The gun control debate is a very polarizing one. People believe guns should be banned. People believe guns are ruining our society. People believe anyone has the right to own one. I’ve kept my opinions private until I listened to callers this weekend on the Smiley and West radio show. Tavis made a point I agree with. He said “Assault and automatic weapons shouldn’t be on the streets in this country.” I fully agree. I even agree that extended round clips should also not be for private citizen (or sporting) use. Most semi-automatic pistols carry at least 10 rounds. In my opinion, that is sufficient for self-defense, (especially if you have marksman training) unless you are being ambushed or assaulted by assassins and that’s just a topic for another time.
I have great respect for all of the blacks that decide to risk anonymity to share their public opinions, lead movements, programs or protests designed to enhance the black race. However, as they gain notoriety and security they must also be careful not to abandon (intentionally or non-intentionally) the understanding of the common persons. The issues affecting you begin to shift as your economic security increases.
I’ve actually owned guns all of my adult life and I encourage anyone around me who are legally, mentally, domestically (Ex: Not foster parents) and physically (Ex: proper usage) able to do the same. Why? I’ll make my point in 3 enumerations.
1. In 1865 southern states adopted “black codes” which included restrictions for blacks to have firearms. By 1968, these codes were cleaned up and became the Gun Control Act of 1968. This Act included persons who were underage, “non-business” convicted criminals, mentally incompetent and users of illegal drugs. So let me highlight some key areas here. Those who commit white-collar crimes are allowed to still possess guns. Black men were falsely convicted of crimes, making them criminals. Black children were (still are) erroneously labeled mentally challenged. If you look closely at this you would see that these areas heavily target restrictions from the black community. Take it or leave it. The reasoning behind this whole disarmament during Reconstruction, in my opinion, was so that blacks could remain vulnerable. The Ku Klux Klan loved it this way but if they attempted to commit assaults against blacks who defended themselves with guns, the KKK retreated. Guess what? This is not a white attribute. It is the attribute of criminals. If criminals know their potential victims are armed, they retreat or reconsider bringing harm to them. Point blank! (No pun intended.) KKK and thugs are cowards! Have the means to defend yourself and they are gone!
2. Government can’t be fully relied on; whether intentional or non-intentional. Our 4th President of the United States, James Madison, said it best “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.” With that being said, we must understand that our government has historically had it wrong many times over. And it is simply because they are being run by humans. Errors, conflict of interest, quid pro quo, job security and emotions all ruin our governmental concept. Cops are dispatched to the wrong addresses. Laws are passed that make matters worse (Ex: No Child Left Behind). So we can’t simply assume that everything the government says or does is a panacea. We are not Angels nor are we being governed in government by Angels. This is why we have the Bill of Rights; to make sure the people are not taking advantage of.
3. It’s about mental health. Men commit the most violent crimes and the majority of them are fatherless. This is a starting point. How are we handling fatherless children? Are the courts, mothers, therapists, family friends, teachers or aloof men doing their parts? We take aim at the gun the same way we take aim at “pitbulls”. We call guns dangerous like we call these dogs the most dangerous breed. Though I disagree, I can accept some of the points made against these breed of dogs. However, guns don’t have a mind or instinct of its own. Its actions are directly linked to the behavior of the person holding it. It is an abstract piece of material.
Here are some solutions – Take notice. All mass shooting happen at places where there are less likely to be guns. Attacks are at festivities, churches, schools and shopping districts. They are not happening at law enforcement shooting ranges, police balls, military ceremonies or military armories. They are happening where the gunman/gunmen believe they will be superior in the situation. So is it safe for me to conclude that law enforcement, politicians and military soldiers, in the eyes of government, are the only ones worthy of safety. Are their lives more precious than the citizens?
I think government should publicly encourage law-abiding able-bodied citizens to arm themselves. This would reduce criminals taking the risk to shoot up places where citizens congregate, perform car jackings, rape, kidnappings, home invasions and more. The flip side to this is, to be completely honest, government doesn’t really want citizens with guns because then it levels the playing field in threats and put law enforcement at a disadvantage. This area is so debatable but again, no time here.
