By James Clingman
What a raucous, topsy-turvy, heart-wrenching, angry year we experienced in 2014. We had everything from the sadness of lives lost on airplanes and ferry boats, to the anger of Black men being killed and Black women being beaten by police officers, to the elation of a record-breaking stock market and the lowest gasoline prices since 2008. Certainly our emotions have been mixed as we witnessed a potpourri of ups and downs as we pondered the question: “What’s next?”
Of course, none of us knows what will happen the next minute, much less the next year, but there are things we can do from day to day to solve some of our problems and improve our lot in life. I invite you to think about your personal and our collective situations, and make a commitment to do what you can to make the much needed changes we must have for self-empowerment and self-determination. After you seriously and honestly think about those things, I implore you to take appropriate action.
What happened during the past year, whether positive or negative, is now a lesson for all of us. We must move forward. We cannot live in the past; we can only learn from it. In light of that reality, here are a few suggestions to help get you moving in a positive direction in 2015.
First and foremost, build, strengthen, and nurture your spiritual foundation. Be thankful for each day, and use it wisely. Stay informed with real news, not with opinions from talking heads. Remember that followers pick their leaders; it’s not the other way around. So pick leaders who work in your best interests rather than self-serving charlatans who are only concerned about themselves.
Make an even stronger effort to support Black businesses and, Black business owners, take care of your business by doing what you say you will do with honesty and professionalism. It’s tax time, so if you need a tax preparer use a Black firm. Compro Tax Service is an excellent and wise choice. Look online to find the office nearest you. Talk to your church leadership about joining or forming a local chapter of the Collective Empowerment Group (CEG), also found online.
Don’t waste your vote. Give it to someone who is not afraid to state his or her position on regarding Black voters during the campaign and afterwards—and then fulfill their promises. If they fail to do so, don’t vote for them. Also, on the political side of things, stop putting the same old folks into office, especially if they have not delivered anything to Black folks and/or if they have been in their particular office for decades. Put some new “young-bloods” with fresh ideas into office. We will never be politically empowered until we start playing to win instead of playing just to play.
Find a Black certified financial planner and get involved in some level of investment in the stock market. As we are standing in line to buy Nike shoes, we should also be teaching our children how to buy Nike stock. Also, teach entrepreneurship to our youth. Let them know they can own a business even if they end up working for someone. Teach them early by using examples of young Black business owners such as Jasmine Lawrence, Moziah Bridges, Cory Nieves, Omar Bailey, and many others you can find on the Internet.
Make it a habit to listen to the Carl Nelson Radio Show (1450AM WOL in Washington, DC or www.woldcnews.com), Brother Daren “State of the City” Muhammad in Baltimore, Dr. Rosie Milligan in L.A., Elliott Booker (Time for an Awakening) in Philadelphia, and other conscious and informative radio shows.
Finally, in response to the outrageous treatment some of us have received, boycott prisons. That is stop committing crimes and putting yourself at the mercy of a system that cares absolutely nothing about you. Second, in addition to the protests the young folks are doing now, add a strategy, an end game that uses economic sanctions (No Justice, No Profit!) as leverage to get the CEO’s of various corporations to come out publicly and denounce the abuse being inflicted upon the people. Remember, it’s not simply about withdrawing our money just to hurt someone else; it’s about using that same money to help ourselves by building our own economic infrastructure.
Lastly, but certainly not least, sign up as one the Million Conscious Black Voters and Consumers by going to www.amefika.com or contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our goals is 1 million Black folks willing to leverage our votes and our dollars can change our situation. Get involved in 2015; let your actions outweigh your words, and let’s move forward.
Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, Blackonomics.com.