By James Clingman
When it comes to gaining true freedom, the words and actions of our most revered Black authentic leaders emphasized economic empowerment. Unfortunately, many of those who spoke the truth and tried to establish an economic foundation for Black people were ostracized, caricatured, vilified, and even assassinated. Despite their sacrifices and refusals to back down from fighting for the most important collective aspect of true freedom, economic empowerment, the vast majority of Black folks either ignored them or chose to follow Black “misleaders” who took our people down the wrong road.
Now in 2014, Black folks are still suffering from and languishing in the results of having put all our eggs in the political basket, instead of holding on to what we had built and owned prior to the 1960s. Today, we are still caught up in the same nonsensical approach to true freedom that got us into our dire situation in the first place. So, what do we do at this point?
We know two things for sure: Most of us Black nationalists are often long on rhetoric and short on cash. And everything that happens in this country begins and/or ends with somebody writing a check. Therefore, as one of our most respected leaders, Marcus Garvey, showed us back in the 1920s, we must have businesses and we must have money, collectively and individually, in order to be truly free. Thus, any “revolution” we talk about must be financed, just as Garvey’s revolution had to be. He raised millions from Black people, encouraged entrepreneurship, and started several businesses himself. As a nationalist, Garvey knew that without an economic foundation Black people would be lost, so he led the way to get likeminded Blacks to put their money where their mouths were.
Our current need for capital must be satisfied if we are going to build on Garvey’s vision, and if we are going to build collective economic empowerment. How do we do that? Three ways: real estate (when the market is right), investments (stocks, etc.) and business ownership. My emphasis is on business ownership, which does not always mean having a storefront. It could mean working from home on the Internet. It could mean getting involved in money-making efforts that require very little work at all, via MLM (Multi-level Marketing) companies, but please do your due diligence and be careful.
Those who remember the MATAH Network know that it was a modified MLM, and worked quite well for those who participated. There are a few that I would recommend today, especially the one I am involved with, but whatever you feel about any of the three ways to create wealth, and whichever you choose, follow through and stay the course; we need capital and we need it now, because the revolution must be financed.
It would be very disingenuous of me to have written so much about this subject and not have participated in the solutions I have offered over the years. As a reflection of my commitment to Black economic empowerment, I have supported Black businesses, taught entrepreneurship and business planning, advocated for Black businesses, started a Black chambers of commerce, established an entrepreneurship high school, founded the charitable Internet entity called the Blackonomics Million Dollar Club (BMDC), and I have enrolled and participated in MLM efforts at the request of friends and associates. I continue that commitment today because we will never have what we say we need until we are willing to sacrifice and put forth the appropriate effort.
So, the message here is something we have been saying for a long time, “To have economic empowerment, we must have consciousness and capital.” While there are a relative few “conscious capitalists” among our people, we still need many more, and there are ways and means to reach that ideal. As for me, I have joined with a close friend and business associate, Nathaniel Chism, founder of www.PowernomicsNetwork.com, of course from Claud Anderson’s book, Powernomics, to obtain more capital. As a result, I am looking to partner with just three more individuals who are serious about the fact that we must have capital in order to finance our individual and collective freedom—and willing to do something about it.
Currently, we are financing our own oppression. We must start financing our own freedom by moving beyond the empty rhetoric, the futile marches, and the useless anger offered as solutions by a few of our “leaders.” Black folks need real power, and being financially independent is all the power necessary to be free. Yes, our revolution must be financed and we must work to become individually empowered to achieve that goal. We like to quote, “Freedom ain’t free” and “Nobody frees a slave; a slave must free himself.” It’s way past time we put some action behind those quotes.
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.