Our seemingly endless conversations about what Black people ‘need to have’ and ‘need to do’ are nothing short of astounding—and confounding as well. Some of our people call radio talk shows and decry, lament, and complain about the lack of resources among Black folks. Others ask ‘how to’ and ‘when’ questions about issues, initiatives, and strategies ‘we need’ to implement and champion—even when the host or the guest gives the answer some callers ignore it and go on another tirade about another issue, another deficiency, or another ‘Black people problem’ and what we need in order to change our situation.
Seeking internal instead of external relief, and relying on our own resources, is the practical way to solve most of our problems. The following quote illustrates my point.
“Myopia is a deficiency of the eye, the inability to see clearly at a distance, or in this case, the lack of foresight. During the Harlem Renaissance many of the leading Black writers protested vigorously and complained without end that White publishing concerns would not, solely based on racial discrimination (today’s profiling) publish or even review their works. This of course was true and in many cases remains so. But what these august champions of race pride seemed to have overlooked, or could not see through their obsequious begging, was the UNIA’s publishing house, run by the African Communities League, located squarely in the heart of 135th Street, Harlem. At the time, books, pamphlets, newspapers and other materials were typeset, printed, bound and shipped to distant places on the globe through the UNIA’s book department. With over six million card-carrying members of the UNIA, the literary lights surely would have found a ready market for their products, without having to depend on white largesse” — Amos Wilson, Afrikan Centered Consciousness vs. the New World Order.
Looking for rather than using what we already have has pushed us further down the economic ladder. Many of our ‘leaders’ have come to depend on others to fund their organizations and their causes, thus causing them to be nothing more than little children who can be patted on the head and made to sit down, stand down, and shut up any time it fits the patriarch’s agenda.
Black people have a tremendous amount of resources at our disposal, but so many of us continue that sad refrain of ‘we need’ this and that, without utilizing what we already have. That’s a prescription for failure, brothers and sisters. Aren’t you tired of failing? Don’t you want to chalk up a few wins?
This country and this world respect power. That’s why you hear the terms ‘Buying Power’ and ‘Voting Power.’ These terms, however, are just euphemisms when applied to Black people. If that was not true, Black folks would be well beyond the economic and political position we are in today. Power is not power unless it is utilized. Otherwise, how would any group ever know it had power?
“Power is the ability to define reality and to have others respond to it as their [own] reality”
— Dr. Wade Nobles.
As we refuse to use what we already have we deny ourselves the power to be self-reliant, self-determined, and self-directed. Just look back at examples of the economic resources we used to empower ourselves. Unfortunately we let it all slip away when we fell for the political game. We dropped everything and ran at warp speed toward getting Black people elected to public office, abandoning our economic base and abdicating our economic responsibility to future generations.
Today, we hear the cry for more Black owned hotels, when we had a vehicle, Visions 2000, founded by Ernestine Henning and the Richard Allen Foundation, through which we could have built and owned more hotels, collectively.
We say we need more Black banks, but fail to support the ones we already have. We should be growing our banks with our own deposits, thereby creating more opportunities for more of our people. How much of the millions held by Black organizations is in Black banks? Members of those organizations should insist on nothing less. For example, how much NAACP money is on account at The Harbor Bank of Maryland in Baltimore, where the NAACP is domiciled? And we should ask other Black organizations the same thing.
What about municipal funds and employee pension money? How much of that money resides in Black banks and Black owned financial management firms. We complain about Black churches and ignore what we already have in the Collective Empowerment Group. And last but certainly not our least resource is the One Million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors, which addresses most of the problems Black people face today. What ‘we need’ is available now. So stop looking for what we already have.
(James Clingman is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. His latest book, Black Dollars Matter! Teach Your Dollars How to Make More Sense, is available on his website, .)