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Ending ‘Leakage’ In Black America
By Cedric Muhammad
Updated Dec 16, 2007 - 11:58:00 AM

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“Certainly We created man in the best make.”
Holy Qur’an, Surah 95 verse 4, Maulana Muhammad Ali translation

“In almost all North Carolina counties, the economic impact of the buying power of African-American residents does not reach its potential. Insufficient retail and service facilities limit black (and other group) expenditures in targeted business development in a substantial number of North Carolina counties.”
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “The Economic Impact of the African American Population on the State of North Carolina,” November 13, 2007

“If you make the Laborer wealthy, he is still in your orbit and you share in it. He will love and honor you if you enable him to become self-sufficient.”
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, “Build Black Economy,” Muhammad Speaks, February 28, 1969


When many of us hear casually and passionately-made comments such as, A dollar circulates in the Jewish community for 30 days, an Italian neighborhood for 24 days, and less than one day in the Black community, what are we really saying or suggesting?
In the an article written for The Wilmington Journal, “Part II North Carolina African Americans Must Leverage Their Economic Power,” Cash Michaels quotes the following from “The Economic Impact of the African-American Population on the State of North Carolina,” a new study developed by John D. Kasarda and James H. Johnson, Jr., both Kenan Distinguished Professors of Management at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, “In short, money leaves the African-American community from their respective metropolitan areas and counties when certain goods and services cannot be found there, black consumer needs aren’t met, or blacks are simply overlooked in terms of marketing.”

Michaels then writes, “The term researchers use for that is called ‘leakage.’ ”

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad compared money to blood. He also said one of the factors that made him a superior spiritual teacher was his knowledge of anatomy and physiology. He studied this subject for years.

With this on my mind I, from time to time, speak with doctors and nurses who have knowledge of anatomy and physiology, and ask them questions regarding the circulatory system of the human body. My aim is to identify the similarities and analogies between this vital system of the human body and the relationship between finance and economics where Black America is concerned.

There are some striking insights that I have gained from this kind of analysis, of which I am only a “baby,” in terms of study.

I am thoroughly convinced that detailed knowledge of the human body can inform economic planning and development. I hope my words encourage Black doctors, Black nurses, Black economists, and Black financial professionals to one day come together in discussions of the socio-economic condition of our people.

They may be surprised at how their most scientific insights inform each other’s views, and are relevant to areas their previous study and experience may not have indicated.

Medicinenet.com defines the circulatory system as: “The system that moves blood throughout the body. The circulatory system is composed of the heart, arteries, capillaries, and veins. This remarkable system transports oxygenated blood from the lungs and heart throughout the body via the arteries. The blood goes through the capillaries which are situated between the arteries and veins. And the blood that has been depleted of oxygen by the body is then returned to the lungs and heart via the veins.”

When many of us hear casually and passionately-made comments such as, “A dollar circulates in the Jewish community for 30 days, an Italian neighborhood for 24 days, and less than one day in the Black community,” what are we really saying or suggesting?

In her book, “Talking Dollars and Making Sense: A Wealth Building Guide For African-Americans,” Brooke Stephens writes: “John Wray, an economic development specialist in Washington, D.C., did a study that traced the flow of dollars through comparative ethnic communities. Wray found that in the Asian community a dollar circulates among the community’s banks, brokers, shopkeepers, and business professionals for up to 28 days before it is spent with outsiders. In the Jewish community, the circulation period was 19 days; in the WASP community, 17 days; but in the African-American community - 6 hours!”

Stephens continues, “African-Americans are still waiting to be rescued, accepted, and approved of by white America and paying for the privilege of being neglected, ignored, discounted, and mistreated. But it doesn’t have to be that way. At the beginning of the twentieth century, even after the devastating political and economic losses that followed the Reconstruction Era, the black community of Tulsa – Greenwood – had extremely limited contact with the white community of Tulsa, but the black community was still able to build considerable wealth. Any dollars that came into the black community would circulate there for a period of up to 3 years before being shared with the white community.”

Knowledge of anatomy and physiology have informed my interpretation and analysis of these consistent references to dollars not being able to circulate inside of the Black community. It was clear to me that if blood were unable to flow throughout the human body, it could be due to the fact that the circulatory system had not been formed yet or developed properly; that perhaps, there was no heart, arteries, capillaries, and veins, or that such were insufficient in their current stage of development to adequately perform necessary functions.

Similarly, without the necessary economic structure, institutions, and relationships, the production, consumption and distribution of wealth in Black America will not function as it could. Without that foundational economic structure, the science of the management of money – finance – can never be properly executed.

In what Stephens writes, “Wray found that in the Asian community a dollar circulates among the community’s banks, brokers, shopkeepers, and business professionals for up to 28 days before it is spent with outsiders,” lies the reason as to why “leakage” occurs with the Black dollar.

There is no similar quantity, quality, and systematic relationship between banks, brokers, shopkeepers, and business professionals in Black America to compare with what exists, in say, the Chinatowns of America.

In 2003 I interviewed respected Jewish financial expert, Steven Silbiger at BlackElectorate.com. He is author of the book, The Jewish Phenomenon. In that interview we had the following exchange:

Cedric Muhammad: I wanted to ask you something. You know, we compare money to blood and a banking system and the branches are like arteries and veins. You may have heard this. There is a saying, an anecdote that a dollar that comes into the Black community stays within the community for about six hours. And that in other ethnic groups like Italians or say the Jewish community a dollar stays for 30 days, circulating.

Steven Silbiger: Right ...

Cedric Muhammad: Now whether that is true or not I don’t know, but the idea of keeping a dollar in the community, how do you see that?

Steven Silbiger: Well, like I was talking about in industries like the garment industry, although there were sweatshops and at the turn of the century Jewish people were working in those sweat shops, at least the toil of their labor went to Jewish business owners so that the capital was built within the community. That is the main thrust of it. If you are working for a wage and not saving, you really have no power. In the United States it is all about stored capital. It is a capitalist country and no matter what discrimination there is, the dollar talks and the other walks ....

*****

An entire chapter is devoted to economics in the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s book, “Message To The Black Man.” In it he writes, “The first step the so-called Negro wage-earners should take is to spend only when necessary and according to their income. They should save as much of their salaries as possible – weekly, bi-weekly or monthly .... The economical way to use the money you save is first to buy farm land and produce your own food.”

Get the May 13, 2007 talk by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan entitled, “ One Nation Under God: Part 5 - The Fall Of The Dollar.”

It is part of his intense effort to re-establish the economic program of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and to expand it.

This effort will prove to be the last great one made, prior to a critical stage of America’s economic decline and the only one capable of stopping the “leakage” in the Black economy.

On May 13th, Min. Farrakhan said, “We should learn, and quickly, who is the God that we should put our trust in. Putting trust in this, (dollar) in a few days you are going to see men with hundred dollar bills lighting their cigars because the value of this dollar will be worthless.”

We don’t have much time to build our circulatory system.

(Cedric Muhammad is a business and political economist . He can be reached via e-mail at cedric@cmcap.com, or at The Black Coffee Channel, www.blackcoffeechannel.com/.)


 


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