Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Resignation — September 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman September 16th, 2017

It is with deep sadness that I resign from the position of Black Activist, emphasis on the “act” part.  Next week’s column will be my final one.  Why?  While I have been running hard to escape the final clutches of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, it has gained on me to the point of my being virtually helpless on a physical level.  My resignation is by no means an indication of giving up; rather it is simply the reality that I face now when it comes to continuing the job I chose to do many years ago:  Servant Leader to Black people. 


The compensation has not been great, (No 401-K for me or my family to rely on) but I accepted that.  The status has not been high, but I have never sought fame.  The work required long hours and brought with it stress, disappointments, fits and starts, time away from my wife and daughter, and the constant often quixotic task of going against the status quo, which made some folks very angry.

However, my reward has come in the form of meeting and knowing so many conscious and conscientious people from Seattle to Miami, from San Diego to Boston, and abroad.  My reward came in the strength and rejuvenation I felt when I got my “booster shot” of consciousness and commitment from those same people, too numerous to name. 

During this sojourn, my reward has been seeing the young folks I taught in high schools and colleges having moved on to higher achievements.  I remember during a Marcus Garvey celebration in Chicago someone saying, “The children are not ‘our’ future; we are their future.” 

That’s so true, and I am buoyed by the fact that many of our seasoned folks are working to guide our youth and helping build a strong foundation for them so they, in turn, can be the future for those that follow. 

Often frustrated by those among us who only talk about what “we need” and/or offer solutions but never lead the way to execute those solutions, I have come to see the futility in much of the leadership (I call it “Pleadership”) we choose to follow.  Rhetoric, elocution, and extensive vocabulary do not necessarily reflect true leadership; organized direct action that is intentional, sacrificial, and sustained, are what Black folks need to empower ourselves. 

Carter G. Woodson, under the heading, Service Rather Than Leadership, wrote, “Under leadership we have come into the ghetto; by service within the ranks we may work our way out of it…under leadership we have been constrained to do the biddings of others…under leadership we have become poverty-stricken…under leadership we have been made to despise our own possibilities and to develop into parasites.” I say, “Be careful who you choose as leaders; you may have to follow them one day.”

Now I would never suggest you do anything that I have not been willing to do or have not already done, so I will offer some personal retirement reflections on some of my actions relative to the many words I have written and spoken over the years.

When I said we needed a Black Chamber of Commerce in Cincinnati, I went to work to start one in 1996. When I said our children were not being educated on financial literacy and entrepreneurship, I started an entrepreneurship high school. When I complained that we had no collective equity fund, I worked with others to start one at a Black Credit Union.  When I saw the need for a nationwide charitable group to fund our schools, museums, and other causes, I started the Blackonomics Million Dollar Club, and collectively we funded 20 Black organizations. And when I saw the “need” for a local self-help fund for our people I started one with my own initial contribution.

Black folks need an organized, dedicated, critical mass of the conscientiously conscious to achieve economic empowerment and the power (not influence) to direct public policy toward benefiting us for a change.  Having been on that road for many years, my final stop is THE One Million (www.iamoneofthemillion.com).  I will devote my remaining energy to the framework and mission of that movement.   

Finally, DO SOMETHING to change the “we need” to “we did.”  We have answered the “What?” question—many times over. Some have answered it by asking another question, “So What?” My question is, “Now What?” Stop the nonsense, Black folks; as Red said in Shawshank Redemption, we can “get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’.” As Moses told his people, “Choose life!”

After 25 years of writing weekly articles on economic empowerment, five books on that subject, countless speeches and classroom hours, I am now prepared to resign by offering these simple instructions:  If you see the “need,” then be willing to do the work; and don’t try to be a legend, build a legacy instead.

 

 

 

NAACP – What’s New? — September 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman September 7th, 2017

“I thank God that most of the money that supports the NAACP comes from Black hands; a still larger proportion must so come, and we must not only support but ‘control’ this and similar organizations and hold them unwaveringly to our objects, our aims and our ideals.” W.E.B. DuBois wrote those words in the Crisis Magazine in 1915. Ironically, what was written in The Crisis has now become the crisis in the NAACP and other so-called Black organizations.

Established in 1909, yes, by White folks, Blacks put their money up and supported the NAACP. Today, nearly a century later, the NAACP and many of its local chapters would go out of business if they did not receive money from non-Black corporations and individuals whose “controlling interests” have reduced the NAACP to paper-tiger status in many of our communities.

Fast forward to 2017, after 108 years in existence, NAACP interim President, Derrick Johnson, has to defend the relevancy of the supposedly Black civil rights organization by saying, “If you move across this landscape and in many communities, the NAACP is the ‘only’ vehicle individuals have to raise their voice and ‘ensure’ that democracy exists.” If the NAACP is the “only” vehicle we have to raise our voices, Black folks are in a world of trouble.

