Thursday, January 12, 2017



By Fahim A Knight-El

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I often attend Kwanzaa celebrations each year, my son who is a musician and my daughter is an African dancer, the arts have been a staple in my home and family for many years, because of our association with our children’s involvement in the arts,  I really enjoy the African music (the rhythms of the drums does something for the human spirit and has the ability to rekindle the ancient past of our African ancestral linkages), dances (the movements tells folklore stories which connects us to our African heritage in body movements and sound), the Elders imparting wisdom and knowledge sharing their life experiences as members of the movement and the struggles and sacrifices they made relative to our quest for liberation. I love hearing about the history of how Kwanzaa came about and the inspiration behind Dr. Maulana Karenga (Ron Karenga) who founded Kwanzaa as a cultural holiday and celebration in 1966 in Los Angeles, California. The recitations of the Seven Nguza Saba Principals each year reinvigorate my spirit as an African born in America and the celebrations allows you to publically reconnect to our original energy source. But it is the principles that are rooted in responsibility of what we as a collective people of African descendant should be doing in order to move forward politically, economically and socially. The seven principles (unity, self-determination, working together, supporting each other, purpose, creativity and faith) have all the necessary unifying language relative to organizational and/or movement theories, planks and ideals needed to empower black people and resolve our 300 year old problems that Chattel slavery created for all of its descendants. Although, the Transatlantic slave trade ended in 1807 and Chattel slavery ended in 1865 in which according to law and history, we have been so-called free for over 150 years—and our so-called freedom have come at a great cost (the dehumanization process left us as a scarred people).  I asked myself, if we are a so-called free people, why are we so lagging behind other races and nationalities in our economic, political and social development and progress? (let me be clear this is not to dismiss the gains we have made over the last 150 years in America in all fields of endeavors). I wanted to focus this article on the black economy and as I was reading over the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa in which I immediately saw in these cultural rituals and philosophical principles (hope and inspiration) concrete planks of possibly having the potential to resolving almost one hundred percent of the problems that negatively impacts and affects so-called black Americans prosperity and success; thus, only if we could agree to rally around them and start to build.

I have not followed Dr. Claud Anderson's economic strategies and proposed plan to empowering the black community (yet as the CEO of my Think Tank, I often hear a lot of good praises for the work that Dr. Claud Anderson has done and may be all of us should get behind his economic strategies and tactics to empower black America). But I think most of it is perhaps covered in his two books titled, Powernomics and Black Labor and White Wealth in which I have both of them are in my library. Some African Americans have had historical problems with signing on to anything involving Dr. Karenga because of his controversial history that involved his organization’s confrontation with the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in 1960s on the west coast (I refuse to go down that road) because what I am proposing is much bigger than internal disagreements with Dr. Karenga, in fact other than us using his model, he does not factor into this equation, I think sometimes we allow our petty differences to keep us divided as a people and this keeps our potential for collective success stagnated and derailed. The Seven Principles of Nguza Saba are rooted in theoretical language and has the workable and concrete planks to build a realistic model to success. The first principle is unity and if we are to change our predicament, it must start from the basis of unity and racial solidarity, it must first stem from efforts to eradicate any philosophical barriers, which for us it is often purveyed in our religious affiliations and our exclusive loyalty to our faith traditions. We allow religion to become divisive—Black Christians often view non-Black Christians with suspicion and to work with Black Muslims is often considered a point of contention and although, the Black community has become religiously diverse—the historical stereotypes and the fears are nevertheless, real in some of our minds and we think to have non-Christian allies will somehow impede upon our religious values and spiritual worldviews, and it becomes sacrilegious to move and operate in circles whom might not share our Christian values (the enemies of our rise play on this and keeps us divided and dysfunctional as a people and community).

The negative historical stigmas which often are based in ignorance and is still overwhelmingly indicative of our behavior and roads to trust are often met and tethered by both suspicion and fear and the problems of the black community are left without real leadership and community consensus and/or and viable action plans to move us forward as a people. We create artificial barriers in which our church is often the very focal point of our collective division. Black Catholics and Black Protestants both recognize that the African American community share social, political and economic problems in 2017—ranging from poor public education, poor charter schools, black on black homicides, drug distribution, gang related violence, addiction, HIV crisis, disillusionment, and deteriorating of the black family, etc., and most of all wealth disparities. Our communities throughout America are crime ridden and our neighborhoods have become dilapidated. How can we afford not to seek unity and work towards revitalizing the black community and view this urgency as our national security issue and number one concern?

