Business Owners: Take Care of Your Business!

— I hear it all the time. “I patronized a black-owned business and was treated terribly.” How about this one? “I went to that black restaurant and the service was bad, the food was cold, and the staff was discourteous and very slow.” And the grand-daddy of them all: “I tried to do business with black contractors, but they didn’t show up on time, they wanted me to pick them up, because they didn’t have transportation, and they wanted me to go out and buy the materials needed for the job.”

As the “Buy Black!” hue and cry is raised by more and more of our people, we should do a collective self-assessment of our businesses and our relationship with them. Last week, I proudly wrote about one of the best and most conscious businesses in the nation: Compro Tax. Now I want to discuss those businesses that are not so good and not conscious at all when it comes to reciprocity.

I write a lot about the responsibility of black consumers to support black owned businesses, and sometimes it’s brought to my attention that I do not spend enough time dealing with the obligation black businesses have to provide good products and services— and likewise give their support to other black owned businesses. I get that; believe me, because I know that everything black (small “b” intended) ain’t Black.

In my entrepreneurship and business planning classes I always place an emphasis on good service, integrity, and simply doing what you say you are going to do for the customer. Our businesses have it hard enough without heaping more problems on themselves by not following through on agreements— not opening on time, not showing up to do the job on time, cheating and stealing from their customers, and the list goes on.

You would think they would make sure they are providing the very best customer service. You would think, considering our mental enslavement, that black business owners would try a little harder, do a little more, and make that extra effort to please their customers, especially their black customers. You know how quick we are to turn our backs on one another.

Some of our business owners feel it’s all right to do a brother or a sister wrong, maybe because we never expect to be dragged into court and sued. But we sure are afraid of mistreating others; and we make every effort to take care of our obligations to them, because we know what will happen if we don’t. Shamefully, some of us go about our business ripping off our customers with schemes and practices that pull us farther and farther apart, and we wonder why we cannot “come together.”

But what do we do? First of all, black business owners, get your act together! Stop taking short-cuts, stop cheating and lying to your customers, and read or re-read what Jawanza Kunjufu in his book, “Black Economics,” calls the African American Creed Business Commandments. He points out that our customers are our most important resource and in the final analysis, if they stop coming, we go out of business. So respect your customers above all, treat them fairly, and do what you say you are going to do.

We must work very hard to bring the ultimate economic partnership together, that of black consumers and black business owners. Once upon a time, during segregation, we had that ideal relationship but were not allowed to have access to the general marketplace. Our access is virtually unlimited now, but we must still have a firm economic foundation among our own people. Our charge as business owners is to meet our consumers a little bit beyond the middle and do what is necessary to change them into repeat customers. “The best customer is the one who returns.”

We can ill-afford the lack of support for one another that we see in today’s black economy, especially when you consider what little bit of an economy we have. So, indeed, “Buy Black,” but learn the difference between “black” and “Black,” and emphasize to them the importance of circulating some of their black dollars to another black business along the way. Let’s work together to build our relationships, our love, our respect, and our trust for one another. Through business ownership and good business management we can win.

Take care of your business and your customers, and they will take care of you!

My interview with black billionaire Bob Johnson

— One of the post-election highlights for me was the meeting between Donald Trump and Bob Johnson. Billionaire to billionaire, Democrat to Republican, black to white, businessman-to-businessman, capitalist-to-capitalist, meeting on a relatively even playing field to discuss some of the “what now” issues was intriguing to say the least. After the meeting, Johnson wrote a press release and did several interviews to disclose the particulars of that meeting.

While the press summed up Johnson’s comments in one sentence (“Let’s give Trump a shot”), there was much more to the meeting than that. I know that because I interviewed him after his meeting with Trump. During our nearly one-hour conversation, he spoke openly about his political position vis-à-vis the election of Donald Trump, and his thoughts, recommendations and reflections on a black strategy moving forward.

One of the main things Johnson discussed is our penchant to vote as a bloc for one party, in this case the Democrats, without reciprocity. His words brought to mind similar words by Carter G. Woodson and Malcolm X on that same point. Johnson recommended that black folks should be independent and bloc-vote only for candidates who support our interests, locally and nationally, regardless of their party affiliation. Let the church say, “Amen!”

Bob Johnson, based upon what he called a “seismic shift” in our politics, said we must follow what former U.S. Representative William “Bill” Clay, Sr. told us: “Your political philosophy must be selfish and pragmatic. You must start with the premise that you have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, just permanent interests.” My follow-up question was, “Then would you recommend that black voters register as ‘Non Party Affiliated’ at their local Boards of Elections?” His answer: “Absolutely, yes.” Bingo!

