Thursday, July 21, 2016


Using Wealth to Effect Change

By Mildred Robertson

As I struggle with the reality of America’s socio-economic condition in 2016, I am appalled that our national and political discourse is eerily reminiscent of the 50s and 60s when majority culture Americans clearly embraced a racist system that brutalized and dehumanized blacks and other minorities.  

Many in our nation are clearly agonizing over this symbol of 21st century oppression; the authorized targeting of black Americans and other minorities by our system of justice. It appears simple enough to agree that a man, woman or child should not be executed  for trivial infractions such as driving with a busted tail light, playing in a park, or simply walking to the corner store for a drink and some skittles.

Black people are amazed, and perhaps shocked, that so many people cannot see how the unfettered slaying of blacks for non-violent (or non-existent) violations is wrong, and deserving of punishment for the perpetrators. We have been amazed that people equate the call for justice against police who brutalize our citizens to an assault on the police who truly protect and serve.

We have been amazed that the majority culture is somehow surprised that someone got pissed off enough to pick up arms against the police. (Please do not start a twitter feed about this statement. I am in support of effective, compassionate fair policing, and value those who do a good job.)  Surely thinking individuals had to know that some in our society would become so desperate for justice in the absence of any, that they would attempt to make up and execute their own justice.

But violence is not the way. I believe we have the power to make meaningful change in our society.  All of us... every one of us!

As we wrestle to find strategies that will turn our community and our country around we must ask, what can make a difference for young minorities growing up in this hostile society.   How can we make it better?  The answer is already here, in our own community! The way to independence, justice and social equality is monetary.  That is the key.

We can continue to appeal to the conscience of America , but we must understand that many in our country have no conscience. We can look to our religious leaders, but find many of them are simply demagogues.  We can look to our political leaders, but discover that many are corrupt. We can and should pray, but God expects us to do our part.  The big question becomes, “what is my part?”

We must begin to strategically use the massive amount of dollars that pass through the black community to provide the leverage necessary to effect social change. According to the 2016 Nielsen Report, black households earning $75,000 or more per year are growing faster in size and influence than whites in all income groups above $60,000. If we were an independent nation, our spending power would place our Gross Domestic Product at the 15th largest economy in the world. The report goes on to say that marketers need to take note and market to this growing demographic.  And that is where the power lies.

We must take those dollars and make them work for us. We can effect social change by supporting those entities that are fair and equitable. More importantly, we must deny our dollars to those entities that support the continued subjugation of blacks and other people of color.

Do not be deceived, Black communities used to thrive, boasting their own banks, grocery stores, theaters and service providers. But in the early 20th Century the majority culture went to great lengths to destroy this budding economy, as evidence by the destruction of Black Wall Street in Tulsa Oklahoma and other such communities around the nation.  They understood the power that economic independence offers. In fact, that is why many of our political leaders are preachers, or own their own businesses. This financial freedom allows an individual to be authentic, without fear of economic ruin. 

The next great movement will not be a political third party, or a grassroots organizer, or even a movement such as Black Lives Matter. The next harbinger of social change is the realization by blacks and people of color that they already have the power to effect change and secure justice. Once we look in our pockets and decide to strategically utilize our wealth, we will be able to make meaningful, lasting social and economic change.

In the famous words of James Carville…”It’s the economy, stupid!.”

Monday, July 11, 2016

Hate Speech Ruling America's Political Discourse

By Mildred Robertson

Words matter.

If that were not so, the Founding Fathers would not have put specific protection in the Constitution for free speech.  The Bible would not have stressed that talk can do tremendous good or evil (Psalm 12:4) and that “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28).

Unfortunately, Americans have missed the nuances of how the civil liberty of free speech is supposed to work for the greater good. Free speech was granted to us not to allow perverted politicians to stir up political turmoil and hatred among classes of people, but to ensure that even the least powerful among us would have a voice.

That perversion, fueled by hate speech in the highest political arena, has driven an unprecedented wedge between people of different ethnicities, cultures genders, religions and sexual orientations. We are all pushed to choose a side.

While the investigation is still underway, it appears that some people in Dallas chose a side. I believe that the investigation will show that the perpetrators of these acts were frustrated by the inaction of this nation on the hundreds of unjustified killings of black men, women and children for minor infractions that would probably not have resulted in arrest for a white American. Please understand that I in no way condone the police killings in Dallas; but I understand how a young, frustrated African American might arrive at that decision.

It is a story we have heard over and over again, and the result is always the same. We say a prayer.  We have a march. And next month, another black man, woman or child is needlessly gunned down for no apparent reason, other than being black.  And that voice that the Founding Fathers protected for us is nowhere to be heard.

 We are bombarded daily by a media that has lost its way; filling our airwaves, newspapers and magazines with the opinion of this pundit or that one. They pull out the rap sheet on any victim of a police shooting, and post a mug shot rather than a graduation picture. News is rarely reported these days, and if it is, it is because social media has forced it. This is the very same media for whom the Founding Fathers crafted a special protection in our constitution.

 Words have created an image of the black man that makes the world fear him, regardless of his station in life, the way he carries himself, how much money he has or how much education he gains. It does not matter to America. It does not matter to the police who have been called to protect and serve, not just white America, but me too. That is why there is a “Black Lives Matter” movement, because someone has to change the conversation.

 Listen to the words. . . . There is no threat in them.

 Saying “Black Lives Matter” does not mean that blue lives don’t matter, because they do. It doesn’t mean that white lives don’t matter—they do. It does not mean that brown lives don’t matter. Brown lives also matter.  It would be wonderful for us to say “ALL LIVES MATTER” and for that to include my black self, my son, my brother…but heretofore that has not been the case. 

The fact is, words matter, and America needs a new lexicon.