Hypocrites, hucksters, histrionics and hype

— Aren’t you tired of the rap and clap sessions by political wannabees and their respective contingents? I know I am. The so-called “debates” are downright insulting and embarrassing, especially on the Republican side, reminiscent of a stand-up comedy show, or “throwing shade,” as young folks say. Over on the Democratic stage (or should I say in their “ring”?), what was a fight has turned into a face-saving swan song for Sanders since he was, in his own words, “decimated” in South Carolina. Black folks strike again!

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton at the CNN Democratic Debate at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, Tuesday, October 13, 2015.

(Photo: Adam Rose/CNN)

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton at the CNN Democratic Debate at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, Tuesday, October 13, 2015.

With all the money these candidates have in the bank this “theater of the absurd” could go on for months, and when it’s all over black folks will have not moved one inch toward real empowerment. Unless we get serious about our own economic and political future, by establishing our political platform and being willing to promote, support, and leverage it, blacks will continue to be relegated to the clown ring in this current political three-ring circus. We will be the diversions, the ones who turn the lion’s attention away from the performers, the clowns who turn the bull’s ire away from the bull rider by yelling and then jumping into a barrel.

The “Yo Mama!” debates in the Republican ring are really not debates, in case you have not noticed; they are rap sessions, Ronald Reagan séances, and pseudo-patriotic diatribes, repeated ad nauseam by guys who swear they are the answer to our problems. The only one who has any kind of real record of having actually solved a few political problems is John Kasich but he’s so far behind the others that a victory for him is very unlikely.

Over in the Democratic ring we have two combatants who offer condescending words and platitudes directly to black folks, as opposed to the Republicans who say absolutely nothing to blacks. The Democratic candidates rail against the business establishment and tell us that we really need more jobs to solve our problems. I don’t know how they expect to bring us more jobs, which are created by private businesses, when they are constantly denigrating business. It’s just hype. By the way, why do you suppose the black candidate, Willie Wilson, has been invisible?

Post Super Tuesday shouting matches about who cares for black people the most now dominate, as though being embroiled in these kinds of discussions will move us forward. Top that off with MSNBC’s U-turn in firing, demoting, or exiling their black Barack Obama-can-do-no-wrong hosts and we have a real firestorm on our hands, don’t we?

Aren’t you tired of being hustled and huckstered? Aren’t you tired of the hype and political histrionics? Those of us who are absolutely tired of it all have made a commitment to DO something about it. First of all, we refuse to be swayed by patronizing pundits and condescending candidates. It matters not what they say— their actions are what matters.

Understanding how the system works with regard to what they have said versus what they do when they get into office, why are many of our people spending inordinate amounts of time arguing over whose plantation is more comfortable? Rather than organizing ourselves into a voting bloc that must be reckoned with and leveraging our votes, we end up acquiescing to political parties and their selected candidates. Rather than asking the candidates what they will do for us, we must present our demands to them, and rather than settle for lip-service we must have them sign an agreement signifying their support of our issues.

I can hear the moanin’ and groanin’ now. “Jim, they would never do that. So why ask them to?” That kind of defeatist attitude and subsequent surrender is indicative of why we are in the shape we are in today. If they refuse to support our demands, verbally and in writing, then why should we vote for them? What do we have to lose? Why vote for any candidate who does not support reciprocity for those who vote for him or her? That’s just stupid.

We must stop accepting the hypocrisy of candidates who say one thing and do another; we must not be sidetracked by arguments among political hacks and commentators that mean absolutely nothing to us in the scheme of things. We must stop doing our best impression of Pavlov’s dog when they come to call on us. If nothing is funny, don’t laugh; if you are not itching, don’t scratch. We must change the silly way we deal with politics by collectively leveraging something of substance in return for our votes. If we don’t change, the hucksters— black ones and white ones, will always win.

Join the One Million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors and let’s make a real difference this time.

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: www.Blackonomics.com.

Blackonomics: The silly season is upon us

— The “Silly Season,” as many call it, is well under way; and Black people are up to our necks in it. The usual suspects are jockeying for position with certain presidential candidates. They are vying for the Black spokesperson positon, knocking one another down as they rush toward the microphones and cameras. They are acting real silly themselves when it comes to endorsements and support for candidates who use them as sycophants to feed us warmed-over political pabulum.

Of course, the Democrats are the heavy favorites among Black folks, so it’s pretty easy for Black political mouthpieces to do their traditional thing on the Dems behalf and to our detriment, of course. The Republicans only have two or three Blacks asking us to vote for them, despite their candidates never citing Black issues in their speeches. But that’s par for the political course. Both parties are playing us, and the sad part is that some of our own brothers and sisters are helping them. But, that’s our own fault.