Johnson said Donald Trump’s policies, statements, and actions hurt “all” Americans, and the mission of the NAACP even refers to “equality of rights of ‘all’ persons,” which is inconsistent with its name, i.e. the “advancement of colored people.” Newsflash! “All” persons are not in need of equality of rights; “colored people” are. Johnson went on to say, [The] NAACP has never been a large city operation. It is in communities where no one knows of them.” That statement is lacking at best, the Shelby County Alabama vs. Holder case that he cited, notwithstanding.

Johnson railed against Trump’s executive order to lift the ban on military-style weaponry and attire for state and local law enforcement agencies, but then said, “Unfortunately, elections have consequences…We have to deal with some of these executive orders until 2020.” Didn’t he say the NAACP is the “only” organization to “ensure” democracy exists?

Then Johnson pulled out that tried and true, tired and tepid NAACP mantra by saying voting remains a major subject for the NAACP going into next year’s midterm elections. “For the first time, I can agree that this is the ‘most important election’ coming up…Voting is paramount,” he said.

He also addressed several NAACP concerns including racist statues, monuments, and flags on public property (No mention of the Edmund Pettus Bridge or Stone Mountain), the NAACP’s willingness to meet with Trump, but only to discuss policy “proposals” (Not demands), and the domestic terrorism in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Finally, reaching once again into the NAACP toolkit, Johnson said voting is the catalyst to improve communities and change public policy, and added this confusing statement: “Those who have the right to vote have say. Those who don’t, don’t. Your vote is your currency. If you’re bankrupt and you go to the store, you can’t purchase anything. If you’re exercising your currency and you collect that currency with others who have your interest, you can purchase the grocery store.” All I can say to that is, “SAY WHAT?” Oh yes, I can also repeat something Abraham Maslow said: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will see every problem as though it’s a nail.”

So here we go again, y’all; in the NAACP’s eyes we have the same problem, so we should use the same tool, and therefore get the same results, right? With the exception of Bruce Gordon, NAACP leaders have, for decades, told us that voting is the answer to our problems. Obviously they have no other solution and no other tool except a hammer to offer Black folks, from whom they get most of their support, as DuBois said. So what’s next? The NAACP will help prepare and offer solutions to register voters (Don’t we know how to do that by now?). “This will help educate voters on what’s going on in their communities,” said Hillary Shelton, who presides over the DC Office. “We know from what we do in Washington, impacts people all over the country and frankly the world.” Not a large city organization, huh? Get real.

The best thing about the national NAACP is the work of Sherrilyn Ifill and her staff. I truly admire and respect her, as well as the work done by some of the branches around the country. But other than that, to the question of “What’s new at the NAACP,” the answer is: “Absolutely nothing!”

 

 

Be careful what you wish for. — August 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman August 28th, 2017

A White House implosion is on the horizon. Personally, I have never believed Donald Trump would fulfill his first term in office. Politics is just not his cup of tea; he suffers from that ultimate aphrodisiac known as “Power” and the presidency was the final conquest for him. But having to comply with political constraints and that pesky document known as the Constitution, he is frustrated, rebellious, and uncooperative. If he is not the boss of everything, like in his businesses, he cannot handle it. He is better suited to King Trump rather than President Trump, because the co-equal divisions of government are anathema to him. Trump subscribes to the Orwellian premise mentioned in the book, Animal Farm; he believes that he is “more equal” than anyone else. So, what will happen when he finds a face-saving way to get out of his current job?

Well, unless he takes his “Christian” Vice-President with him, we will inherit the dreaded Mike Pence. The man who said, “I am a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order,” and a man who stands by his man, Trump, supporting his every lie, nonsensical contention, and immoral vagary, will then occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The words “politician” and “hypocrite” are redundant in many cases, but in my opinion Pence not only takes the cake, he baked the cake. I’ve seen a great deal of political hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle but the hypocrisy I see in our VP is off the chart. What kind of President do you think he will be?

Trump fired Reince Priebus, the guy who said, “…Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you’ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people…” Pence said serving Donald Trump is the “greatest privilege of my life.” (What about his privilege of serving God; where does he rank that, according to his own words?) Since Trump cannot fire Pence, the VP will be elevated to the highest office in the land if Trump leaves.

The 65% of the American people who do not support “The Donald,” many of whom want him gone, you had better think long and hard about your desire to evict Trump from the White House. The results of your hatred for him will in all likelihood put you in a worse situation than you are in now. Mike Pence knows all the right moves to make the Trump agenda a reality, and since he supports everything Trump does and says now, he would be even more of a hypocrite if he abandoned the Trump agenda altogether.

So be very careful about what you wish for, irrespective of your dislike for the POTUS. I say, let’s keep The Donald. The media will always have something to talk about; Black folks and some Whites will always have something to rail against; conspiracies will abound, and they always make for great conversation; SNL will be even funnier; and we will always be able to count on King Trump for intrigue, rumors, outrageous contentions, bluster and bombast, insulting comments, and his ability to keep the North Korean crazy person in check. You know it takes a crazy person to threaten another crazy person and have him believe that threat.