I know many black people got very upset when President-elect Donald Trump made a similar assessment, but there were some truth to Trump's assessment as he described, but we have become so accustomed to the likes of Hillary Clinton tickling our ears and keeping us in the trick bag and would prefer not hearing the undiluted truth from Donald Trump. Trump’s approach to government will, perhaps force us to rely on each other and work more to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps as Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey and Elijah Muhammad instructed us to and stop depending on white people to solve our problems. We also know his comments were from the mindset of white supremacy and he is only part of the Matrix and he is going to lead America down some dark paths, but lets not be alarmed he is only doing what he was born and ordained to do. We cannot allow ego and self-interest to continue to create reactionary behavior and we must approach our new agendas and objectives from a different paradigm. African American leadership both local and national will have to stop allowing outside forces and external interests to keep us oppressed and they eventually serve as the beneficiaries of our disunity. The status quo and government knows that the entire concept of criminalization is very profitable to sustaining the prison industrial complex and the criminal justice system; mass black male incarceration is systematically being carried out as part of the new industry.

Our collective wealth as it pertains to our Gross National Product (GNP) was comparable to any emerging nation; African Americans had a GNP of 1.5 trillion dollars last year, this constitutes some serious wealth under any monetary standards. But why are we so poor? Every ethnic and immigrant people who have settled in the United States whether it was in the 1800s or the early 1900s, they have always rallied around culture, ethnicity and nationality and they come to America and empower themselves on the work and sacrifices of their descendants (culture remains at the center of their modus operandi). They build institutions (businesses and schools) that extends beyond the church, synagogue, and mosque and over generations they empowered themselves by creating generational wealth that is readily passed down to their descendants, it alleviates reinventing the wheel and simultaneously gained respectability with external institutions such as financial institutions, government agencies, banks, credit unions, insurance companies, investment groups, real estate companies, goods and product distributors, manufacturing, construction and trade builders and any other service oriented professions, etc. They are very good at following the money. They are also good at using their consumer spending power to build mutual external relations and create business and commercial opportunities for empowering their community and people.

The Jews, Asians, Latinos, Italians, Arabs, Russians, Polish, etc., have through hard-work and racial and ethnic unity and solidarity have created and amassed respectable amounts of economic power and hard currency wealth. African Americans have pursued politics and not economics and this strategy has contributed to our down fall—this is not to say that becoming the mayor, police chief, sheriff, city councilperson, school superintendent, governor, senator, congressman and or president is not important, but there is nothing more important than creating a strong economic base. We have tremendous spending and purchasing power, but we don't invest in ourselves and the black community. If we are going to change our condition, it must start from using our collective capital to build businesses and transform our community by creating employment opportunities and raise the standards of living, in particular for young African Americans; we also must promote high academic standards and post secondary education and work with colleges and universities to implement curriculums and studies that are relevant to the employment market and implement curriculums that teaches the benefits of entrepreneurship (and promote trade based and vocational education as well). We have to do a better job of fostering alliances and partnerships with both the private and public sectors with the objective of gaining access to resources and being able to rely on the expertise and the skills of others for our interest.

The church can no longer continue to ignore the economic and social issues while our community dies a slow death. We have to have the conversation of strategizing and commit to pooling our collective resources together beyond our commitment to the church building fund and expand our economic base in a progressive way. We deposited millions of dollars into white banks and just this summer it was this talk on social media about African Americans desiring to rallying around the idea of putting our money into black banks and this was supposed to have been a national initiative.  I viewed this as a good start and could have been a game changer in expanding collective black revenue and creating monetary and potential investment leverages for African American banks to have black capital, which to reinvest back into the African American community and restore dignity by financing long term profitable black business ventures and enterprises. Thus, most of our churches every Monday and Tuesday deposited millions of dollars into big white banking institutions that often do not invest back into the black community. But across town you can immediately see well lit supermarkets, Whole Food Markets, Bistros and cafes, Panera Bread, banks, condos, hotels, a variety of eateries, and right across the railroad tracks there is a stark economic difference, often in most major cities you have to search for black business establishments; our communities are like ghost towns.

