Message to the Community
Rahim Islam is a National Speaker and Writer, Convener of Philadelphia Community of Leaders, and President/CEO of Universal Companies, a community development and education management company headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. Follow Rahim Islam on FaceBook(Rahim Islam) & Twitter (@RahimIslamUC)
Last week in Part 2, I shared my basic premise regarding the Black leadership we require:
• IF YOU’RE NOT DEMANDING THAT WE OVERCOME INDIVIDUALISM, TRIBALISM, AND A FALSE SENSE OF THINKING THAT “I” OR “MY” ORGANIZATION CAN SAVE MY PEOPLE AND THAT YOU’RE DOING ALL YOU CAN TO ORGANIZE AND UNITE OUR CAPACITY;
• IF YOU’RE NOT UNDERSTANDING THE “OUT OF POSITION” OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY AND THE NEED FOR THE BLACK MAN TO REALLY LOCK ARMS AND BEGIN TO WORK TOGETHER; AND
• IF YOU’RE NOT DOING THE ABOVE AND ALSO PROMOTING AN ECONOMIC AGENDA FOR THE BLACK COMMUNITY – YOU CAN’T BE A BLACK LEADER, YOUR ACTIONS, IN MANY RESPECTS, ARE A BETRAYAL TO OUR COMMUNITY.
What is the economic agenda for the Black community and how do we achieve it (what is the plan)?
We hear of so many ideas (we should be doing this, we should be doing that) that can’t even be considered as being a “plan.”
Our community has been fighting in the dark since being emancipated. We’ve been chasing every issue but the one that’s most important – economics.
I would be the first to tell you that I also have been misled and have spent a considerable amount of time and energy fighting for a number of issues that plague the Black community (i.e. civil rights, human rights, education reform, I am a man, Black Lives Matter, prison reform, police brutality, early childhood education, etc.) Our fight should have always been about economics.
Our agenda must be economic and we must make the distinction between having an economic idea versus having an economic plan.
The most any of us can do is to talk about it. I believe we are having the discussion with the wrong groups amongst us.
We have people who don’t understand economics leading the charge around these issues and the best that can happen is unresolved activity.
We’ve had conference after conference; workshop after workshop, chicken dinner after chicken dinner and have come up EMPTY.
We have nothing to show for all of this activity.
In fact, the only real beneficiaries from many of these activities has been the White-owned airlines, hotels, and convention venues. We have misunderstood “activity” as action. Activity is just that and unless there is a plan (leadership), we can activity until the cows come home and our agenda will get no traction.
For the most part many of our activities are “kneejerk” or “feel-good” type of activities which will never move the economic needle for our community. Why?
Transactional defenses and offenses will result in transactional results, meaning the results are temporary at best.
They don’t truly address the core issues and as a result, the problem will resurface again very soon. So, we have an event and many times the event takes on a life of its own and the original economic idea is lost.
What is the measure of success for these events? We know the event needs to at least break-even, which means success. In many cases, success is tied to achieving a certain number of people attending the event.
To ensure we get our numbers, we try to have dynamic Black speakers who can motivate the people to come out to hear them speak and they tell us, for the most part, what we already know.
Usually, they can eloquently articulate idea after idea (no plan) or they confine their rhetoric to “absolute facts” and/or rehashing or restatement of Black problems.
This approach has produced a circuit and crop of people that have become “masters’ of the Black problem. They offer no solutions of how to not only get started, but how to sustain momentum.
Without “collective” leadership, we fall victim to false expectations and unrealistic comparisons.
I hear about the conquest of the Jewish community and their economic success in our communities.
Many times also the Asian community and how they’ve prospered economically in our community.
Now we see the Latino community controlling all of the small retail in the black community and all we can do is cry and complain “all we have to do is this or that.”
We talk about national economic plans orchestrated by the Mormon Church, Jewish Synagogue or the Catholic Church and marvel at their success.
We fail to take into consideration one basic factor that these people don’t have that we DO –the Black man in America has been extremely damaged emotionally, psychologically, and economically.
The Black man in America has a double dose of damage due to the nearly 400 years of chattel slavery and Jim Crow terror.
Trauma which produced a natural desire to be educated by a contaminated education system of assimilation and inferiority. Add to that a civil rights movement that was hijacked by a liberal agenda that produced the ultimate level of emulation.
The Black man is like no other group in America – we now have the dilemma “Legacy of Slavery” that has multiplied over the past 150 years with the creation of a “culture of failure” self-fulfilling prophecy (intended consequence of the design). This is why any economic agenda and economic plan must involve a strong and massive de- Europeanize, de-mystify, de-toxify, and de-brainwashing of our SUBCONSCIOUS MIND.
We must combat the massive and INVISIBLE DRUG CALLED EUROCENTRIC MISEDUCATION WHICH HAS MADE US WORSHIP WHITE PEOPLE AND BY DEFAULT, HAVE ADOPTED BLACK INFERIORITY. The fallacy of comparing us to other groups is a trick and ploy to negate the Black struggle in America.
This approach is extremely flawed and has derailed our efforts – it looks good and it sounds good, but it’s false, absolutely false.
I contend that every Black man, woman and child has been damaged by being born in America – there are no exceptions.
Yes, some are less damaged than others, but we all have been damaged. We do have remedies – there are solutions – IT’S CALLED STUDYING OUR HISTORY.
