Tag: Black Power

mirror tom

Uncle Toms are the greatest threat to black America. In 2017 Uncle Tom might take the form of Dr. Dre on Monday, T.D Jakes on Tuesday, Future on Thursday and morph into Very Smart Brothas by week’s end. Even I, the writer, am guilty. In his autobiography Malcolm X indicated that he could stomach a conservative racist more than an Uncle Tom. Malcolm understood the danger. If black people are to achieve true revolution and freedom, we must eliminate Tom, wherever he might be found.

The trouble in 2017 is that we don’t understand what makes one an Uncle Tom and we resist the notion that each of us, woke as we believe ourselves to be, have some Uncle Tom in us. Again, I myself am not exempt.

The Uncle Tom, for our purpose, is any person who identifies as black but actively or passively undermines black power; black power= black freedom and self determination. This can be momentary or a permanent condition, for some. Holding conservative views does not make one an Uncle Tom. Having liberal views –which I do– does not make one aligned with black power, either. In fact, the most dangerous Uncle Toms in 2017 happen to be liberals/Democrats. The danger we pose is that we think ourselves woke because of our liberalism. When our lives are misaligned with the ideals of black power and independence, however, we have to be convinced that we are in fact Uncle Toms.

By virtue of American citizenship all black people wrestle with some level of internal Tom. Indeed, it is often a necessary evil for survival. In the 1940’s it may have been necessary to buy from white folks to literally escape death. Survival. In today’s world Van Jones went from basically condemning Trump voters on election night as bigots to now traveling the country, holding town halls with Trump supporters to explore their “viewpoints.” Again, survival. But black power is beyond survival and to attain it we must be mature enough to reflect on our level of Uncle Tom and work to kill that son of a bitch. Are you bold enough to join this collective journey and identify which variety of Tom lives in you?

The Religious Uncle Tom

Bishop T.D Jakes has shined brighter than most preachers for years. His books and sermons have reached millions. Still, given his tremendous platform, it is fair to ask how it all has furthered the quest for black freedom. The bishop is to be commended for preaching a message of self-healing and empowerment but he is positioned to actually erect or support institutions to help facilitate that empowerment. Based on the ministries his church website promotes, this is not the case. Further, sermons are fine but black people need his voice to confront the many crises we face on a more consistent basis.

Yes, his ministry helps ex-offenders and needy people but because the Bishop has been given much, more is required. Some might say his role as a preacher is simply to inspire individuals, who then will minister to society. That argument is tempting but disarmed when the history of the black church is considered. The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church is the oldest denomination founded by black people in America, back in 1816. They preached the word but also built colleges like Wilberforce University and by 1880, operated over 2,000 schools. In an era of strict segregation, their congregations raised the money needed to keep those schools operational.

In a time when black people literally risked death for speaking out on social issues, AME bishops like Henry Mcneal Turner were fearless in the political arena. From the dangerous terrain of central Georgia, Turner successfully ran for the state legislature and used his voice as a trumpet for justice. Jakes, on the other hand, speaks loudly on prosperity but historically has been mute on topics of black oppression. He plays it safe, not wanting to alienate supporters. Turner risked his life to speak out but Jakes appears apprehensive about losing offerings or influence. After all, he never would have gotten a talk show had he gone all Jeremiah Wright.

The religious Uncle Tom is dangerous and I have been him. My thoughts were of heaven and developing the self toward godliness. In that state I chose to downplay social issues, having been taught that if we all just stopped sinning everything would be fine. I knew oppression existed but again, I was told that it was the result of sin. I saw racism but rather than call it out, I was taught that we should focus on –you guessed it– the sinful nature. I was told that it was godly to bring people together rather than directly rebuke those who oppress others. Those who taught me seemed unaware that it was Jesus who said that he did “not come to bring peace but a sword.” As we looked to the sky in our piety, we failed to see the urgency on planet earth.

I prayed often but the ills of the world persisted. At times I even tried to feed the hungry but never evolved to the understanding of Archbishop Hélder Câmara, who said, “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” The religious institutions I belonged to played it safe. Feeding hungry people earned our nonprofit a grant. Speaking against those who oppress the poor and building institutions that promote power, however, might lose offerings and friends. Our nonprofits ultimately rendered us “non-prophets.”

