The Last Dance

by Jim Clingman

Those of you who are my age will remember the house parties in our parents’ basements with the blue and red lights. Whether boy or girl, although you were reluctant to ask or too shy to accept that slow dance with someone you considered special, when the moment finally came and the two of you embraced each other, that dance was the most you could ask for in your teen aged years. Unfortunately, that dance was usually at the bewitching hour when your parents said everyone had to go home. You finally got the nerve to do it, and then it had to end—you had to let go. That’s what I feel as I work my way through this final Blackonomics article.

Since the age of 24 or so, after I visited the Topographical Center in Chicago during the late 1960’s, I finally found the consciousness I needed to do something in response to what was happening in this nation vis-à-vis Black people. I began to speak out and do whatever I could to ameliorate our problems on a local level.

From 1972 until 2012, I earned my living by working for Black administrators and business owners, on behalf of Black people, in the public and private sectors. My much-anticipated dance began forty-five years ago, and I have embraced my dance partner, the uplift of Black people, ever since.

In 1993, after writing a letter to the Editor of the Cincinnati Herald, I started this particular dance by embracing the opportunity to write on a weekly basis. Now, nearly 25 years later, the houselights have been turned on, drowning out the blue lights, and it’s time to let go of my dance partner. But she was never mine to keep anyway; someone danced with her before me and someone will dance with her after me.

Yes, after authoring some 1500 articles, editorials, and essays, and writing nine books, five of which on economic empowerment, giving hundreds of speeches and teaching numerous classes across this country, there is probably not much more I can say on empowerment. Moreover, as I suggested, the message was never my own—it was just in a different form, relative to my time and experiences.

The economic empowerment message belongs to no one person; it is not new and it certainly is not unique or proprietary to anyone of us who chose to spread that particular “gospel.” It was touted by the likes of Maria Stewart and Frederick Douglass, Mary McLeod Bethune and Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells and Marcus Garvey, Maggie Lena Walker and Malcolm X, Amos Wilson, Carter G. Woodson, Kenneth Bridges, and Maynard Jackson. Contemporaries, along with myself, are now the messengers for economic empowerment. Same message, different griots. No one has all the answers and no one alone can take us where we must go; a critical mass of us must go together, based on collective leverage, cooperation, and strength.

Like those before me, I am leaving a compendium of writings on economic empowerment that will be catalogued and available, via streaming, for study groups and individuals to read and use in building a solid foundation for future generations. Like others before me, the lessons I have learned will be there for developing and executing solution-based strategies. The question is: “Will they be followed, or merely discussed, ad nauseam, by the folks who believe that by talking about our problems they have actually ‘done’ something to solve them?” Based on our errant history since 1964, I pray we will act appropriately by using the knowledge left to us by our progenitors.

    Here are a few ways to do that:

    Raise our consciousness to a level of “unconscious competency”

    Leverage our dollars and our votes against injustice and inequity by withdrawing them

    Use our consumer dollars to create conscious Black millionaires

    Establish more viable, professional, well-managed businesses, and support them

    Establish trusts, equity funds, revolving loan programs, and endowments

    Form strategic business alliances and partnerships that can take on larger projects

    Scale up our businesses to provide more jobs for Black people

    Teach our youth the history of Black business in this country

    Teach our young people to think entrepreneurially

    Demand reciprocity from politicians and the marketplace, from a position of economic strength

    Vote for those who publicly state and commit in writing their support for our interests

    Withhold our votes from anyone and any party that will not support our interests

    Hold ourselves accountable for our own economic freedom

    Organize ourselves around practical economic and political solutions that benefit US

    Commit some of our time, talent, and treasure to the uplift of our people

Always remember: “Well done beats well said every time, and if people put you on a pedestal, don’t take up residence there.” Peace and Love to all. What a dance, huh? What a dance!


