Part One of Two Parts
Our problem is not that we do not have enough religion, churches, and political leaders. We have more than enough. Our problem is that we have left our first love—God, and we are neither cold nor hot. Our other main problem is that we have not pursued economics in the way we should have. We are suffering from economic anemia, economic hemorrhage, and economic paralysis. We display a failure to do for self and failure to support Black-owned businesses. We still suffer from the White man's ice is colder than the Black man's ice. Here is what others who came before us have said about economics and self-determination:
Booker T. Washington said to us, "Now is the time, not in some far-off future, but now is the time for us as a race to prove to the world that we have the ability and the inclination to do our part in owning, developing, manufacturing, and trading in the natural resources of our country. And if we let these golden opportunities slip from us in this generation, I fear they will never come to us in like degree again. Let us act ... before it's too late, before others come from foreign lands and rob us of our birthright."
Let's see what Mr. Booker T. Washington had to say about politics, shall we? "We did not seek to give the people the idea that political rights were not valuable or necessary, but rather to impress upon them that economic efficiency was the foundation for every success."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said these almost exact same words: "The emergency we now face is economic." We must believe that it is our birthright to partake of the riches of the world, and this is the faith that we must hold to. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also said, "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the staircase."
Let the words of Malcolm X ring out in your mind: "By any means necessary." Let's not retreat. Our forefathers did not retreat, which got us as far as we did. We must not be afraid; we must not fear. Harriet Tubman once said, "I can't die but once." We are in a war, and in every war there will be casualties.
Sister Rosa Parks said, "I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear, knowing what must be done does away with fear."
Frederick Douglass had the following to say: "Without a struggle, there can be no progress." So stop talking about you being tired of fighting the system and asking why we have to fight so hard to get what's due us. Don't get tired; ask God for more strength to fight. Frederick Douglass also stated, "If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and deprecated agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning."
W.E.B. DuBois had the following to say: "To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardship."
Can we be saved on this side of the river?
The biblical characters Sampson and Hezekiah pleaded with God for another chance, and God granted them their requests. He can do the same for us if we come together in prayer, works, and faith. God is the same today as He was yesterday. II Chronicles 7:14 tells us, "If my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
Here is what we must do: We must reflect back on what Mama Dem did. What the new generation did was this: Since they could not embrace everything about their parents/grandparents, they threw the baby out with the bathwater and started anew. They tried to bake a new cake leaving out all of Grandma's ingredients. When they got to the fork in the road, they did not want to travel the roads that Grandma had traveled. They took a new path—and here we are tore up from the floor up, in a ship without a sail, in a boat without a paddle, in the dark without a light.
We must move from being consumers to being producers. We must endure being inconvenient via going out of our way to do business with Black folks or with folks who hire Black folks. As Dr. Claud Anderson has said, "The drain of wealth and disposable income from the Black neighborhood will destabilize the neighborhood."
We must restore family and cultural values. We must take control of our children and community. We must reach out to our young folk, teach and show them the proper way to live in America where all odds are stacked against them, and let them know that if God is for them, He's more than all the world against them. We must immunize, vaccinate, and inoculate our people with the words of truth about their history. They are not just descendants of slaves but indeed, ascendants of kings and queens. We must give them their booster shot along the way to protect them from vicious racism and from the media's attack of demonization that has depicted them as being less than human.
When our children are told that Blacks do not have the ability to do math, tell them about Dr. Charles Drew who invented blood plasma; Granville T. Woods, an engineer who patented the telephone transmitter as well as over 150 electrical and mechanical inventions; and Lewis Howard Latimer who was a pioneer in the development of the electrical lightbulb, just to name a few. You cannot do those things if you have not mastered the skills of mathematics. Tell them to google Black inventions and Black patents or read Francella Henderson's book, Hidden Secrets About Black History.
If they tell you that Blacks don't know how to run successful businesses, tell them about Little Black Wall Street which was likened unto a mini Beverly Hills where Blacks had created a successful infrastructure and dollars circulated 36–100 times and sometimes took a year to leave the community. This town was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and it was destroyed by White mobs in 1921, leaving 3,000 African Americans dead and over 600 successful Black businesses destroyed. Tell them that this Black enclave community without SBA loans had 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores, 2 movies theaters, a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices, six private airplanes, and a bus system. Keep giving them booster shots against miseducation and misinformation and inoculate them with the truth.
Last but not least, we must teach our children about God and get them involved in a holistic church, a church that ministers to the whole person's needs, not just his/her spiritual needs. We must pray with our children and teach them how to pray. We must pray before going to bed and pray with them daily before sending them out in the world. Ask God's blessings and protection for them. We must teach them a heart of gratitude. Teach them to bless their food before eating and to thank people when they do things for them; to say please when asking for something from others.
Even though we are far off course economically, we can fix the situation by accepting full responsibility for rearing our children. We must postpone immediate gratification and make child rearing a priority and make decisions for our children based on the future and not the present. We must forego purchasing new automobiles. Buy a used car and fix it up. It will run, and you'll have less car insurance payments. If your car is not paid for, as soon as you pay it off, put the amount you were paying into a savings account. Save that money instead of spending it. Don't buy any more clothes until the ones that you have are worn out or are no longer usable. Have your purses and shoes repaired versus buying new ones. It's cheaper, and you'll save money. Shop in thrift stores. Read the book by Helen Pearson, Thrift Store Diva: Spending Pennies and Looking like a Million Dollars.
Teach your young child about finances. Open a savings account for your child when he/she reaches the age of 13; teach them how to manage money. Make a family budget and have family participation. Save 10 percent of your earnings, buy life insurance for yourself and your children, prepay your burial plot or crypt or cremation if that's your choice. Start a savings account for a college education for your children or work with them to keep their grades up so they can get a scholarship.
Make plans financially for your retirement. Social Security is a supplement, and that's all it is. It will not be enough to sustain you in your latter years, and in most cases, your children will not be able to help you. Have family prayer time and hold a family meeting weekly. Prepare a Living Trust if you have real estate so that your property that you worked so hard for does not go into probate. Attorney fees and probates eat up what should be left for your loved ones. You decide who gets what's in your estate so that the family does not have to fall out with each other because if there was ever a time that we need each other it is now, so prevent future division by proper planning now. Get rid of your credit cards accept for one and do not use it unless it's totally necessary.
We can turn this situation around if we take heed. Elders, you need to step up to the plate. You have an obligation to offer wisdom and to teach your loved ones. And the adults and children need to listen to their elders. The older generation has been where you are trying to go. They may not know how to use a computer or surf the Internet, but they know enough to help you to be better and to live better if you listen. As elders, we learn from you and you can learn from us, so let's go for a marriage. Our forefathers shed a great deal of blood and fought too hard to be delivered from the hands of slavery and because for that reason, we should fight to not return to slavery conditions—economic slavery. At this time, we are close to returning if we are not mindful of how we treat God and our finances.
Much love from an elder.