We vote for candidates simply because someone famous endorses them. That’s why we see this constant coming out party among Black folks who like either Uncle Bernie or Mama Hillary. One Black commentator said Bernie needs to “tell old civil rights stories” to get more Black votes. Are we so child-like that all it takes is for some celebrity, news commentator, or politician to issue a statement of support for us to fall head-over-heels for a particular candidate? That’s weak and intellectually lazy, y’all. Think for yourself; think independently.

What exactly have we gained from candidates we have supported, endorsed, and worked for in the past? Are we politically and economically empowered? Has there been elected leveraged any “Black-specific” reciprocity, such as what was given to Hispanic, Filipino, Jewish, and LGBT groups? If you are intellectually honest, you know the correct answers to those questions. We give our votes and get virtually nothing in return. How silly is that in the “Silly Season?”

Carter G. Woodson wrote, “It is unfortunate that such a large number of Negroes do not know any better than to stake their whole fortune on politics. History does not show that any race, especially a minority group, has ever solved an important problem by relying altogether on one thing, certainly not by parking its political strength on one side of the fence because of empty promises.”

Black people must work on being economically and politically empowered—in that order, or at least concurrently. We will not win as long as we stay on our present path, which is seeking political empowerment from an economically weak position. Amos Wilson wrote, “Economic powerlessness means political powerlessness. The idea that the African American community can exercise effective power, political or otherwise, without simultaneously exercising economic power, is a fantasy…”

There are several “Black specific” issues, but let’s look at just two: Internal and external reparations. When asked about the “R” word, Hillary Clinton said we need “investments in our neighborhoods” instead of reparations. Investment is great, but the folks in the neighborhoods must have a say in who gets the development contracts and the jobs that come along with investment. Internally, Black folks must start and grow more businesses and support them with our dollars.

Bernie Sanders says Blacks “need jobs” not reparations. In an interview in Iowa Bernie said, “[Reparations] likelihood of getting through Congress is nil; second of all, I think it would be very divisive.” Japanese, Filipino, and Jewish reparations were not divisive? Feeling “Berned,” y’all?

What we “need” is to be paid for the jobs Blacks used to have, as we talk about creating more jobs. After enslavement, Black people were laid off with no severance package, 401-K, or extended benefits. We “need” our well-deserved “back pay.” Reparatory justice is not a panacea, but it sure would give us a boost. Internally, Black people must circulate our own $1.2 trillion aggregate income among ourselves, and stop exchanging it for everything someone else makes. We must produce more and consume less.

Have you ever been sent to someone else’s job to pick up their check because that person was unable to do so? It’s the same thing with reparations. Malcolm said, “If you are the son of a man who had a wealthy estate and you inherit your father’s estate, you have to pay off the debts that your father incurred before he died. The only reason that the present generation of White Americans are in a position of economic strength…is because their fathers worked our fathers for over 400 years with no pay. Your father isn’t here to pay. My father isn’t here to collect. But I’m here to collect, and you’re here to pay.”

In this silly season, confront candidates with substantive issues rather than symbolic gestures.

Blackonomics: Hillary and Bernie discover and re-discover black people

One thing is for sure; Black folks are enjoying this latest political mating dance with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Sanders is discovering Black people in South Carolina and Georgia, and Clinton has reopened the “leading Blacks” vault to rediscover their loyalty and willingness to present her to the Black electorate one mo’ time, y’all.

Sanders, after years without doing anything specific for the 1 percent Black population of his state, much less for Black people in general, has now discovered, and some would say rediscovered his love and concern for us. In the vast majority of cases it is really a case of Black people discovering Sanders, because most Blacks knew absolutely nothing about him prior to a few months ago, but for Ed Schultz and Black folks’ penchant for watching MSNBC. Sanders started out by traipsing up to Harlem, cameras in tow of course, to sip tea with Sharpton at a Black restaurant. I am sure that boosted his “street cred” bona fides with Black voters.

Uncle Bernie then goes to MLK’s alma mater, Morehouse, and tells thousands of Black folks how much he loves them now and how much he will do for them—now. It’s almost like he is waking up from his five-decade “I marched with MLK” respite and discovering that Black people exist and, yes, they are important to court because he cannot win without them. He is pulling out all the condescending platitudes to get the Black vote, and Black folks are lovin’ it.

Hillary, far more knowledgeable and adept at getting Black voters, reached into her bag of politricks and pulled out an old, tried-and-true, sleight of hand tactic. She met with the Great Triumvirate of Black “civil rights” leaders, folks who will hurt you if you get between them and a news camera, to subliminally suggest she is “down with the bruthas.” Sitting at a table with Morial, Sharpton, and a guy Black folks have yet to discover, Cornell Brooks, was her springboard to vie for the Black vote.

