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Black Empowerment: Moral Encouragement No Financial Support

December 28, 2012

black empowerment

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 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

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 31, 2012 8:51 am

    Thanks Professor Robinson by striking a nerve with telling the truth. Many of the blacks in our world today is living on the mindset with I’ll think about it or let me get back to you. Action speaks louder than words. Although our economic is on a low does not mean you should kneel to the crisis. What a perfect time to move forward and provide whatever assistance to help other in any way you can. All it takes is the first step, and then others will or may follow. No looking back now, we come too far. All you need is a strategic plan, patience, and taking the step. Once you open the door, someone will walk through. Happy New Year!

  2. January 4, 2013 10:22 am

    Thanks for writing this article about something so serious. We have mighty challenges for many years to come. Our minds and souls are still locked away and lost without assistance from African nationals.

  3. January 4, 2013 3:48 pm

    Great commentary, analysis, recommendations and follow-on comments.

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