Tag 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

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

Without Work All is Rotten: The Most Pressing Present Dilemma Facing Young Black Males

I have always counted myself as one of the lucky one’s to have been raised in a home with a father who was a hard-working member of the United Steel Workers of America. It was this experience with the American Labor movement that undoubtedly led to my studies of Labor History at The Ohio State University under the tutelage of Dr. Warren Van Tine. Most importantly it led to what many term my ‘radicalization’ in regards to Labor issues.

There is a great saying that emanates from the American Labor Movement that has always stuck with me, that saying is that “Without work, all is rotten.”

A recent report focusing upon the embattled city of Chicago, Illinois, has highlighted this very thing and gone a great distance toward linking up the absence of work with the occurrence of violent crimes among young African-American males. The alluded to report from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Great Cities Institute relates that nearly half of young Black men in Chicago are neither engaged in the educational system nor gainfully employed.

  • 47 % of Black men (ages 20 – 24) were out of school and out of work.
  • 20% of Hispanic men (ages 20 – 24) were out of school and out of work.
  • 10% of white men (ages 20 – 24) were out of school and out of work.

Although the numbers in Chicago are particularly daunting, cities throughout this nation are not far behind as the national average is 32%. The individuals that I speak of are afflicted by an American economic system that long ago transitioned from a manufacturing economy to its present status as a service economy.

Although I am not certain if figures such as Malcolm X, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Claud Anderson, and Louis Farrakhan are the type of people who would stand in our presence, smirk, and Farrakhansay, “I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!!” The truth of the matter is that considering the present discord between gainful employment and young African-American males, the above leaders have every right to do so as their warnings that one day the American economy would no longer be willing to employ our people has come to fruition.

Now I am certain that there are many of you reading this who are allowing irrational seeds of doubt and distrust to lead you down a path that will not end until you label me a ‘racist’, however, I can not let your irrational thoughts stop me from addressing this matter as we can no longer afford to ignore the cavernous gulf between young African-American males and their peer groups. In some cities, the unemployment rate for young African-American males quadruples that of their white peers.

Anyone interested in saving the race should be prepared to ask the simple question of ‘Why is this so?’ The most basic answer to this query is that white folk have the means to employ their own whether it be via international corporations or local mom and pop stores, while young African-American males are forced to go forth as little more than beggars with our hat in hand praying that someone will give us even a minimum wage job that we desperately need to provide for our families.

My primary question is haven’t we suffered enough, beaten our head against the wall enough, to come to the conclusion that whites have prisonneither duty nor desire to employ young African-American males; the alluded to resistance grows exponentially more stringent when young Black males are towing around a criminal past with them. An African-American male with a criminal past is going to face a hurricane of frustration and disappointment in his pursuit of employment opportunities.

Fortunately for young African-American males the solution to their employment woes is a relatively simple one. However, it can only occur if they, and by extension the entire African-American community, alter their present mindset regarding the real purpose and utility of education.

It is time for African-Americans to adopt the mindset that their foremost goal and preoccupation has to revolve around one primary question; “How do I start my own business?”

I am certain that the vast majority of readers have had an involuntary reaction to the suggestion that entrepreneurship should be young African-American males ultimate objective due to no other reason than intra-racial social conditioning that has historically led to a “I just want a job” mindset. Joy DeGruy would call such a reaction a natural by-product of ‘Post-Traumatic Slave Disorder.’

It is time that young African-American males cease viewing the world from a pessimistic position and turn their attention toward BTW1entrepreneurship via the building trades (plumbing, electrician) or look around their neighborhoods and cities with a keen eye toward carving out their own occupational niche. Booker T. Washington pointed us toward this direction over a century ago when he remarked that our salvation would be found in our ability to “do something common in an uncommon way.”

For example, there is a white lady in my neighborhood who has done exactly this as she offers on-site washing and detailing of the interior and exterior of your vehicle for approximately $85.00.

It is such ingenuity that appears to be the only balm that ails young African-American males. However, only time will tell if they are able to trump the hindrance of a largely useless and ineffectual educational system and an even more stifling and pernicious mindset that has taught our children that they merely “need to go out and find a job.”

Trust me when I say that ‘a job just won’t get it done today.’

Shoot for the stars young brothers, the stars.

James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016.

#ManhoodRaceCulture

 

 

 

The Parable of a Black Plumber: How a Church Mother Cut Off Her Nose To Spite Her Face

I have always prided myself on being a person who intently seeks to learn about life. And I have lived long enough to understand that there are so many ways to learn about life. I actually had an unexpected discussion with a brother that began with him advising me about what I considered a major plumbing issue; turns out that a liquid clog drainer fixed the problem.

