50 Solutions to the
Anthony Assadullah Samad
After writing a commentary
on the future of black advocacy, I received close to a thousand e-mail
responses (thank you), mostly the question back to me, “So, what is the
Clearly, a common theme across the country is that we all (or most of
us, at least) know the problems, and have long grown tired of them. Most
of us concur that prevailing tactics in black advocacy have limited
effectiveness. And many of us agree that a major contributor to our
problems is the convolution of self interests that conflict with
collective interest goals and progress.
As long as money and notoriety are in the mix, somebody (Black) is going
to go against the collective interest of African Americans, in pursuit
of their individual self-interest. It presents a true dilemma,
particularly when self-interest and collective interests are not
congruent. So for the next four weeks, let’s explore, together, 50
solutions to address the debilitating state of Black America. We’ll deal
with them 10 at a time, understanding
that space limitations don’t allow for full explanation, but serve as a
springboard to future
conversation. Who knows? This could start a national debate on how we
solve (some of) black America’s problems. It is this generation’s
dilemma, you know.
Let’s acknowledge out front that we will never be able to totally solve
our problems and
eliminate self interest totally. Certainly, we can no longer ignore that
there is a “profit side”to black crisis, and a fame side for those who
speak to black crises. That’s the up-side, and we always pay more
attention to the up-side than the down side. The down side, however, is
most damaging when our collective interests aren’t served, and most
dangerous, when they are. But we can eliminate potential of conflicting
self interest, meaning you can come up as long as, or in helping, the
people come up—but you shouldn’t come up at the expense of the people.
With that said…
Solution 1: Let’s acknowledge that we’re all different but experience
challenges. Black people are not monolithic and shouldn’t be expected to
accept “cookie cutter” approaches to solutions. Malcolm X said 40 years
ago that we don’t catch hell because we’re Christian or Muslim, Democrat
or Republican. We catch hell in America because we’re Black. It’s still
Solution 2: Let’s acknowledge that racism isn’t over. Just because white
eliminated it from the public discourse, doesn’t mean that it went away.
“Colorblindness” is the new Jim Crow that allows us to be separated,
mistreated and still
unequal. We must address race inequities that are every bit as disparate
as they were 50 years ago.
Solution 3: Stop playing to our lower self, or the worst in our society.
We will never
progress for as long as we allow others in the race to disrespect our
women, our children, and call each other the worst thing our
grandfathers could be called, Nigger. The pimp, thug, dawg, and gangsta
mentality doesn’t serve our best interest either. It’s degradation and
cannibalism—pure and basic, feeding on each other. Can’t we just be
human, or more importantly, men and women?
Solution 4: Establish a “quality of life”survival level for our
communities. Forty years of
white flight and job relocations have created communities without
Minimum wage jobs cannot support the economy of any community. Identify
companies that rely on the black dollar and demand work. Otherwise,
don’t spend with those that don’t support us.
Solution 5: Engage in only responsive, action-oriented advocacy. Let
others know we
mean business. Target our advocacy to demonstrate that we are responsive
enough to close a business, or vote someone out of office, when they
betray our trust, or go against the collective interest. Back up the
“twist and shout” with “Get ‘em out.” Others will respond when they see
we can respond.
Solution 6: Identify and expose “interlopers.” Interlopers are those who
part of the community, but show others how to exploit the community and
take payment for it. They can work in corporations, government, elected
office or in the church. This is currently black America’s biggest
problem—those who will do a good deed in support of the community out in
the open, but do two dirty deeds behind closed doors to undermine the
Solution 7: Take our children out of public schools, if they cannot be
If we haven’t figured out that public education is “dumbing-down” our
children, we will never
figure it out. I know this is controversial, but for as long as public
education is broken, it is the biggest contributor to black adult
illiteracy (now over 50% in some parts of the country) and the
marginalization of black employment. Like 50 years ago, poor education
is now our biggest threat.
Solution 8: Do not condone crimes against society, particularly our
are currently the biggest criminal exploiters of other Blacks. We can’t
(or even shouldn’t) expect the other man to do anything about this
“black on black” thing. We have to solve this one ourselves.
Solution 9: Practice sound economics to lift our communities. Economics
arithmetic. “Buy black” days and five dollar a month checking accounts
will not build wealth in our communities. Massive wealth building
strategies, like the Rule of 72, or REIT investment circles that double
your money in 4.2 years, are the only solutions that will allow us to
keep up with rising costs in housing and business start-up markets.
Blacks must learn to live on 50% to 70% of what they earn, and save the
rest. Looking good and being broke went out with platform shoes and jeri
curls. Econo-practicality that emphasizes saving will close the racial
wealth gap. Consumer mentality on quickly depreciable assets (cars,
clothes, some jewelry) keeps us poor. Give it up.
Solution 10: Pull your money out of banks that do not lend it back to
you, pure and
simple. Banks are strangulating our communities, taking money in but not
letting it out, unless it’s in another community. Lending practices are
highly questionable and we need to hold banks in our community
accountable. We cannot allow economic redlining to persist, as leverage
These are the first ten solutions to the most common (and complex)
in our community. The next ten will focus on personal behaviors, mental
well-being and health.
Anthony Asadullah Samad is a national columnist, author and managing
director of the Urban Issues Forum. His new book, 50 Years After Brown:
The State of Black Equality In America can be ordered online (go to
www.thestateofblackequality.com). He can be reached for comments at
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