Only weeks remain until Republican president-elect Donald Trump, a new political figure who is highly unfavorable among Black Americans, enters office.
Despite the disappointment expressed by a large percentage of America with Trump’s upcoming presidency, numerous Black Americans in particular have acknowledged that they will have to cope with that supposed ‘harsh reality’ for the next four years.
Noted black scholars, such as Boyce Watkins, Umar Johnson and James Clingman, even dating back to Malcolm X, esteem economic empowerment as among the most important issues facing the Black-American community. Financial stability and collective economic success, they argue, is vital for the future, prosperity and upward social mobility of Black America.
A number of recent studies and statistics reveal the deplorable economic state of Black America: according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income for Black households was $35,398 (in 2014), lower than any other demographic in the nation.
Though the Black community in the United States has a collective buying power of an estimated $1.2 trillion, according to the Nielsen Co., but the lifespan of the ‘Black dollar’ is about six hours in contrast to an estimated 28 days in the Asian community and 17 days in the White community. Clingman, a syndicated columnist for the NNPA (National Newspaper Publishers of America), is regarded as the nation’s most prolific writer on Black economic empowerment.
Clingman has authored several books on Black economic advancement, including “Blackonomic$: The Way To Psychological and Economic Freedom For African Americans,” “Black Dollar$ Matter: Teach Your Dollars How To Make More Sense,” “Black-o-Knowledge: Stuff We Need to Know” and “Black Empowerment with an Attitude!: You Got a Problem with That?” He is also the creator of blackonomics.com, a website designed to educate Black Americans on the importance of economic empowerment for the Black-American populace.
The Cincinnati-based activist, speaker, educator opined on what he thought to be the solution to ameliorating the economic state of Black folks in the U.S. in a February 2016 column published in the Pittsburgh Courier. “We sign online petitions in support of some cause or another; we send letters to our representatives in DC; 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,” Clingman wrote.
“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. “Lewis “Buck” Green, a Winston-Salem, N.C.-based businessman, is another influential figure in his community who is quite outspoken on a range of social issues, particularly black economic empowerment.
“When you talk about economic empowerment in the context of race and racism, you need to look at the fact that – just in this country – Black people are outnumbered by White people by nine to one,” Green said.
“With white people being the dominant race in this country, they’re going to be empowered economically. We can’t expect that we [Black Americans] are gonna do the exact same thing as white people,” he continued, but said there is a solution to the Black community’s collective economic predicament.
As it pertains to what needs to happen for the Black community to move forward economically, Green highlighted the need for Black Americans to primarily patronize and invest in Black-owned businesses as he said, “We have to make sure we uplift one another… economically. There are black businesses out here. There are Black people who [offer a wide range of services]. Instead of pounding those places… we need to figure out a way to uplift those places.”
Green is the co-founder of Black Dollars, a website and mobile app that lists and promotes an assortment of black-owned businesses for Black-Americans to patronize. Black Dollars expediently serves the black community by providing exposure for Black businesses, which may otherwise get little to no publicity through advertisements and other mainstream media outlets. The company is still in its beginning stages, as it has been “up and running” for only about eight months, Green said. He also noted that Black Dollars has created advertising avenues for more than 1,000 businesses.
According to Green, Black Dollars, an operation he coordinates in conjunction with Winston-Salem, N.C. businessman Victor Davidson II, mainly advertises Black-owned establishments in North Carolina, but has expanded to listing businesses from around the nation and even the globe.
Green added that the Black community needs a high-profile political figure, preferably White, to advocate for their economic betterment and work diligently on their behalf through the process of “quid pro quo” (Latin phrase which means to give something in exchange for a service).
“Another thing that we really need to do is — and we missed the boat on this one recently — we need a politician. We need a politician who’s going to go out there and that’s going to do things that we need done, and we missed the boat because Bernie Sanders was that guy for the Black community.”
Contrary to what many may believe, Green said Black Americans’ involvement in the political arena is imperative for upward social mobility and economic advancement.
Moreover, Green, in accordance with one of the missions of Black Dollars, expressed the importance of financial literacy and accruing wealth for future generations. “Economic empowerment as far as it goes with black people – it really means generational wealth… We have to create generational wealth for our families,” he said.“All of my people – we need to make sure that the next generation has a much safer place to live.”
Demetrius Dillard is a recent graduate of Winston-Salem State University and a North Carolina-based freelance writer.