The Truth About Thanksgiving

(FinalCall.com) – Family gatherings around massive feasts, excessive shopping sprees, and expressions of gratitude are the traditional things associated with Thanksgiving but a dark history of atrocities and exploitation imposed on Native Americans and enslaved Africans still remains hidden, indigenous activists say.

The Thanksgiving myth perpetuated each year is that Pilgrims, Puritans and others came to America in search of religious freedom, but these settlers actually forced others to join their religion, observed Marilyn Vann, president of the Descendants of the Five Civilized Tribes Association.

“It is good for people to be thankful, meet with family and friends and worship God. But the Europeans’ society was not good for people of color and the reality historically is that when they came into power, they killed others and set up a society that enslaved people of color,” Mrs. Vann told The Final Call.

Every year the United American Indians of New England mark a National Day of Mourning. Participants fast from sundown the day before through the afternoon on Thanksgiving to mourn their ancestors, genocide committed against their people, and theft of their land.

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James Clingman Speaks on Black Entrepreneurship

By Nick Westbrooks

Throughout the past three and a half years, I’ve had the opportunity to see and hear some of Black America’s top leaders and thinkers as a student at Howard University. In fact, this past weekend, the Institute of the Black World held hosted its State of the Black World Conference on campus. On a smaller scale, professors have brought some movers and shakers to their individual classrooms to influence, inform and inspire their students.

My entrepreneurship professor tapped into her network, and invited a few Black entrepreneurs and representatives from business-related organizations to speak with us about business planning and ownership. We’ve had Ron Busby, the president of the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce; Michael Grant, president of the National Bankers Association, a representative from the Small Business Administration and two bankers from Wells Fargo (I have mixed feelings towards Wells Fargo). Last week, our guest speaker was Omarosa from The Apprentice, but our last and best speaker was author, activist, speaker and educator James Clingman.

Allow me to tell you a little bit about Mr. Clingman. The first paragraph of his bio found on his website blackonomics.com puts into perspective why this man is so significant:

James E. Clingman is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. His weekly syndicated newspaper column, Blackonomics, is featured in hundreds of newspapers, magazines, and newsletters (My professor Hazel Trice Edney is the owner of Trice Edney Newswire, one of the many outlets that carries Climgman’s column). He has written six books, the latest of which is Black Empowerment with an Attitude, and has been the featured speaker for numerous organizations, schools, churches, and events across the United States.

Former Editor of the Cincinnati Herald Newspaper, Clingman is the founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce…He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Cincinnati, where he teaches Black Entrepreneurship; he also founded Cincinnati, Ohio’s Entrepreneurship High School in 2001. Clingman has received many awards for his journalistic work, including the prestigious Black Press of America’s 2008 Black Press Champion Award, from the National Newspaper Publishers Association and Foundation.

Clingman’s presentation to our class was more motivational than technical in nature as it related to Black entrepreneurship. I left class that day with many jewels, but I’ll share a few points of valuable information that everyone needs to hear and can use.

Blackonomics is a term Clingman coined in 1998, and it stresses the importance of Blacks being a part of the economy. He urges us to be active in the system by getting back “the semblance of owning and controlling” businesses as well as demanding market reciprocity from the businesses that we support.

Three questions framed Clingman’s discussion of Black Entrepreneurship: What? So What? And Now what?

1. What?

Clingman gave us some alarming statistics about entrepreneurship and economics. He told us less than 5% of entrepreneurs are African American, and the net worth of White families is 20 times that of Black families. These dismal statistics are a rallying cry for Africans in America to change the way they look at jobs and the economy and to shift from getting jobs to owning jobs. Clingman told us that we own jobs by starting and growing businesses. It’s not enough to merely start a business. You must grow the business to employee people.

2. So what?

Statistics regarding Black economic empowerment are depressing, but why should we care when we can get a good education and a good job? Clingman calls Blacks to step out of the individualistic mentality and do something beyond their “own personal enrichment.” Either way, having a job doesn’t grant you true economic independence and empowerment. It provides income, but not wealth creation. According to Clingman, wealth is only created through investments, real estate and business ownership.

Clingman also calls for Africans to demystify the myth of Black inferiority and to break the chains of psychological slavery.

We have been made to believe we don’t have the acclivity and inclination to own businesses,” Clingman said. “This myth has been allowed to permeate so deeply, because we don’t know our history.

History reveals that Black people were successful business owners and had an entrepreneurial spirit even before arriving in the United States. Clingman cleverly stated, “We didn’t come to America on slave ships. We came here on entrepreneur ships.” The entrepreneurship professor finds it necessary to teach Black business history before anything else, so his students may know where they’ve came from.

