9+ Goals for Black Folks for the Next Four Years and Beyond

by Leslye Joy Allen

Historian, Educator, Theatre and Jazz Advocate & Consultant, Doctoral Student

Copyright © 2012 by Leslye Joy Allen.  All Rights Reserved.

1.  Do not spend one dime at anything owned or managed by Donald Trump.  Trump is within his rights to dislike President Obama; he is within his rights to criticize President Obama’s policies.  He should not be allowed, however, to disrespect the office of the president simply because the person who occupies that office is a person of African descent.  He can call his behavior whatever he wants to call it, but if you are Black, you know exactly what Trump’s problem is.  Do not spend your money with him or with any person or organization that does business with him.  Here’s an extra history lesson on Donald Trump for you:  When Trump filed for bankruptcy over a decade ago because his casinos lost money, he tried to blame federal and state laws that have little control over Native American casinos.  Because Native American Nations are technically sovereign nations within the United States, states and the federal government have not exercised a high degree of regulation on these casinos when they are operated on lands owned by Native American Reservations.  Trump voiced opposition to some states and the federal government’s lack of interference and regulation of Native American casinos because he wanted to monopolize the casino industry.  What kind of a person would deny Native Americans—arguably the most oppressed group in the United States—a means of self-determination?

2.  Boycott Florida.  Keep your Black behinds off its beaches and out of its hotels.  Stay out of Disneyland.  Do not even buy Florida oranges and orange juice.  Here’s another history lesson: In 1990 White Cubans in Miami and other Florida cities designated South African leader Nelson Mandela persona non grata because he dared praise Fidel Castro for supporting him when Mandela was fighting against an apartheid system that demoralized and murdered hundreds of thousands of South African Blacks.  Do not misunderstand—White Cubans have the right to hate Fidel Castro.  He stripped many of them and their ancestors of their property in the early days of the Cuban Revolution.  Other individuals were imprisoned and brutalized.  To diminish or disregard Castro’s persecution of them is not fair.  However, many of these same White Cubans also persecuted and routinely discriminated against Black Cubans.   Moreover, when any group of people suffer persecution—particularly as long and as virulently as Black South Africans—you would think that Mandela, a man wrongly imprisoned for 27 years, would receive some level of understanding and empathy from other persecuted individuals.  Mandela did not receive that kind of consideration in Florida.

Florida has also had a lot of trouble with voting procedures.  Remember the state  needed federal and Supreme Court intervention to settle the 2000 presidential election.  Florida is also the same state that spent much of 2012 trying to disenfranchise voters to the point where it angered so many voters that they came out in record numbers to vote in the presidential election.  That number included entire communities of Latinos, African Americans, Jews, women, and etcetera.  It also took the state three days to finish counting the votes.

This is also the state where in February 2012 Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old Black boy, was killed walking home from a store, unarmed.  We can grant George Zimmerman, his killer, the right to call the police and say that Martin looked suspicious.  Yet, until he actually saw Martin do something, Zimmerman should have stayed in his car as the 911 Operator told him to do.  Do you need me to keep going?  Do not give Florida your money; and demand this boycott of Florida from all Black organizations, performance artists, politicians, clergy, you name it.  We have earned the right to protect our interests.

3.  Keep your money in your pocket and in your bank account as much as possible.  Many of President Obama’s enemies think that WE Black folks only take handouts from the government rather than earning a combined $836 billion dollars a year working on a variety of jobs and in a variety of professions.  So many of the President’s enemies do not know or believe that WE Black folks place a minimum of over $500 billion dollars (or more) back into the United States economy every year.  Since so many folks assume WE contribute nothing, let us hold on to our money and spend it wisely and only with those businesses, corporations, and individuals that put something tangible back in our communities.  If you want to know where our money goes, visit: Target Market News and read the best consumer and spending reports on Black Americans on the web.

4.  Face the reality that we need to cut federal spending.  Some social programs need a serious overhaul or elimination.  For example, the Housing Voucher Program (formerly called “Section 8 housing”) demands that the people that qualify for such housing must have an income that is at least 50% less than the average income in the neighborhood where the house of their choice is located.  Rental rates are based on the average rental rates in the neighborhood where the houses are located.  Typically Housing voucher renters pay 30 per cent of that average rental rate, with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) paying the remaining 70 percent to the owner of the property.  Occasionally renters’ portion of rents are raised should they begin to earn higher salaries.  However, there is no time limit on how long an individual can remain in this kind of housing.  There is no concrete incentive in this program for participants to seek higher-paying jobs and risk disqualification from participation in the program. Even worse, if property values suddenly go up in a neighborhood where some Housing Voucher renters live, these same renters have another risk: they might be priced out of the houses they currently rent and live in.  Why continue to rent to a Housing Voucher Renter if you can acquire another renter that can afford the higher rents without the assistance of HUD?  It is time to set some limits.