Remember when Donald Trump asked black folks, “What do you have to lose?” My immediate answer to his question was another question: “What do we have to gain?” Without me leading Johnson in any way, Johnson shared his message to Trump during their conversation on that question by saying, “You should be telling black people what they have to gain by voting for you.”

Mr. Johnson cited some very basic business principles, which he has put into play via his conglomerate of ventures, for instance, an equity fund to assist mid-level businesses. I asked if he thought blacks should form a similar collective fund for start-ups and micro businesses, and why we don’t have such a fund now. He agreed that we should have a fund, but on why we don’t have one, he simply said, “That’s a head, problem, Jim.” In other words, the only thing stopping us from doing that is our lack of consciousness and willingness to sacrifice for and support one another. Again, that’s much of what I have written and spoken about for 20 years: psychological enslavement.

By this time in our interview, I was on cloud nine because Robert L. Johnson, owner of numerous businesses and donor of millions of dollars to political campaigns, was confirming the work and philosophy of The One Million Conscious and Conscientious Black Contributors and Voters (OMCCBCV).

I never mentioned our movement to him during our conversation, but his answers to my inquiries definitely substantiated the direction The One Million is taking to move black people from our current status to our highest potential.

There was so much we discussed, and Johnson’s responses, insights, and directions are just what we need to do NOW. We cannot afford to wait, to analyze, to meet, to hold a convention or continue to theorize the future and lament the past. We can shape our future; we can determine our destiny simply by doing what not only Bob Johnson says but what many of our elders have been saying over the years. We simply need to act!

My entire Q and A with Johnson will be published soon, but I want to let my readers know about it now, so that we can start moving immediately to leverage our dollars and our votes against the two systems that run this nation and the world: economics and politics. The OMCCBCV has already planned to kick-off one part of that strategy in February 2017— stay tuned.

Please watch for my entire interview with Johnson and start planning for major changes in the way we play politics and the way we use our economic clout to build a strong foundation for our children and grandchildren. What Johnson shared with me is not esoteric or proprietary, and it’s certainly not new. However, sometimes with our people, the same message can come from different sources and depending on the messenger, our people will follow it. I am grateful that Johnson has chosen to speak out about these issues— more to come.

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 at:

Black folks need to stop drinking the ‘fool-aid’

“Negroes…sometimes choose their own leaders but unfortunately they are too often the wrong kind. Negroes do not readily follow persons with constructive programs. Almost any sort of exciting appeal or trivial matter presented to them may receive immediate attention…and liberal support.” — Carter G. Woodson

The term “Drinking the Kool-Aid” has been taken to a new level among many of our people. In many circles we have become so intellectually lazy that we will believe just about anything from anyone, that is, as long as we don’t have to do anything except trumpet a utopian message, and if we never have to sacrifice for the collective benefit of one another. The Kool-Aid cliché, as far as I am concerned, has now become “fool-aid,” and black folks are gulping it down by the barrel.

There are so-called black leaders who, despite their unseemly tactics, their portrayals of themselves as “honest” brokers, and their shadowy deal-making and sellout prowess, seem to be exempt from exposure by our people. While black folks have always had to deal with these scoundrels, we have been reluctant to call them out and to expose them for what they really are.

On the other hand, we have leaders among us who are totally dedicated to the collective economic advancement of African Americans. These are the ones who are usually sacrificed by black people— thrown out because they are a threat to the establishment or because they are “too black.” That frightens some people and, sadly, we play into that fear by participating in the demise of the very people who would help pull us out of our economic problems.

We willingly drink the fool-aid of those whom are only interested in themselves, only to end up in the same place or even further behind than we were before we took the first sip. That must change. But it won’t change simply because it ought to change; it will only change when we change our behavior and our penchant for choosing the “wrong kind” of leader.

I have seen folks stroll through our communities and be held up as paragons of black liberation, all while filling their pockets with the ‘filthy lucre’ from their sell-out deals with the powers that be. They have their hands in every deal, every program, every transaction, and every scenario that involves black people, making certain that they will be the first in line to be paid. They rob the community and blame the same community for not moving forward. How can we move forward with crooks like these among us?

Many people, black, white and otherwise have drunk the Fool-Aid of folks like Jim Jones in Guyana; David Koresh in Waco, Texas; Marshall Applewhite in San Diego (Hale Bopp Comet); Warren Jeffs in Eldorado, Texas (Yearning for Zion Ranch); and many other cult figures. We have been mesmerized and captivated by individual preachers, politicians and leaders who have absolutely no interest in anything other than their own selfish interests and advancement— usually economic.