True, countries with stricter gun possession laws have less murder by gun, but they also have less freedom of expression, speech, ownership, etc.
This debate really boils down to, do you trust government to keep you safe or do you want to take on some of that responsibility?
In conclusion, I think black people need to be extra cautious when we decide to jump into this Gun Control debate. Just like black women naively jumped into the women’s liberation feminist woman in the workplace movement, even though black women have always worked throughout the history of this country (whether for pay, slavery or indentured servitude), we must not jump into nor support a movement that will negatively affect us the most.
The debate on marriage has become a very popular and spirited one. Say you don’t believe in same-sex marriage and you are labeled a homophobic. Say you believe everyone deserves happiness and you are labeled anti-Christ. Some believe it should be between a man and a woman while others believe it should also be between same sex couples. The argument should’ve never gotten this far because the problem started prior. The real issue is government should’ve never been allowed to perform marriages in the first place. Marriages came from a religious directive, not a governmental one. The only reason we find ourselves arguing is because government got involved. And when government got involved, the parameters of marriage were all of a sudden changed and re-written at a whim without prayer, meditation or biblical guidance. If we think about it, church and state are also in conflict over divorce. Church recognizes a justifiable divorce for only two reasons: death and adultery. State recognizes many more. The issue lies where we have two different entities sanctioning marriages, meanwhile it should’ve always only been one. So what are we arguing for? The church folks are being distracted when what they should really be arguing about and fighting against is government involvement; and government knows this. This is why church folks are becoming frustrated. Christians want our cake and to eat it too. (I’ll get into that part later.) Nonetheless, the minute government grabbed a hold to marriage and sent the message that it could dictate when and where it took place, and eventually to whom, it justifiably became a civil liberty and less of a religious institution in the eyes of homosexuals.
Since the U.S. Government sends the message that it is the end-all be-all of the globe, and that it has infinite power, then it only makes logical sense that homosexuals go would to it for their rights and demand it change some things about marriage. Christians are late! But the problem is we, like typical humans, want comfort. Now, here is where we want our cake and eat it too. Christians should’ve been vocal when government decided to conduct marriages and protested against it. Bible-toters should’ve seen the writing on the wall when benefits (tax breaks, lower insurance premiums, health benefits, joint property, decision-making capabilities, etc.) were given to those married. We love it when the government is handing our free cheese, but hate it when it tells us what cheese we can eat. It was only sprinkling honey on the future “poison” it would soon ask Christians to eat. Christians, for many years, enjoyed those benefits so do they have a right to confront this modification of marriage that is coming from the government? Should we even recognize marriages that weren’t conducted by a religious leader with a bible and altar? So what we are finding is two types of married folks in society: church married and state married. Church married folks must go to the state (government) to get a license. State married folks don’t need anything from the church. They don’t need a membership card, tithing history and they don’t even have to prove they believe in God. On the surface, the government makes it seem as if it is working with the church, but it is not. It is actually mandating the church. If same-sex marriage becomes a federal law, based on the historical trajectory of the government, I can see them removing the tax-exempt status from churches that refuse to perform same-sex nuptials. What we have today and we have evolved into from the inception of the Bible to now, is the tail wagging the dog. Church once controlled marriages, now, because of Passive want-my-bread-buttered-on-both-sides Christians and economic benefits accepted by the government, government now does the controlling.
We have to cut beneath the real issue here and somewhat blame ourselves for letting things runaway. If we are at fault, then we should simply not be hypocrites. If we view marriage by government as marriage, then do we really have a strong leg to stand on with this modification? I am not even posing an argument for or against gay marriage. I am simply doing the “I told you so” to passive Christians. We have to watch the dog that brings us the bone. If we are okay getting benefits from government for being married, then we shouldn’t get angry when it decides to pass out benefits to others. We lost the battle when we accepted the confirmation of marriage as receiving a license from the government as opposed to when we make the covenant at the altar to God.