Mama Hillary called on old stand-by, John Lewis, to tell Black folks that Sanders has no street cred, because Lewis “never met him” back in the days of fire-hoses, dogs, and Billy clubs. (Maybe Lewis had a concussion back then and simply forgot.) Hillary then got members of the Black Caucus to endorse her, a monumental victory that will surely bring home the ultimate victory. After all, we cast from 93 percent – 95 percent of our precious votes for Barack in both elections, and he won; why not the same thing this year for Clinton?

Black folks are discovering and being discovered by Bernie; we are also being rediscovered by Hillary. And while we are making political campaign ads, going to rallies and cheering for the Democratic candidates, as Gil Scott-Heron said in reference to Richard Nixon and the Republicans, “All is calm and quiet along the white sands of San Clemente.” In today’s political world that simply points to the Republicans continued strategy of ignoring Black people by saying absolutely nothing on our behalf or in support of issues that specifically pertain to Black voters. But why should they? We are “all in” for the Dems.

Hype is meaningless unless it is accompanied by real accountability and substantive results. If the Black vote is so important and so precious, as we like to say, then why is it literally given away for a song and a dance or a rousing speech? Saying how bad it is for Black people is not doing something about it. Glad-handing and hobnobbing with two or three leading Blacks is not doing anything to elevate Black people to a state of economic empowerment—and not even political empowerment. Feeling our pain and walking in the streets with us does nothing to alleviate that pain or stop the injustices we suffer.

It is embarrassing to see our people fawning over folks who, when they get what they want from us, will return to the political status quo. If that were not true, we would have seen huge benefits by now. It’s always, “this time it will be different,” when it comes to Black voters.

One practical question to ask candidates who are running around our neighborhoods, churches, and college campuses seeking our votes: “How much campaign money have you spent with Black-owned media, i.e. newspapers, radio?” That’s just one of many acts of reciprocity and the bare minimum of what we should demand. If they do as the current POTUS did in 2012, spend one-tenth of 1 percent with Black media, don’t support them until they increase that amount, and then move on to the next demand. Stop allowing them to use and insult you, and stop slobbering over this latest discovery process; Black people have been in this country since the show started.

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.com.

Raising money or just raising Cain?

— Bernie Sanders raised $20 million with the average donation being just $27.00. What is wrong with black folks? For decades conscious black leaders have cajoled, encouraged, admonished and begged us to raise money among ourselves, a small amount from a lot of people, you know, the way Marcus Garvey did, which we love to brag about but never emulate. What we have done instead is raise a lot of Cain about our collective economic predicament.

Why do we cloak ourselves in Garvey’s legacy of rallying millions of black people and raising millions of dollars from black folks but do not pick up where he left off, by pooling some of our tremendous annual income to help our own people?

A massive pool of black dollars could leverage reciprocity from politicians and from the marketplace. If we were as serious about action as we are about our rhetoric, many of our problems would be solved in a “New York minute,” as they say. However, it seems we would rather just call radio talk shows and voice complaints about what the white man won’t let us do, or what he’s doing to us, or how corrupt his elections are, how we should pack up and leave (with no money, at that), and a myriad of other black economic and political woes.

We sign online petitions in support of some cause or another; we send letters to our representatives in the District of Columbia; we do our obligatory marches and demonstrations; we celebrate historical events; and fawn over memorials of fallen black heroes. Some of that is fine, but if those actions are not backed up by economic muscle, they will not advance us one iota.

If Bernie Sanders can raise $20 million in $27.00 increments, why can’t we do the same thing? I’ll tell you why; black dollars don’t make any sense. We are so focused on the current political prospects of this candidate or that one, and we have lost complete sight of what is really important—and vital to our future: economic empowerment. Sometimes I think black folks have lost our ever-loving minds, well some of us at least.

On the other hand, I am proud to be a member of the One Million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors (OMCBV&C), a group of folks from thirty-five states who are not just talking about pooling resources but are actually doing it. Together we have made a real difference in the lives of various black folks; we have supported black radio by buying advertisements and sponsoring individual shows, in addition to just listening and calling in. We support black-owned businesses by buying their products and services, and we are committed to a collective approach to obtaining reciprocity in the public policy arena by voting as an unwavering bloc.

We are dedicated to one another and to our collective goals and objectives, and we will not break ranks simply to please some politician, nor will we succumb to their attempts to buy us off. Our funding pool is from the “work of our own hands,” as Martin Delany taught us. Our resolve is built on the shoulders of those strong elders who have made their transitions. We are organized and well on our way to becoming the largest group of conscious black people in this nation.

Most importantly, we are about action not rhetoric. We are willing to make the requisite sacrifices necessary to reach our goals of economic and political empowerment, and we have demonstrated that willingness through our actions.

Let’s face it; black folks have little or no chance of achieving the many things we discuss unless we are organized and prepared to utilize our collective leverage to obtain reciprocity from the system in which we find ourselves. When are we going to follow through on the solutions we put forth in our conversations? As I wrote some time ago, “What is the result of our rhetoric?”