So, while the “Drinking the Kool-Aid” cliché has become sort of comical and caricature-oriented in its connotation, “Drinking the fool-aid” gives a much more enlightened description of the dangers that lurk in actualizing the phrase.

I contend that black folks are far too intelligent to be reduced to a bunch of voluntary “fool-aid” drinkers, lapping up every word spoken by anyone, without doing our homework and making sure that what they say is true and illustrated by their subsequent actions.

In other words, don’t believe everything you hear or read on the Internet. Don’t be a sycophant for a shyster or a puppet for a prevaricator. Hold their feet to the fire after they speak, and use your own discernment to ascertain the wealth of their words— or the lack thereof.

As Woodson intimated, black folks have authentic leaders who have “constructive programs,” but who are seldom followed. Unfortunately, we have more folks drinking the fool-aid of hucksters than we have those who refuse it or at least read the label before they are willing to take a drink, but to borrow a verse from Matthew 7:13 “…For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”

Think for yourself, and be willing to accept the consequences thereof. Fool-aid may taste good, but it will make you very sick.

James Clingman is the nation’s most prolific writer about economic empowerment for black people. His latest book, “Black Dollars Matter! Teach Your Dollars How to Make More Sense,” is available at:

It’s time to give our money marching orders!

— In April 2005, I wrote an article titled, “Billion Dollar March,” at the behest of “The Ice Supreme Man” Ashiki Taylor in Atlanta. The article was in reference to our penchant for marching when we are upset, and then going home to sit down and wait for another crisis. This reaction to our grievances is so predictable and has no effect on the situations against which we protest and demonstrate. The obvious question is, “Why do we continue to do it then?”

Because I don’t do foot marching, I won’t spend my time trying to answer that question; you can ask those who are calling for marches to explain it to you. What I will do, however, is suggest another kind of march: The Billion Dollar March.

Just as in 2005, we are confronted with the same problems, the same conditions, the same powerlessness, and the same black leadership that opts for foot marching as a way to get politicians to change, and as a remedy against unfairness, such as being killed by a rogue cop.

Those of us who were members of the MATAH Network in 2000 will remember our monthly “Standing Order.” We received a book and a tape to help elevate our consciousness; two of the tapes were “Internal Reparations,” by Dr. Conrad Worrill and David Whitaker’s “The Wake-Up Call.”

I listened to both of them this week, and while they reconfirmed my decades of spreading the “Economic Gospel,” those two messages from two astute, conscious and conscientious black men really illuminated— once again— the importance of marching our dollars to black businesses and wielding economic power as a means to change our situation.

Using dollars to reward and punish is a proven way of getting someone’s attention and, thereby, causing them to change their ways. Look at the many examples that have taken place just over the past ten years or so. Nations and their products were boycotted; sports organizations, entertainers and conferences refused to hold events in cities whose policies went against their beliefs; and most recently we saw NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver take the All-Star Basketball game out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Now in reaction to the election, three NBA team owners are boycotting all Trump hotels.

Billionaires like Mark Cuban give their dollars marching orders. We must do no less. Our Billion Dollar March must be organized, measurable, maintained, sustained, and used to empower us. It must not be done solely to hurt someone else; it must be implemented to benefit black businesses owned by conscious and conscientious brothers and sisters, because we know that, “everything black ain’t black.”

The businesses we support must use some of their windfall profits to build a war chest to sustain the coordination of our Billion Dollar March.

In addition to supporting and growing our local black businesses, we must adopt a consistent, continuous, habitual movement centered on buying from ourselves.

Every black household should have black-made products coming in at least once per month. Goods and services that we use on a regular basis, offered by black producers, must find their way into our homes continuously. The “One Million” will keep track of our participation via pledges and feedback from our members and the businesses we support.

Nationally syndicated columnist William “Bill” Reed recently wrote, “Blacks spend less money in black-owned businesses than other racial and ethnic groups spend in businesses owned by members of their groups. How many blacks go out of their way to patronize black-owned businesses?

African American buying power is over $1 trillion and yet only two cents of every dollar an African American spends goes to black-owned businesses.” A Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management study found that a million jobs could be created if black consumers spent $1 of every $10 at black-owned stores and other enterprises.”

What’s wrong with us, y’all? Worrill, Whitaker, Reed and others have given us the formula for economic success and, thereby, political success for many years. We don’t need another foot march, we need and must have, a Billion Dollar March.

