Tag: featured

lavar ball

The modern-day Uncle Tom doesn’t necessarily vote conservative. Tommy in 2017 has reinvented himself as a Lavar Ball hater. Rather than take massa’s crumbs in the form of a shoe endorsement deal, the Ball family opted for true ownership and decided to build their own shoe brand, the Big Baller Brand (Triple B). Rather than say “hell yeah!” the fraternity of Phi-Tom-Phi is determined to tear down Triple B. I suppose it’s more comfortable to stay in the house than do the work to liberate yourself. While I do not expect many Uncle Toms to join our pursuit of black power, I do ask that they keep quiet as we leave the plantation.

Lavar Ball is trying to teach us a lesson. You may not love his delivery but I urge you to stop fighting the messenger and listen to the actual message. What has always been isn’t necessarily better than what could be. Athletes have, for generations, fought to capitalize more on the economic value which they create. LeBron James is better compensated than Magic Johnson was during his playing days for that reason. Still, star athletes have yet to fully capitalize on the value of their brands, allowing Nike and others to reap the benefits and that is the point: why shouldn’t they reap more from their value? More importantly, in a league that is majority-black, why do NBA players consistently benefit less from their brands than their branders? We as consumers are part of the problem.

Branding is everything. A product or service sells, in large part, due to the strength of its brand. Is Tide empirically better than True detergent? No but you trust the brand, having never done an actual scientific experiment to validate its claims. One product will actually make a huge impact on black unemployment and the other clearly does not, that much we know. Still, far too many black people are comfortable on the Tide plantation, consequences be damned. The brand only maintains its strength because we decide to give our strength to uphold it. In the same way, if we decide to pay $200 for a pair of shoes it’s worth $200. There is no law of nature behind it, simply our consent. In a world where black people live in a constant state of rage, it is beyond comprehension that we continue to give our consent to everything that maintains the status quo. That is what Lavar Ball is challenging.

Are you an “Uncle Tom” because you choose not to buy Triple B products? Not at all. There are any number of reasons as to why someone would or would not buy the millions of products offered to them. What determines your level of internal Tom is the approach taken as a consumer. Do you approach Triple B looking for a reason to support or seeking reasons not to? That is the critical question. This discussion is much larger than Lavar Ball. Whether the topic is banking black or buying laundry detergent from a black owned company, your approach is everything. The modern-day Uncle Tom will always seek reasons not to empower their own community and by doing so, continues to support their oppression. Ask yourself, how much Tom is in you?

 

**No one can oppress you unless you give them the money to do so**

gtown

If Michael Jordan scored ten points in a game during his prime, we’d be disappointed. If his teammate Dennis Rodman scored ten, we’d be impressed. The difference is expectations. We expected so little of Rodman, as we do white people on issues of race. Georgetown University is now an anomaly and trailblazer in academia, after the school recently apologized for its role in slavery. The University renamed two buildings after slaves and will now give preference in admissions to descendants of the 272 slaves the school sold in 1838 to settle its debts. It pains me to criticize the university in any way –sincerely– because their actions are lightyears ahead of other institutions. But that just shows how little white folks have to do in order to impress us.

Georgetown University owes its existence to plantations the Jesuits operated –in the name of Jesus, I’m sure– to finance operations and the 272 slaves sold in 1838 to settle the school’s debts at that time. There is no way to erase these offenses. The hope is for some meaningful form of repair toward the untold damage done and that is not what Georgetown has offered. Renaming buildings does not repair the damage done. Giving preference in admissions is cute but the children and grandchildren of Georgetown alumni already receive that perk. Indeed, to receive in 2017 what those who (largely) benefitted from the system of slavery have received for generations is not a radical effort at repair. Still, the most important lesson in this ordeal has largely been overlooked.

Georgetown fails to understand that slavery was a system, not an individual circumstance. That system impacted all black people and their descendants, not just the 272 sold in 1838. Georgetown could only benefit from the sale of those 272 slaves because it participated in a system that made all black people subject to a similar fate. To solely acknowledge the harm done to the descendants of those 272 slaves is tantamount to planting an atomic bomb in one home and refusing to acknowledge the damage done to the entire city which that bomb decimated. It is to deny benefiting from the other slaves that worked the Jesuit plantations that financed the school and the system of slavery as a whole. The life outcomes of the 273rd slave cannot be divorced from the 272 acknowledged by the University.

Even the best known attempts at reparations in the American context are laughable, at best. This is merely the latest chapter in a larger story. But Georgetown is at least pursuing some substantive efforts toward atonement and that makes the institution rare. I want to praise them and perhaps should, but I am conflicted. If I criticize the University, well-meaning whites will undoubtedly be frustrated. They will think, understandably, that any attempt at repair –rare as it may be– is not rewarded but scorned. So why bother? If I praise the University, however, I signal that such paltry efforts at repair satisfy the requirements of true justice. That is one hell of a quandary to live in and yet one more burden black people are asked to carry.