Politically and economically, we are in last place. Are we so complacent about our position in this nation that it has caused us to be paralyzed, frozen in our tracks, even at the thought of moving forward? Raising Cain instead of— or at least in addition to— raising money to help ourselves, is a hopeless strategy for empowerment. Imagine one million conscious black people pooling our money to fund the Harvest Institute or the political campaign of a candidate we “decided” would run. Our schools, museums, media, financial institutions, conferences, businesses, co-ops, movements, foundations, endowments and any other black owned entity could all be funded by a committed group of conscious black folks.

Bernie did it; what’s holding us back? As the old saying goes, “There’s nothing between us but air and opportunity.” Go to www.iamoneofthemillion.com and let’s start taking care of ourselves. We can start with $27.00 each.

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.com.

The economics of water

— “Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink.” — Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

I can hear the backroom discussion now: “We can save money if we stop taking our drinking water from Lake Huron and start using water from the Flint River instead.”

Those may not be the exact words, but the leaders of Flint, Michigan, including the two recent Emergency Managers, City Council, the EPA, and the Governor, have caused a catastrophe.

Money is the common theme among the perpetrators in Flint; it is always lurking in the shadows of the many problems facing black and poor people. Now, in a city that is approximately 60 percent black and has a 40 percent-plus poverty rate, money trumps life again. Money trumps the long-term effects on more than 8,000 children, many of whom will grow up suffering from the physical, cognitive, and emotional illnesses caused by lead poisoning. As one person said, “Everybody in the city has been poisoned, everybody.”

Sophia A. McClennen (Salon.com) wrote, “The story of Flint is the story of what happens when profits are more important than people. What Michael Moore captured in [Roger and Me] was a clear prelude to what is happening [in Flint] today. First, Flint residents lost their jobs. Twenty-five years later they have lost their water and their health. There are ten dead…from Legionnaire’s disease in Flint and countless others with serious illnesses from contaminated water.”

Politicians are playing games with this emergency, and trying to garner votes from it. Remember Rahm Emmanuel’s quote? “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” Where is the “opportunity” in this crisis? Was the slow response to this crisis really just an opportunity to get more money?

This is far from being about what party is in charge. Some folks are blaming the Republican governor and some are blaming the city council, on which the Democrats hold a 7-1 majority. But so what? The damage is done; the right question is “Now what?”

Many people have marshalled their forces to assist the people of Flint, first, by bringing water. The Feds have granted a measly $5 million to help but the POTUS, who went to nearby Detroit but did not go to Flint, denied the request by the governor to declare the situation a “major disaster,” which under law applies to natural disasters and “certain other situations.” Isn’t this a “certain other situation”? Isn’t it just as important as getting water to Katrina victims and providing healthcare for Flint’s citizens?

It would be great to see our doctors, psychologists, attorneys, scientists, engineers, and technical personnel lend their talents to help, like we do in other countries. In light of this terrible situation, Flint is in need of all the services, assistance, contributions, and prayers that we can muster. By the way, so are the folks in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, where the citizens are suffering from all sorts of diseases and untimely deaths, because of the still lingering effects of the BP oil spill. Earnest McBride of the Jackson Advocate has covered this story.

The lawsuits will come and the money from the taxpayers’ coffers will flow, money that could have been used to prevent the problem in the first place. The long-term health ramifications of lead poisoning are irreversible but manageable if the funds to do so are available. The state of Michigan, as it deals with myriad financial issues, will now have to pay billions for its neglect and lack of concern for poor people.

Beginning with Idlewild in 1912, Michigan has had issues with black/white relationships, social/environmental justice, and economic progress, which provides a context from which to view Michigan’s current predicament, Detroit and its recent economic woes notwithstanding.

In Benton Harbor, with a 90 percent black population, Edward Pinkney was imprisoned for fighting for social and economic justice, another example of money trumping what is right. The NAACP abandoned brother Pinkney and opted, by its silence and lack of advocacy on his behalf, chose the path of least resistance, and who knows what they received from the Whirlpool Corporation in return for their silence? Once again, as it has throughout the nation, the NAACP manipulated the local election to get rid of Pinkney as president. He went to prison and Whirlpool got an NAACP award.

Three of the five great lakes, Michigan, Huron and Erie, virtually surround Michigan. For folks in Flint to have to drink water from the Flint River in order to save money is reprehensible. “Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink.” To all of you “Civil Rights” advocates: What could be a greater “civil right” than having clean water to drink?

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 for purchase on his website: www.Blackonomics.com.

Blackonomics: Unrepresented by our Representatives

— Does it really matter who wins the Presidency? How can it matter to Black folks, considering the way we “play” politics? We have no power, no leverage, and little or no influence in the political arena, and even worse it seems we are reluctant to do what it takes to gain any political clout. So why do we care so much about the upcoming election?

