By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on September 30, 2022
In the era of MAGA Trumpism, many blacks in America are starting to realize that we must empower ourselves in order to find and enjoy our rightful place in American society. It has become painfully clear that no political figure or governmental body will do this for us.
Affirmative action programs have been extinguished. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 has been gutted. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been effectively repealed. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 has atrophied from non-enforcement. The federal court system, from top to bottom, is totally insensitive to the protection of our constitutional and statutory rights.
Many of our major cities are bankrupt. Crime is out-of-control in too many of our urban cities. The official policy in Washington, when it comes to dealing with us, is “benign” neglect.
Our civil rights leaders are worn and irrelevant. Our political leaders at all levels of government have been neutered and are often nothing more than pack mules for special interest groups.
Our religious leaders are busy building personality-based ministries. Our schools and communities are in survival mode. Our role models are athletes, rappers, and entertainers.
Our teenagers are being slain in record numbers, all too often by other black teenagers.
We are living for today, and not tomorrow.
And, we hold our breath every Friday hoping that we won’t get fired from our jobs at companies that we do not own.
This is the state of black America on Friday, September 30, 2022. It is sad, but true.
Not much has changed in our favor since I published my first grim assessment on the state of black America on July 21, 2013. In fact, we appear to be worst off with the rise of neo-racism masquerading as extreme MAGA Trumpism.
We are desperately looking for somebody to do something to help us come out of this miserable state of being. Nobody will. No cavalry is coming save us.
We Must Save Ourselves
We have reached a place where we must act to save ourselves.
How will we do it? We must empower ourselves on a personal, familial and communal level. We have the ability to do this; we just don’t realize it, and we rarely use it.
Empowerment takes focus, determination, discipline and hard work. We cannot sprint to a state of empowerment; it is a long marathon run to this destination. This may not be a particularly hard feat (given our current state of being), but it is certainly a different way of thinking for us.
Where do we start? We start with the realization that money is power. The more money we amass and control, the more power and influence we wield.
Can we realistically amass significant amounts of money and wealth in our current state of being? Yes, we are one of the largest and most loyal consumer groups in America. Too often, however, our loyalty is to the wrong people, companies, and things.
Can we amass enough money and wealth to make a difference in our lifetime? Yes, we have a long and distinguished track-record of spending money in larger amounts during a much shorter period of time than other Americans.
How is this empowerment possible when we seem to be barely getting by each month? We must start by living below our means. Too often, we get caught up on spending money on non-income producing things like a house that’s too large, over-the-top furniture, a luxury car or two, designer clothes, high-end watches, expensive purses, etc., all just to dazzle and impress others. These things cost a lot of money, but they rarely produce any significant wealth.
An extravagant lifestyle may feel good, but this spending habit is not an empowerment tool. After we finish this spending spree, we have no cash left.
Next, we must give our children a head start in life. Rather than wasting our hard-earned money on must-have gadgets, shoes and clothes, we should give our children and grandchildren a savings account and fund it regularly with the “throw away” money we can save from reigned-in frivolous spending. Gadgets, shoes and clothes come and go, but money will always be fashionable and hip.
We also need to focus our kids on owning businesses, as opposed to becoming a permanent class of job seekers. We must break the generational cycle of shying away from the opportunities, responsibilities, and difficulties of business ownership. We have to think about creating jobs, not simply applying for them.
Additionally, we must expand the definition of success beyond our focus on professional athletes, rappers, and entertainers. Less than 6,000 of the more than 46.9 million blacks in America will find financial success as professional athletes, rappers, and entertainers. Even then, very few of these individuals possess the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities to properly assess and independently control, protect, leverage, and grow their money and other tangible assets.
We must create our own wealth to be respected and treated fairly. People of color around the world are doing it. We can do it too.
Now is the time for us to start controlling our economic destiny. We have to move from a population of unappreciated consumers to an army of valued business producers. Then, and only then, can we train and hire a workforce that mirrors us, provide major vendor opportunities for others in our business alliance networks, contribute to and reinvest in the growth and stability of our neighborhoods, and get the attention of others who hold power in this nation.
The money we put in our children’s and grandchildren’s savings accounts will eventually become their "working capital." It will launch their businesses and give them a meaningful chance in the new empowerment paradigm.
So, the next time you are tempted to buy another pair of red-bottom shoes or a Gucci purse, stop yourself and place that money in your child’s savings account. As for the money you would spend while pontificating about Donald Trump or MAGA Republicans while sitting on a bar stool during happy hour—put that money in their savings accounts too.
Many of us may also want to rethink all of the money we are spending on private school education (grades 1-12) for our kids and grandchildren. Will this tuition money be more useful to our children in an interest-bearing savings account reserved for a future business venture (after college) than it will be for them to rub shoulders with a bunch of rich kids from the suburbs? Which financial choice will give our children the best footings in life? Self-employment and the high self-esteem that comes from business ownership, or a daytime association with suburbanites kids who, like their parents, see nothing wrong with the Donald Trump or the January 6, 2021 Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol?
Finally, we must stop denigrating each other. Our conversations should be about great ideas and pathways to commercializing them, as opposed to finding new and creative ways to demean and disrespect fellow blacks who are striving towards economic independence. What is more, we must stop fighting each other and start focusing on neutralizing the forces that oppose our economic growth.
Empowerment will begin when we invest in ourselves and in each other. Every ethnic group in America has found empowerment and success this way. We must follow suit and harness our power.
The 16 Rules for Success that accompany this article will work for us, as it has for tens of millions of Americans. Study them carefully, and adhere to them religiously.
Once we start producing money, wealth, and financial independence for ourselves, America will pay attention to us. We will treat each other with dignity and respect, and we will be treated with dignity and respect.
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