Category Archives: Economics

Do Black Preachers Play a Pivotal Role in Keeping Black Christians Clueless About Finances?

I am quite confident that the majority of African-Americans born prior to the eighties will understand my assertion that the primary socialization agent in our lives occurred within the sanctified walls of a Black Church.

Within these hallowed walls, we learned that there was an omnipotent and omnipresent God who “had the whole world in his hands.” Repeatedly hearing this message mesmerized my peers into believing that their life path was pre-determined by the guiding hand of God.

Of all the points emphasized in “praise houses” throughout Black America, one of the most common is the need for each of God’s children to live a life that would allow them to enter the kingdom of heaven. Entrance into heaven meant that we would be eternally reunited with our deceased loved ones and no longer subject to the daily hurt, pain, struggle, and strife that shadowed us in the land of the living.

The message being shared by black preachers was a simple one; that being, the struggle, pain, disappointment, and heartache experienced in “the land of the living” was more than worth it as the righteous would be rewarded with heavenly gifts and treasures that no man could conceive.

To the chagrin of many of my superiors, the omnipotent God previously mentioned gifted me with an intellectual curiosity that encouraged both an active engagement and investigation of scripture. After engaging the Holy Bible that a series of Sunday School Teachers at Mount Calvary Baptist Church had taught me was the very breath of God, I realized that black preachers were making conscious choices to accentuate certain portions of scripture while avoiding others. As a burgeoning Revolutionary Nationalist who was doing his best to balance faith and an unending urge to work toward the liberation of Black America, the reality that black preachers intentionally avoided prominent politico-economic issues and disparities that cut across racial lines troubled my soul.

My soul was definitely not comforted by routine teachings that advised Black America to be long-suffering and not conform to the ways and desires of this world. I am quite confident that I am not the only one who tired of hearing sermons built around Mark 8:36For what does it profit a man to gain the entire world and lose his soul.” Such a message always sounded like unwise advice seeking to get Black America to not only agree to be oppressed but also to participate in their downtrodden position. Even as a teenager, I wanted to rise form my seat, reprimand the preacher and tell him to turn his “good book” to James 2:17 and build a liberation sermon around the idea that “Faith without works is dead”. If I did not know any better, I would be convinced that black preachers, realizing that their people would carry the stain of blackness for eternity have colluded and decided to sell them hope, instead of life skills that hold the potential to liberate them from the terminal illness that has wiped out several generations of Black America.

Although I can only speak with authority on my personal experience, I can definitively say the Black Church led me down a path of being pious, considerate, and accommodating toward others and rationalizing my non-engagement with Capitalist America as an assured path to Heaven. With the benefit of hindsight, I clearly understand that the vast majority of African-Americans have avoided opportunities to accumulate wealth as such action would invariably curtail our chances of meeting our heavenly father. Could it be that such thinking flows from having heard far too many sermons revolving around Matthew 19:24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

At no moment during my tenure as a member of the Black Church did I ever hear a black preacher articulate a message that addressed the gap between the words he spoke from the pulpit and the luxurious lifestyle that he and his contemporaries enjoyed. Put simply, even a cursory glance at the lifestyles of a mildly successful black preacher displays the cavernous gap between their sermon and their personal decisions. Black preachers failure to use their pulpit to discuss the financial concerns impacting their congregants in any way other than tithing or the infamous “building fund” ensures the continuation of poverty and foolish spending within our community. Black preachers refusal to address the black portions of the body of Christ in regards to finances is quite simply a dereliction of duty that makes them unfit to lead any segment of the community.

Considering the present economic community of the Black Community, there is little room to refute Marcus Garvey’s assertion that regardless of where he traveled that persons of African descent have always been the poorest, owned the least amount of land, and were tenuously situated in regards to finances. Put simply, wealth has rarely visited, let alone resided in Black America. Consider the following facts.

  • The wealth held by the average white family is seven times greater than the average black family.
  • Median white wealth is twelve times that of black families.
  • Economic studies tell us that twenty-five percent of black households have zero, or negative, wealth.