We must begin to instill in us our glorious knowledge of self and create a climate of Black pride. Doing this will allow us to deal with the flaws of White supremacy and to begin to rebuild our total self.
This is why we need collective leadership and functional unity – no one individual and organization can do this by themselves. Our issue is very perplexing. Why?
I know of no group more ravaged, depleted, broken, hopeless and paralyzed than the Black man in America. At the same time, I know of no other group that is more promising, tender hearted and has given the world so much than the same Black man in America.
Our contributions lead the world, yet very rarely do we take ownership of them. Most importantly are we able to truly monetize them (i.e. sports, music, fashion, food, arts, science, business, etc.)?
This is why if we can get the right “collective” leadership, we might be able to get traction and begin the movement to reclaim our economic position that we negated to defend since emancipation.
The Black community is in serious need of functional unity now more than ever so as to develop “collective” leadership.
Our community is facing a very serious economic crisis that will require the highest level of attention RIGHT NOW.
What we do now will severely impact the next four generations either positively or negatively.
If we do what is right and organize, we can change the negative trajectory and reset the course that we’re currently on.
That course is to condemn future generations of Black children to being a permanent second class citizen in America – I call this 21st Century Slavery.
Again, we must have functional unity and collective leadership.
I likened the Black community to the human body with the head representing the leadership and our community is a REAL FRANKENSTIEN WITH A BODY WITH THOUSANDS OF HEADS.
It reminds me once when I asked someone whether they were “mentally disturbed” or not – they answered they were “mentally disturbed.”
Well, the truth is they can’t be “mentally disturbed” if they know they are damaged because this designation is reserved exclusively for those who don’t know they are “mentally disturbed.”
OUR COMMUNITY IS MENTALLY DISTURBED BECAUSE THEY CLEARLY DON’T KNOW THEY ARE DISTRUBED – THE DAMAGE IS EVERYWHERE YET THERE IS NO MOVEMENT TO REALLY FIX IT.
As a community we must get real with ourselves and ask a very fundamental question – who and how do we achieve collective leadership?
We also must conclude we have no real leader. Why? Because we have thousands of people and organizations claiming to be working on our behalf even though it appears that our issues are getting worse.
We must conclude things are not working and we must conclude that there is no ONE PERSON OR ONE ORGANIZATION THAT CAN HANDLE THE ISSUE FACING THE BLACK COMMUNITY IN AMERICA.
The issues we face are much too complex and all are rooted in our economic weakness that our history in this country has created.
There is no one individual or organization with the bandwidth that we need.
I know you’ve heard this before, but our economic weakness will begin to erode when we establish unity.
Unfortunately not the unity you’ve heard where 100% of us are doing the same thing at the same time.
The unity we must have is “functional unity” to develop “collective” leadership.
There are too many who have been sold a ‘false” bill of goods that Blacks can develop a national economic model and maybe an international economic model.
This is absolutely impossible if there is no local economic model.
We can’t just jump past the hurdles of foundation building and expect that our outcome will be sound and solid.
When we fight the economic fight, we’re not fighting an individual, we’re fighting the group; a group that has it all and doesn’t want to share anything.
Their purpose is total annihilation and to keep what they already have economically.
Like all other groups, we must determine where to begin and ascertain what competitive advantages we might have and then we will need to answer all of the economic questions everyone faces to compete against other groups.
We will need to ask questions like “what will we sale;” “how will we purchase and /or manufacture;” “how will we get our product to market and distribute;” and “how will we finance our plans?”
When it comes to the issue of economic freedom and self-determination, we will need to lower our expectation and understand that we must start slow and at the bottom – but we must start.
Success can’t be measured over one generation, it must be measured over several generations – something that we have failed to be discipline enough to do.
Our community must defend itself economically and we can’t do this without understanding our economic plight.
We must fix the economic issues we find locally and then we can possibly expand our reach to regional, national, and possibly then internationally.
The issue that cripples everything we do economically resides in the fact that our community is hemorrhaging like a bleeding pig – we suffer from a significant local TRADE DEFICIT.
Without getting into a full blown economic exposition, we must come to understand the economic condition that we find ourselves.
I likened the economy of the Black community within most urban areas as having a serious and pronounce Trade Deficit.
Usually the term trade deficit applies when the value of a country’s imports exceeds the value of its exports.
For our use, the term “exports” represent money going out of the community (i.e. purchase of goods, products and services, outside of the community you reside) and the term “imports” represent money coming into our community (i.e. investment, jobs, business growth, etc.)
Our community has disproportionately level of exports to imports causing this deficit which has material and long-term consequences.
In effect, a trade deficit reflects the community’sF inability to do for self and is a symptom which demonstrates that the community can’t produce what it needs.
In addition, if the trade deficit continues unaddressed irregular activity can grow, including but not limited to the following:
• Higher cost for goods and services
• Lower level of returns on investment
• High levels of unemployment
• Economic dis-investment
• High levels of interest
• High levels of debt
• Low levels of dollar circulation
• Low levels of domestic product
• Shrinking tax base
• Reduction in city services
• Dependency on others to do for ourselves
A community that has a trade deficit can only lower the standard of living by producing negative social consequences and the reduction of city services, specifically public education and over time a trade deficit can cause total outside dependency.