What do you say? Shouldn’t we keep Trump, considering who is waiting in the wings to take over: Pence and then Paul Ryan in that order? Trump is an outright liar, a self-absorbed and child-like man who doesn’t care that his true self is on parade. He let us know who he was years ago—not just over the past two years. We don’t have to guess about Trump; he lays it all out there for the world to see. Yes, he is unpredictable, but most of what he says cannot be implemented without congressional approval. The nuclear codes? I say those around him should give him codes that won’t work. That way, if he decides to play Doctor Strangelove, the missiles will not fire on his personal command.

Pence, on the other hand, is a hypocrite; he hides his true self behind the mantle of religiosity. He tells us one thing and acts in a completely different way when it comes to his support of the ethical and moral turpitude of his boss. How can the VP say it’s the privilege of his lifetime to serve a liar, a misogynist, a narcissist, a braggart, and a father who engages in conversations with Howard Stern about his daughter, Ivanka, being a “nice piece of ass”?

Mike Pence does not have the backbone to call his boss out on anything he says or does, despite his evangelical bent. Is he the kind of guy you want to be President? Be careful.

 

 

Statues, Monuments, and Memorials — August 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman August 19th, 2017

Many people are highly insulted by confederate statues and monuments, and they want them taken down and/or destroyed. Since the latest movement in New Orleans to eliminate these relics that commemorate folks who tried to secede from the Union, which resulted in a war that cost 700,000 lives, some Black people have been asking the questions: “Is it worth it?” “Should we be spending our time on other things?” “If all of the statues and monuments were eliminated tomorrow, would that help propel Black folks to a higher level in this country?”

Because I have never been involved in any protest or action to remove a statue, a flag, or a memorial that celebrates the Confederacy, I will not attempt to answer those questions for anyone who has or is engaged in protesting them. But, I will offer my personal take on the matter.

Unless I was terrified by these inanimate objects, or they made me physically sick when I saw them, I wouldn’t care about them at all. And so, I don’t care about them. But I remember how my mother hated, I mean hated, the “Lawn Jockeys” we would see when as we rode in our car. She always said if she had an axe she would stop and destroy the little Black faced man holding the horse’s ring. (Many stories abound on its origin and purpose, too numerous to recite in this article) I guess my mother grew up seeing those little statues in West Virginia and was told they denoted hatred for Black people.

Having lived in the south during my teenage years, I experienced separate public accommodations. I went from a majority White school in Ohio to an all-Black school in North Carolina, in 1960 no less, and I liked it; those two years were the best of my life at that time. I “grew-up” there and realized many positive things about Black people in the south when it came to ownership, education, and self-determination. I was inspired by what I saw in Black people—not discouraged.

I live in South Carolina now, and I see confederate flags on trucks, hats, shirts, and other paraphernalia—it doesn’t bother me a bit. As long as the person wearing that stuff leaves me and mine alone, I’m fine. I am not suggesting everyone be like me; I am just sharing my experience.

Practically speaking, Black folks could spend the better part of the next decade or two removing icons of the Confederacy, and upon our victory of doing so we would still be at the bottom of all economic indices in this nation. According to Five thirty-eight.com, “…The Southern Poverty Law Center began collecting data on public displays of the Confederacy throughout the United States…they found more than 1,500 places or things commemorating the Confederacy, including more than a hundred schools and more than 700 monuments. The SPLC’s list of symbols also includes street and county names, as well as parks, military bases and a broad range of other public works or spaces. The vast majority are located in states that once made up the Confederacy, though they extend north and west as well.”

All of those monuments and memorials, in addition to the personal relics owned by confederate supporters, would occupy our time and energy for a very long time. Besides, to be diverted from the existential issues affecting Blacks would be hazardous to say the least. Sure we can multitask; we’ve always been good at that, but we must not abdicate our responsibility to achieve real power, socially, politically, and economically. We must be more concerned and active around substance rather than symbolism.

For those who want to protest monuments, please consider Selma, Alabama, where in March of every year Black folks walk across a bridge named after a staunch racist. Where’s the call to change the name of the bridge from Edmund Pettus to, let’s say, the John R. Lewis Bridge, since he is the icon of the Selma march? As a matter of fact, why don’t Black folks just make the change themselves in that 80% majority Black city with a Black Mayor? Do you see the irony here?

Also consider the “monumental” problem that exists in the “Black Mecca,” Atlanta, Georgia. It’s called Stone Mountain and features Lee, Davis, and Stonewall. The carving is so large that a grown man can stand inside the ear of one of the horses and is the largest confederate monument in the U.S. Pardon the pun, but folks in the “Atl” have their work cut out for them.

Klan Associates, William and Samuel Venable, bought Stone Mountain in 1887 for $48,000 and granted permission to Helen Plane to create her vision of a Confederate memorial carved in stone. As I always say, “Ownership is key.”