Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Buying While Black
This looks to be an interesting project. The Ebony Experiment is the effort of one Black family to invest their discretionary income in Black-owned and operated businesses. They will document the results on their web site. With Black spending power estimated to be more than $950B annually but the net worth averaging $12K - yes $12K - compared to white families' net worth of $110K we have a serious problem!
The high unemployment rate that goes unreported because only new filings are counted. The number of people in and out of prison. The entire bling bling culture when we now know those rap artists are renting the goods they flash in their videos. This can't all be about white privilege, racism or oppression. Don't we have control over how we spend our money and where we decide to put it? Well, we don't act like it!
I think the great failure of Civil Rights was the focus on integration without reciprocity as if being around more white people (and others) was supposed to automatically make everything fair and balanced. Not to mention the failure to acknowledge the work of the Black women that resulted in it's success. There were hundreds of Rosa Parks! As soon as mass amounts of Black people could leave for white neighborhoods and buy freely from white companies they did, taking the infrastructure created by segregation with them.
There is the sense of want that I think has killed the Black community. I think I should also specify that I'm referring to the working class not the wealthy elites who always find a way to do well no matter who's in office as most wealthy people tend to. Some want the quick fix, some want to justify the argument of the perpetual boogeyman that is the sole cause for all that ails the community.
There is almost no examination of our individual choices, personal responsibility or thinking of the future. That needs to change. Although I'd love for our first Black President to outperform Superman I think a more realistic outlook would be to hope he does more than the last Democratic President. If you actually review the records and stats you will see the bar is actually not set so high, it's just better than when a Republican is typically in office. Though oddly enough Richard Nixon saw to it that Black-owned radio stations flourished during his term.
Here's an extended excerpt from a discussion on poverty, government, religion and personal choices at The Roundtable on Religion & Social Welfare Policy:
The federal government has held trainings and offers some capacity-building grants to let smaller churches increase their ability to do government contracting. Do you feel that it's getting down to the level that it needs to get to?
Rev. Dr. Sampson:
It's the government's philosophy locked into the faith-based philosophy: "the poor you shall have with you always." There's no plan. Where is the plan for young people to have serious summer jobs, to produce what? Where is the plan for seniors who have ... got this time, energy and creativity? Where do they go for the quilting company that they could put together? The government doesn't see poor people as new markets.
Do you think that the faith-based community sees them that way?
Rev. Dr. Sampson:
No. they don't have a plan. There's been no economic conference with the mortgage bankers. It wasn't until we had Richard Nixon - he said, for the first time, "Black Capitalism." That was the time more blacks, more construction companies, more on-the-job training programs, more mortgage companies were created and more homes were built, more senior citizens developments. More went on under the Nixon Administration, for Black Capitalism, than at any moment before or (since).
Because it's easy to keep the poor with you always, rather than develop economic initiatives.
We all were poor once and we became middle class. We did it because we were responsible for something, to something. Those initiatives are drying up, because there is no plan.
What do you think needs to happen? And who needs to do it?
Rev. Dr. Sampson:
My argument about "Crucifixion Christianity" and "Resurrection Reality" is saying that as long as we stay with Ezekiel 37 -- scattered bones means scattered economy -- and we don't see that people have the capacity to rise from the holes that the government, with the church, puts them in, if that happens, we're still going to have the plight of the poor.
I want people to go back into the resurrection story, because the fact of the matter is that the power of being able to rise up and produce under the conditions is what makes humanity, humanity. How did our people in the African American community produce a George Washington Carver -- slave, orphan, he discovered 300 goodies out of a sweet potato and a peanut. How could that happen?
I'll tell an interesting story about Popeye -- he was my guy as a kid. I always encouraged him when he was getting beat up to get the spinach. I was young, I didn't know that television characters didn't talk back. "Eat the spinach, Popeye." My momma said, "I want you to eat spinach, come eat your spinach, so you can be as strong as Popeye."
But the interesting thing is, I never saw Popeye give Olive Oil spinach. Somebody didn't want her to be strong.
In our community we have restaurants now, franchises -- a Popeye's franchise, chicken and biscuits -- but no spinach. Somebody does not want us to be strong. When you go and work with the farmers who work with spinach, it's to make people strong. So you have to have what I call this "Resurrected Reality" -- that people can get resources and be strong -- over allowing a system to crucify them with the sign on the cross -- "the poor you shall have with you always."
My question is, who do you think has to do it? Is it the people, the churches?
Rev. Dr. Sampson:
According to the story, it ultimately rests in the hands of the people who do not have a poverty of spirit. And you might find some governmental leaders that don't have a poverty of spirit.
Your question is a "rich young ruler" question. You're familiar, I assume, with the story of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and said, "I would like to have an eternal policy on being rich, young and a ruler." And Jesus said, "Well, let me do an assessment of your capacity to handle that. What have you done?" "Well, I've been with Moses and I've kept all the commandments." Jesus said, "But Moses is dead now, I'm alive ... what I'd like you to do is develop your assets that you have for the poor." And the scripture said that he went away sorrowful, because his emotions were tied to his assets. And then he became a liability because he did not want to put up the risk.
In the New Testament gospels, you get three things lost in the stories that Jesus tells: One is the woman that loses the coin, which is our assets. The other is the loss of the sheep, which is our economy. And the other is the loss of our humanity - the prodigal son. Now the problem is the story (of) the prodigal son. The prodigal son says, "I've been having some midnight conversations with my elder brother. I'd like to get my inheritance now that you're alive, Daddy." He goes out and flings his resources from his father. He's down with the pigs. The father every day kept looking out the window for his son. Ultimately he finds the son and he says to the son, "Great, we now can fix you a thanksgiving dinner. You get a robe, you get a fatted calf." The eldest son comes to the daddy and says, "You know you never gave me a thanksgiving dinner; I've been with you all the time. Why didn't I get equal opportunity?" The father says, "Because you never went to look for your brother."
You never went to look for your brother. So you have nothing coming. And the problem is, if we don't go look for our brothers and our sisters, we have nothing coming.
So we have to find people who are willing to be in the Father's house, taking the resources from this great earth, and go find our brothers and our sisters and bring them to thanksgiving dinner.