African-Americans Are Still Being Snookered

by H. Lewis Smith

Since 1863 the supposedly absolution of slavery on into this 21st century there has been one constant, Black America’s protracted begging, moaning and groaning looking for its salvation through either the Democratic or Republican political parties. Though there has been some progress, these pleas for the most part, are met with condescension and contempt, routinely placated with tokenism or optical illusions. To be unequivocally clear slavery was never abolished it was transformed.

When a Black person declares him or herself a conservative they are knowingly or unknowingly politically predisposed to "conserving," or PRESERVING, the American ruling class traditions of the past i.e. hypocrisy, deception, oppression and racism toward African-Americans.

During days of slavery a Meritorious Manumission Act of 1710, was enacted in Virginia, a law that served to control the mentality of enslaved Africans.  His personality and behavior were shaped exclusively by the unique form of American slavery. If any black person saved a white person’s life or protected their property, invented something from which a white person could generate money, or squealed on someone involved in a black slavery revolt, he would secure his own freedom. This tradition is still prevalent today whereas any black person who is Eurocentric in his/her thinking and willing to preserve white dominance can find themselves promoted to privileged positions within the white hierarchy.

The Republican Party is the party of white supremacy and sycophant African-Americans such as Larry Elder, Rev. Jesse L. Peterson, Clarence Thomas, Ben Carson, Omarosa Manigualt, Senator Tim Scott, Senator Mia Love and Congressman Will Hurd and others who all exemplify naivety takes the white man’s word…as the unquestionable truth. They’ll emphatically proclaim that the plight of Black America is its own doing, backed by so-called statistics with no attempts to try and explore the validity and/or cause of any such introduced statistics. 

These so-called Black conservatives who are always sniffing the white man’s behind have been brainwashed into placing the blame for drug abuse, fatherless homes, unwed teen-age parents, welfare, poverty, black on black crime, etc. at the doorsteps of the black community; when the reality is that the black community has been locked into a NO WIN situation leading to its current quagmire. All the wealth and power in this country have been dispensed over 400 years systemically into the hands of the white society.  African-Americans don’t own a significant amount of anything to be able to control their lives; America’s majority control almost 100% of the income, wealth, power, the resources, privileges and all levels of government—making it impossible to compete. Whatever happened to the promised 40 acres and a mule?

To add insult to injury during the 1980s under the Reagan administration, the black community was flooded with cocaine by the CIA.  Millions of lives were adversely affected, and the lingering effects are prevalent to this very day.  Yet Republicans have the unmitigated gall to look at the black community in utter contempt and place the blame solely on their shoulders for all drug abuses, while black conservatives meekly and obediently go along with the charades.

Reagan’s administration had other strategies in place as well such as:  1) Never speak ill of black folks in public.  2) Only speak the negative when you know where you are and who you are with.  3) ALWAYS put your personal self-interest before justice for black folks.

However, the alternative isn’t any better, many African-Americans are tired of being taken for granted, and are looking for other options to the failed policies of Democrats. The Republicans’ message to them is resonating; failing to realize that behind closed doors, insofar, as African-Americans are concerned the two-party system becomes a one-party system for their ideology towards Black America are one and the same. 

Black/African-Americans monumental mistake is placing its fate and destiny into the hands of political parties Democrats and Republicans as opposed to circling the wagons and taking control of its own fate and destiny.  Unless it is eventually done both political parties are going to continue to use African-Americans and play us like a fiddle. Some would argue that African-Americans need to demand economic reciprocity for their support and that it should be verbalized consistently and resolutely communicating that it is our absolute expectations.  Such rationale is paramount to trying to mix water and oil together—it just doesn’t work.  African-Americans only salvation is economic independence anything less they can expect to always be treated in an exploitative, subordinated and marginalized manner to assume otherwise will always prove to be an exercise in futility. 

Therefore, ultimately black people salvation lies in group power not in the good will of other people, not in the love of other people, not in laws on the books. It’s been 155 years since 1863 and you would think Black America would see the handwriting on the wall by now you are not going to [force] someone to accept you as their equal.