Having “played” this political game for more than fifty years now, getting thousands of Black folks elected to public office, and even a Black President of the United States (POTUS), we are still far behind and even nonexistent in serious public policy discourse and legislative initiatives. As we face yet another “most important election” of our lifetime, what are you willing to do to improve our political situation in this country? Hint: Handwringing won’t help.

Is our political strategy, “I got plenty of nothing, and nothing is plenty for me”? Or, “You got to give the people, give the people what they want”? Do we even have a strategy other than listening to flowery words from politicians and watching them give speeches and participate in debates?

We, the bi-polar electorate, have empowered an aristocratic class of pompous, self-righteous, lying, condescending, affluent, aloof, money-grubbing, narcissistic, insincere, unconcerned, yet powerful individuals that many of us hold in high esteem, for reasons unbeknownst to me. They play with our emotions and draw on our sympathies, the result of which is a never-ending roller coaster ride. Even sadder is the fact that many of us believe they will save us.

All the incumbents and candidates need are a few nice sounding phrases to make us think we are in high cotton. To make matters worse, Black “leaders” once again are telling us to vote, but they are not in specific discussions about who to vote for and why. Oh yeah, I forgot; the NAACP is “nonpartisan” (yeah, right) and cannot endorse or support any candidate. How convenient; and what a joke that is.

The vast majority of Black folks are already in the tank for Hillary; anyone can see that. Black organizations will feature her at their conventions, and preachers will invite her to their pulpits. On the other hand, Bernie is courting Blacks via his Black lives matter rhetoric, and Trump is saying how much Black people love him, while the other Republican candidates are reluctant to seriously lobby the Black vote—including Uncle Ben. We are merely props for a circus act.

The day after the SOTU many of our people were more interested in what Michelle Obama wore than what her husband said—or did not say. She wore a dress originally priced at $2,095, made by Narciso Rodriguez, a non-Black gay designer, and we went bonkers. Preceded by Michael Kors, Azzedine Alaïa, Jason Wu, Barbara Tfank, Rachel Roy, and Isaac Mizrahi, I must ask if there are any Black designers’ dresses good enough for the SOTU soiree?

Where does all of this political high drama leave us? Our unemployment rate is still double that of Whites, and we are not creating jobs. Our health is the poorest in the nation, especially with illnesses like diabetes, and we don’t own a dialysis center. Our education is substandard, and we are not establishing our own schools. We are disproportionately incarcerated, but we are not selling anything to the prisons. Many economic solutions are in our hands.

And here’s a political solution courtesy Rep. William “Bill” Clay (D-Mo.): “If you want equity, justice, and equality, you must…become irritants, become abrasive. 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.”

We have set politicians up as kings and queens, the price for which can be found in 1st Samuel, Chapter Eight:

“This is the way the kind of king [you want] operates. He’ll take your sons and make soldiers of them… regimented in battalions and squadrons. He’ll put some to forced labor on his farms, plowing and harvesting, and others to making either weapons of war or chariots in which he can ride in luxury. He’ll put your daughters to work as beauticians and waitresses and cooks. He’ll conscript your best fields, vineyards, and orchards and hand them over to his special friends. He’ll tax your harvests and vintage to support his extensive bureaucracy. Your prize workers and best animals he’ll take for his own use. He’ll lay a tax on your flocks and you’ll end up no better than slaves. The day will come when you will cry in desperation because of this king you so much want for yourselves. But don’t expect God to answer.” – The Message Bible

Unnerving, isn’t it?

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.com.

Blackonomics: Stop wasting your tax refund

— As we talk about what to do and not do with our dollars during the holiday season, retailers are eagerly awaiting and preparing for another way to get your money. After the “after Christmas” sales, furniture stores, electronics outlets, car dealers, and anyone else with something to sell will be licking their lips about yet another high-spending season. It is a time of the year when consumers are quite vulnerable because many of us feel like we have “extra” money to spend. That extra money is called “tax refunds.”

Other than folks who get the earned income credit, most people do not view tax refunds as their own money that has IRS has held for a year or more. Many treat it like found money, which makes it very easy for us to go out and spend it on “Tax Refund Sales.” Truth is, it’s already your money; you earned it and the IRS is just giving it back to you. Irrespective of that reality, each year consumers splurge and go on buying binges with their “windfall” refunds.

This is not an effort to tell you how to spend your refund; that’s your decision. This is an effort to inform my readers about Compro Tax, a national Black owned and operated tax preparation and financial services firm. As I have done virtually every year via this column and in the five books I have written, I continue to write about Compro Tax, especially around this time of the year because if we have to hire someone to prepare our taxes, at least let it be a Black-owned company.

According to Franchise Help.com, “The tax preparation industry is big business – 38,287 firms operated in the field last year, generating 7.7 billion in annual revenue. Because it is required, tax preparation tends to be recession resistant.”

