharpton was called, “We shall not be moved.” Well, the title was certainly correct; we have not moved since that one-day march, and I have not seen any positive results that came from that protest against Donald Trump. Have we simply become professional marchers, complainers, and paper tigers?

Unlike the folks at Standing Rock, our leaders do not appear willing to live in tents in the freezing cold and stay in protest mode no matter what. We call for “boycotts” of a certain mall or a certain store, and sustain it for a day (Black Friday). We say, “Boycott Christmas,” only to catch the after Christmas sales, the MLK Day sales, the Black History sales, and the tax refund sales that come in the ensuing months. Maybe our protest leaders have grown weary of marching and doing anything over a sustained period of time. Maybe they just want to impress us with their bombastic, threatening, and angry rhetoric. They want to get us fired up and ready to go, but they don’t want to go with us.

Speaking of rhetoric, if Black folks would simply put as much energy into appropriate action as we expend on discussing issues that will not advance us one iota, or complaining about Trump, or lamenting about Obama leaving, we would move far beyond our present state. Trump is large and in charge; Obama is playing golf in Palm Springs. They are doing just fine. What about us though?

We must revisit the days of Montgomery, the days of sacrifice, and the days of sustained persistence and resolute resistance. Expend our energy doing things that will result in progress, on some level, for our own people. Find something that really matters not only to you but to your children’s future, like the Standing Rock protesters, and plan to see it through for the long term. Temporary protests bring temporary fixes, if they bring about any change at all.

Take a lesson from this country. When another nation does something we don’t like, the first response is economic sanctions that last for years if we don’t get what we want. We should be so smart.