Our conversation carried forward and eventually turned to what is a typical conversation regarding the problems of the PlumberAfrican-American community; however, this brother was particularly frustrated by our people’s conscious decision to not support their own, a decision that invariably works against our entire community. This brother, who happened to be a plumber, shared a story that I hope we all can learn a thing or two from.

I laughed as this Christian Brother after finding out that I was a History Professor related that he could never do my job because he was easily bored with reading and books. Ironically, this recognition led him to decide, unlike his older siblings, that he would not pursue a collegiate degree; he related an internal gnawing to embark upon his own path, one that fit his particular interests and talents.

He was well aware that he needed to find a way to earn a living, even if it flowed from working with his hands. So with his parent’s aid he pursued an industrial education. I listened intently as he related the various options he found after making this decision, this brother related that he hated the vast majority of the options, however, all of that plumber 2changed when he took a course on plumbing. He smiled uncontrollably as he related that he innately understood plumbing; this ‘life’s calling’ allowed him to fix the plumbing in his parents home; an issue that had been in existence for as long as he could remember. The brother related that he had even started his own plumbing company; unfortunately, a lack of consistent customers forced him to close his business and secure employment with a national chain plumbing company. However, he did service the Black community when called upon; of course that work was as we term it ‘off of the books.’

It was not unusual for him to receive requests via friends, family members, and even the local church to come and investigate a plumbing problem. This brother chose to share one such request with me. He stated that his pastor called him and related that one of the older church members, one of the ‘mothers of the church’, was in need of his services. Ever the cooperative brother, he promised to drop by that very night to look into the issue. It was during this home visit that so much of what he considers wrong with African-Americans, particularly their gross lack of economic collectivism became apparent.

He related that he arrived at the potential customer’s home around 7:30 PM and began his investigation of the problem. It became immediately clear that there were major plumbing issues within this older home that the lady had lived in for the past fifty-plus years. The brother immediately realized that very little, if anything, had ever been updated in regards to the plumbing works. After Plumber 3diagnosing the massive amount of work that needed to be done, he realized that the materials alone would cost over $1600.00, let alone the labor costs, which are always the bulk of the bill. The plumber related that he told the church mother of the various issues that were causing the problem that she was experiencing with her plumbing and offered to fix the problem without any additional labor costs. The combination of this lady being an elder of the community and a member of his church who apparently had no other options available spurred his generosity. He related that the moment he shared the problems and the cost of materials, God’s Saint laid her religion to the side and related that she would never pay some shade-tree plumber that type of money and he ‘had best to get his stuff and get out of her home.’ Although the ‘blessing out’ that he received from this ‘church mother’ would have shocked, if not appalled, many, he had come to understand that it was within the realm of responses he could anticipate when dealing with his people regarding monetary matters. He did not respond to her rants as he gathered his tools and materials.

As was his routine, he rose early the next morning and prepared to head off to work when his morning ritual was interrupted by a call from the dispatcher at his job who related that they had a service call in his area and that it would not make much sense for him to travel the hour to his job only to turn right around. He took down the address and simply shook his head when he realized that the service call that he was attending to first came from non-other than the church mother that had thrown him out of her house the previous night.

The brother related that he arrived at the front door dressed in his uniform and rang the door bell. The “mother of the church” Plumber 4arrived at the front door and immediately tore into him with a litany that was certainly not edifying to the Lord and reiterated her point from the prior night, “I ain’t paying you that kind of money to fix nothing in this house.” It was then that he related to her, “You are correct. Ma’am, I work for the plumbing service that you called and I have already filled out the work order since I was here last night and already know what your plumbing issues are. To the woman’s dismay, the price had quadrupled. The plumber mused that he then explained to her that the night before he was attempting to volunteer his labor our of genuine goodwill because she was an elder, fellow Christian, and in desperate need of help, however, since she called the company he had to abide by their rules, or risk losing his job, and she would now have to pay the full price. The brother laughed hysterically as he told me that he woman just stared at him and angrily related that she was going to call the pastor and tell on him prior to slamming the door in his face.

We then discussed for awhile what all of this actually meant. Unfortunately the subsequent conversation is one that I have far too frequently with my people. There is an old saying that explains much of the ridiculousness regarding the absence of Black economic collectivism; that saying is that black folk patronize white businesses because ‘the white man’s ice is colder.’ This statement reflects the dedication and determination of many African-Americans to patronize any business other than their own. And it is for that reason that they have remained mired in economic misery and political inefficiency. Although I wished that I could have shared some encouraging words with the brother, I was relegated to a simple quip of, “well, maybe we’ll get them next time.”

