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.

 

 

Call to Action – Invest in Black Businesses — January 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman January 23rd, 2017

The hue and cry from many of our people continues to be centered on “lack of access to capital” by Black owned businesses, especially start-ups and micro-businesses. The financial markets are not very favorable to our needs, thus, much of the potential among our prospective entrepreneurs is never realized. Many aspiring Black business owners, who could be successful, give up and quit because they cannot raise capital; and some businesses that could be grown to scale and employ workers never get the opportunity to do so.

Another complaint I hear is in reference to our young people. Some say we refuse to support them, and we do not encourage them to get involved and take the lead in our movements and organizations. I agree with that to some extent, but it’s not the case with THE One Million. We are always looking for conscientiously conscious young people to join us and offer their time, talent, and treasure to help our movement progress. We also reciprocate by doing what we can to support our members, not just with rah-rah lip-service but with our time, talent, and treasure in return.

To that end, I believe we have found one such “youngster” in the person of Rashaan Everett, a recent Howard University graduate of the School of Business. He joined THE One Million after contacting me regarding his investment concept, The Greenwood Project. (www.thegreenwoodproject.org) I introduced Everett to Mr. John Brown, partner in the Bedford Group, a development firm in Los Angeles where Rashaan lives. He is also a member of THE One Million.

Subsequently, Brown has taken on a “mentoring” role with Everett; they presented The Greenwood Project at our Training and Orientation meeting in Beaumont Texas, January 6-8, 2017, and I am proud to say THE One Million is highly supportive of this young brother’s project as well as participatory in his investment strategy to start and grow small Black owned businesses via crowdfunding.

The Greenwood Project is a collective fund for start-ups and micro businesses in which supporters can invest a minimum of $100.00 and will receive a contract entitling them to a share of the profits earned from their investments. To reiterate, this is an “investment” that, like other investments, carries no guarantee; it is not a donation.

Everett has assembled a team of the best and brightest Black scholars and professionals capable of managing the fund appropriately; and there is a very significant financial upside to his plan.

“Black people can control our own destiny,” Rashaan says. “We can make this part of our “Internal Reparations,” as some of our elders have suggested. If we support the innovative and creative businesses funded by the Greenwood Project, each investor can earn significant profits.”

Projected to raise a total of $1 million, which will be invested into black businesses, the profits from which will be re-cycled many times over by other Black businesses and individuals, The Greenwood Project is yet another answer to problems Black folks have been railing against. Now all we have to do, after due diligence of course, is invest (pool) our money and create more “conscientiously conscious Black millionaires,” something THE One Million has been advocating for a while now.

The Greenwood Project is based on President Obama’s JOBS Act, which allows for non-accredited investors to invest in private companies for the first time since 1933. Before the law changed, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) mandated an individual must have a net worth of $1 million, excluding real estate, to make angel investments. Obviously, this disproportionately affected Blacks, and systematically prevented us from building our own companies and our own wealth.

For the last 83 years, until May 16, 2016, this type of fund and project were illegal. It is very important for Black people to take advantage of this new law NOW before it changes again, as it could under the new administration.

The Greenwood Project is already operational, approved, and verified, taking advantage of the new law. Everett’s team has worked with lawyers, CPA’s, and bankers to assure it viability and its legality, and now with John Brown aboard, a man I have known for nearly twenty years and a man who has demonstrated his expertise in finance and business strategies, I have no doubt this project will work if we work it.

The Greenwood Project has officially earned SEC and government regulatory approval and is seeking people who are willing to invest a minimum of $100.00, right now via www.wefunder.com/greenwoodproject. This is yet another “Call to Action” to those among us who are tired of being hamstrung by a lack of capital, and are ready, willing, and able to do something to change that. Get on board The Greenwood Project by investing in yourselves. And join THE One Million too. www.iamoneofthemillion.com.

 

 

New Year – New Strategy — January 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman January 16th, 2017

For those of us who were blessed to see it, another year has arrived and brings with it another opportunity to start afresh with new ways to move our people closer to economic empowerment. The New Year brings a clean slate, so to speak, since we like to make resolutions and promises regarding things we would like to change. So what will we write on our 2017 slate? What will be our agenda this year? What strategy will we employ to empower our people? Will we stay on the endless circular path that has led to where we are today? Will we follow a new path? Will we adopt a new strategy?

Whatever we decide to commit ourselves to will certainly not be new; everything we need to do in 2017 has already been done by our ancestors who lived and survived in this country for centuries, under the worst treatment human beings could suffer. But 2017 is new, and it’s always good to look at our commitments in a new light, with a new resolve, and out of a renewed strength. Are you ready?

Here we go. Don’t fall for the same old tired rhetoric we hear every day from self-appointed “leaders” who do not lead by example. Don’t continue following folks that are only sending you deeper into the woods of poverty, while they relax in the lush fields of prosperity.

Don’t get hood-winked by pandering politicians and prosperity preachers who are only interested in what they can get for themselves, and how they can use you to get another pair of “gators,” a Bentley, a mansion, or elected to public office. Don’t be lulled to sleep by intellectual banter that makes you feel good but never tells you how to do good, or do well, for that matter.

Don’t succumb to celebrity claptrap, which only excites the Paparazzi rather than enlightens our people. Don’t get down in the muck with entertainers who denigrate themselves and us. And please don’t subscribe to the same old “okey-doke” that has literally and figuratively programmed our people to wait to be rescued by folks who care very little about us.

What must we do? First, raise the level of your Black consciousness by reading, by studying, by listening, and by associating with brothers and sisters who are serious about doing the work of liberation and unashamed to proclaim their Blackness. Connect with other individuals and collectively establish economic initiatives that benefit Black people; trust me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that; other groups do it all the time.