Here is our charge: Start right now to redirect $1 billion back to ourselves in 2017, via the example now being shown by The One Million Conscious and Conscientious Black Contributors and Voters. We are buying and promoting a ubiquitous product, one that is consumed worldwide in amounts on par with oil and wheat: Sweet Unity Farms Coffee from Tanzania.

To purchase, go to our website at We are also getting our tax returns prepared at Compro Tax Offices. Buy black products and professional services. If one million of us spend $1,000 per year at black businesses we will bring our Billion Dollar March to fruition.

So, take a load off your feet and let your dollars do the marching!

James Clingman is the nation’s most prolific writer about economic empowerment for black people. His latest book, “Black Dollars Matter! Teach Your Dollars How to Make More Sense,” is available on his website:

Elections won’t change anything, until we vote with our wallets!

— By the time you read this, I trust you will have wiped away the slime and the grunge, regurgitated a few times, taken a good bath or shower, relentlessly scrubbed the stench from your bodies, and maybe even found it necessary to delouse, because the dirty, filthy, hateful, distasteful, embarrassing, vile, toxic, grimy, polluted campaign we all witnessed is likely the worst in the history of electing a President.

At the time of writing (November 4, 2016) the results are unknown, but in light of the lies, slander, vitriol, vulgarity, hypocrisy, hyperbole, false accusations, innuendo, leaks, assaults and even physical threats of murder, it matters less than usual who wins. No matter the result, there will be millions of people in this country who will be so angry that very little will get done for “The People.”

January 20, 2017 will be a very sad day for many voters depending on which side is victorious. That’s a terrible commentary on this country, and an even worse reflection on the leadership we have chosen.

But what does it say about us? We have fought one another over the two candidates, neither of whom is held in high regard by the majority of the electorate. It has been suggested that our choice is between the “lesser of two evils,” and some say the “evil of two lessers.” We have been led down one of two primrose paths of prevarication, perversion, pseudo-piety, and pompous posturing, only to have gone to the polls holding our noses to choose our next leader.

Some have even dropped out of the system altogether because they cannot stand to be a part of such downright evilness. Some have said they will start a civil war, if their candidate does not win; some say they will “take out” one of the candidates if things don’t go their way; some have said they will move to another country; and some say the whole system is corrupt anyway so why care about it at all?

We have former candidates who called the two finalists insulting names: “pathological liar,” “con man,” “woefully unqualified,” “criminal,” “predator,” and the like; but those same self-righteous folks, some of whom profess to be of high moral character, are telling us to vote for the very persons they disdained and denigrated during the primaries. What kind of people are they? Are they typical of what we call a “politician?” Hypocrites who turn on a dime when it’s politically expedient for them, no matter what they said a couple of months ago? I guess we know the answers to those questions, right?

Talk about trouble, folks, we are deep into it. This nation is split nearly 50/50, so there is very little room for compromise or concession on either side, and we are right in the middle of this mess. Yes, the nirvana and utopia, called Barack and Michelle, that many black people thought we were living in is all over—gone. What shall we do now?

Truthfully, irrespective of who wins this election, blacks and poor folks are going to be in the same shape we have been in for awhile. After the assessments and Monday morning quarterbacking is over, many of us will still be sitting in the stadium sulking, complaining, and lamenting what took place. I am reminded of LeBron James’ comments after losing the championship to the Dallas Mavericks: “…at the end of the day, they (his haters) have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today.”

Well, alright then. We will have to get back to the real world, which includes not having real political power and very little influence on public policy. But maybe this will be the final wake-up call black people need to understand that until we get our economic act together, we will continue to be viewed as mere child-like voters instead of a true force to be reckoned with.

Here’s a solution: If you are a conscious and conscientious black person, go to and join the movement as we move closer to economic and political empowerment. We know that in order to attain the

levels of power and influence we seek there must be an organized critical mass of people and a vehicle through which that can be done. This is not a knock on anything anyone else is doing; it’s simply a call for just two percent of black people in this country to join forces, offering their time, talent, and treasure to help our people. The One Million is the only active movement of its kind.

So after you have cleaned up and disinfected yourself on November 9, get into a game you can win— The One Million!

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,

What the Kaepernick protest tells us about black power and money!

— Turnabout is fair play. Why can’t more of us see that economics is the key to our freedom and the answer to the problems we talk about all the time?

This political year has and continues to bring this fact to light, but the Colin Kaepernick protest illuminates the issue of economics even more. Here is a guy who chose to exercise his right not to stand at the playing/singing of the National Anthem, and as a result folks have called him everything, but a child of God. Folks who have burned the flag have not received the kind of treatment Kaepernick has garnered. Now, as other football players have joined in to do similar acts of protest, the real deal—economics— comes to the forefront.