James Thomas Jones III

#ManhoodRaceCulture

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2015

The Only Way Out: Black Economic Collectivism in the Twenty-First Century

The Honorable Louis Farrakhan has notable company such as Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Claude Anderson, and Malcolm X in repeatedly pointing our people toward entrepreneurship as the primary path to liberation. During a long forgotten moment of oratorical wizardry, Minister Farrakhan advanced the following analogy.

The Black Community is like a big nutritious breast that every immigrant group that has come to this nation has been able to suckle upon until they were big and strong, strong enough to leave it for the next immigrantFarrakhan group that comes to this nation. The entire time that these various groups have come into the Black community and gathered their strength from this Black breast, there stood the Black businessman trying to latch onto this same breast; however, the Black community does everything in its power to move the breast from the parched mouth of the struggling independent Black businessman.

One would be hard-pressed to find an African-American entrepreneur who would dispute Farrakhan’s analogy regarding either the absence of collectivist economics or the difficulty Black businessmen have in getting close to that nutritious breast that immigrants find so available to them. African-Americans have BTW2remained unanchored economically for far too long, a situation that has grown progressively worse since Booker T. Washington issued his calls for economic collectivism in Black business dealings during the late 19th Century.

The unraveling of the African-American community began with the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. Most fail to realize that the Brown decision paved the way for multiple points of integration — schools, public accommodations, educational institutions, and business entities — none of them have proven beneficial to African-Americans in the long run.

Undeniably, the exposure of our best and brightest students to white institutions during the highly volatile 1960s not only shaped their worldviews upon matriculation from these institutions of higher education, but also drastically altered their individual goal structures and priorities. The Black community was for many of them a place that they had outgrown socially, politically, and economically.

For the first time in its history, Black America’s educated class did not emerge from institutions of higher learning seeking to fortify the community and move it forward via political solidarity and economic collectivism, rather they emerged with desires of integrating white neighborhoods and reaching the pinnacle of their professions, meaning securing a job with a previously all white company/corporation and earning more money than anyone in their family had ever earned. Put simply, many of these individuals treated the African-American community as a place to escape from. Most either failed to understand or did not care about the disastrous effect that their embrace of suburban lifestyles and revulsion to economic opportunities within the Black community would have upon their indigenous community.

By the mid-seventies the African-American community had not only experienced a brain drain, but also a significant bloodletting, as the very blood, meaning its economics, was allowed to hemorrhage. As American segregation receded, Blacks commonly mistook the ability to patronize white businesses with the need to do so; relegating the Black community and its business class to an acutely dire economic position.

What has been our response to this consistently worsening economic plight? We have seen calls to boycott white businesses, a posture that does absolutely nothing to aid Black businesses, and repeated protests aimed at forcing recalcitrant whites to release a few jobs to Negroes. Neither plan will serve as the proverbial “balm in Gilead” for the masses of African-Americans. Historically gm2speaking, African-Americans were prepared to March on Washington in 1941 to request jobs in the wartime industries and actually executed a March on Washington in 1963 for jobs. This desperate pursuit of jobs at every turn has made the Black community appear parasitic.

So what should our response be to the present economic desperation that we are witnessing amongst our people? One does not need to look far or wide to find the solution to the African-American community’s economic suffering. The solution to the alluded to misery is not only found within every ethnic/racial enclave found in our major cities, but also the writings of Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Booker T. Washington, and garvey1Claude Anderson. That solution is simply economic collectivism. Malcolm X’s admonishment that African-Americans run their own community down when they spend their dollar with outsiders holds much validity. African-American business people need to develop a reliable database that informs Black consumers of local Black businesses as well as those who offer goods throughout the nation. Blacks must embrace the concept of entrepreneurship with the same vigor that they embrace their religious/spiritual leanings. Meaning one of their primary foci must be creating and supporting independent Black businesses.

Leaders such as Booker T. Washington, Louis Farrakhan, Malcolm X, and a host of others have advised our people to take the business of economics with the utmost seriousness. Every entrepreneurial malcolm 1opportunity must be pursued by Blacks as history dictates that it is the only means of lifting a people out of a marginalized politico economic position. Failure to do so will guarantee that we remain in this marginalized state. Put simply, “if we do what we’ve always done, we will get what we always got.” If we continue down this path, there is no one to blame but ourselves.