By James Clingman
Because the Negro does not own and control retail establishments in his own community, he is unable to stabilize his community…The Negro must pool his capital in order to help himself….This will enable him to solve his own problems.
– S.B. Fuller
Has the thought ever occurred to you that despite having the highest unemployment rate in this country, our job creation rate is perched at the other end of that spectrum? That’s right, Blacks are some of the best job creators in this nation. We have created jobs in the clothing industry, the entertainment industry, the communications industry, the food industry, the liquor industry, the music industry and, oh yes, the prison industry. There are many other areas I could name but I am sure you get what I’m driving at by now.
Amos Wilson, in his book, Afrikan-Centered Consciousness Versus the New World Order, posits: “How different our education would be if we sent our children to school to create jobs for themselves, to create their own economic and political systems, to see themselves as the major source of their own employment.” He continued, “…I heard about some people protesting for jobs and pushing other people for jobs. I asked the question: Do we know how many jobs we really create for other people?”
No, Brother Wilson, I don’t think we do. Paradoxically, and much to my chagrin, Black folks, the very ones who need jobs the most are too busy “ma-chin’” and begging someone else for jobs rather than using the same money we spend to create jobs for others to create jobs for ourselves. In other words, we, the unemployed, are virtually employing others via our silly response tactics and our ridiculous spending habits.
We live our lives vicariously by buying a $500 bottle of vodka because we want to run in Diddy’s circle of friends. We hoist a bottle of outrageously expensive cognac up in “da club” trying to be Jay-Z, a guy who could buy and sell most of us in a heartbeat. These celebrities and others hawk the wares of folks who make a very good living from the $1.1 trillion Black people earn each year. We provide the profit margins for several industries, thereby, keeping many people employed.
The other point is that high profile Blacks, mainly entertainers and athletes, earn a large portion of their money by being entrepreneurs. They sell stuff, some of which creates jobs for others, but all of which allows them to fly on private jets and drink high-priced liquor. We cannot do that, and all the fake, pretentious, wannabe, spending in the world will not make that possible; what it does is continue the cycle of the unemployed creating jobs and keeping others employed.
Economic freedom, not “economic equality” must be our goal. Equality requires measurement; it requires the party seeking equality, by default, to elevate someone else and seek his standard and his approval. It also requires an effort to be accepted by the party to which one aspires. It makes little sense to get into that game because every time we reach that standard it can—and will be changed to an even higher standard.
Economic freedom is the clarion call in years past and now. Many have propagated that message and we have yet to heed it in a collective manner since we lost our minds over politics in 1965. Economic freedom means setting our own standards, and not having to meet those set by others. Economic freedom means the ability and willingness, and dare I say eagerness, to create jobs for our children.
Economic freedom means that we have multiple streams of income that can, of course, empower us individually and then empower us collectively. Economic freedom means producing, manufacturing, and distributing; it means owning natural resources to whatever extent possible and vertically integrating our businesses.
Economic freedom, as Claud Anderson advocates, means aggregating our dollars and utilizing them to our own advantage rather than some else’s. Economic freedom means what Pastor Jonathan Weaver and the Collective Empowerment Group are doing: leveraging the large number of church members and their spending capacity, and obtaining reciprocity from the marketplace. Economic freedom means, as S.B. Fuller and Malcolm X said, “Control.”
Currently, Black folks for the most part are out of control and/or under control. We cannot be economically free under those circumstances.
“No people can be free who themselves do not constitute an essential part of the ruling element of the country in which they live. The liberty of no man is secure who controls not his own destiny. For people to be free they must necessarily be their own rulers.”
– Martin Delaney – “The Political destiny of the Colored race on the American continent”
Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.