An overall change in mindset will not only free us from the mental slavery that discourages us from starting businesses, but it changes how willing we are to support our own people. As Carter G. Woodson wrote in The Mis-Education of the Negro, Black people have been led to believe that our products and services were inferior to White’s. For National Negro Business League organizer Fred Moore, this notion transcended Blacks and Whites:

Jews support Jews, Germans support Germans; Italians support Italians until they get strong enough to compete with their brother in the professions and trades; Negroes should now begin to support Negroes.

We’ve bought everything everyone else has made, but we don’t buy our own products.

3. Now what?

After examining the statistics and thinking about why they should matter to us, Clingman urged us to take action and regain our “economic enclaves.” Prior to finishing this post, I read an article that said Black spending power is expected to reach $1.1 trillion by 2015. This proves that our neighborhoods aren’t broke, our money merely leaves our areas. As Clingman put it, “Our dollars don’t make any sense.”

A part of taking action is transforming our Black neighborhoods into Black communities, which are virtually nonexistent. Clingman identified the three necessary components that make up Black communities.

–       Control of the political environment

–       Control of the economic environment

–       An enforced code of conduct

We control the economic environment through ownership.  The bottom line of Black entrepreneurship is that owning and controlling businesses is one of the most important things we can do with our lives for our own likelihoods and for the betterment of people as a whole.  We must regain our economic communities, discredit the myth of Black inferiority by learning our history, break the chains of mental slavery, and strive towards true economic empowerment.

Author Compares Jesus’ Crucifixion to Black Lynchings During Book Signing and Discussion at Howard University

By Nick Westbrooks

Panelists from Howard University sat down with Dr. James Cone on Nov. 11 at the Andrew Rankin Chapel to discuss and critique the author’s latest book The Cross and the Lynching Tree.

The panelists included Howard University professors Dr. Greg Carr of the Afro American Studies department, Dr. Ronald Hopson from the School of Divinity and Dr. Dana Williams of the English department as well as student Krystal Leaphart, the president of Howard’s NAACP chapter.

Cone discussed the premise of the book, which compares the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to the historical lynchings of African Americans in the United States and the ironic relationship between the two. For certain Whites, religion justified the lynchings of Blacks, and in the midst of the terrorism, Black people used their faith and the symbolism of the cross to endure those distressing times, Cone asserted.

“Whites used Christianity to lynch Blacks, and Blacks used it to survive,” Cone said.

Cone, a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, describes the odd relationship as “the great paradox,” and he said it is the source of his passion and inspiration for writing The Cross and the Lynching Tree. The author grew up in Arkansas, a southern state where lynchings were prevalent during the early and middle twentieth century. Although he was aware of the terrorist acts, further study peaked Cone’s curiosity.

“After examining history, I asked myself how Blacks survived and remained sane despite the terror,” Cone said. “Paradoxically, it was the cross.”

Cone further connected the crucifixion and lynchings to the present by likening Jesus to African Americans, the Roman government to the United States government and identifying the “Prison Industrial Complex” as a form of lynching. Dr. Carr identified the death penalty as the method of execution saying, “The lynching tree is today’s electric chair.”

Characterizing the cross as a symbol of judgment rather than affirmation for the oppressed, Dr. Hopson argued that Blacks should worship Christ instead of the object of His crucifixion, and he told Black Christians to “imagine a noose or electric chair at the front of the church instead of a cross.”

“My concern is that we have transformed the veneration of the victim to the veneration of the means of execution,” Hopson said. “It is really time for us to loosen our grip on the veneration of the cross.”

Leaphart spoke from a student’s perspective addressing the need to close the “intergenerational communication” gap between older African Americans and the youth. Although the Howard senior said she’s well read, she admitted a lack of knowledge concerning the Black experience as it relates to theology.

“I think the intergenerational gap was caused by us [youth] and our parents, because they didn’t tell us the stories, and we didn’t ask them to tell us, so we aren’t sure of how to move forward,” she said.

Dr. Williams praised Cone for making people aware of “the great paradox” and providing readers and scholars a space to discuss and critique his thoughts and findings. She also credited the author with positing the Black experience as a legitimate viewing of God and challenging the Black church to recognize its own Black experience.

The book signing and discussion was a part of the Black Presbyterians United and the Howard University School of Divinity’s “A Liberation Theology Weekend.” The programs included a discussion on “The Future of Black Theology” and a class on “The God of the Hip Hop Generation.”