5.  For that percentage of Black Americans who have problems with Latinos and other immigrants, remember that a considerable number of Latinos and other immigrants are also people with African ancestry (whether they admit it or not).  While I have certainly met many folks who would rather die than highlight or admit any African ancestry, I have also met many more who freely acknowledge and embrace their Africanity!  Many of them have lived here in this country for a long time and many others who are recent arrivals are here to stay, so you would do well to build or continue building coalitions with them and find ways to work together.

6.  Do not put up with racism, but do not hyperventilate about it either.  Some White folks are not going to change.  Stop wasting your time, efforts and energy trying to change them.  And those White folks that you know that are always so nice to you, but who always try to look the other way when you or someone else brings up a racist incident; and when they can no longer ignore what happened they try to act like that kind of incident is so unusual—Be courteous to them, but keep them at arms length.  No matter how seemingly innocuous and/or well-meaning and/or kind and/or generous they may be, any person or group of people that attempts to deny the obvious are part of the problem.  It is not your job to teach them or fix them.  No one can fix anything if one refuses to look at it for what it is.

7.  Invest in Africa!  Hell, the Chinese are already heavily invested and building in several developing African countries.  You might as well join the effort.

8.  Global Warming is not a joke; and we as a people contribute as much or more to the problem as anyone.  Read everything you can from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)  (I have been a member for 15 years).  Study the reports on the household and cosmetic products you use at Environmental Working Group (EWG).  Make sure you read their report Pollution in Minority Newborns,” if you want to know how serious this is.  Check out my old blog “Mercy, Mercy Me: Black, Clean and Green!” plugging a younger and progressive Black man who runs a business that offers products that help clean up the environment and save you money in the process.

9.  Talk to people and listen to people who do some kind of work or express ideas that are different from the work you do and from the ideas you express and believe in.  This is how new ideas are born and it is also the best way to find out what is truly going on with people you may someday have to rely on.  I recently met a group of young academics that only socialized with each other.  These same academics also wrote some of the most useless scholarly work I have ever read.  I also have met many younger performance artists (35 and under) who do the same thing—they only interact with one another and still cannot figure out why no one comes to see the show!  If you do not communicate with folks outside your profession and inadvertently imply that those other folks’ contributions are not as important as your own contributions, then you cannot expect them to follow you or support you.  The current Republican Party and Mitt Romney’s failed presidential campaign provides a good lesson—They lost the election for a variety of reasons.  Yet, they truly lost the bid for the presidency because they only talked to each other and they believed that their opinions were the only ones that mattered; everybody else had to have been wrong.  Do not stay in the same kind of cocoon, that is unless you want to resemble the current Republican Party.

10. This line is for you to add your own personal goal.  You know what you want to do.  You know what you are capable of doing.  Do it!

Peace.

Copyright © 2012 by Leslye Joy Allen.  All Rights Reserved.

Leslye Joy Allen is proud to support the good work of Clean Green Nation.  Visit the website to learn more about it: Gregory at Clean Green Nation!

Creative Commons License This Blog was written by Leslye Joy Allen and is protected by U. S. Copyright Law and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.  Any partial or total reference to this blog, or any total or partial excerpt of this blog must contain a direct reference to this hyperlink: http://leslyejoyallen.com with Leslye Joy Allen clearly stated as the author.

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Mercy, Mercy Me: Black, Clean, and Green!

by Leslye Joy Allen

Historian, Educator, Theatre and Jazz Advocate & Consultant, Doctoral Student

Copyright © 2012 by Leslye Joy Allen. All Rights Reserved.

I am sure there is someone who saw the title of this blog and instantly thought of the late Marvin Gaye’s environmental anthem from 1971, “Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology).”  Well, this is not exactly about Marvin Gaye.  Yet, music can trigger an entire series of memories.  Music is as much a cultural and historical marker of the times in which we live and have lived through as anything else.  However, I arrived at this title and this blog via a beautiful and talented woman named Freda Payne.  If you recognize that name, then you probably remember her anti-Vietnam era song “Bring the Boys Home.”  Freda sang “Bring the Boys Home” with a sense of urgency and longing that none of us who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s will ever forget.  It is ironic, but no accident that Freda’s anti-war anthem and Marvin Gaye’s song bemoaning our poisoning of the environment were released in the same year.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, you can do a quick Google or YouTube search and find all the information, beautiful music and pointed messages you need.  Yet, this blog is not exactly about music.