Some of our churches can raise a nice offering. In fact, the black church is one of the few institutions that successfully pools the capital of black people. Those dollars, however, go toward maintaining facilities and the work of the “ministry.” We can’t seem to connect the dots. Our community faces crises in employment and resources and yet, the church’s successful pooling of black capital never results in job creation or combatting the deep disparities our communities face. The church building remains in tact, however, as the neighborhood crumbles. We believe we are doing the Lord’s work but in fact, we hinder the progress of black people.

Black churches have not the luxury to exist as other churches do. No other group in America had to emerge from the depths of chattel slavery, live under neo slavery/Jim Crow and seek equality in the face of constant harassment, void of meaningful reparations. The urgency, focus and commitment required to overcome this legacy leaves no room for passivity. Here are a few tangible ways to take action as a faith community:

  1. Use money collected from members to start a fund to support local entrepreneurs and black institutions, such as your closest HBCU.
  2. Deposit church funds into a black owned bank.
  3. Use the pulpit and church communications to direct members to business owners in the congregation and the community.
  4. Require candidates for public office to articulate their plan for black empowerment through economic development prior to giving them a platform at your church.
  5. Use the pulpit to rebuke policies and policymakers that hinder black freedom, especially locally.

To kill Tom must be a daily fight and it is difficult. On the other side of that fight, however, is a world where black people are free, independent and collectively walk in power. Religion can serve the aim of liberation or pacify both the oppressed and the powerful.

Stay tuned for the next installment on “The Hood Uncle Tom”

 

freedom paper

You can literally create a job for someone by wiping your ass. No, seriously. Based in Maryland, the Freedom Paper Company is a black owned firm that produces paper products, including “bathroom tissue.” The founder of the company is serious about creating great products and more importantly, creating a black presence in industrial production. I have met with him personally and heard his passion for business and communal uplift. That is why I dropped my old tissue brand. Now with every wipe, I am doing my part to end black unemployment.

We can end black unemployment, as I’ve discussed previously. The key is simply identifying one product or service each month that you already use and finding a black owned company to fill that need permanently. This month consider switching your freedom paperbathroom tissue brand. Not only is Freedom Paper offering a product that has an amazing impact socially, it is also a game-changer environmentally. Their bathroom tissue is made from 100% recycled paper — 100%. As someone who cares deeply about the environment and what condition we leave this planet in for future generations, this distinction is invaluable. I can think of very few other purchases which will move us toward ending black unemployment by promoting sustainability. I have no intentions of going back.

The time for a switch is now. We can promote hiring in our community and also promote environmental sustainability. What else is there to think about? You can go to the corner store to pick up a roll or two but to stretch your dollar further, it pays to buy in bulk. Click here to purchase your Freedom Paper bathroom tissue for the next couple of months for $20.00. Unless you actually eat toilet paper, the twenty-four rolls (500 sheets each) should last you as an individual a couple of months, at least. This one is pretty straightforward, there’s not much to think about. Make the switch and do your part to end black unemployment. Make the switch and help preserve our environment. Freedom Paper is more than a brand, it’s a promise.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10:  (L-R) Actress Jessica Biel, singer Beyonce, rapper Jay-Z and singer Solange Knowles attend the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)

The Grammys were brought to you by Donald Trump, a man who has managed to even make white America say “enough!” The the national mood of Trump resistance permeated the Grammys, accented by Katy Perry’s stance for “pantsuit nation,” Paris Jackson’s shot at DAPL and Laverne Cox’s call for solidarity with the trans community. These themes are popular in this moment of Anti-Trump fervor, black people still aren’t. While the NCAA is willing to boycott North Carolina over transgender rights, it said nothing when a US Court of Appeals essentially ruled that North Carolina was trying to block black people from voting. Seattle’s City Council (rightfully) voted to divest from Wells Fargo due to the bank’s ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline but when banks were found to have targeted blacks with subprime loans leading up to the economic collapse, municipalities never considered divestment. Black people are not and never have been en vogue. Wake up.