Sponsors are exercising their rights to revoke their endorsements of these athletes. In other words, they are taking away their money in an effort to punish these players, the same thing they always do when a player says or does something they don’t like or agree with. It has happened to Black and White players alike.

Opinions abound on what the players should do now, and it’s amazing that some of us tell them to keep it up no matter how much money they lose, but we are unwilling to do the same thing at our jobs. Yes, they make a whole lot more money than most of us do but it’s all relative.

Knowing that economics runs everything in this country and the world for that matter, black folks in general and black athletes in particular must exercise another basic right: Use money for leverage and punishment, the same way other entities do.

What do I mean by that? Remember the incidents with Michael Vick, Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice? Several NFL sponsors notified the league that they would withdraw their support if the NFL did not address those issues by punishing those athletes in some form or another. The league saw dollar signs flying out of the window and acted accordingly.

Remember the state of Indiana law that gay people said was discriminatory toward them? Corporations threatened to move their firms out of the state if the law was not changed. Governor Mike Pence took care of that problem right away by changing the law. How about the latest issue in North Carolina with the transgender bathroom thing? The NCAA is sanctioning the state by pulling its tournaments, in all sports, out of North Carolina. The NBA has also refused to hold the All-Star game there. That’s money talking and black folks better take notice and start using our economic clout to get what we want.

Do you remember Craig Hodges, who played for the Chicago Bulls? He filed a federal lawsuit, against the NBA accusing the owners and operators of the NBA as co-conspirators in ”blackballing” him from the league because of his “outspoken political nature as an African-American man.”

When the Bulls championship team went to the White House after an invitation from President George H.W. Bush, Hodges wore a dashiki and handed the President a letter that asked him to do more to end injustice toward the African-American community. Sound familiar?

”It’s well known through the league that there may be repercussions if you speak out too strongly on some sensitive issues,” said Buck Williams, head of the players association at that time. “I don’t know if Hodges lost his job because of it, but it is a burden when you carry the militant label he has.”

Ironically and unfairly, during that same period, stars like Dennis Rodman and Charles Barkley, both known for doing outrageous things, were tolerated and even celebrated. Craig Hodges stood on his beliefs as did Denver Nuggets star, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, formerly known as Chris Jackson, who was probably second only to Michael Jordan on the offensive end of the basketball court.

Long before Kaepernick, Abdul-Rauf refused to stand for the National Anthem, and when he did, he prayed. This outstanding NBA player converted to Islam and soon after his conversion his NBA career came to a screeching halt. Both Hodges and Abdul-Rauf were vilified and sanctioned by the NBA for having the courage to stay true to their social, religious, and ethical convictions. Unfortunately, they stood alone for the most part. Their teammates and even the great Elgin Baylor turned their backs on him. I call that cowardly.

If just half of the black players in the NBA and the NFL would do as the University of Missouri players did, refuse to play just two games back to back, they would change those leagues. Money rules. Of course, it takes sacrifice, but isn’t it worth it? Hodges and Abdul-Rauf did, and they lost a great deal for their willingness to take a stand. They stood alone; a critical mass of black athletes, standing together can win.

From boycotts to buying from black-owned businesses

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” Matthew 25:21

In recent days we have heard much about efforts to demonstrate our frustration and anger about the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Boycotting malls and various stores, depositing funds into black-owned banks, are important and have had some positive effects. We must do more of the same, but in a more strategic and organized manner.

Are black folks, the recipients of $1.2 trillion annually, poor stewards of this tremendous amount of money and, thus, unable to obtain economic empowerment because of our slothfulness? Is that why we find ourselves in “outer darkness,” continuously attempting to “show” others how much money we spend instead of redirecting more of our money to ourselves?

The Parable of the Talents is quite fitting for black people, in general; of course we fit the description of the last steward who buried his talent in the ground and did not multiply it. Unfortunately, we have used our billions in income to buy everything someone else makes, no matter the cost.

If we cannot demonstrate our ability to manage the resources we have— the small things— how will we ever gain authority over the larger things? How will we ever change the behavior of corporations when it comes to supporting us the way they do other groups? If we refuse to shop at Target, for instance, but go to Walmart instead, what’s the gain? What’s the impact of staying away from the mall for a day or two, or even a week, and then return to spend all the money we withheld?

Martin Luther King, Jr., stated in his final speech, “I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank. We want a ‘bank-in’ movement in Memphis.” That was 1968. Here in 2016, in response to the murders of two black men some of us are finally getting it. In Atlanta, there was a call for black folks to open accounts at Citizens Trust Bank. My question was: Why would it take two dead brothers to get black people in a majority black city to put their money in a black bank that has been in their community since 1921?