The most important question that needs to be asked at this moment is the following one; “Who is to blame for this enormous disparity of wealth between black and white Americans?” Those seeking to simultaneously disrespect Black America and explain the alluded to inequities will cite matters such as:

  • Undisciplined spending habits instead of investing money.
  • Pre-occupation with clothes, cars, and other depreciating trinkets.
  • Lack of educational attainments.
  • The failure to circulate the dollar to black businesses in the Black community.
  • The desire to find a job instead of becoming entrepreneurs.

Although each of the above issues is at best a partial explanation for the cavernous wealth gap, they fail to factor in issues such as unemployment, poor paying jobs, the school-to-prison pipeline, financial institutions resistance to providing the capital necessary for African-Americans to start businesses, purchase homes, or a host of other long-term goals. if everyone is beginning from the same starting position. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just as many whites have a long legacy of wealth-accumulation that extends back centuries, African-Americans have a similar legacy. Unfortunately for Black America, they have rarely been fortunate enough to begin the accumulation of wealth at the same moment as their white counterparts.

It is a sobering reality to learn that nothing African-Americans have done (educational attainments, professional occupations, entrepreneurship, investment, savings, and investments) has had a sizable impact on closing the wealth gap in regards to whites. Maybe that is why so many of us remain tied to the Black Church. Is it possible that the only balm for our seemingly endless suffering is found in sermons and preaching that revolve around hopes for a death that will allow us to enter “a land where we will study war no more.” I guess that when the black plight is viewed in that light, that it is understandable that many of our people consider death to be a more attractive location than being poor and black in a nation where “Cash Rules Everything Around Me.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2018

Is Nursing a Suitable Profession for a Black Man?

The answer that one of my male students provided to a standard ice-breaker question that I pose to my freshmen students on the initial day of class caused laughter, chuckles, and strange looks that conveyed questions regarding his sexuality from his peers. This young man confidently responded to the query of “Where will you be in 10 years?” by asserting that “In ten years, I will be a Nurse Practitioner.”

I must tell you that I found his ability to not be disturbed by the series of giggles and looks of wonderment that were hurled in his direction by his “brothers” rather interesting. In time, Over the course of the semester, I would learn that this brilliant young man was the son of two parents who were both Nurse Practitioners and had made a conscious decision to follow in their rather voluminous footsteps.

This information made his occupational absolutely reasonable, however, it failed to settle that gnawing feeling that I possessed regarding a black man being a nurse; I, like most, felt that such a position should be reserved for women. With the benefit of hindsight, it is obvious that somewhere along life’s path, I had been socialized to believe that nursing was “women’s work.”

It was not until a lengthy hospital stay where I was bed-ridden for 3 consecutive months that I understood the indispensability of male nurses whose brute strength was often required to move me for a host of reasons. Although I would have never thought it possible, however, my male nurses were more attentive and kind than my female nurses. I am embarrassed to say that it was my hospitalization that drastically altered my view of black men pursuing nursing as a profession and not years of study labor issues facing black men in a rapidly transitioning new millennium economy.

While in graduate school at The Ohio State University, Labor History was a field of specialization. I wholly attribute my gravitation to this field of study to the examples set by my father and uncles who toiled as unionized steelworkers for Detroit-Empire Steel. It is this population of American workers who are the actual cornerstone of American industrial might in the post-World War I period.

There is no room to debate that this era of American industrialization provided ample opportunities for men, many who possessed no formal education beyond a high school diploma, to provide for their family in a phenomenal way. My how things have changed in this nation.

Unfortunately for the vast majority of black men devoid of advanced levels of education or training, those days are long gone and will never return. Not only have the majority of black men seen their employment opportunities curtailed by an American economy that shifted from a manufacturing economy to a service economy, but also increasing competition from immigrant groups in the areas of manufacturing and construction has further exacerbated the dire prospects of many African-American males securing gainful employment.

The above harsh economic realities mandate that African-American males abandon personal hang-ups and expand their horizons in regards to finding employment; there is quite possibly no greener pastures to be found than the Nursing profession as it not only pays well but also places them in an employment sector where qualified people are desperately needed.