Compro Tax, started more than thirty years ago, comprises over 200 affiliates throughout the country, was founded by Jackie Mayfield, and is domiciled in Beaumont, Texas. Mayfield and his partners, associates, and staff are dedicated not only to being the best of the best in the tax industry but being great corporate citizens in the communities in which they reside. In addition, Compro Tax offices are open and active all year long rather than just moving in for the tax season and disappearing after April 15th.

Further, prospective Compro Tax affiliates are offered across-the-board assistance with start-up and continuous training in an effort to stay up to date on all tax policies and other financial issues and benefits of which customers can take advantage.

If you hire someone to prepare your tax return, even if you do not use Compro Tax, please hire a Black owned company. It makes no sense for us to be so ensconced in demonstrations and protests around Black dollars while not making every effort to spend some of those dollars with a Black owned tax firm—and other Black companies, not just because they are Black but also because they provide excellent service.

Compro Tax is committed to improving communities and affording business opportunities to prospective entrepreneurs. As a glowing example of community involvement and “giving back,” Compro Tax built, owns, and operates a convention/event center in Beaumont, Texas to serve the needs of residents for a top-notch, first-class meeting facility.

Eighty-two million tax returns are filed by paid preparers. Don’t you think that in light of our rhetoric about supporting Black businesses we should support Compro Tax? Franchise Help.com also wrote, “The vast, vast majority of tax preparers are small – 37 percent were run by a single person, while 53 percent were operated by less than ten. There were 128,393 total employees in the field last year. There were plenty of tax returns to go around.”

Unlike other tax firms, Compro Tax does not hire folks in clown suits to wave placards in front of their offices to attract customers; Compro Tax gets its business simply by providing outstanding customer service from industry experts.

Finally, for those who believe that advocating for support of Black businesses is separatist, divisive, or unfair, as some Black folks in Detroit voiced back in 2005 when Dr. Claud Anderson attempted to develop a Black business enclave in that city, I offer one more quote from the article on FranchiseHelp.com: “One approach some tax preparation businesses take to avoid the stark seasonality of the tax preparation business is to diversify and enter other related fields.Others, like Siempre Tax+ are focused on specific markets, like the ‘Hispanic’ population.” I rest my case.

To find the Compro Tax office nearest you or if you are interested in starting your own Compro Tax office, go to their website: www.comprotax.net or call (409) 882 9893; toll free, 1-888 884 2829. And don’t spend all of your tax return in one place.

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, www.Blackonomics.com.

The NAACP is broken, members must fix it

— Having served the NAACP for ten years in several capacities, including branch president, and having donated money to its causes, I take no pleasure in writing this exposé. But it is our responsibility to clean up our own organizations. For example, President Cornell Brooks sends missives on a regular basis, asking for money of course, but also complaining about “voter suppression” by various states. Yet Brooks and Chairman of the Board, Roslyn Brock, accept voter suppression in their own ranks in various branches across the country. My grandmother would call that hypocrisy.

Accepting dysfunction within our organizations only diminishes our capacity to achieve meaningful economic progress. If all they do are 1000-mile marches, pledge allegiance to the Democrat Party, and beg for money, the perception of our organizations will continue to be that of dependence, irrelevance and impotence. We will be relegated to an afterthought— a non-threatening group of black folks who can be bought-off for a pittance.

The National NAACP has become a sham and a national disgrace to black people. President Brooks’ latest request states: “we need to raise at least $300,000 in December to continue our fight for voting rights, justice, and educational and economic opportunity for all.” In addition to that request, there are the ongoing solicitations for $30.00 memberships.

Of those $30.00 local membership fees, $18.00 goes to the national office, as well as 25 percent of funds raised by local branches from their annual Freedom Fund Banquets. Here’s the rub: The Columbus Dispatch (September 2013) pointed out, “The NAACP’s most recent filings with the IRS showed the organization ended 2013 with a $5.7 million operating deficit with $36.7 million in expenditures and $30 million in revenue.”

Yet, according to outgoing President Benjamin Jealous, the NAACP doubled its funds from $23 million in 2007 to $46 million in 2012. “In the last five years, we’ve had double-digit revenue growth, we’ve spent five years in the black,” Jealous told USA Today in September 2013. What happened to all that money?

Former President of the Columbus, Ohio branch, Noel Williams, who was also a victim of national NAACP corruption, said, “Today’s NAACP represents only the ‘entitled’ few, comprising representatives of the national board, special contributors, and connected state conference presidents. Local members suffer victimization by the National NAACP personnel who rake in millions of dollars from corporate America but very little, if any, goes to the local units. Our branches are left to scrimp, beg, borrow or use any means necessary to accomplish our work, many operating on $2,000 or less per month.”