Ultimately we must come to accept, as a nation, that the legacy of slavery is far more dramatic than we have acknowledged. Many have just now begun to understand that academia is yet another staple of American greatness that owes its existence also to slavery. We fail to grasp how deeply our banking, manufacturing and various other sectors are rooted in slavery. More troubling, we fail to discern how damaging its impact was for people of color, even to the present day. Our view is further distorted when we consider the tremendous progress black people have made in this country. It is because we fail to discern the true depth of it all that we struggle to approach repair in a meaningful way. For the sake of survival, black people cannot wait for others to understand. Black power requires committed action, even when others refuse to render justice.

LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 19:  Actor Bill Maher and Donald Trump attend the 56th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium September 19, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Donald Trump is anti-Muslim but more disturbing is the degree to which white liberals share his ideology. Rooted in white supremacy, it lives on the political left, trumpeted by thought leaders like Bill Maher. It views brown terrorists as especially scary and worthy of scrutiny but is incapable of treating whites in the same way. It cannot see that my (black) people still live in fear of white Christians, not ISIS. It extends white privilege to slavers and the Klan, insisting they were exceptional and not representative of Christianity yet regards every Muslim attacker as a perfect ambassador of Islam. It dismisses Timothy McVeigh and the IRA as ancient history while 9/11 dictates our national course daily. It fails to fully appreciate that although the Klan is not lynching black people today, Dylan Roof, police and James Harris Jackson are. White supremacy blocks conservatives and liberals from seeing the issue of terror clearly and we cannot afford blurred vision in this moment.

On this past week’s episode of Real Time, former UK Parliament member Louise Mensch highlighted that Khalid Masoon, the London attacker, was born in Britain and the tragedy should not be exploited to fan anti-Muslim flames. Maher, predictably, insisted that Islam itself was the issue. When Maher’s guests pointed out that we do not attribute terror to Christians in the same way, Maher cited false equivalency. When Maher asked whether there were in fact Christian terror groups today and his guests furnished modern examples, Maher excused them as being in the past. The only terrorists of interest to Maher are the brown ones. Unwittingly, Maher provides intellectual cover to overt racists, those in the Trump camp. As a liberal, Maher’s fixation on Islamic terrorists and broad condemnation of Islam as a religion only serves to empower bigotry, not halt terror.

As a black man I have great difficulty following the logic of Maher and the bigots he empowers because history lives for the oppressed. When there is an unwillingness to treat white extremists with the same urgency as brown ones, there is pause. When there is a dismissiveness of crimes in the past, as though they are not still present in our memory, trust is broken. As a nation we never dealt with the issue of white terrorism in the past, especially when Christianity was a motivating force. In the present we are told it is inappropriate to discuss white terrorists groups like FEAR because they somehow do not represent the same kind of threat as Islamists do. It would seem as though the time is never right to discuss white terror and for those who have suffered at the hands of white terrorists, we are unable to engage in a genuine discussion on the topic until these scores are settled.

To be sure, Dylan Roof and James Harris Jackson do not belong to groups seeking nuclear weapons. Still, white terrorists have demonstrated the ability to kill en masse and yet the hysteria is just not there. Timothy McVeigh and the IRA did not explicitly attack in the name of God. Yet it is undeniable that the Klan and the many extremists who have attacked abortion clinics have drawn from holy texts but Christianity manages to escape broad condemnation as a violent faith that produces such terror. It should also be noted that extremists often have a cultural association with Islam, much in the same way Timothy McVeigh was raised Catholic but not particularly devout. While we tend not to stress the link to Christianity in such cases, Muslims are not extended the same privilege.

I have been a huge fan of Maher since childhood. It was my greatest joy as a teenager to stay up and watch Politically Incorrect and Real Time is still my weekly obsession! My aim is not to takedown Maher so much as to point out the flaw in our national reasoning, which white supremacy enables. Terror is a serious issue and as such, our lenses must not be flawed when we view it.

moonlight-19405x

It was not strange to work under white people ten years my senior when I was 18. Around 30, however, I was enraged that I routinely interviewed to work under people who were slightly younger –or the same age– and less credentialed. The moment you realize your graduate degree is no match for your boss’s B.A. in music, you begin to question how “post-racial” we are. Joi McMillon, a black woman, knew very well the rage that stems from seeing whites with less qualifications advance while she did not. She was told she lacked the right experience while her less qualified white peers were advancing. But Joi will not experience that rage again. She is a film editor who made history with her Oscars nomination for her work on Moonlight; a film based on the writing of two black men, directed by a black man with a black cast. The self determination of black people ended Joi’s frustration, not the benevolence of whites.

