Archive for April, 2017

Calling on all Sororities and Fraternities — April 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman April 24th, 2017

Remember that line in New Jack City? “This ain’t personal; this is business.” And at the end of the movie, Ice Tea told Wesley Snipes, “This is personal,” as he proceeded to beat Snipes down for killing his mother. Well, this article is both personal and business. It is a call to the Alphas, Omegas, Kappas, Sigmas, Deltas, AKA’s, Zetas, Thetas, Iotas, known as the “Divine Nine,” and the one I was in back in the 1960’s at North Carolina College at Durham, “Groove Phi Groove.”

The latent collective power within these organizations is mind-boggling. Their members are conscientious, which is demonstrated by their friendship and loyalty to one another. They rally around their members during crises; they support one another when they get married and have children, and they work together, locally and nationally, on community projects across this country. They even formed a national collective organization, The National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc., whose stated purpose and mission is “Unanimity of thought and action as far as possible in the conduct of Greek letter collegiate fraternities and sororities, and to consider problems of mutual interest to its member organizations.”

I especially like the part about “mutual interests.” I know it’s a hard question to answer, based on our individualistic and proprietary approach to solving many of our problems, but what are the mutual interests among not only sororities and fraternities but all Black organizations? Is there one thing that all of us can and should do together without compromising our various missions and such? I believe there are several things we can do together, but reality tells me that all Black people will never do any one thing together. So in light of that reality we must come up with something that is simple yet powerful and will demonstrate our collective resolve, not just to the world but to ourselves and our children. Keep in mind I said, “Simple.”

On the business side of things, this is a call—a challenge—to each member of the abovementioned Black, proud, historic, and venerable organizations to purchase at least one bag of Sweet Unity Farms Tanzanian Gourmet Coffee. The coffee is grown by family co-ops founded by Jackie Robinson’s son, David, twenty years ago. April 15, 2017 was the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in major league baseball; we can break the economic barrier by collectively propelling his son’s company to unimagined heights by purchasing his coffee. In case you didn’t know, Jackie Robinson went to work for a coffee company when he left baseball.

On the personal side, Black folks are taking an Ice Tea beat-down like Wesley Snipes received, only ours is an economic beat-down, much of which we are doing to ourselves by not supporting one another more than we do presently. What could be more personal than family? Again, one simple solution is for our Black sororities and fraternities, comprising millions of members around the world, to take this challenge personally and buy at least one bag of David Robinson’s coffee, a fitting tribute to his father’s legacy. By doing so, the world would witness a Black owned company, operating in Africa and the U.S., become a billion dollar firm virtually overnight, all because a group of conscientious Black folks individually spent a very small amount of money on a Black owned product. A veritable Black economic renaissance.

After accomplishing that simple goal, we could repeat it hundreds of times with other Black companies, thus, creating larger firms that have so much business they would have to hire more employees. In the words of the soul singing group, Atlantic Star, “Am I dreaming?” Maybe I am, but it’s a great dream, and I pray it will come true.

From what I observe among our social organizations, members of Sororities and Fraternities are the most conscientious; therefore, I am calling on the Presidents of the Divine Nine to spread the word to their members to take this simple action step toward economic empowerment. In addition, I want all HBCU student associations, Greek Letter organizations, and individual students to insist that their cafeterias serve Sweet Unity Farms Coffee. Now that’s really a no-brainer, isn’t it?

As I said, this is both personal and business, and I truly believe that our Black sororities and fraternities can make it happen. With a little bit of money from a lot of people we can accomplish a very personal and business milestone, one that our youth can look upon as an example of Blacks utilizing our latent power rather allowing it to sit on the shelf and eventually expire. Order your coffee at (Click on the products tab.) No excuses, y’all. If you don’t drink coffee, give it as a gift to someone who does. C’mon, let’s do this.



Radioactivity — April 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman April 16th, 2017

“Well done beats well said every time.”
“When it’s all said and done, much is said and little is done.”

There are many Black folks who can tell us what “we need to do” in the context of economic empowerment and other issues that matter. They have all the answers, but too often deal with them from a symptomatic perspective rather than a problematic perspective. Some of us believe that simply talking about a problem, mainly by delineating its symptoms, is actually doing the work necessary for a solution. Think about it. We cite criminal justice symptoms and educational symptoms, we talk about the wealth gap and the health gap and the income gap, and we regurgitate statistics that justify our symptomatic approach to the dire situations we face every day. But merely talking and writing about the symptoms have never solved our problems. Someone has to execute.

I hear and read a great deal of information as I look for the solution to our problems. It’s almost to the point of information overload. You would think that with all of the activists we have within our ranks that some actual activity, beyond mere exercising our powers of speech and penmanship, would take place. That is especially true on radio talk shows. Those I call “Radio-Activists” are adept at identifying the symptoms and saying what “we need to do” while seldom, if ever, laying out the problem and offering a solution—a solution on which they are willing to work and help implement. Mere “Radioactivity,” and I would add “TV Activity,” while they may inform us, if not acted upon is just more information. And just like knowledge, information is not power unless you use it—use it to your own advantage.

So all the pontificators, prognosticators, pundits, and philosophizers who simply offer their assessments of our problems by describing their symptoms, should do a little introspection to see if they are really interested in contributing what they can to solve our problems. Instead of, or at least in addition to sounding the alarm, they should also offer real solutions and then prepare to contribute some time, talent, and treasure toward solving those problems.