Williams continued, “The National NAACP is abusive toward its units. The Circuit Court Judge in the West Memphis, Arkansas said it best, ‘The intervener [National NAACP] seems to regard itself as a feudal liege, the member branches, in general its fiefdom.’ The National NAACP considers itself master and the local members their servants. The animus displayed by the National NAACP towards its units, and even a court of law, is evident in the Arkansas case in which the Judge wrote, before issuing a judgement against the National NAACP of $120,000, ‘If the court had the least doubt about the utter disdain that its orders are held by the intervener [National NAACP], the testimony of its principals [National NAACP Staff] has put that doubt to rest.’”

Williams continued: “The National NAACP has an internal cancer that was benign, but now the malignancy has spread to once healthy parts of the organization. Units in Ohio, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Florida, to name a few, have all been metastasized and now find themselves in the stream of suspended memberships, manipulated elections, character defamation, and a host of other non-judicious offenses.”

Money and perks are at the root of this cancerous corruption. Roslyn Brock has a milquetoast malleable president in Cornell Brooks, who is just what the doctor ordered for an egotistical self-centered chairman only interested in individual acclaim.

In September 2005, Black Enterprise Magazine interviewed then-NAACP President, Bruce Gordon. Speaking about New Orleans, Gordon said, “Most recently there are a lot of concerns about the way African Americans are treated in the French Quarter. I would say in addition to [marching], we should take our dollars elsewhere. That, to me, is a more significant message than a protest because it has an economic impact on the offenders.”

In March of 2007, in response to Gordon quitting the NAACP, The Washington Post wrote, “In choosing Gordon, the NAACP veered from its tradition of selecting ministers, politicians and civil rights figures. Gordon’s strong management skills as a former Verizon executive factored into why he was selected to run the 500,000-member NAACP.”

Gordon would not be micromanaged. Maybe that’s why he is no longer president of the NAACP. Members, the NAACP is broken; hold on to your money, and fix it!

Blackonomics: Can I get an amen?

On December 3, 2015 the Collective Empowerment Group (CEG), formerly known as the “Collective Banking Group (CBG) of Prince George’s County and Vicinity,” will celebrate a milestone achievement: Its 20th Anniversary. The CEG was established in 1995 by twenty-one churches, in response to discrimination and mistreatment by banks, some of which had financed church buildings but refused to make loans thereafter for renovations and business development.

Instead of wringing their hands, whining, and begging the banks to change, Jonathan Weaver, Pastor of Greater Mt. Nebo A.M.E. Church, rallied a few of his fellow ministers to respond appropriately to those banks. They used their collective leverage, via the members’ of their respective congregations, to obtain reciprocity from the banks that they chose to be “in covenant” with. Banks began to “compete” for the churches’ business by coming to the leaders of the CEG to make their presentations. In other words the banks did not interview the churches; rather, the churches interviewed the banks.

Important to note are the reciprocal relationships that evolved from the initiative of the churches and their refusal to continue doing business as usual. Both sides won. The banks understood the value of being in what was called a “covenant relationship” with this newly formed dynamic group, and the churches understood the leverage they had by working collectively and cooperatively, across theological persuasions, toward business solutions for their members.

The CBG became the CEG as a result of its growth from 21 churches to nearly 150 churches comprising 175,000 members and its desire to involve itself in other business relationships. The CEG’s aim was to be more holistic in its approach to the myriad of issues affecting the daily lives of Black people. Thus, as a result of CBG leadership recognizing the possibilities of doing even more business with other retailers, i.e. furniture stores, carpet outlets, and organizations involved in health, politics, insurance, professional services, and supplies, the name was changed along with the organization’s scope of service. Not-for-profit entities were also invited to work with the CEG, again creating mutually beneficial relationships and opportunities not ordinarily available.

The CEG Strategic Partners, usually small business owners and service providers, not only gain access to the individual members of the CEG with whom they can do business; they respond by offering discounts and other special considerations to the CEG members. Having helped start a chapter of the CEG in Cincinnati, Ohio, I can personally attest to the benefits offered by CEG Strategic Partner businesses.

Innovative, practical, bold, and beneficial are just a few words that describe the CEG, its leadership, and individual members and partners. CEG churches do not continue to complain about how they are mistreated despite spending significant amounts with businesses and depositing large sums of money into banks that do not reciprocate. CEG churches take the issue into their own hands, first by understanding the power of leverage and then by being willing to address any inequities that exist in their business relationships via their collective clout.

Just imagine the economic progress we would make if hundreds and even thousands more Black churches throughout this country would form CEG chapters and replicate what has been done in the original chapter and now in other local chapters. After all, as Willie Sutton once said, “That’s where the [Black] money is.”