There is a surge of activism in response to Trump–from travel ban protests to the Women’s March–but that resistance does not necessarily include the core concerns of black people. That would be too risky for most, including many black folks. The stances taken at the Grammys are indeed important but not necessarily risky. Since most Americans support transgender rights and oppose so-called “bathroom bills,” even the NBA and PayPal have joined the NCAA in boycotting North Carolina, due to HB-2. Yet when voting, the most fundamental of American rights, was under attack the sports world batted not one eye nor did any corporation decide to abandon the state. The response of white liberals to DAPL helped to move the matter into the mainstream, such that it is more palatable to side with water protectors than clearly embrace the idea that “Black Lives Matter.” It is refreshing that thousands protested Trump’s travel ban at airports across the country but I don’t recall a massive non-black resistance to blacks being murdered on tape by police (although there certainly were and are white allies to the BLM movement). From the streets to the Grammys, ignoring black suffering carries no social consequences.

What troubles me is that routinely, blacks are asked to support every cause mainstream Democrats care about but reciprocity is often nonexistent. Yes, we as black people should stand up for all marginalized groups, even poor whites who are oppressed by the ruling classes. That said, it is hurtful that we cannot rely on those who ask us to support others to also stand with us. A Tribe Called Quest also performed at the Grammys and there is a significant lesson to be learned from their contribution to the show: if black people are to have our concerns voiced, we must voice them. Period. Our liberation is strictly our concern.

With this understanding, we should allow no one to question us when we advocate for ourselves. We must, for no one else will. Let no one shame you for caring about black people. It is not “racist” but simply rational and healthy to care for self. It is not “reverse racism” when we decide to vote and shop based on our interests. When you bank and buy black, it is a matter of self-preservation in a society that daily reminds us we do not matter. Until stars are lining up to denounce the injustices faced by black people daily, we must be focused on black power. Until the nation considers black concerns national concerns, every penny and ounce of energy we spend must be toward black liberation. We are not fashionable but it does not matter, for we are strong.

 

lips

I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. Why? I’m a good guy and as such, V-Day only serves to mitigate my actions the other 364 days of the year. If I’m good to a woman all year but fail to produce on this day, I’m discounted. On the other hand, if I treat a woman subpar all year but produce this one day, I get points. Valentine’s Day is set up perfectly for even the sorriest man to score points…but even this day can’t help an unemployed man. If a man–even a good man–doesn’t have a check, the woman he desires won’t be the envy of her coworkers on the 14th. For an unemployed man, Valentine’s Day is a lost opportunity. HopewellThought is committed to attacking black unemployment this year and this month it starts with your mouth.

Last month I laid out our 2017 strategy toward ending black unemployment. If you haven’t, I’d strongly encourage you to read that first before continuing this journey. We can make significant strides simply by identifying one product or service each month we already use, then begin using a black owned company to fill that need going forward. Now back to this. I’m single but it doesn’t mean that I don’t keep my mouth ready. I’ve been told that I keep Listerine in business. For years I’ve used their mouthwash. Listerine breath strips have been in my pocket since they hit the market. I even use their dental floss. I. Stay. Ready. That said, the idea of using a different mouthwash never crossed my mind. That changed when I came across a black owned company, Garner’s Garden, that produces a 100% all natural mouthwash; a company actively looking to expand and hire black people. Still, I’ve been a Listerine guy forever and change is difficult. After all, Valentine’s Day is approaching and my mouth needs to be ready, just in case! I decided to reach out to the owner.

I purchased my bottle of mouthwash and gave it a try. As the owner explained, this product is not simply designed to cover up mouthwashbad breath but to actually heal your mouth. That sounded good. I want my mouth to be ready, after all. It contains healing oxygen particles that attack a host of dental issues such as cavities, gingivitis and gum disease. Not only is it antibacterial but it is also antiviral, anti-fungal and it whitens teeth naturally. I found every bit of that to be true. I felt my mouth getting healthier when I started using it. It burned like hell the very first time I tried it; that’s because it was healing everything my Listerine did not. It no longer burns now, my mouth feels healthy. I’ve also noticed that I no longer have that “Enter the Dragon” morning breath! I’m sold.