Anyone who has seriously studied American Labor will tell you that there is a definite inverse relationship between an economic downturn and a rise in racial discrimination in the workplace and unions. Although it often means that they are “cutting off their nose to spite their face,” white workers have repeatedly proven that they are more than ready to abandon calls for worker solidarity and accentuate racial matters during an economic downturn. The historical record highlights that at tenuous moments, white workers will circle the wagons and shun non-whites from employment and crucial training opportunities.

When one considers previously discussed alterations to a shrinking and increasingly competitive American economy and the me-first policies that have always served as the North Star for white workers, it is imperative that black men seek out educational and occupational opportunities that encroach on areas that they have traditionally avoided. From where I sit at this present moment, there may not be a better option for black men who seek to provide for a family than Nursing.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Books published by Dr. James Thomas Jones III

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Creating Revolution as They Advance: A Historical Narrative of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

‘Foolish’ Floyd: The Life & Times of an African-American Contrarian

WHY IT IS CRUCIAL THAT WE SUPPORT PRAIRIE VIEW A & M UNIVERSITY IN THE AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE HARVEY

Although I am confident that the question of “What can I do?” is a common request from those seeking to aid those suffering in the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s passage through the Houston area. When I received this query from a former student who matriculated from Prairie View A & M University, I considered it, weird.

The alluded to student’s communication not only expressed a desire to aid the victims but also implicitly requested my advice regarding how he could make a significant and meaningful impact. I am confident that my response which was heavily influenced by the belief that “charity begins at home” simultaneously excited this young man as evidenced by his involuntary response of “I can definitely do that!!!!!”

My advice to this young man whose degree from Prairie View A & M University has paved the way for him to teach around the globe was to make a much-needed donation to his alma mater. As previously mentioned, my belief that “charity begins at home” is a guiding principle for all that I do, however, that was not the primary motivation behind my advice. The primary motivation behind my advice flowed from an official notification I received from the University informing all of the present state of the PV Panther family (students, staff, and faculty). The alluded to communication indicated that many members of the Panther family were displaced and scattered as a result of Hurricane Harvey, a natural disaster that had “the nerve” to pre-empt the start of our Fall Semester.

The University’s response to those impacted by Harvey has been to offer monetary aid and every other assistance imaginable regardless of the injury they have received.

Hence, it was easy for me to encourage this young man to begin his charitable giving at his alma mater as it is the correct thing to do. Now, this communication is most certainly not intended to prevent you from donating money to the Red Cross or any other relief entity. However, it is designed to broaden your vision of charitable giving and remember both Texas Southern University and Prairie View A & M University in this time of stress and strain.

As evidenced by the following communication, the students of PVAMU have taken the initiative to address and would greatly appreciate your assistance in this matter at the present moment and going forward.

In response to Hurricane Harvey, the Power Administration sends our deepest prayers to all those adversely affected by this unprecedented weather event. All of us have been impacted in some way from this natural disaster. We want to assure everyone that we have been diligently planning ways that we can help our surrounding community in alleviating some of the loss that many have suffered.

We, as a whole, want to introduce Panther P.U.S.H. which stands for Panthers United to Serve and Help. This is a new initiative designed to assist the community in any type of natural disaster or any unforeseen catastrophic event. Through Panther P.U.S.H., we have set up a GoFundme, so that PVAMU students, staff, and faculty can donate to the relief efforts. To donate, please visit:https://www.gofundme.com/pvamupush. We also invite those on campus to donate critical items, to those in need. In addition, we want to gather teams to help with physical community building for those who have lost homes and other resources near and dear to them.

It is in these times of struggle that we must unite as one – this human thing to do. We must push through the sadness of the situation internally and externally to continue to uplift our community. Prairie View A&M University and the surrounding community have suffered many adversities throughout our collective history, but we have always maintained, triumphed and thrived when we’ve worked together to overcome. This situation will not be any different. We encourage you to donate to our Panther P.U.S.H. GoFundMe efforts, and we look forward to continuing to serve the entire PV family.

Kendric D. Jones, SGA President

Xante Wallace, SGA Vice President

Once again, we must be very mindful that although it is important to give back to others, we must also realize that “charity begins at home.”

P.V. ——— “YOU KNOW!!!!!!!”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

WHY HASN’T BLACK POWER COLLECTIVIST ECONOMIC PLANS WORKED FOR BLACK AMERICA?