Although I have written several newspaper columns about the CEG, I never tire of doing so because it has done such great work in the area of economic empowerment. And because I hear so many of our brothers and sisters asking, “What are the churches doing?” I am compelled to share CEG with any and all who will listen. Many churches across the country are doing some fantastic things on an individual basis; that cannot be denied. The CEG demonstrates what can be done collectively, and it graphically illustrates that there is, indeed, power in numbers. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to write about this outstanding organization, and I will continue to sing its praises for spreading the gospel of economic empowerment.

You can celebrate with the CEG and learn more about how it began and what it is doing now by attending their 20th Anniversary Gala in Bowie, Maryland. For more information just go to www.collectiveempowermentgroup.org or call 301 699 8449.

Kudos, Congrats, and Bravos to the CEG, its visionary, Pastor Jonathan Weaver, and its current leadership, President Anthony G. Maclin and Executive Director, Dr. Diane H. Johnson. Just as important are all of those who followed their lead, locally and nationally, to establish what has now become a two decades-old successful organization. Can I get an Amen?

James 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. He is the author of Black Dollars Matter: Teach Your Dollars How to Make More Sense, which is available through his website; professionalpublishinghouse.com and Amazon Kindle eBooks.

Watch film on Black Friday, before you spend another dollar!

— When you die, what will you leave behind: bills or benefits? That’s the main question posed by the upcoming documentary film by Ric Mathis, a videographer and filmmaker in Atlanta.

The question is applicable both on a personal and collective level— one each of us should answer honestly.

Mathis has captured the essence of that question, as well as the practical solutions to the frivolous black spending phenomenon, in his upcoming film, “Black Friday: What Legacy Will You Leave?” He transposed all the Black Friday rhetoric into appropriate action not only for that day, but throughout the entire year and for the rest of our lives.

Topics of discussion in the film include: negative spending habits, introduction of financial literacy to our youth, and the absence of support for African-American owned businesses by black consumers.

Mathis says, “Black Friday is the Noah’s Ark of Economics, if you are not up on this you risk drowning in a sea of debt.” After discovering the alarming imbalance of black spending compared to economic growth within the black community, Mathis used his expertise as a videographer to educate and stimulate appropriate behavioral change with his film, “Black Friday.” He lays out the deficit-based economic model by which most of our people are living, and then presents an asset-based model for which we must strive.

As I stated on Montoya Smith’s radio show, “Mental Dialogue” (Atlanta, GA.), considering the fact that Black Friday has saturated our mental tablets to the point of becoming just another cute phrase with no substance, writing and even doing a film on the subject of Black Friday is tantamount to trying to find a new angle to sell a bag of ice.

Having written about Black Friday for a decade or so, and even though I heeded the calls for blackouts and staying home on that day, my response has always been that blackouts would not really make a difference unless we implemented a long term strategy that directed the dollars we withdraw back to ourselves and our own businesses. It’s not just about what “not” to do; it’s more about what “to” do.

Mathis deals with my contention in a positive manner by covering the short-term and the long-term repercussions of our withdrawal and recycling of black dollars in his film. It’s not just about Black Friday itself or the few days, preceding and following Black Friday. Rather, the film captures the various aspects of a successful economic empowering strategy, beginning with an introspective question each of us can answer, and then building a foundation of information regarding frivolous spending, economic literacy, saving, investing, business development and support, cooperative and collective economics; then Mathis caps it all off with practical solutions to stop the bleeding and reverse our trade deficit with other groups in this country.

The term Black Friday did not emanate from black people. After several iterations of the term as far back as 1961, it has been promoted as a positive reality of businesses reaping huge profits not only from black consumers but from all consumers. Although quite apropos when it comes to the black consumer, vis-à-vis our penchant for spending our money on everything anyone else makes, the term “Black Friday” does not have to be our reality, which is the basic message from the film. We deserve what we accept, and we must stop accepting the self-deprecating images and self-defeating characterizations attributed to black people as it pertains to our economic interests. Our economic imperative must be rooted in the reality of our relative economic position in this country.

Many of the stories we read in mainstream and social media are centered on black athletes and entertainers who spend tremendous sums of money on material things and/or waste it in clubs on liquor and strippers. We read about robberies and murders by young people who want a certain pair of shoes or a jacket— and the latest craze: young girls are stealing hair!

Except for Black Enterprise Magazine and a few other black-owned print media entities, not counting black newspapers, the stories about black entrepreneurs and others who are doing great things in the economic arena are buried, if they are in print at all. So who bears the responsibility of changing that reality? A long time ago I wrote, “The answer to media bias is ‘media by us.’”

Ric Mathis has answered that call of responsibility, and I dare say obligation, to produce a video that will not only enlighten us but also move us to action— move us to take responsibility for the financial resources with which we have been blessed.

As we reflect on our answers to Black Friday’s questions, let us also ponder our economic condition and then commit to making appropriate changes toward true economic empowerment for black people. For more information about the film, visit: www.TheFilmBlackFriday.com.

James 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: www.blackoncom.