The American system is fundamentally corrupt and doesn’t function to accept nor treat Black/African-Americans as equals never have, never will unless we become economically independent, which ironically the American institutionalized systemic, out of fear, will always try to sabotage any such attempts, while simultaneously putting African-Americans down as being a burden on the government. There’s nothing the oppressor fears more than UNITY among the oppressed.

The N word which is how black people have been labeled signifies a place of inferiority, it’s a sunken place African-Americans have been placed in.  By African-Americans embracing this term they are concurrently embracing and accepting the assigned sunken place. And albeit, not all African-Americans embrace the N word, non-users have no problem with other black people using the term thus they are complicit in the use of it. Indifference is the epitome of evil. We must take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. It is virtually impossible for non-black people to take us seriously when we are so mentally enervated about our self-image placing little value on it.

Racism is essentially an economical problem, it’s essentially rationalization for maintaining economic, political, social dominance, military and other kinds of control over a people not an attitude problem. We are naive enough to think that if white people see us as people like them they would have a change of attitude and come to love us failing to understand the true nature and purpose of racism.

H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc., author of Bury that Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair with the N-Word, and Undressing the N-word: Revealing the Naked Truth, Lies, Deceit and Mind Games. Follow him on Twitter:



    I’ve been noticing something in a wide variety of TV commercials over the last several years, be they on the main TV networks, on cable, or further into the television universe.  It seems that families having sons, has fallen out-of-vogue among the ‘wizards of smart’ on Madison Avenue.  Daughters have become the ‘fixture’ among the advertisers…a trend I find very, very disturbing.

    Why?  I’m glad that you asked.  No ‘safe spaces’ from--the TRUTH!

    Regardless of what society says, Men are the ones who ask women to marry.  When you have a society that ‘dotes’ on daughters and pushes sons to the curb, you are setting both up for a massive failure.  First, you are encouraging sons to be lazy, selfish, uneducated, and pursuing pleasure rather than getting themselves ready for life, a career and eventually--marriage.  Second, you ‘disrupt’ the biblical and natural order of marriage and home.  Third, IF a young man is not aimed in the right direction to obtain the skills needed for marriage and life in general, you set that young man adrift.  What have we been seeing in society over the last 20 years?  Many young men set adrift with no aim, no desire for marriage, and no ‘get up and go’ to relish competition and achievement.

    Society NEVER gets it right.  First, it ‘softens’ young men with video games, propaganda and sexual identity/racial identity confusion; then it gets young women hooked on hater-aide and complaining about the results.  Who would want to date a bitter woman, let alone marry one?    And, to REALLY get you happy, brothers, the generation RIGHT behind the Millennials, known as ‘Generation Disney’ or Gen Z have even LESS in the way of common sense, home training, or education smarts.  Sheesh!


    The Book of Proverbs contains a detailed list of women for men to avoid--written mostly by Solomon in the KJV Bible.  You may be asking yourself: “Why is this important to me?”  I’m glad that you asked.  Because many men--including preachers--have ducked this issue for a loooong time, in order to ‘keep the peace’ between the sexes.

    Sometimes, to get true peace, you have to have some real battles in spiritual warfare.  Yes, many preachers--who were raised in a single parent home without a father, or, don’t have their own act together for other reasons--will ‘dog out’ men for their sins, but won’t address ‘doggette women’ for theirs.  On top of this, too many men rely on social media for answers on women!  Such information used to be passed on by fathers to sons, or, at least between wise, older men and young men willing to listen to biblical advice.  Information without wisdom and understanding is a set-up for disaster.

    Let me give you a clue, brothers.  If one READS Proverbs a chapter a day for a month, they will find all of the ne’re do well girls AND women that God has ‘red flagged’ in His book of wisdom.  Further, if your male pastor won’t preach the truth, find a church with a Man of God who WILL preach it--they do exist!  Better yet, give them a copy of this column.  My email address is at the end.