Don’t get me wrong; I am glad to see the effort, and I trust the bank will not be used as an ATM machine where folks put money in on Friday and take it all out on Monday. I am, however, bewildered over someone having to die before we followed through on such a practical solution by Martin Luther King, Jr., nearly fifty years ago. Is this just another fad, another temporary gesture of outrage, or just another feel-good sign of our frustration?

Additionally, I know “for everything there is a season,” and the efforts taking place now in Atlanta at Citizens Bank, started by noted entrepreneur and rapper, Killer Mike, is the right message. Yes, there have been other messengers, but if he is the one that gets our people to respond, not only do I applaud our people, I also applaud Killer Mike. I had a chance to speak with him on the Carl Nelson radio show and he impressed me as a brother who is not egotistical and not concerned about being the HNIC in this issue. He was very respectful, and open to learning more about the history of his efforts and willing to listen to recommendations. I appreciated that and look forward to working with him.

Back to the stewardship issue and how it relates to our reactions not only to police shootings of black people, but also to our overall position in this country. Boycotts, if sustained, can work, but “work” to do what? Yes, they may turn the tide of recalcitrant corporations that only care about our dollars, which we give to them without reciprocity.

However, the “work” that any economic sanction effort should and must produce is economic empowerment for black people. Our efforts cannot be centered on hurting someone else; they must be done in an effort to help ourselves. Thus, we must have a strategic plan, and an organized movement to redirect the money we withhold back to our own businesses as much as possible.

As for depositing our money in black banks, we must do our due diligence, meet and develop relationships with bank managers, and I would recommend doing what the Collective Banking Group (Now called the “Collective

Empowerment Group”) did back in 1995 up to this present day. The group wrote covenant agreements with the banks and held them accountable for what they said they would do for their members in return for their deposits.

We must practice good stewardship if we want to be empowered.

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 at

The difference between Jesse Williams’ BET speech and what comes next

— More than a couple of million folks have responded to the words spoken by Jesse Williams, which points out the fact that many black people are mesmerized by words that excite us and stimulate our emotions. Rather than initiating practical and appropriate actions as a result of words that make us feel good, we usually end up celebrating, espousing, regurgitating and discussing, ad nauseam, those words instead of implementing strategies that make us “do good.”

The speech by Williams was important and relevant, especially to black people. I appreciate his words and his willingness to make his statements on such a widely viewed stage. He used his fame and the very popular BET Awards Show to put forth a message that has been spoken and written by others before him, but also one that we need to hear over and over. Seems to me that when someone famous says the same things other non-famous folks have said, it takes hold quicker and our light bulbs come on faster. Questions: “How long will the message last, and will we act upon it?

Jesse Williams’ background, political affiliations and motivations notwithstanding, his message was more important than the messenger. However, since we are so attuned with what our celebrities say, he had instant credibility with many young and older folks alike. This is not to suggest that we discriminate against a message because of its messenger. A moron can bring a valid message. Suppose Clarence Thomas had said the same thing Williams said. Would we reject that message?

My point is that black folks should be able to discern a positive message that comes from any messenger, so that we can know “why” the message is being promulgated and be able to respond appropriately to that message. Emotional catchwords and phrases are fleeting and seldom cause any improvement in our wellbeing. Remember: “I have a dream!” “Down with dope— Up with hope!” “No justice, no peace!” “Yes we can!” and all the other words we have heard and chanted millions of times?

I’d rather we follow words from Richard Allen, “To Seek for Ourselves,” Marcus Garvey, “One God, One Aim, One Destiny!” and Elijah Muhammad, “Do for Self.” I chose to hear some of those words in Williams’ speech, and I give him credit for speaking on the subject. It’s on Mr. Williams now to show us what he meant by putting his words into action; and it’s up to the rest of us to develop strategies and initiatives that will move our people forward.

Jesse Williams spoke on issues that I have written articles about as far back as 1994, more specifically, one titled, “The Young and the Relentless,” in which I described how many young Blacks were becoming entrepreneurs. Rather than falling for the okey-doke of buying and wearing someone else’s brand, they were developing, marketing, and selling their own brands. Unfortunately, as the article also cited, many of our young entertainers had succumbed to the lure of “OPS” (Other People’s Stuff) e.g. Adidas, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, etc. rather than “OPM” (Other People’s Money).