In a world where discrimination and disparities abound, it is critical that black people create our own opportunities and support those endeavors as a community. Joi was nominated for an academy award precisely because of such an endeavor. Sean Combs became a music mogul only because Uptown Records, a company founded by a black man, gave the young college dropout the opportunity to become a talent director. It is doubtful that Combs would have been given the same opportunity at another major label. In the same way, Moonlight is a work of black self determination which afforded McMillon the opportunity to finally move up from “first assistant editor” into the editor’s role. The quality of her work is obvious, for even the Academy had to give her a nod. McMillon never lacked talent but simply opportunity, in a white male-dominated film industry. Rather than waiting for acknowledgment from benevolent white people, the creators of Moonlight created an opportunity for Joi.

Moonlight’s excellence led to their infamously delayed Oscars award. That mixup was far less controversial than Jada Pinkett-Smith igniting the #OscarsSoWhite firestorm. While several have opined that Pinkett-Smith’s motives may not have been pure (oddly, Denzel failed to take home an Oscar this year and Jada raised no fuss), we should not discount what Jada actually said when she told the world, “Maybe it is time…we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways we see fit.” Also, “Begging for acknowledgement or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power.” Moonlight fulfills much of Jada’s sentiments. We should appreciate that the Academy (after some delay) awarded Moonlight best picture but only celebrating that misses the larger significance of the film. Moonlight gives us yet another model of what we should all be striving toward in every industry. In a world in which even black people with a college degree are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than our non-black peers, we need strong black institutions and creative ventures, brought about by our own self-determination.

There is only one thing that could have made Moonlight even more triumphant and that is if the movie was also financed by our community. By no fault of their own, the creators of the film had to seek financing from outside of our community and thankfully, they found it through A24, an Indie distributor. Still, we must continue striving to attain that next level of independence and power and that is to self finance our own ventures. As we support our own, that will happen. Joi had her day but now let us continue investing in our community to create opportunity for millions more. HopewellThought will continue our campaign each month to help get you started.

**No One Can Oppress You Unless You Give Them The Money To Do So**

trumpprotest

President Obama accomplished a great deal but not as much as he should have. One critical component was missing from Obama’s presidency: you. Us, to be more precise. We failed to raise hell and broadcast Obama’s shortcomings, in the same way we call attention to Trump’s missteps. We look for opportunities to jab the “other” side and hold them accountable but when our side falls short, we are dangerously silent. This would be a different country if progressives at large and black people in particular had sought out opportunities to correct Obama in the same way we now seek confrontation with Trump. Had that energy, fire and protest existed the last eight years, America–and especially black America–might have been made great again.

The phone lines are jammed at the offices of several senators because many are fighting to block Trump’s nomination for Secretary of Education. But where was the outrage when Obama appointed a friend of Wall Street to head the FBI, all but guaranteeing that no one responsible for the financial crisis of 2008 would be prosecuted? We scream in terror when considering what a Trump presidency will mean for “the blacks” economically but said not a word when the Obama administration closed all five regional Offices of the Minority Business Development Agency. Those offices existed to help minority-owned businesses in their region navigate the federal contracting landscape and become more competitive but to save $30 million, they were sacrificed and we said nothing. I guess it was because Obama was on our side of the aisle. 

I am no fan of George W. Bush but he did more to fight HIV and AIDS in Africa than any President had before. Obama threatened that progress when he cut funds from a highly effective program aimed at combatting the HIV/AIDS crisis on the continent. Once again, we were silent. It is especially disappointing that people of African descent (like the author) raised no hell in response to this. Is it possible that we would have given “W” a pass if he’d done the same? Not likely. He’s a Republican, after all and we apparently think that being an engaged citizen means only protesting when the other side is in power. This brand of selective civic participation limited the prospects for “Hope and Change.” We had the opportunity of a lifetime and we failed to maximize it, choosing instead to blindly root for our team.

It is without question that Obama was hindered by a Republican opposition determined to see him fail. I would also argue, however, that a base of supporters unwilling to protest its own leadership is also a hindrance. Do we honestly believe that the same vigor in protest and democratic muscle we have shown thus far toward Trump, if pointed toward Obama for eight years, would not have produced better results? Black and white, Democrat and Republican, we are all guilty. We cheer for our team and remain silent when it fails to live up to its ideals. We watch the other side like hawks, hoping for any misstep. Perhaps if we gave the same hawkish glare to all power structures we would have a more perfect union.

black man working

I refuse to see another jobless black person and do nothing about it. You are free to waste time, asking whether black people want to work or join me in creating opportunities for us to work. It will not come from new gun control legislation or a politician. We don’t need the White House or a new program. All we need is for us as black people to love ourselves enough to choose us. 2017 is a year of action and this is a twelve month blueprint. Change your mind and black unemployment ends this year.

Since records have been kept, black people have been unemployed at twice the rate of whites but this year we can change that. The problem is not hard to solve in theory but it requires black people to accept that no one is coming to save us. It requires a commitment to ourselves, unless you believe Trump has a better plan.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that in 2015 there were roughly 1.8 million unemployed blacks in America seeking work. A simple FactFinder search reveals that there are actually over 2 million Black-owned businesses in the country. This means that if every black-owned firm hired just one black person (black companies are more likely to hire black people), black unemployment would no longer exist. Black companies cannot hire unless they have a need for more workers. They will only need more workers if they have more customers. We must become those customers and this blueprint will show you how.

The 12 Month Blueprint

Buying black can seem overwhelming but this blueprint makes it easy; you don’t even have to change your shopping habits overnight. My system is to simply identify ONE product or service each month–one you already buy–and find a black-owned company to fill that need going forward. It’s that simple. This system works because it does not require you to buy things you don’t want or need for the sake of “buying black.” You are only identifying purchases which you already make on a recurring basis and that is what will make you a reliable customer to a black business going forward. Beginning this month, we will shift billions into our community and create jobs for every person who desires to work, one product at a time. Let me help you get started.

The easiest way to begin shifting our buying habits is through household products such as toilet paper, laundry detergent, paper towels and the like–items we frequently buy. Beginning with this post, I will write an article each month featuring one household product from a black-owned business. The featured posts will include product information and new discount codes! All you need to do is read the new post each month to view the product and any new discount codes then click, buy and share. It’s really that easy (subscribing to this blog will help you follow along). As we take this journey together in 2017, the hope is that each month we will not only try the newly featured product of the month but also continue buying previously featured products going forward. We will create jobs one product at a time.

What if you try but don’t like the featured product of the month? There are still 30 days in a month for you to find another product or service–one you purchase on a recurring basis–from a black business and buy it. If you find yourself in that situation, try WeBuyBlack.com, Tuloko.com, Spendefy.com, BlackBizScope.com or MillionsTwoOne.com to find other products and services. The goal is to make sure each month you identify one product or service you already buy and begin buying it from a black-owned company. As we continue purchasing together, we will help black businesses grow and hire. We will also keep our dollars away from companies that don’t care about us as black people. The choice is ours. Below is this month’s featured product.

True Laundry Detergent

True Detergent is one of the most effective laundry detergents available on the market. True Detergent is 4x concentrated and allows consumers to use less soap. While the leading brands cost consumers an average of .25 cents per load, True comes in at .17 cents! It is void of any caustic ingredients and animal essences, thus making it a truly safe detergent for all types of machines and fabrics and also safe for the whole family. Powerful and economical, its concentrated nature allows users to use less soap for more cleaning power leading to tremendous savings and results. Click here to buy and use the code “HopewellThought” to get FREE SHIPPING, when you buy at least two bottles (of any size) by February 12th.

Looking for a business opportunity? True Products is looking for distributors across the country. This brand is growing fast and now is the perfect time to position yourself to take advantage of that growth. If you would like to actually get paid for supporting a black business, check out the True Products affiliate program.

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.”

dr-dre

This conversation isn’t for white America–I’m speaking directly to my brothers. Most of my life I wondered how so many white folks could be apathetic to racism and black suffering. I get it now. Although we as black men are intimately familiar with suffering and oppression, a great number of us manage to be wholly apathetic to (at best) our oppression of black women. Nate Parker’s case highlighted many of the misogynistic tendencies we have learned to normalize but “Surviving Compton” took it to a completely different level. Sure, many whites show little urgency in confronting black oppression but just maybe their apathy parallels that of black men who aren’t all that pressed to fight the mistreatment and abuse of the women right in our line of sight.

mobama

Michelle Obama had the audacity to say that slaves helped build the White House and the Fox News crowd flipped out. Bill O’Reilly quickly pointed out that the slaves were well-fed and had “decent lodgings.” I suppose Bill felt that them being slaves was not in and of itself problematic. The rush to downplay the First Lady’s comments shows how uncomfortable we are with our past. It is a past that FLOTUS barely scratched the surface on; she left out that not only did slaves build the White House but this entire country was in fact built on the backs of slaves. From our institutes of higher learning to the financial sector, we have enslaved Africans to thank for it all. Acknowledging that bothers us as a country and disturbs the delusion that our “Protestant Work Ethic” is the root of our prosperity. The First Lady removed one small stone from a mountain of delusion that must come down.

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.