Why not another Black Wall Street? By James Clingman Jr, Guest Columnist, NNPA

by James Clingman

-Guest Columnist-, NNPA

(James Clingman, Jr. is the founder and executive director of the Greater Cincinnati African-American Chamber of Commerce and author of the book, "Economic Empowerment or Economic Enslavement—We have a choice." (enterzone.com/power). Contact him at P.O. Box 6722, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45206, or call (513) 489 4132).

 

(NNPA)—I am sure you have read or heard the news about the call for Black people to invest more. The Rev. Jesse Jackson is on the case from Wall Street in New York to Silicon Valley in California, buying shares and suggesting we do the same. Meanwhile, Carol and Duane Davis are taking their Coalition of Black Investors Seminars on the road this year. And there are many more brothers and sisters promoting increased investments by Black people. Good idea?

 

Yes, to a certain degree. If we are going to create individual wealth we must invest and be prepared to stay in for the long haul. It’s certainly not about Passbook Savings Accounts or even Certificates of Deposit anymore. They are pass and, quite frankly, rip-off accounts, considering how much we end up paying banks for "extra charges" and interest on their loans. In that scenario we can do nothing but lose. So, yes, investing is a good idea.

 

Investment clubs are an excellent way to get started in the stock market, and being no expert I will stop there. Go see a financial manager or a stockbroker—a Black one, of course, and let him or her guide you through that process. But, yes, do plan to invest some of your money in the Wall Street gravy train. Traditionally Black people have stayed away from stocks as if they were esoteric commodities reserved only for the rich. Well, how do you think many of those people got rich in the first place? Bingo!

As I said, I agree with this latest strategy to invest, to buy shares of stocks, to have a "voice" in corporate America. My admonition is that we should not put all of our eggs in one basket.

 

By investing all of our dollars in Wall Street, we end up doing what we have been doing far too long, that is, creating wealth for someone else. Have you ever wondered why those white men and women standing on that balcony at the New York Stock Exchange always clap and cheer when the market closes? You got it. Sure, individual Black people will be better off as a result of their "diversified portfolios," but will Black people in general be better off?

 

I say, while we are investing in Fortune 500s, trying to make a killing in the market, we should and must also be willing to invest in our own neighborhoods, in our own businesses, in ourselves. Why can’t we recreate our own Black Wall Street again? We like to brag on the one in Tulsa, Okla., back in the 1920s, but too many of us are willing to simply let it remain little more than a pleasant memory.

By putting all of our eggs in the Blue Chip basket and in the baskets of businesses owned by everyone other than those, especially Black people, in our own communities, we are simply perpetuating our own collective economic decline.

 

Without ownership we are nothing in this country. According to financial expert T.M. Pryor, "If the Black business establishment disappeared from the American scene this moment, the American stock market would not react one smidgen." What does that say for Black business clout? What does it say for our economic position in this country? Besides, how much of a "voice" can we have in Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Procter and Gamble and General Motors anyway? We could invest several million dollars and our "voice" would still be a mere "whisper" among the din in those corporate boardrooms.

 

If we do not also invest in ourselves and create Black Wall Streets all over this country, we will create individual Black affluence, but our collective economic clout will remain status quo. In every Black neighborhood there are potential and real projects that can be funded by Black people for Black people, you know, the way the Jewish people do it, the way the Asian people do it.

How about pooling some Black funds via a Limited Liability Corporation and creating wealth through economic development in "The Hood," the way some brothers are doing on the West Side of Atlanta to the tune of $130 million? Or, how about making it a weekly habit to pool your funds in your local Black financial organization (if you have one) and invest them from time to time in small business development?

 

Here’s one last investment strategy for us. Invest your dollars in Black attorneys, doctors, grocers, photographers, computer technicians, consultants, financial planners, sports agents, media outlets, and all the rest. That’s what our people did in Oklahoma, Philadelphia, and Durham, N.C., way back when. That’s how they built their own Black Wall Street. Why can’t we do it again? I think we can. If we do not allow ourselves to be lured totally away from our collective agenda, we can have Black Wall Streets once again

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(James Clingman, Jr. is the founder and executive director of the Greater Cincinnati African-American Chamber of Commerce and author of the book, "Economic Empowerment or Economic Enslavement—We have a choice." (enterzone.com/power). Contact him at P.O. Box 6722, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45206, or call (513) 489 4132).

 

 

 

 

 

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