It is ironic that in April 1997, Forbes Magazine featured a front-page article titled, “Badass Sells,” by Joshua Levine, which aptly illustrated much of the tremendous economic potential within the younger segment of black America. It also described how the hip-hop culture had been co-opted by designers such as Hilfiger and manufacturing giants like Nike. Now in 2016, Alicia Keys is featured in a commercial for Levis jeans, in which she says, all women are “Badass,” so I guess it still sells.

But I digress. Will Jesse Williams’ comments simply become last month’s shining moment for black folks, or will his message finally be transformed into real economic progress for our people? Will his two minutes of enlightenment and in-your-face rejoinder to our plight make their way into the pantheon of speeches by our learned elders, or will they drift off into oblivion never having gained traction or made a significant difference in our lives?

Will Jesse Williams’ one shining moment become activated within us to the degree that we begin to coalesce and collaborate to build an economic foundation from which we can truly have an impact on public policy? Fiery rhetoric, overwhelming applause, and two million “hits” and “tweets” are not enough to get the job done. We must have action. We must have a critical mass of black people who are willing and able to work to make our economic and political empowerment a reality.

Yes, we had yet another shining moment when Williams took the stage to accept his award. Will its sheen fade to black, or will that moment turn into momentum for black progress? Remember: A moment is not a movement, but a moment can start a movement.

James Clingman is the nation’s most prolific writer about economic empowerment for black people. His latest book, “Black Dollars Matter! Teach your dollars how to make more sense,” is available on his website:

The black community is bleeding to death

— There is a crisis of monumental proportion in our so-called “black communities.” A crisis that if not checked will prove to be our demise. We are bleeding so badly that we are in a comatose state and on life support right now. However, we still have a strong heartbeat so, we can be revived by those who have the financial and intellectual talents and the willingness to make the requisite individual sacrifices necessary to restore us to a more healthy state.

A cadre of individuals, not featured in the dominant media, is devoted to leading the charge for economic empowerment among black people. These brothers and sisters are not afraid. They are not ashamed of being black. They are not hiding behind organizations and in corporations; they are strong and unwavering in their message of economic empowerment. They are our Emergency Medical Technicians, the first ones on the scene to stop the bleeding and to take us to a place where we can be treated and recover from our wounds.

Yes, we are bleeding profusely brothers and sisters, and we must stop the bleeding, not with a Band-Aid but with stitches. Our life-blood— our dollars are flowing out of our neighborhoods. The professionals call this phenomenon “float” or “expenditure leakage,” which translates into what the experts at the Brookings Institution called a “market opportunity to provide competitively priced goods and services to inner-city consumers.” A 1999 report issued by the Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, written by Robert Weissbourd and Christopher Berry, cited some glaring and, quite frankly, embarrassingly stark statistics that portray Black people as nothing more than “economic opportunities” for others.

Please note the report was not casting aspersions on black folks, rather it was simply pointing out some facts about inner-city neighborhoods and their consumers and suggesting ways that businesses and government entities could better serve the residents as well as their own interests. It stressed investment opportunities within under-served neighborhoods, and was positive in its approach to suggesting ways to effect much needed change.

Nevertheless, my take on this issue conjured up visions of massive hemorrhaging and it very strongly suggests that we need to stop the bleeding. The report compared one of Chicago’s Southside neighborhoods to the affluent northern neighborhood of Kenilworth. The report stated, “…Urban neighborhoods like South Shore in Chicago have more buying power than the wealthiest of suburbs. South Shore’s median family income was $22,000 back then; Kenilworth’s was $124,000. But South Shore had $69,000 of retail spending ‘power per acre,’ nearly twice that of Kenilworth’s $38,000.” That means inner city residents, despite their tremendous resources, are virtually bleeding to death.

Literally millions of dollars are leaving our neighborhoods, which in turn also negatively affects our employment opportunities. It continued, “For business, this translates into lost sales, or what marketers call ‘float dollars.’ For inner city residents, these are ‘float jobs,’ as crucial dollars that could employ local residents and fuel the neighborhood economy are spent elsewhere.”

The only thing that has changed during the last sixteen years is our collective annual income, which is much higher. The problem is that we don’t learn from information like this and use it to improve our situation.

We are bleeding, brothers and sisters, and our blood, Type O, the “universal donor”—everybody benefits from it. We have EMT’s ready, willing, and able to apply the tourniquets and even to stitch up our wounds. It’s up to us, however, to access their expertise, to follow their instructions, and to take the prescriptions they write for us. If we are going to stop the bleeding, if we are going to put an end, once and for all, to the preventable loss of life-blood— our dollars— from our neighborhoods, we must make the changes being recommended by our true economic leaders.