Devin Robinson is a business & economics professor and author of 8 books. Learn more about him at http://www.DevinRobinson.com.
Michael Winans, a third generation member of the famous Winans family, who are known for their work in gospel entertainment, has been convicted of defrauding churches and has been sentenced to 13 years in prison by a federal court. Now, before I go into my opinion editorial, let me first say that I am not casting blame on Michael, instead I am casting shame on him. However, he is not the first sign of a member of the black community gone aberrant. In fact, this issue has been our story ever since the 1970’s and 1980’s. We are continuing to slip away from the progress we’ve made and succumb to waywardness. It is beyond the “act”. It is beyond our culture. It is even beyond our psyche. It is deeply embedded in our emotions. That carrot that is placed in front of our children’s eyes, the situation that we don’t train them to ignore if it will jeopardize their integrity.
Here is the back story: According to News One, (http://newsone.com/2250191/michael-winans-jr-ponzi-scheme/) Michael Winans, Jr. traveled to churches claiming that members would be investing in crude oil in Saudi Arabia and will get $1000 – $8000 in returns within 60 days. He collected the cash. His scheme racked up $8M. (This is why pastors give me the third degree when I offer to come in and train their members on entrepreneurship; one shady black man making it difficult for a reputable one. I digress.) I am often baffled by stories of kids who don’t need to commit crime and bilk monies out of others doing so. Well, that segues into my next point of character and culture.
We can say that the sons of urban “kings and queens” have had trouble carrying the torch of their ancestry, coupled with the culture of America as a whole, it is becoming even more difficult for blacks to “relay” the prestige. Why is that? It is because we are systematically hitting the stage before the struggle. See, struggle enables us to connect with our inner self, it helps us meditate, critically think and teaches us to endure through some of the toughest most intimate battles our personal selves will encounter. I always say that parents should rescue their children from dangerous situations but not difficult ones. When we rescue them from “difficult” we cheat them out of “endurance”.
I remember when I first left the Virgin Islands out of my parents’ home. I was 18 years old and living on my own in North Carolina. I had no established credit or a boatload of cash. I had no longtime friends and little vehicular mobility. I didn’t live on a public transportation route, and of course, cell phones were not affordable back then so I had none. I used a payphone in the cold to call home and spent the rest of my time building my social character. I had to learn to make friends who were not from the Virgin Islands, much less, the Caribbean. I had to deal with my reality. I distinctively remembered begging my mother to co-sign on a car loan for me so I could get around, but she refused and didn’t budge. I eventually got a car at 29% interest and had what seemed like an eternity of car payments. Today, I have mastered managing money, resources and time. I am not fearful of solitude and I have a good grasp on how to solve problems.
I now have a son who recently left the coop. He is in college in a small town and faces some of the similar challenges I faced, minus no cell phone and vehicle to move around. Yet, he is disgruntled and has waved the flag for rescue but I encourage him to endure. He is not happy with my insistence, like I was back in the early 1990’s at my mother, but as I reflect on the many challenges I had to face since then and my preparedness and ability to conquer them over the years, I am forever grateful to my mother for not propelling me to the “stage” before I understood struggle.
Struggle builds character. Many of us know this, so like I said before, it is not that we don’t have psychological or philosophically awareness. Our issue becomes how we display our expression of love to our children. In a society that now relates “love” to compassion, help, inclusion, and being politically correct, we are systematically setting our “non-struggled” children up for failure. Society is saying to us that if we make them struggle while we (parents) have the ability not to, we are damaging them. Then we ask “What’s wrong with these kids of today?” The real question is “What’s wrong with these parents of today?” Why can’t we see that loving our children is preparing them for the battles of life and temptations of corruption? You may not like the music of Master P or P. Diddy but they both insisted that their boy children struggle through college on their own rather than simply inheriting the fortress. They got what struggle produces and I am only left to assume that they are trying to instill that into their children.
