Teaching our dollars to make sense


When Donald Trump first spoke about his intentions to run for president and called out Mexicans and Hispanics in general, here’s what happened. Yes, there were protests in the streets by Latinos who felt they had been insulted by Trump, but further action was taken, not by Latinos but by corporations.

According to an article by Sarah Berger, with the International Business Times, “[Macy’s] said they would no longer carry Trump’s menswear collection, which featured shirts, ties and watches.” Further, “Macy’s is not alone: NBCUniversal, Univision, mattress maker Serta and other companies have also cut ties with Trump…The broken deals point to the growing influence of Hispanic consumers in the United States. As the Latino demographic in the United States rapidly increases, so does their buying power, and businesses are starting to realize that value.”

Economics raises its head again, doesn’t it? Macy’s was not boycotted or targeted by Latinos in any way. Why did they feel obliged to cut ties with Trump when he dissed Hispanics? A better question is: “Why haven’t we seen companies take any corresponding action on behalf of black people? Remember the Indianapolis incident earlier this year, when corporations threatened to move their companies out of that city if the law that “discriminated” against gay people was not changed? It took about 24 hours for it to be changed.

John Crawford was killed in a Walmart for holding a BB gun, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed in two seconds for holding a toy gun, Eric Garner was choked to death on national and TV after saying “Why do you keep bothering me?” and Sandra Bland was arrested and died three days later because she failed to signal a lane change and was smoking in her own car. Did any corporations make threats against anyone on their behalf?

Macy’s and the others punished Trump without being asked to do so, because they respect the $1.5 billion buying power of Hispanics. That’s it, plain and simple. “But annual black buying power is $1.2 trillion, Jim; why are we ignored?”

Major corporations with whom we spend much of that $1.2 trillion each year have, a “depraved indifference” to our plight, as Bob Law says. They do not respond to our issues in the same way because there is no price to pay for not doing so. We get slapped upside the head by politicians and our big bad NAACP tells us to take a 1,000-mile walk. One of our children gets shot down or beat down and NAN says “Let’s ‘maach’ on Washington.”

A young black man is killed in a Walmart and our “leaders” rally in front of that store—for a day. Our unemployment is at an all-time high, despite the “great economy” they say we are in, and the National Urban League writes a report each year telling us how bad things are for black America. Our voting rights are being discarded, our HBCU’s are losing millions because of Parent-Plus Loan changes, we are ignored and taken for granted by both political parties, and black politicians like John Lewis tell us to vote our way out of our problems.

It’s no wonder we don’t get the same respect and support as other groups. The ways we respond to negative issues allow the mistreatment we get from others. Take the “Black Lives Matter” mantra. Of course our lives matter and it makes no difference if others have a problem with our saying it. But we have some black folks who are trying to gain acceptance from others and trying to make others feel comfortable with us by adding to the phrase, “All lives matter,” which is obvious to most people anyway. Saying and acting upon the fact that black lives matter “less” than all other lives is important, but we must act appropriately upon what we say.

Carlos Santiago, president and chief strategist of Santiago Solutions Group said, “Latino customers represent an opportunity for Macy’s to grow its business model…Macy’s Hispanic base of buyers is significant and growing while the ‘non-Hispanic’ is declining slowly. They [Macy’s] have to protect their growing loyal base just as their competitors like Nordstrom, JC Penney’s, Target and Walmart are. In this race to capture the new growth, a change in public image is worth millions of dollars in goodwill and loyalty.”

The appropriate response to those who transgress against us must be grounded in economics. We spend money at Macy’s, as well as many other corporations. Why have they not spoken and acted on our behalf? As I have written many times, until we are serious about gaining the support of those with whom we do business, they will ignore our plight and take our dollars for granted.

Our economic response must be “Black Dollars Matter!” And we must teach our dollars how to make more sense.

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 can be reached through his website: blackonomics.com.