We must consider our “spending power per acre” as cited in the Brookings Report, just as others are considering it and gaining a stronger economic foothold in the billions black people earn and spend each year. We must redirect a greater portion of our $1.2 billion aggregate annual income back to ourselves via our own businesses, and we must develop a culture of wealth retention, a culture of collective economic empowerment among our people, regardless of where we reside.

In the book “Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age,” Michael Shuman wrote: “Being poor doesn’t always mean being without resources. Anacostia is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., yet the total income of all its households is $370 million per year. The principal affliction of poor communities in the United States is not the absence of money, but its systematic exit.”

So, put the Band-Aids away; we need sutures. Let’s stop the bleeding, black people. If we fail do so, our words are merely “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

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:

Blackonomics: Do black organizations really have our backs?

— While Black people are bogged down in shallow and meaningless political discourse, our vaunted Black organizations continue to be M.I.A. except for their time in front of the cameras with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. They say they cannot endorse candidates, but we all know that’s a sham.

In an article written by Freddie Allen of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, Marc Morial said the nine Black organizations that met with the candidates wanted to “provide to every candidate who is running for president of the United States, be they Republican or Democrat, the opportunity to hear from us on issues of civil rights, social justice, and economic justice in America, today.” Any real demands made on our behalf?

Al Sharpton said, “For the first time in American history, we will watch a Black family leave the White House and we do not want to see the concerns of Blacks leave with them.” So, that’s where our concerns have been hibernating for the past seven years; and all this time I thought Sharpton and the POTUS were taking care of them.

And, I suppose to give comfort to Clinton and Sanders, Morial said the nine historic civil rights organizations represent tens of millions of Americans and that all of their organizations were “multicultural and multi-ethnic.” Multi-cultural and multi-ethnic? That’s strange; I thought they were Black or at least “colored.”

Speaking of colored, let’s look at one of these “Black” multi-cultural/ethnic organizations.

The NAACP, known for “Nonstop Aiding and Abetting in Corrupt Practices,” in my opinion, answered the Ferguson issue by walking 130 miles to the Missouri Governor’s office, followed up by a 1,000 mile stroll from Selma to the steps of the U.S. Capitol in search of justice. Guess they didn’t find it when they got there.

This is the group that practices outright hypocrisy by railing against voter suppression and voter ID laws, while accepting and even promoting those corrupt practices within their own ranks. More specifically, this is the group that has wreaked havoc in Ohio by conducting four elections for State President, two of which were legitimately won by Jocelyn Travis over Sybil McNabb, and two of which were do-overs by the national office via its henchman, Gill Ford, to keep their chosen candidate, McNabb, in office.

In the first corrupt election over which the national office presided, children were allowed to vote for McNabb—yes, children! In the second corrupt election, which just took place on March 12, 2016, again under national supervision, the same corrupt practice used in Cincinnati was used by Gill Ford in Columbus. He suspended Travis three days prior to the election, just as he did the Cincinnati president, whom he suspended the day before the election in an obvious effort to have his chosen candidate run unopposed.

The NAACP’s “Nonstop Aiding and Abetting in Corrupt Practices” is shameful, especially in light of holding themselves up as the national champion for fairness in the voting process. Even more shameful is the fact that only a relative few members, among those who have actually seen these shenanigans take place, are willing to stand up against the NAACP’s corruption.

The good news is that a group of members throughout Ohio have followed the lead of the Crittenden County (Arkansas) and Cincinnati branches by seeking and winning a temporary restraining order against the national office of the NAACP, due to its continued interference in local elections. The results of the March 12th election are being held in abeyance by a Columbus, Ohio judge, who will conduct a hearing on April 7, 2016. You can be sure that all evidence of corruption, voter suppression, and election rigging will be brought forth at that time.

Aside from the obvious hypocrisy displayed by the national leadership of the NAACP, not only in this case, but also in several other branches across the country, their corrupt practices also point to a larger problem. So-called Black organizations like the NAACP, despite their implied social contract with Black folks, can be swayed, bought, rented, or leased with nothing expected in return except a few dollars under the table, a political photo-op, or a nice hotel suite. The NAACP needs to stop abusing its members’ rights before purporting to speak on our behalf.

As for nine Black organizations suggesting they are the repository of Black power, here’s a question: If they have power, why after nearly eight years of a Black President are we, as cited in Morial’s State of Black America Report, worse off now and in “crisis?” As the heads of those organizations now intercede on our behalf, by meeting with presidential candidates, what would make us believe Blacks will get anything specific from the next administration?

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,