We use to have black owned restaurants where soul food cuisines were being cooked; now Asians and Arabs own the markets in our community (most black communities are food deserts and it is difficult to find high-quality foods) and our money is being ciphered out and recycled by outsiders who possesses no interest in our economic sustainability and the money that leaves our community often never returns. I am not blaming any people who understand how America functions and have taking economic advantages of creating long-standing opportunities to better themselves and their people by so-called embracing the American dream—these ethnic foreigners have figured out how to get ahead on two fronts by sending United States Dollar (USD) currency to developing nations, the homes and places of their origin in which they convert USD to their national currency and create spending and buying power in their Central and South American economies this is smart economics, which have propelled them to economic success, but our circumstances as a landless people renders us void of this option and other immigrants are allowed to workout of dual markets—national and international. This gives them a clear advantage, because of sharing a homeland and place of origin outside of the United States of America is empowering on so many different fronts. They are turning wealth, which allows them to purchase land and real estate in their native countries (flipping money) then after a number of years those profits and interests from that money slowly returns back to America where they begin to acquire assets and businesses inside the U S. They learn how to play the money game and become successful immigrant citizens. African Americans have no meaningful business relations with Africa and there are no big international trade agreements between continental Africans and Diaspora Africans.  

When I go to major cities, I always look for black owned vegan and vegetarian restaurants or black Muslim owned restaurants to eat and dine, as well as other black establishments to spend my money (we should and must think about spending our money with black people first and make this a mandate which to be carried out throughout black America). We must make conscious efforts to spend our money in the black community with people that look like us—by making every attempt to utilize black business and professional services and invigorate our own economy by being mindful of the importance of becoming more self-sufficient. However, with gentrification taking place throughout America and the encroachment of the Millennials inspired ideals of being able to work and play in the same locale, it has led America into a neo-transition of New Age urban architecture designs and layouts to accommodate a tech base workforce, which have pushed poor people out of the cities (they no longer could afford to live there and shop there). They create appreciating and escalating tax bases and the value of properly both residential and commercial in the gentrification schemes are outside of poor people’s ability to lease or buy.

Yet, we know and understand that this is being systematically done and Donald Trump who is a real estate mogul will continue this onslaught of using the biggest stage which is the Oval Office to legally steal more money and resources and like all other commanders-in-chief blame the poor for America’s woes, but I think he will force us to get up and do something for ourselves and cause us to stop depending upon the United States Government to solve our problems. Trump might be a blessing in disguise for African American people and for all America. Many of us already know that we have nothing coming from the Trump administration and this alone should create a sense of national urgency to develop a long and short term vision and plan to secure our future as a people. So all the African American ministers have to do is just survey the scene in which, we have a church on every corner and our condition as a people is despicable and there exist a bleak reality, which should automatically demand and mandate that we all need to get involved and reclaim our communities back from social destruction. We must work to rebuild our community by beginning to own the business in our community and by pooling our dollars we can begin to buy property and remember this America is for sale.

We must encourage our black farmers to hold on to their valuable farmland and create distribution markets and black co-opts to develop outlets where they have markets to disburse their harvests. We should get behind the Nation of Islam and back their farm efforts in Georgia and preachers should not be fearful of working with Minister Louis Farrakhan and others to devise the solutions we need as a people living in the 21st century. The work of doing this cannot be motivated on sectarian lines and it must be motivated by a common interest, which is to inject innovative business ideals and brick-by-brick begin to lay the foundation of investing in our community and bring them back to life; we cannot continue to talk about the Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma in which the racist white supremacists power structure destroyed in 1921 and we have this nostalgic view of our past business success and do nothing to duplicate that success in 2017.

I think everyone could agree that black homicide rates have become of pandemic proportions in the larger cities in America such as Chicago. It is incumbent upon us to change this reality by unifying as Christians, Muslims, Hebrews and/or whatever we might consider ourselves to be. The times dictate that we get up and do something for ourselves. If not we would be considered failures to our unborn generations. So this Blog is a call to action and I ask that you to share this message with other like minds, in particular with your self, families, business leaders, politicians, ministers, educators, community activist and let us begin this conversation that will lead us to economic success and prosperity. We have the resources, education and wither-all to become a self-sufficient people overnight. Our survival as a people will depend on how we engage in dialogues like this, which my ideals are to move us into action. I must admit, I do not have all the solutions and I might not be sharpest knife in the draw, but I believe in my people and I love my people and I am willing to work on-behalf of my people to see us move beyond our present predicament.

Fahim A. Knight-El Chief Researcher for KEEPING IT REAL THINK TANK located in Durham, NC; our mission is to inform African Americans and all people of goodwill, of the pending dangers that lie ahead; as well as decode the symbolism and reinterpreted the hidden meanings behind those who operate as invisible forces, but covertly rules the world. We are of the belief that an enlightened world will be better prepared to throw off the shackles of ignorance and not be willing participants for the slaughter. Our MOTTO is speaking truth to power. Fahim A. Knight-El can be reached at  

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