One of the most reliable indicators that a person has not only studied, but also comprehended the multi-faceted and incredibly complex issues that have faced persons of African descent from the moment that they arrived in the Jamestown colony is the understanding that of all the solutions presented after that moment, collectivist economics and political solidarity provides the best opportunity for liberation. Honestly, there is little room to argue against the belief that the “Black Power” strategies mentioned above have historically provided the greatest opportunity for “the liberation and salvation of the black nation.”

Although difficult to admit, when one considers the politico-economic marginalization rooted throughout Black America, it is apparent that “Black Power” politico-economic constructs have failed miserably. Considering this harsh reality, we must diligently seek to answer the following query; “Why has Black Power failed to uplift the black community?”

In light of the certain tendency for our people to deliberately derail important matters such as this one with diversionary minutiae, I think that it would be wise to define Black Power. Once again, by providing this definition, I am only seeking to avoid this discussion being intentionally sidetracked by unnecessary haranguing regarding alternative definitions of “Black Power” for no logical reason. To prevent such ‘mental masturbation,’ I have decided on the definition of Black Power that Charles V. Hamilton and Stokely Carmichael’s used in their brilliant book, Black Power. According to this duo,

The concept of Black Power rests on a fundamental premise. Before a group can enter the open society, it must first close ranks. By this, we mean group solidarity is necessary before a group can operate effectively from a bargaining position of strength in a pluralistic society. Traditionally, each new ethnic group in this society has found the route to social and political viability through the organization of its own institutions with which to represent its needs within the larger society . . . the American melting pot has not melted. Italians vote for Rubino over O’Brien; Irish for Murphy over Goldberg, etc.

When stripped to its essential parts, Hamilton and Carmichael’s construct amounts to a call for politico-economic collectivism. From their perspective, politico-economic collectivism has been the path that “each new ethnic group in this society has (traveled) to social and political viability through the organization of its institutions with which to represent its needs within the larger society.” Considering the relative simplicity of this route to liberation, one must ask, “Why has Black Power not worked for African-Americans?”

The answer to the above query is fairly straightforward, yet woefully troubling and disconcerting. The answer is that during the past 60 years, the vast majority of African-Americans have failed to make either collectivist economics or political solidarity a fixture in their lives.

Considering that most reasonable-minded individuals agree that political activism is essential to the uplift of the black community, it appears that such a perspective has failed to inspire African-Americans who make up 13% of the nation to participate in the electoral process at a rate that exceeds their proportion of the American populace. Black political participation occurs at a blasé rate until a figure such as Barack Hussein Obama appears.

As political participation lags behind, many African-Americans have foolishly convinced themselves that the key to “the liberation and salvation of the black nation” is the generation of financial might. Unfortunately for Black America, it appears that their political inefficiencies are only exceeded by their understanding of economic collectivism.

As mentioned in a recent post on this site, one does not need to look any further than the embarrassing manner in which African-Americans fail to circulate the dollar within their community to understand a primary pillar in their economic struggles. It appears that for all of their adoration of Malcolm X the vast majority of African-Americans have failed to heed one of his most basic admonishments regarding economic foolishness. Malcolm charged his people with the following admonishment, “You run down your community when you don’t circulate your dollar amongst your own.” Consider the following data regarding the circulation of dollars.

  • It takes 6 hours for a dollar to exit the black community.
  • It takes 17 days for a dollar to exit the white community.
  • It takes 20 days for a dollar to exit the Jewish community.
  • It takes 30 days for a dollar to exit the Asian community.

In light of such economic inefficiency, it is unsurprising to find that of the 1.1 Trillion dollars of annual spending power that passes through the African-American community, a number that means that on average every man, woman, and child within the African-American community has in excess of $26,200 at their disposal on a yearly basis, a paltry 2% of those dollars are spent with black-owned businesses. One can only wonder where does all of that money go? The answer to the above query is equally daunting and astonishing. Studies indicate that African-Americans spend a significant portion of their dollars in the following areas.