The company also sells a “remineralizing tooth powder,” which they recommend using in tandem with the mouthwash. In all honesty, I was most skeptical of this part of the deal. After all, I’m accustomed to toothpaste. In my research, however, I discovered that every toothpaste on the market is made up of a tooth-powder-4ozbunch of poisons. The tooth powder is a natural product that literally pulls toxins from your mouth and naturally whitens teeth. I’m getting used to it and I like the results thus far. As a consumer, I appreciate the fact that the mouthwash and tooth powder are getting my mouth ready for Valentine’s Day (just in case), naturally. Most of all, I love that my purchases are going toward providing jobs in my community.

You can purchase the mouthwash here and get a 10% discount this month when you use the code “HopewellThought.” If you’d really like to make sure your mouth is ready for Valentine’s Day and save even more, buy the mouthwash and tooth powder together here. You’ll receive 15% off when you purchase the two products together, using the code “HopewellThought2.”

Valentine’s Day is no picnic for an unemployed man, nor is any other day. We have the power to begin creating jobs in our community now, simply by getting our mouths ready.

**Be sure to also purchase our featured products from each prior month**

January–True Laundry Detergent 

 

walmart

Rejecting blatant racism does not make you an “ally” to black people seeking power to determine their own fate in America. The true test of an ally is whether they believe our quest for self-determination is legitimate and truly support it. WalMart does not pass the test. A recent article on Breitbart complained that WalMart no longer sold items displaying the Confederate Flag, yet featured shirts with messaging supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement on the company’s website. WalMart caved and in doing so, legitimized a twisted logic that views the struggle for black self determination and freedom as equally offensive as the southern rebels’ treasonous devotion to slavery. This system of thought delegitimizes the pursuit of black power and WalMart catered to it. In the era of Walter Scott and Michael Brown, black people must carefully consider whether we can allow these small seeds of hostility to harvest into blood.

kanye-prez

Kanye West is so gifted that he is insane. He has said that he wants to run for president and he just might be a black Donald Trump in the making: narcissistic, occasionally clever, obviously gifted but ultimately self destructive. Kanye said he did not vote in the last election but had he done so, Trump would have been his candidate. At a concert this past Saturday he compared himself to Trump and went on to give post-election analysis on why Hillary Clinton lost. His analysis validated the hurt feelings of the “white working-class,” who were privileged enough to endorse a blatant racist for president.

solange

Donald Trump brought old school back. Explicit bigotry and racial violence are now back on the table, thanks to the Donald. Solange is demanding a seat at that same table, however. Her new album, “A Seat at the Table,” matches the open hostility of Trump’s movement with an equally unapologetic affirmation of blackness and self-determination. Solange is trying to tell us something. She gave us the freedom to feel pain and articulate that but more importantly, lessons to overcome it from an unlikely role model: Master P. This is the light we will follow in the age of “President Donald Trump.”

lil-wayne-carter-v

Dear white people: this article is not for you. Continue to dig deep within your souls to find racism and perhaps we’ll connect later. Yes, racism exists. It has and continues to shape outcomes from housing and employment to police shootings rooted in white fear of “the darker brother.” Still, we should pretend Weezy is a genius and adopt his fantasy. Screaming about racism and posting articles on Facebook about the subject has never made you one dollar. Further, the most brilliant scholarship on the topic has seemingly not changed one thought in the collective conscience of white America. Toni Morrison said it best: racism is just one big distraction that “keeps you from doing your work.” The work is to ensure that our children no longer have to beg white people to be nicer to them.

student-accounts

After the shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling many black folks decided they’d had enough. Overnight, black banks received a surge of new deposits. In a five day period in July, Citizen’s Trust Bank in Atlanta opened 8,000 new accounts! Industrial Bank in Washington opened over 1,500 new accounts with deposit balances of approximately $2.7 million in the last month, according to their Facebook page. So what now? Moving our money is necessary and a radical act of protest for sure but movements change the world, not momentary protests.

police-shooting-louis_chic-5

Philando Castile was shot dead not long after Alton Sterling. I’m angry but not towards white people or the millions that will (predictably) justify murdering these two men. I’m angry because black people are not angry enough to make a change. Our anger is sufficient to vent on social media and perhaps protest, although deep down we know it won’t change a damn thing. But are we angry enough to sacrifice and radically alter our lives for freedom? Are we angry enough that every move we make and dollar we spend will be toward black power? If not, shut the hell up and go back to watching Hulu.