Not long ago, I received a sweet and thoughtful message from Freda Payne, along with a request from her to tell folks about her son Gregory who is a partner with Clean Green Nation.  Before I could even visit the website, I heard Freda’s song in my head, then I heard Marvin Gaye.  These were songs from my childhood and adolescence.  As the music played in my head, I looked up Clean Green Nation on the Internet.  It specializes in environmentally sound and clean energy for your home, your business, and even your farm.  I smiled as I clicked on one section of the website after another because one of the first things that struck me about the website was the same thing that struck me about Freda’s request.—Her request, like the website itself, was filled with a deep understanding about this nation’s need to reduce its dependence on foreign oil, and the need to reduce greenhouse gases so that everyone can breathe cleaner air.  She is also a proud mother.  Her son Gregory is one of a growing number of young Black Americans committed to this admirable and much needed goal.

I visited what has to be one of the very best websites and businesses for selling, installing, promoting, and explaining clean energy.  The best part about what Gregory and Clean Green Nation are doing is that there is some item or service available there for every budget.  Solar panels and wind turbines are available for homes and businesses.  For under $20.00, you can purchase a variable flow showerhead that saves water; another nifty gadget that helps you to time and shorten your showers is available for $2.99.  Importantly, Clean Green Nation has one of the best Learning Centers that I have ever seen.  In clear language, visitors to the site find out exactly how solar and wind energy work.  They learn about radiant barriers that keep heat out of a house in the summer and hold more heat in during the winter.  A range of services and products are offered that will simultaneously save the customer money and help clean up the environment at the same time—I cannot stress the importance of these factors when it comes to marketing anything affiliated with that word “environment” to Black and other communities of color.  There was a time when I would go to rallies and lectures about the environment and I could count the number of Black folks (including myself) in attendance on one hand.

The first time I told someone I was an environmentalist was over fifteen years ago.  The man looked at me strangely, as I stood there with my cloth shopping bags.  I went into one of my quick talks about how we should use “these bags” instead of the petroleum based plastic bags many stores continue to use.  Once, I even got a manager at a local grocery store to start recycling these same petroleum based bags.  However, for a long time there seemed to be a kind of disconnect about the whole concept of cleaning up the environment in many Black communities; and that is a shame because WE Black folks, and other peoples of color, are usually the first to suffer from environmental toxicity.  It is no accident that toxic waste dumps are often located near or in poor communities, particularly poor Black communities.  Yet, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, WE all bear responsibility and have the capacity to contribute to the fight to clean up the environment.  I say this so that those folks who read this, who happen to be White or members of some other ethnic group, do not feel left out.  My message in this blog, however, is deliberately directed at Black people because information about the environment has not always reached or been directed toward Black communities.  This is where Clean Green Nation comes in.

While Gregory services the West Coast and West Hollywood specifically, anyone can order products and services from his website.  Even more important, anyone can learn more about how to lower utility bills and help the environment!  It is just that simple. I must add something important here: Gregory was not born when his mother sang that song that showed the human and personal costs to us as we lost one young man after another in the Vietnam War.  The song was so potent that U. S. Armed Forces Radio banned it from its airwaves.  Gregory was not born when Marvin Gaye sang a song with lyrics filled with sadness over the way we all had poisoned our natural environment.  The tragedy is that both of these songs are still relevant some forty plus years later because the problems we were dealing with in 1971 are still with us today.  I remember it well.  Future generations do not so much need new songs as they need new songs with different themes.  Now when I was a kid, James Brown taught us to chant, “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.”  Today I ask you to support a committed young man who drives a hybrid in a town that often prides itself on glamour; a young man trying to make an honest living and help clean up the planet at the same time.  Say it with me now, “Let’s Be Black, Clean and Green.”

Copyright © 2012 by Leslye Joy Allen. All Rights Reserved.

Leslye Joy Allen is proud to support Clean Green Nation.  Visit the website to learn more about it: Gregory at Clean Green Nation!

Creative Commons License This Blog was written by Leslye Joy Allen and is protected by U. S. Copyright Law and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.  Any partial or total reference to this blog, or any total or partial excerpt of this blog must contain a direct reference to this hyperlink: http://leslyejoyallen.com with Leslye Joy Allen clearly stated as the author.