  • Tobacco — $3.3 billion
  • Whiskey, Wine, and Beer — $3 billion
  • Non-alcoholic beverages — $2.8 billion
  • Leisure time spending — $3.1 billion
  • Toys, Games, and Pets — $3.5 billion
  • Telephone services — $18.6 billion
  • Random Gifts — $10 billion

There is little doubt that the political disengagement and economic foolishness listed above would banish any populace to socioeconomic marginality.

What makes Black America’s continuing politico-economic marginalization even more disconcerting is that it could have been eradicated if we only adhered to a few ground rules a litany of “race men” have provided. Considering that so many of our people have found comfort in the Church and guidance from scripture, I think it appropriate to relate that African-Americans have continually behaved as those described in Jeremiah 5:21, “Hear this now, O foolish people, Without understanding, Who have eyes and see not, And who have ears and hear not.”

One has to wonder when God will cease sending prophets to these woe-smitten people who have repeatedly proven that they have no desire to use either their eyes or ears to save their kind. It is too late in the game for our people to continue making the same politico-economic mistakes that they have always made. Unfortunately for our sake, it appears that they have yet to tire of banging their heads against an immovable wall.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

The Decline of Home Ownership: Yet Another Sign that the Black Conscious Community has Little to Offer Beyond Phrase-Mongering

There is a famous saying within the American lexicon that “no news is good news.” Far too often, this lack of news provides an unwarranted sense of comfort for persons and groups such as the so-called ‘conscious community’ who know in their heart of heart’s that if they even gave a slight glance at certain portions of their material existence that the ugly truth would be unbearable. However, there is another favorite saying of “you cannot change what you do not acknowledge” that not only counter-balances the initial statement of “no news is good news,” but also should be the guiding post for those seeking to uplift the African-American community.

There is little room to debate the harsh reality that within Capitalist America, nothing, not even politics, matters more than financial might. Hence, the accumulation of money should be considered the critical lynchpin in the struggle to improve the lives of African-Americans individually and collectively. Put simply; until Black America addresses the various factors surrounding its economic marginality, none of the different strategies designed to achieve liberation will make a significant impact.

Financial advisors overwhelmingly agree that for most Americans, particularly historically marginalized groups such as African-Americans, homeownership is the cornerstone of wealth accumulation. Hence, it is critical that African-Americans not only purchase homes but also make the alluded to buy in their early adult life. We must never forget that time is the most important component for any investment.

Consequently, a report recently released by the Urban Institute relates that African-Americans have lost significant ground in the homeownership arena. It is this matter that should have immediately garnered the undivided attention of the so-called ‘conscious community.’ According to the referenced study, in regards to home ownership African-Americans have lost significant ground since the turn of the century. The alluded to decline in homeownership rates for Black America reveal that the current homeownership rates have fallen beneath that achieved nearly a half-century ago.

Incredibly, the current rate of homeownership for blacks (46.3%) is less than one percent greater than the rate for whites in 1940. Since 1940, nearly twice as many African-Americans (41.2% — down from 47.3% in 2000) have managed to gain ownership of their homes. However, that number is extremely disappointing when compared to a white growth from 45.6% to 71.1% over the same period.

As previously mentioned, within a Capitalist nation, financial wherewithal matters mightily. So the losing of ground in the arena of homeownership should be the center of discussion within the African-American community, sadly it is not. Clearly the absence of such conversations among the majority of the community reflects a continuing failure to prioritize pressing financial matters away from incredibly trivial popular culture junk, unbelievable conspiracy theories, or the substantiation of one’s identity as a Moor, God, Earth, Christian, Hebrew, or some other non-sense that has no weight in the real world. It is evident to anyone who cares to examine the so-called ‘conscious community’ that they have displayed a proclivity to refuse to emerge from a self-constructed fantasy world that reminds one of a Dungeons-n-Dragons role-playing game and engage their opponents in arenas that hold the potential of liberating Black America.

When considered from a macro-level, these delusions of grandeur that all too often ensnare the minds of African-Americans are little more than ‘mental masturbation sessions’ that reek of cowardice.

It is the time for the so-called ‘conscious community’ abandon these ridiculous patterns of ineptitude and take a realistic look at the problems facing our community. It is only through such an examination that realistic plans to address our issues can be formulated. Please consider this a reminder that investment in a philosophy that “no news is good news” is going to be the death of many of us.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2017