    Now that I’ve gotten the warm-up out of the way, this month’s Book of Proverbs Woman To Avoid is the Brawling Woman, covered in Proverbs 21:9 (KJV).  This sister likes to fight with ANYBODY, over ANY excuse.  Fighting is in her nature, and she ain’t willing to give it up, no matter what--or whom--it may cost her.

    Unfortunately,  there are SOME of these sisters who are in our churches.  Worse still; according to Proverbs 21:9, you will best be served to give her a WIDE berth in your home--and you MAY feel at times to be better off outside of your home.

    Brothers, don’t be fooled.  This sister usually WILL try provoke you; WILL swing on you, and IF you swing back, guess who is going to have to explain it to the cops, Judge Judy, and the rest of the social media audience?  This sister likes to fight, period.  Don’t fall into her ring--and DO NOT give her one!  Stop dating these sisters at ONCE!

    Your helpmeet is to fight for you not with you!


    These WW II brothers don’t get enough credit.  A tip of the hat to the ORIGINAL Black Panthers:  The 761st Tank Battalion.  These Black tankers were so skilled in tank warfare that Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. supposedly watched them train, and immediately demanded that they be assigned to his army.  Patton got the best.  The 761st were the best.  In addition, these brothers set battlefield records that still stand today AND helped to liberate some of the death camps run by the Nazis.  Some of their exploits are covered in the PBS series “Liberators”, which is based on the book of the same name--and I have both of these items in my personal library.  Keep ‘em rolling this month; brothers--no matter how many of the enemy may be blasting away at you!


    Just a quick observation back in the day, MOST grandmothers kept in shape by cooking, cleaning house, sewing, being involved at church, taking care of their LARGE families, gardening, canning, visiting the neighbors, baking from scratch AND lived to a ripe old age WITHOUT SOCIAL MEDIA!  I’ve been reading more than a few obits over the past few years, and have found some women who are ‘supposedly’ in great shape at the gym; can run a marathon, etc. but don’t live past 40 because of this ‘bug’ or that ‘accident’.  Hmmmm.


    *“It’s not what you CALL me, it’s what I ANSWER to!”   --Journalist, Tony Brown.

    *“If you treat your wife like a thoroughbred, you won’t end up with a NAG!”  --Pastor, Dr. Tony Evans.

    *“Show me who you run with, and you’ll tell me who you are!”   --Old Folks Saying.


    One of my mottos for the New Year ahead:  #WiseBoysLead!  Hope someone has the courage to put it on a shirt!  See you around the streets or suites next month.

Mike Ramey is a Minister, Book Reviewer and Syndicated Columnist who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.  To drop him a line or a whine the address is still the same:  ©2018  Barnstorm Communications.      

Lift up Christ and lay the sinner low. --C. H. Spurgeon

There’s No Fight Sheila C. Johnson Hasn’t Won

By Ronda Racha Penrice 

The “biggest fight of my life” Sheila C. Johnson once shared wasn’t co-founding Black Entertainment Television or ending her 33-year marriage to Robert “Bob” Johnson, with whom she raised two children and started a television network.

It was getting zoning, planning and other local government permits to open a hotel and spa in the village of Middleburg, Virginia. While her proposed Salamander Resort and Spa would eventually create dozens of jobs and pay millions in property and other taxes, the village government fought her every step of the way.

Her hard-earned wealth granted her few advantages. “None of that matters,” she told CNN in 2016. “As an African-American, they didn’t want me to do this. It was the fight of my life. I’ve never been more frightened in my life.”

Yet Johnson never backed down. “Change is always difficult, so there was inevitably going to be some opposition,” she shared in an email. The battle was so epic that it spanned a decade.