My mother had plenty of resources and an established track record where she could have easily propelled me into a fancy sports car (that’s what I wanted but had to settle on an economy car since I was getting it on my own) back then. Over the years I had to learn, what was hers was hers. I was now charged with the challenge of being a man and leading my own life free from the parental crutch. This is the message I give to my son. I tell him the life he had preceding his 18th birthday was a life his mother and I created and loaned to him. His loan was now due and it is time for him to develop his own credit line.
This is what’s destroying our community: our emotions. We are following the instructions of the TV shows, political soundbytes and more. They use the statistics of the child who was forced by their parents to struggle and became a serial killer or drug addict to be the rule, rather than the exception. More children turn out positively when they understand struggle than those who become criminals because of it. It sounds nice to say “be nice” to our children. But as parents, our job is to make them successful, not happy. At the end of the day, happiness is subjective and as committed as an ocean breeze. If we don’t commit to the character development of our children through struggle, we can continue to expect the embarrassment they will give us when they do set foot on that stage.
It’s no secret. I’ve never held back that I don’t agree with everything our President says or does. But that’s natural. Many great kings were made and great decisions from them emerged out of being contested. That’s my belief and what I firmly do at 100% is give his position and his office the full respect it deserves no matter where my opinion falls. Perhaps it’s my conditioning as a former military soldier. You can disagree with the man but remain loyal to his seat. The story about Lupe Fiasco being thrown off of stage while engaged in a 30-minute anti-Obama rant baffles me. Why would he do that? Is it ego or prophecy? There is a fine line between prophet and paranoid. When I hear of stories like these I wonder what the person is. There was Noah and there was Harold Camping. Anyways, I digress.
So then I returned to Atlanta to decompress and to my amazement the critics were all over what President Obama didn’t say and what Beyonce didn’t do. I just don’t understand it. When will we ever say, “Job well done!” Are we so bent on our personal opinions that no matter what strides someone makes we can’t simply say, “Job well done” and leave it at that? Really??? So President Obama didn’t talk about a jobs plan… Do you realize he was swearing into his second term as president??? So Beyonce allegedly lip synched. Really? In the famous words of retired NBA player Allen Iverson, “What are talking about here, practice?” Do we not realize she was asked to sing at a historic event in front of millions of people while some of us sit at home wishing we only had tickets to get in? So she simulated a song she sang previously, like the president simulated a ceremony he did the day before.
When it’s all said and done, I enjoyed being there. I was glad to have been given the opportunity to have such access. It’s 2013! What are you planning to do? Are you planning to make accomplishments, get access, get invited or are you having more fun criticizing the success of those with a different opinion of you. Good Luck!
Devin Robinson is a business and economics professor and author of “Power M.O.V.E.: How to Transition from Employee to Employer.” You can reach him at http://www.PowerMoveProfessionals.com.
There is this true story of a beauty supply store owned by a black lady who had an interesting perspective. She started up her business in a great location with no competition. Her sales were great. She could afford staff and keep inventory on her shelves. A few years later, future competitors came sniffing around.
I’m not going to be coy about it. They were Korean. They would come into her store browse aisles, listen to customer requests, compare prices and a watch how her inventory moved. When her employees brought it to her attention, her response would be, “I’m not going to stoop to their level and kick them out of my store!” Basically, they were inspecting the “existing”. It’s normal. They did it to me too. Within the next year, 3 Korean owned stores were setup around her and she had to let all of her staff go. Since then she has had to reduce her inventory to nearly nothing and made most of her space a spa.
There is much to discuss in her story. We can either say those Koreans are ruthless or we can say it’s the nature of business-you must simply adapt. We can even say (what I say)… Interrogating a spy is not stooping, it’s protecting.
When you setup a business, you set it up to make money from customers, not to show the playbook to your competitors. If you own a private car and someone jumped into your back seat, handed you a $20 bill as fare and demanded you drive them to a destination, would you take them? I’m guessing you would tell them your car isn’t a taxi and they need to get out, correct?
This is no different. Cars are used for different reasons (including taxiing) but if someone tried to use yours for purposes you didn’t intend, you would simply correct them. So if your business is setup to accommodate customers and not for show-and-tell, correct who comes in there to inspect it.