Radio activists are usually busy telling others what must be done, as they continue to sit on the sidelines and critique problems. They seldom are willing to get into the game by initiating the solutions they espouse; instead, they tell others what to do and how it should be done. Radioactivity, when it comes to economic and political action, is dangerous and seldom results in any real progress, that is, unless someone other than the Radio-Activist picks up the gauntlet and executes a strategy that evolves into a movement to empower our people.

Don’t be a Radio-Activist. The next time you have the opportunity to speak on the air—or via any medium—don’t just say what “we need” to do; follow it up by saying what you either are doing about the issue or what you are willing to do about it. Besides, after making your transition, wouldn’t you rather have folks speak of you in terms of what you did in addition to what you said? Don’t you want to leave a legacy of putting your words into action? Don’t you want your children to know you for your work on their behalf rather than what you said we “needed”?

We can see what our ancestors did, many of who never gave a speech or wrote a book; they simply worked to leave something better for those who came after them. It’s more about the actions than it is about the words anyway. Frederick Douglass told Harriet Tubman, “I have had the applause of the crowd and the satisfaction that comes of being approved by the multitude, while the most that you have done has been witnessed by the few trembling, scarred, foot-sore bondmen and women, whom you have led out of the house of bondage… The midnight sky and silent stars have been the witness of your devotion to freedom and of your heroism… ‘God bless you,’ has been your only reward.”

Everyone can do something. You don’t have to be rich; you don’t need to be an intellectual; and you don’t have to be a leader. You have something more than words to give to our people. Love, trust, respect, encouragement, a smile, a hug, a couple of dollars to a person in need, the willingness start a project, a movement, or an organization, are all things we can do as individuals. As a collective we can unify, organize, and work on building something for ourselves, because just talking about it will not get the job done.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.



What do we have to lose? — March 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman April 2nd, 2017

During their recent chit-chat with President Donald Trump, the Congressional Black Caucus members made it plain that they were not there simply for a photo-op or just to engage in meaningless conversation. So, they had a serious discussion about what Black folks need Trump to do in several areas, i.e. education, criminal justice, economics, workforce, rural America, environmental, and health. And, they put it in writing—a 125-page document titled, “We have a lot to lose – Solutions to advance Black families in the 21st Century.”

According to news reports, Rep. Karen Bass, D-California, said the group raised “several areas of concern” but added that it was a “positive start.” According to Bass, among the concerns raised were Trump’s campaign rhetoric depicting African-American communities as “completely lawless,” his proposed budget cuts, mass incarceration, and the “rolling back” of the Voting Rights Act.

The CBC began its document by giving Donald Trump a Black history lesson, saying, “…to consider the state of Black America without historical context denies the origins of the problems that continue to plague our communities, as well as the centuries-long battle to bring our people to this point.” The CBC cited every era from enslavement to civil rights; the one that drew most of my attention was enslavement.

The document stated, “Slaves literally built this country, including the United States Capitol and the White House. The uncompensated labor of millions of slaves established the wealth of White America, unjust profits that have never been repaid.” I got excited when I read that part; I kept reading and assumed I would soon get to see the CBC’s demand for reparations, in some form or another to compensate our ancestors’ families for their free labor. I kept reading.

Surely I would find their position on reparations in the next section: Reconstruction. I kept reading. The Great Migration period was next—no mention of reparations yet, but I still had hope. Then came The Great Depression, The New Deal, World War II, Jim Crow, and The Civil Rights period. Where was the demand for reparations for Black people, considering everything that was pointed out in the document? I kept reading.

Eureka! Finally, I thought. It has to be in the section titled, “Solutions for the African American Community,” which would bring to life the statement its members made in the document, namely, “The CBC has always been committed to actions infused with ‘moral clarity’ and a desire to honestly and forthrightly represent the interests of our constituents, the African-American community, and all Americans.” Yes, I cringed when I read, “and all Americans,” wondering how the CBC could represent the interests of “all,” after citing the words of founding member, Bill Clay, regarding Black “permanent interests,” at the beginning of their document. Maybe the reference to “all” was written in error. I kept reading.

When I read, “Members have always been at the forefront of issues such as economic security and empowerment…” I knew the organization that calls itself, “The conscience of America,” would lay it all out at that point, making its moral case on reparations. I kept reading. Then I read, “Our collective efforts have echoed throughout Congress for decades, and together, we will continue to stand for the many Americans who expect the Caucus to be sound and principled leaders dedicated to progress. Accordingly, we highlight the following problems across several facets of Black life and offer ‘bold solutions’ to advance Black families in the 21st century.”

I kept reading, only to find that each section thereafter, replete with Black problems followed by CBC solutions, said absolutely nothing about reparations. As a matter of fact there was not even an honorable mention of senior CBC member, John Conyers, who has served since 1965, for introducing H.R. 40 and bringing it up each year since 1989. He only asks for a commission to “discuss” the economic impact of 250 years of enslavement, but his resolution has never made it out of committee.

The CBC walked right up to the reparations line in its “We have a lot to lose,” document; they made a great case for us, but they failed to cross that line by including reparations in their demands—or should I say, “suggestions” to President Trump. I stopped reading.

Clarence McKee wrote in Newsmax, “Since they [CBC] got virtually nothing from Obama to deal with issues impacting significant proportions of their constituencies, you can bet that they… will demand more of Trump than they ever did of Obama.” I don’t know, Clarence; Obama did not support reparations either, so maybe the CBC felt bad about asking Trump to do so.

It took a lot of work to write, so I think I will read the document again. A call for reparations has to be in there somewhere.