Black folks in America have been so successfully programmed that many of us are still psychologically enslaved to the point that we truly believe we have “made it” when we have reached a certain financial plateau, or when we have attained a certain position or title.
Far too many of us, as a consequence of our psychological enslavement, have turned our backs on our own people, especially many affluent Blacks like OJ who have gained the status of being “accepted” by White society.
Our new “Talented Tenth” has turned out not unlike its predecessor of 1903, which W.E.B. DuBois lived to regret, as he stated in his speech to The Boule in 1948. Forty-five years of watching the selfishness of his brothers and sisters was enough for DuBois to admit that he had made a mistake.
“I assumed that with knowledge, sacrifice would automatically follow. In my youth and idealism, I did not realize that selfishness is even more natural than sacrifice. There were especially sharp young persons [at Fisk University] with the distinct and single-minded idea of seeing what they could get out of it for themselves, and nobody else,” DuBois lamented.
DuBois left this country, a sad and disheartened man, never wanting to return again, and we have seen his words and his assessment of our people magnified.
Black people have an annual income of over $1 trillion, much of which is wasted every day on anything and everything other people make and sell. We buy it all, but we are dead last in every other economic category. We also have the worst housing, the highest unemployment, the poorest healthcare, the highest infant mortality, the poorest education, and our life expectancy is not even long enough to collect our hard-earned Social Security payments.
Burying our talents
We are not using our tremendous resources – or talents – to do good and to do well. We are not using our talents to help the least of our brethren. We are not multiplying our resources; instead we are virtually burying them in the ground by succumbing to every advertisement and marketing campaign laid before us by Corporate America. We have taken on the title of Conspicuous Consumption Champions of the World.
Second, we have placed too much emphasis on creature comforts and have allowed ourselves to be defined by what we do on someone else’s job, rather than what we can do to create our own jobs.
We have devalued business ownership and business education, and we have lost sight of self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and collective economic empowerment.
We have been lulled into the trap of thinking “the man” will take care of us or the government will take care of us, or our local politicians will take care of us. That is so far from the truth it is not even funny. Besides, anyone or anything that has the power to give you all you need, also has the power to take away everything you have.
With $1 trillion, coupled with trillions in intellectual capital, Black people in this country can do anything we set our minds to. I think we have gotten very lazy and complacent, because it makes absolutely no sense for us to be in the situation we find ourselves today. It simply means we have not been taking care of our business, while everyone else has.
Time to go back
We must get back to the way it was before integration and before Black people in this country were “dis-integrated.” For nearly the last 50 years we have mimicked the children of Israel, wandering in this desert called America, whining, murmuring, and complaining about our situation since we left Egypt in 1964 when Pharaoh (President Lyndon Johnson) signed the Civil Rights Act. Some of us even want to return to Egypt. We must use our $1 trillion to “possess the land.”
What we have been given was not given to us just for us, just for our families, and just for our friends. It was given to us to help others – even strangers.
Rich athletes and entertainers, many of who are already doing some fantastic things with their wealth, must look deep inside themselves and consider their own mortality. Then they should each make a relatively small effort to help someone, maybe by pooling some of their dollars to start a business that will create employment or housing opportunities.
Let me dream
If I am dreaming, just let me sleep, because the world I see in my dream is a beautiful world.
It’s a world where our children are educated properly, where our elderly are taken care of properly, where our youth are taught respect and responsibility, where our adults are not afraid to administer discipline with love.
It’s a world where our people are taking care of our resources, providing for ourselves, and making the necessary sacrifices to build a sure and certain foundation for the next generation.
W.E.B. DuBois would be proud.
James E. 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, and Amazon Kindle eBooks.