Somewhere along the line we developed a culture where we would say yes to others even when they always say no to us. We often confuse business with freedom fighting. We sometimes dangerously approach business as some type of peaceful civil disobedience where nobility is displayed by us having open non-resisting arms. We invite people in everything, even in an arena where not being inviting is expected (in business) instead of having stern conviction. Koreans aren’t ruthless. They are astute. Middle-Easterners aren’t instinctually hateful. They are direct. Don’t confuse it. Business includes competition. This is where we lose our footing. We think business is steered by friendship.
In America, it’s that attitude that oppresses us. Just to digress for a second. In our community, the minute a friend Is made, the friend put away their checkbook. We assume that once an acquaintance is made, no transactions should take place; we shouldn’t have to purchase-we are entitled to the secrets of our friend’s business. And over the years, this belief has been hurting our feelings over and over.
If you think showing your business’ playbook is a nice and friendly thing to do, then you won’t ever make it to the SuperBowl, nor will your children benefit from second generational wealth.
I want to hear from you though. What do you think? Do you think the way she handled her situation was the righteous thing to do, does courtesy supersede business?
The black community has tons and tons of charities, churches, activists and books. Then why does our community continue to socio-economically lag behind? The fact is these entities that I mentioned all seem noble in the eye of the public, however does this nobility translate into success?
Our community has a culture that has confused the most intelligent of us. It is the result of years of slavery, descendants of slaves, Caribbean and African immigrants, anger, in-fighting, token blacks, poor blacks, Nation of Islam, civil rights activists, criminals and sold-out politicians. They all have different life experiences and different agendas. There is no one central mission amongst our group. We are simply fragmented. This fragmentation has led to varying causes and messages being spread. However, there is one message that seems to be universal throughout our culture; we believe in moral encouragement with no financial support.
Well, can you explain professor? I sure can. It is not far-fetched for us to hear people encourage a struggling black pastor, black community activist, black charity founder or black self-help author, yet pass them by without financially supporting them. It is no secret. We are rich with inspiring words for these people but poor with financial support. We make excuses as to our lack of financial support through donorship or purchases, yet by week’s end we have purchased two tickets to the Rick Ross or Frankie Beverly and Mays concert (whichever floats your boat). Don’t confuse my Op-Ed as anti-entertainment either. What I am saying is we lack balance. We make the excuse that we all need a break or deserve a treat but that break and treat overshadows our work towards progress by 1000 fold. I mean, we would quicker drop $200 on an outfit, a trip, partying, etc. and make an excuse out of spending $20 on a workshop that would enrich our lives.
Here is the thing. Politicians use soundbites that we etch in stone, such as “Everyone deserves a free education…” We take these soundbites to the bank and thus refuse to spend a dime on our education, whether we are getting it in a classroom or at a conference. We feel we deserve “the best” so we overlook a small growing locally owned black business and patronize the large, established, resource-rich corporate conglomerate instead. We are forever being victimized by agreeing with the government’s divisive claims of black empowerment, despite the lack of restoration of black people’s minds since 1863. Okay, I don’t want to digress.
What I am saying is. We must stop assuming that verbal encouragement is support enough of our forward-moving organizations. We must eliminate the robotics in our words like, “keep doing what you are doing” without dropping something in the person’s register, pocket or offering plate. (Our children witness your words with contradicting actions, which only leads to the perpetuation of this dysfunction.) Contrary to popular belief, according to the National Baptist Convention, “Approximately 98% of black churches have less than 100 members.” This means that we have much more struggling or small-impacting churches than our perception believes.
I am not speaking in abstract. I can’t tell you how many times my friends say they support me but never read any of my books or patronized any of my businesses. Shamefully, my success is more attributed to strangers than familiar faces.
We are saddened when organizations close, authors give-up, and businesses shutdown, yet we don’t blame ourselves for letting it happen. It has also become part of culture; failure. We expect it.