Be prepared to make the sacrifices required to move the masses of Black people forward. Always define yourself, and do not accept definitions like “minority” and “person of color.” Terms like those really lose something in translation, namely, us.

Stand up against injustice and wrongdoing, no matter who the perpetrator is, white, Black, or any other color. Follow through on your commitments. Get fired up, but stay fired up long enough to get the work done. Teach your children how to navigate through this world.

Take better care of yourself. Find something physical that you can do and keep doing it for the rest of your life. Yes, it will hurt sometimes, but it’s worth it. Try not to eat so much of whatever you are eating. Just eat less of everything and get up and do something to burn some calories.

Do kind things for those less fortunate than you. It doesn’t always have to be money. It could be an encouraging word, a hug without words, some baked cookies, a small gift just because, or a few hours spent with a child who may not have a father or a mother. You don’t need a program to do this; you just need yourself.

Seek out new Black leadership, authentic leadership, or be a leader yourself. There are young folks all across this country waiting to step up to the task of leadership, many of who are leading right now. Find them, especially you old soldiers out there; you can’t hang on forever, you know. Teach the young and pass the baton to them, not to someone on the other team.

Start viable businesses, grow those businesses, and create jobs for our people. Build economic enclaves throughout this country, like our relatives did two hundred years ago. Identify industries where we have the competitive advantage because of our consumerism, and build vertically integrated businesses within those industries. Boycott prisons! Stay out of the cells and get into sales. The time is long overdue for us to take our rightful place in this country, politically, socially, educationally, and most of all economically.

I have hitched my wagon to THE One Million (www.iamoneofthemillion.com); you do what is right for you. Have a wonderfully blessed 2017.

 

 

It’s Tax Time! — January 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman January 2nd, 2017

Having written many articles on what takes place from January through April, each year, relative to our tax payments and refunds, I understand that we need reinforcement and repetition on certain issues. Just as advertisers and marketers understand the power of continuous exposure to their messages, Black folks need the same thing, especially when it comes to getting us to act on basic, sound, practical, and collective economic and business principles. So please take a little time to read my latest repetitive missive on one of this nation’s finest Black owned businesses— ComproTax .

The tax preparation industry generates between $6 billion and $9 billion annually, which indicates that there are plenty of tax returns to go around – the IRS estimates that there will be over 250 million filed by 2018 with revenues of $11 billion!. Compared to our percentage of population (13%), Black owned tax preparation businesses should have revenues of at least $1 billion. As far as I am concerned, ComproTax alone should be a billion-dollar business, considering it has some 220 affiliates throughout the nation.

One advantage that ComproTax brings to its customers is year-round services. That’s because ComproTax is more than a tax preparation service. While most of the large chains only come into our neighborhoods for four months or so, until around April 15. ComproTax is always there, providing Tax Preparation Training, Insurance Products, Bookkeeping Services, Payroll Services, Business Mentoring, and Small Business Consulting.

Additionally, ComproTax Founder, Jackie Mayfield, and his two co-founders, Yusuf Muhammad and Craig Johnson, believe in something many Black businesses only talk about: Giving back. They return some of their profits to community activities and charitable causes, and they provide sponsorships for many Black events across the country. In other words, they are “Conscientiously Conscious” business owners.

Mayfield states, “When it comes to tax preparation, you have a lot of choices. So, why choose ComproTax? ComproTax provides complete and professional tax preparation and bookkeeping services with the personal attention that you deserve. We have over 220 offices nationwide and we are steadily growing. In addition to our convenient office locations, we have hundreds of mobile affiliates that will come directly to you. Our tax preparers are committed to ongoing training to ensure that you get the best service and the best tax refund available. In short, we offer a vast network of trained professionals that are ready to serve you in tax season and out of season.”

He continued, “At ComproTax we are about relationships. We work hard to get your business and develop a relationship of trust. We do this by being knowledgeable about new laws and requirements that affect your taxes, being reliable, and being confidential. That’s why our customers come back to us year after year. Don’t trust just anyone to handle your taxes and confidential books. Contact a ComproTax professional and begin a relationship with someone that you can trust.”

One thing I personally love to brag about is the Compro Event Center, a full-service convention center built, owned, and operated by ComproTax a few years ago and located in Beaumont, Texas. Managed by Fred Zeno,
another ComproTax stalwart and long-time business associate to Mayfield and the co-founders, the Event Center is a spacious and luxuriously appointed venue that can be used for weddings, various meetings and conventions, parties, and banquets. I am proud to say that THE One Million Conscious and Conscientious Black Contributors and Voters will hold our quarterly Training and Orientation gathering there January 6-8, 2017. It would be great of other Black groups would do likewise; it is one thing to talk about supporting Black venues, but it is much better to act upon those words.

Please watch this video of the Compro Event Center and plan your next meeting there.

ComproTax was founded in 1982 and has since created a platform for true economic empowerment via entrepreneurship, by modeling a high level of conscientious consciousness in addition to merely talking about it. As Brother Mayfield said in a speech 16 years ago at a MATAH conference in Philadelphia, “Not only should we be conscious, our consciousness must be disturbed enough for us to do what must be done to achieve real economic power.”

To that I say Ase (Ashe) and Amen!

We should support this and other Black owned businesses that believe in reciprocity and providing top-quality goods and services to their customers. For more information on ComproTax and to find an office near you, go to www.comprotax.net or call 1-888-884-2829. In any case, however, use a competent Black owned tax firm this year.