Note: Thank you to Mr. Jim Clingman from Blackonomics.com for allowing me to repost his article here! It was well-written and addressed to the black community in America, and everyone can relate to the powerful distractions that clamor to devour our time and our minds. Check out his website if you want more where that came from!
Considering the fact that Black people are so entrenched in the distractions of this world, I think it’s appropriate that I beg your pardon, Black America, in order to get a few important points across. Although for 16 years now I have sounded the economic alarm via this newspaper column, four books, and numerous speaking engagements, it is shameful that we have failed to act upon the messages of our ancestors and contemporaries. There is still a need to “capture” our attention when it comes to economic empowerment. Seems we have to be tricked, embarrassed, and beat-up before we start running for true freedom. So can you spare a few moments to read this missive, Black America? I beg your pardon for the interruption.
Pardon the interruption of your sports conversations, brothers and sisters, but you are in big trouble. The players, coaches, and team owners have their millions and are very secure; your team is not even in the game.
Pardon the interruption to your anger or euphoria, and your inconsequential rhetoric on Libya; Black folks in this country are unemployed in some areas as high as 50%. You are still being discriminated against when it comes to access to business, contracts, capital, and justice.
Pardon the interruption of your obsession with Will and Jada splitting up, Kanye and Jay Z’s new album, and Tiger’s golf game, multi-millionaires every one of them. You are trying to pay your rent, hold on to your homes, and feed your families.
Pardon the interruption to your wondering who will win the dancing and singing contests on television. You are doing the unemployment line-dance (“Now walk it out, y’all”) and singing “Stormy Monday” Blues in response to your current economic condition.
Pardon the interruption to your unceasing and loyal dedication to making everyone else in this country wealthy by buying their stuff and boycotting your own. Even with nearly $1 trillion in annual aggregate income, the wealth of Black people is 20 times less than that of whites.
Pardon the interruption to your fascination with other folks’ hair. Paying hundreds of dollars for someone else’s hair, as if God didn’t know what He was doing when He gave you yours, is only exceeded on the ridiculous scale by the dollars it takes for you to “get it done.”
Pardon the interruption to your penchant to have the best of everything, even at the highest prices. You are so silly to brag about how much you pay for things, while others brag about how little they pay for the same items. You love to go to bars and order whatever Champagne or Vodka some rapper might be drinking – even at hundreds of dollars per bottle. Only top-shelf for Black folks, despite the fact that you don’t make or distribute most of the products you purchase. Veblen’s “Conspicuous Consumption” concept ain’t got nothin’ on you.
Pardon the interruption to your shooting and robbing one another. It’s not enough for you to be under assault by outsiders, you feel compelled to take out your frustrations on yourselves rather than work together for your own benefit. Young people running rampant, wielding guns and having no trepidation at firing them at one another, at the police, or anyone they come across, speaks volumes about the overall condition of your families, your leadership, and your collective internal integrity.
Pardon the interruption of your meaningless conversations about Republicans and Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives, MSNBC and Fox News, and your preference of one talking-head over the other. They have their six and seven-figure salaries and can “talk” about your problems all day long. What do you have, and where will all the talk get you?
Pardon this interruption to your complacency, your apathy, your fear, your doubt, your perceived helplessness, hopelessness, and powerlessness. Pardon this interruption to your stream of consciousness, your psyche, and your apparent overwhelming desire to shut out reality. Pardon this interruption to your indifference and unresponsiveness to the life and death issues you face. Pardon this interruption to your proclivity toward the temporal, trivial, and the trifling things of this world. Pardon this interruption of your inclination to allow the silly and symbolic to take precedence over the serious and substantive. Pardon this interruption of your desire to continue majoring in the minors and getting caught-up in practices that matter little in the larger scheme of things.
Yes, pardon the interruption, Black America, but I just had to shake you once again; I just had to try to awaken you once again. I love you too much to let you stay in your comatose state, a state of inactivity and numbness. I care too much about our children’s future to sit back and not speak out about our condition and not get involved in initiatives to improve our situation. I respect our elders and ancestors too much to ignore their sacrifices for our economic freedom, some having died “on their way to freedom.” Are you on your way?
So, once again, for the umpteenth time, pardon my interruption of whatever you are hiding from or running from or afraid of. I hope you will forgive my intrusion into your fantasy world. But most of all, I hope you will move beyond the mundane and heed this call for appropriate action to economically empower yourself and our people.
-James Clingman, author of Blackonomics: The Way to Psychological and Economic Freedom for African Americans