It’s no wonder why gutsy trailblazers like Jesse Jackson and Rev Al Sharpton are forced to seek corporate support or side gigs to fund their efforts. But when they do, we criticize them for selling out while we are across the street standing on line to get $500 tickets for the NBA All-Star game. We put the black empowerment industry out of business but expect the black empowerment construct to be there when we desperately need it.
At the end of the day, we should be outraged every time Lil Wayne sells out a concert and Hosea Feed the Hungry non-profit struggles to feed our people or provide Christmas gifts to our children. We should be up in arms every time our young girls rush the stage when Chief Keef steps on it but Girls Rule the World.org carries little fanfare despite it having colossal founders. We are in a cycle: fail then complain.
Our mindset needs a reworking from instant gratification to economic sustainability. Our anger is misguided against government, Whites and Republicans. It will be better utilized if we accept our truth and fix our behaviors; behaviors that our children witness and eventually duplicate.
Devin Robinson is a business & economics professor and author of Power M.O.V.E.: How to Transition From Eomployee to Employer. Learn more at http://www.PowerMoveProfessionals.com.
Recently, Mitt Romney’s words of apparent elitism was exposed from a speech he gave to a room full of business persons who were campaign supporters in May. He stated that 47% of the country are guaranteed to vote for Pres Barack Obama and he is not going to give those folks his energy. His words paraphrased, “I am not worrying about those people… They are those that depend on government and feel entitled to handouts.” These supporters paid $50k for the dinner and had no problem sitting through tough candid talk issued by Romney. However, his words were not taken kindly by the public after the hidden video of his speech was made public by ex-President Jimmy Carter’s grandson, James Carter IV. I won’t go into a critical analysis of his remarks but in response to this frenzy, I felt it suitable to issue a letter to the 47% Romney was referring to.
There are plenty of obstacles placed in your way. I understand it. These obstacles are enough to make any person give up. Just look at our community, that’s what happening. We have been dragged through the dirt, shut off from the water source and expected to wash ourselves off on our own That’s the harsh truth of America. Those with their hands on the wheel stay a step ahead of everyone else. They make the rules and change them as soon as you figured out how to master them.
Now, I am not saying you can’t be successful. In fact, stories are born every day of people who came from nothing to something. But what I am saying is there is a body of people who will kick you and ostracize you when you fall. They expect to be able to kick you, you keep standing and don’t complain about it. My advice is, avoid the kick! But that is easier said than done, huh? I know. The force of the kick can be so fierce that you are afraid to stand back up when you DO fall. Sometimes it comes with so much force that even if it misses you, the wind it carries topples you over! This is what’s happening. People are told to get a good education so they could get a nice job, (usually at a large corporation), expected to work hard every day, don’t miss a day of work, then handle a lay-off with your chin held high. Then when you are unable to find another job, you are encouraged to start the process all over again (new career , perhaps). Think about it? Those that abide to this instruction stay in the cycle of inevitable lay-off. Those that stay in this cycle are patted on their backs in public but talked about in private, hence Mitt Romney’s gaffe.
Now, I am not going to offer an opinion what he meant, said or should do or say. What I AM going to say is break the cycle. I always say, not everyone can be an entrepreneur/employer but everyone can be an owner. We all can own an asset that adds security to our future. I know what many of you employed folks will say, “Well, my job is stable so this doesn’t refer to me.” My rebuttal to you is, “We always expect tragedy to strike our neighbors but never us… until it happens to us.” Executives have two main objectives every day they are on the clock, decrease expenses and increase profit. Engineers and technicians are working every day too, to sell technology to those executives that speed up your lay-off clock. Never assume that you are not a target no matter how many times they pat you on your back. Others of you will say, “I don’t know where to start.” My rebuttal, “Buy an ounce of gold.” Start there rather than going out this weekend to buy a new outfit.
What’s my point? As a business and professor, I am expected to know what’s happening in the business environment. I actually critically analyze our markets everyday: stock market, labor market, production market, etc. What I see is your day will come. What are you going to do about it? Hopefully, 47% of you get my drift. Others of you will go back to business as usual and so will the 1%.
Your Humble Economic Advocate