Founded in 1787, Middleburg, a village of just 673 residents in the 2010 census renowned for its steeple chases and fox hunts, considers itself the “Nation’s Horse and Hunt Capital”. Johnson, an area resident, certainly fit the theme. Proposed in 2002, the equestrian-inspired Salamander—with its riding trails and horse paddocks—kept to the town’s traditions. The nearly 350 acres Johnson purchased for Salamander was once owned by former U.S. ambassador Pamela Harriman, the celebrated horse lover who was a one-time daughter-in-law of Winston Churchill. Plus Johnson’s daughter, Paige, is an elite equestrian who competes all over the world.

“I was naïve about realizing that I was south of the Mason-Dixon Line and a lot of people got very nervous about this African American woman coming in and building this resort,” the 68-year-old Johnson admitted in an exclusive interview early in 2017. No stranger to racial discrimination, growing up, the Pennsylvania-born Johnson moved more than a dozen times before settling in Maywood, just outside Chicago, because her neurosurgeon father’s race frequently became an issue.

Those experiences taught Johnson a resilience that served her in that fight and even now. “I learned the life of hard knocks and racism but I was also able to assimilate into the different cultures and do what I had to do to make things work,” she said.

A woman of many firsts, Johnson was the first African American woman to achieve a reported net worth of $1 billion. She is the first African American woman to own three professional sports teams in three different leagues—the NBA’s Washington Wizards (where she serves as both president and managing partner), the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. She was even the first African American woman to become a cheerleader at her alma mater, the University of Illinois, where she is on track to receive an honorary doctorate in May 2018.

Johnson is also a renowned philanthropist. The Sheila C. Johnson Design School Center at the Parsons School of Design in New York City, where she serves on the Board of Governors, bears her name. At the Harvard Kennedy School, she endows the Sheila C. Johnson Leadership Fellowship to support emerging leaders primarily focused on erasing disparities in underserved African American communities. 

As an African American woman entrepreneur, Johnson has blazed new trails in the corporate-dominated hospitality industry. Boasting 168 guestrooms and suites, an on-site stable, a 23,000-square-foot spa and a cooking studio, Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, the crown jewel in her impressive constellation of almost ten hotels, has won coveted Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond honors. Johnson added Nopsi New Orleans to the Salamander Hotels and Resorts family in summer 2017 with Hotel Bennett in Charleston, South Carolina set to join summer 2018. 

Back in Middleburg, Johnson reports that “Salamander has certainly contributed to an economic upturn in the town through taxes, paying for water and wastewater treatment plants, and attracting visitors who frequent local businesses, including galleries, boutiques and wineries.”

Beth Erickson, Visit Loudoun’s president/CEO since 2014, cosigns Johnson’s impact. “When Sheila opened Salamander, it was the only new luxury destination resort in the United States that opened in 2013 and, by opening it alone, it created 400 jobs,” Erickson shared. “Occupancy taxes from Salamander have exceeded $1.3 million per year.”

“Some of those taxes,” reported Erickson, “went directly to improving sidewalks and crosswalks in Middleburg. It created revenue that allowed the town’s failing pipes to be replaced.”

An added bonus is through the Middleburg Film Festival, Johnson, who is also a film producer with ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’ among her credits, “has literally brought Hollywood to Loudoun County” according to Erickson. 

Held annually in October, Erickson said the festival has put “us on the map in the company of Cannes, Telluride, Sundance and that is wonderful company to keep.” ‘Mudbound’ and a talk with its acclaimed African American female director Dee Rees was a highlight of the 2017 festival. In 2016, the festival screened eventual Oscar winners ‘Moonlight’ and ‘La La Land.’

Throughout her life, Johnson, who epitomizes “black girl magic,” has thrived on excellence and challenging herself.  “I always try to look for areas in which we, as African Americans, do not do,” she said. “I just feel as though I can do it just as well, if not better.”

“I never used my race as an excuse to not be able to do something,” she said. Not with her fight in Middleburg. And not in life.