“The now is a “Vampyre” – ever thirsting for blood; ever hungry for plasma. The milieu is a “Pornographer” denuding both body and soul. The era is called “Whore,” of cheap perfume and sex without love, possessing neither pride nor dignity. The future is a “Pimp” demanding the lewd and the lascivious of all its bitches.
From place to place, for ages, seconds, maybe eons, D’Vante Jenkins observes a vast wasteland of nothingness, an expansive landscape of scrabble and brush that is the future. The palpable appearance of desperation grips the ethos, producing a collective dirge – depressing and without hope. The era possesses its own voice; an unspoken vocabulary that is nonetheless audible.
The sounds of joy and laughter are noticeably absent. Rot, decay and poison are more than mere words and far greater than simple speech. There are instead orders; demands of everyone and everything to fail. The sickening thud of shattered lives, the muffled sound of apathy and the whimper of defeat are the music of the day; an aria turned to a volume that deafens the ear; that stills the heart.
“No way fool” is the constant refrain of this bleak now. Cracked concrete and asphalt cry in pain. Structures communicate the shame of splintered boards and dilapidated facades. Each breeze carries a mournful wail as the land begs for mercy.” Leo Barron Hicks, “Cotton’s Prophecy”, L. Barron Hicks Publishers, Dallas, TX., 2011, p. 7, www.thenewcotton.com.
The above world of profane resignation and bleak existence is no idle conjecture. This dystrophic future is instead what may, but must not happen. The question is what steps must we take to prevent this or some similar Diaspora from occurring? How can we prevent the slow but inevitable collapse of African-American society? How do we halt and reverse our ever accelerating slide into cultural despair and social insignificance.
Last week’s entry “To Merely Survive” posed the question, is mere survival enough? The answer was and is a resounding and unequivocal no. While survival is crucial, surviving and thriving are as different as night and day.
Today, Blakacre offers two policy recommendations for moving beyond mere survival. We conclude by posing four fundamental questions of vital significance to the Family.
Policy Recommendation # 1: Control the Message; Protect the Brand. In the context of this discussion, the word “brand” means reputation, status, or image. Sadly, for the last few decades the image of African-Americans has been savaged. We must therefore repair our brand with all due haste and the first step in doing so is to craft a core message that puts Family in the best possible light.
Said message must be comprehensive, refurbishing the socio-economic components of family, community, institutional development, educational achievement, home ownership, entrepreneurship and economic standing. It must further reflect positively on the personal attributes of appearance, character, conduct, values and personal responsibility.
Like any good political campaign, we must stay on message, constantly communicated and consistently projected, internally and externally, via our every thought and action, by way of all possible communications and informational medium.
We do not live in a vacuum and the opinion of others matters; even those of our adversaries. The way we conduct ourselves cannot help but influence how we are perceived, negatively or positively. Blasting misogynistic, violent music that drops F bombs at every syllable and the N word with each beat undermines our brand. The same applies to appearing in public wearing the same clothes we slept in the night before.
Thus, our appearance, speech and conduct must always be presentable, respectable and clean-cut. We must always remember that even when no one is looking we are still being watched; each move, utterance and gesture noted and weighed.
And rather than dismiss negative or unflattering comments as racist when they originates from without or “Uncle Tom Foolery” when they spring from within, we should first listen and then take these comments as constructive criticism. How else do we determine what needs to be changed and improved? What better way of enhancing our reputation; our individual and collective brand?
Policy Recommendation # 2: Capitalism, Go All In. “It”, however the word is defined, is about money. Always has been; always will be. That being the case we should also be about money.
And while contrary to conventional wisdom, we are neither helpless nor poor. The spending power of African-Americans totals 1.1 trillion dollars, a figure that outstrips the gross national product of most of the world’s nations. Rather, we are bad managers of a vast bank account. In order to correct this deficiency, consider the following objectives:
• Objective # 1: Essentially a question of values, we simply must alter our spending habits. We should shift from purchasing items which do not appreciate in value like spinners, clothes, make-up, tattoos, nails and hair, towards items which appreciate and add value to our estates such as houses, precious metals and negotiable paper like stocks and bonds.
• Objective # 2: We should preserve and transfer our wealth to future generations via the rigorous practice of asset and growth management. To this end education and training in money management and financial literacy should be part and parcel of a basic high school education and made available to adults through appropriate adult education programs.
• Objective # 3: We should embrace capitalism and entrepreneurship in all their myriad forms. The basic idea is to move from being consumers of immaterial goods and services to producers of valuable goods and services. The ultimate goal is to create businesses and economic enterprises which employ members of our own community.
Admittedly the implementation of these recommendations will be difficult as it involves the type of foresight and cooperation we have seldom seen. It further requires cultural and political leaders who are willing to pursue the greater good, contrary to their own pecuniary, political and personal gain.
Moreover, there are those among us who profit from the coarsening of African-American society. Others simply do not see the need to change. They do not believe that they are damaging our brand, are not responsible for said damage or simply don’t give a damn.
Blackacre therefore posses the following questions:
• Question # 1: Do we really want to change, to grow and to prosper or are we satisfied right where we are?
• Question # 2: Can we save everyone and should we even try?
• Question # 3: Should we expand our focus beyond African-Americans to include others who share our values, interest and concerns? In other words should we consider co-branding with other ethnic groups and cultures?
• Question # 4: While it’s never too late, is the future already upon us; are our worst fears already realized?
How we answer these questions forecast our willingness and ability to forestall “Future Now”.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum