What we can do for ourselves in 2014By Charlene Muhammad -National Correspondent- | Last updated: Jan 14, 2014 - 12:22:22 AM
(FinalCall.com) - Projections for Black America in 2014 aren’t gloomy for those who refuse to put all hope for survival in America’s hands.
While many look to the failing U.S. economy and weak politicians for jobs and programs, others say an unlimited future awaits those willing to pool their resources and talents for their own benefit.
There’s a consistency to the drumbeat of Do For Self ideas organizations and activists are putting forth, according to Dr. Ron Daniels, president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century. The institute is committed to uplifting Blacks socially, politically, economically, and culturally worldwide.
“Number one, I think more than anything else, we need to continue a spirit of resistance. What we have in our hands is the capacity, but it takes a mindset that is steeped in resistance,” said Dr. Daniels.
“The murder of Trayvon Martin has largely gone unpunished by the system. But we could force the system to respond if we had more of a sustained spirit of resistance.”
“We have to organize our own resources to use them as a weapon, but for our own internal development, meaning the ability to build our own shops and stores and businesses, but also to punish our adversaries, for those who are not responding,” Dr. Daniels continued.
Blacks can use “Black Friday” spending to support Black businesses, an idea consistent with the message of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, he said.
The challenge and key is to push Blacks to be self-supportive and define Black values and what Blacks stand for, Dr. Daniels added.
“We need standards. You may agree with the Nation of Islam on some things; you may disagree. But one of the things that is so important is the Nation of Islam has standards and values of conduct, of behavior, how you should treat each other, how you should behave, How to Eat to Live,” Dr. Daniels observed.
A race not to the swift
The quest for Black survival is a marathon, not a sprint, said Dr. Boyce Watkins, writer, organizer and academic. It also isn’t a battle that will be won in our lifetime, he said.
“If you don’t have enough vision, passion and faith to be willing to fight for your grandchildren’s children, then this battle is not for you,” he said. Dr. Watkins feels it’s a mistake to believe all problems facing Blacks in 2014 will be solved. However, progress can be made, he said.
For starters Blacks need to think about reshaping reality by reshaping activities and habits, which can be done immediately, Dr. Watkins said. For instance, make education a priority, not necessarily where, but what and how children learn in 2014, he said.
When it comes to wealth building, the solution is to save and invest money and support Black businesses. “And not just be nice about it. I think we need to start being mean about protecting our community,” he said. Changing thought and action was the theme of “Wealth, Education, Family & Community: A New Paradigm For Black America,” which was part of Dr. Watkins’ empowerment series planned for 30 cities in 2013.
A March session in Chicago discussed joint action to promote economic unity with a social conscience and a social impact. Minister Farrakhan was the featured speaker.
Targeted spending is needed to build Black wealth, even if the Black entrepreneur is forced to charge a little more than a corporate big box store, Dr. Watkins said. The entrepreneur can create jobs that will help the community beat back social ills, the economist explained.
More information about Dr. Watkins’ projects is available at yourblackworld.net. But the projects include a business incubator to support building businesses, business promotion, financial literacy, help with saving and investment goals and educational empowerment.
Politically, he advised Blacks to “leave the Democratic plantation” and to abandon party machine politics because they simply don’t help the community. The key is to find independent ways to protect and promote Black interests through politics, not blind party allegiance, he said.
“In fact, the only, ‘Black leader’ who can come to me with solutions that sound like they might actually give us hope is Minister Farrakhan because he’ll come to me with ideas that will reflect selfsufficiency, which I think is what we need,” Dr. Watkins said.
“He’ll talk about ideas that reflect giving hope to these young Black men that are struggling out here in the streets and he’s proven that he’s able to do that, and you really don’t get that from anybody else.”
Last February, Minister Farrakhan launched Muhammad’s Economic Blueprint to End Poverty and Want. He asked Blacks to sacrifice five cents a day, 35 cents a week, to create a fund for Black economic development and job creation. Such investment by 16 million Black wage earners would net over $291 million in one year.
Minister Farrakhan said investing pennies, nickels and dimes would allow Blacks to secure businesses like a 70,000-acre Texas cattle ranch for just $34 million.
“There is a 4,000-acre cotton farm available in Mississippi for $24 million. We could have it in less than five weeks if we put those nickels, dimes and dollars together! Then we could grow our own cotton and make our own clothing, making jobs for ourselves,” said the Minister in his Saviours’ Day 2013 keynote address in Chicago.
Just six cents of every Black dollar is spent in Black businesses but if that was doubled to 12 cents, it would create nearly 600,000 additional jobs for Black workers and reduce Black employment by three percentage points, Min. Farrakhan noted.
“The wealth is out there for us to create and the more unity we have the better we will be. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said we have to learn the necessity of unity and group cooperation— that’s a necessity. And that’s how the enemy wins because he keeps us all divided, never trusting one another,” he said earlier this year in Chicago.
Black spending power in America is more than $1 trillion, according to the University of Georgia.
Good nutrition for good health
Dollars initially invested in the Economic Blueprint would be used to buy farmland. Farmland is critical not only for Black economic health but also for physical health.
Blacks must address the basics of life, which is food, said Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad, minister of Health and Human Services for the Nation of Islam, and founder of the Abundant Life Health Attainment Center in Washington, D.C.
“The health of a person or the health of a people is never going to be any better than the nutrition that they have available to them,” he said.
Unfortunately, the majority of Black people in America live in food deserts, with no good food to eat in their neighborhoods, he explained. Blacks also produce much of their own food, Dr. Muhammad added. “As a result of that, our health status is atrocious and it’s not getting better. It’s getting worse,” he told The Final Call.
There is excitement about the Affordable Care Act, which is designed to make quality, affordable health care accessible to the poor and the uninsured. But President Obama appointed Michael Taylor, vice president of public policy for the giant biotechnology corporation Monsanto, as the country’s food safety czar. Monsanto is a leading producer of genetically modified foods. These foods are not good for our health, said Dr. Muhammad. The solution for anyone interested in health is to become interested in food and nutrition, he said.
“A way out is for Blacks to grow their own food,” Dr. Muhammad continued, pointing to urban farmer Will Allen’s Growing Power movement as a positive example.
“Our fate is in our hands. We have the tools that are necessary to start growing our own foods. It has to be done on a local level. It has to be done on a personal level, in every house, in every backyard, or on every terrace, in every median strip or in every vacant lot,” he said.
Embracing Black youth
Blacks can reverse spiraling youth crime and violence by simply engaging young people, said Kofi Taharka, chairperson of the National Black United Front.
Youth unemployment is high, after school programs are lacking and basic tolerance for young people is shrinking, but it doesn’t cost a thing to have a conversation with youngsters, he said.
“I don’t think that there’s one simple answer but there has to be direct interaction with young people right on the street level that deal with economics, that deal with a history and culture of our people, that deal with a myriad of challenges that they may face whether that be drug and alcohol addiction as well as an addiction to a culture that promotes self-hate, self-loathing, self-disrespect and community disrespect,” the activist said.
Too often people have great theories but are challenged when it comes to practical implementation, he said.
“There’s nothing that beats looking a young person in the eyes and them being able to see that people actually do care about them and they’re not invisible out on these street corners,” Mr. Taharka said.