The Black Community Suffers from a Massive Economic Structural Deficit – Part 5, 5/10/2017

I have fundamentally come to understand, given the magnitude of the all of the issues challenging the Black community in America, that there is NO one individual and/or single organization that has the organizational capacity (know how) or the economic resources to remotely challenge the many issues that we face as a group. We spend most of our time chasing the symptoms and very rarely can we focus on the solutions. Even those Black organizations and individuals who attempt to defend the Black community in areas where they have some limited capacity spend a considerable amount of their time trying to secure adequate resources making their organizational effectiveness simply inadequate. Our community is woefully under-resourced and this is part of the Economic Structural Deficit.

If you don’t believe that the Black community has a resource issue, then you must believe that the needle isn’t moving because the Black organizations are just ineffective, which I totally reject. In fact, I believe just the opposite. I believe that most, if not all of the Black organizations that are on the frontline daily fighting the fight, are severely underfunded and the public and private giving infrastructure is skewed against the Black agenda and those Black organizations which makes it nearly impossible for the needed resources to be available either by direct grant making or through the competitive process to secure the funds. It’s extremely clear that our community doesn’t have the resources to finance our own independence. This is a perfect description of the Economic Structural Deficit.

Look at our history over the past 100 years. There are no completely independent Black organizations that have grown to become Black institutions. Organizations can only become institutions when they have become financially independent and I don’t know any Black organizations that are endowed at the level that guarantees their sustainability for generations to come. Most Black organizations are, like Black individuals, living paycheck to paycheck. We lack the resources. Not only are our non-profits not sufficiently endowed, neither are our for-profit organizations. This presents a new set of challenges because if our businesses are not successful then wealth can’t be created. While some of our greatest leaders have tried to build the infrastructure and organizational capacity required to defend the Black community against racism and discrimination, none of their efforts remain today. They just couldn’t solve the sustainability issue, the Economic Structural Deficit.

Brothers and sisters, we must understand that every issue we have requires an organizational defense because behind every challenge that we face there are forces that are even stronger than we are that are intent on keeping things the same. Whether it’s non-profit or for-profit, the delivery of any service requires the same ingredients (human talent and expertise, business infrastructure, financial resources, etc.). It’s all business. If you wanted to feed the homeless, how long can it be done without dedicated resources? At some point the weight of the task and need will overwhelm you if you’re unable to secure dedicated resources. Without dedicated resources, the quality of your service delivery (feeding the homeless) will come into question and definitely the ability to do it long term is almost impossible.

Feeding the homeless is a legitimate need because we don’t want children to be subjected to the consequences of living in families that are impoverished to the point where they aren’t able to properly provide food. This will ultimately impact our children’s nutrition, education, etc. Many times when we focus on issues like homelessness, we come to realize that in order to be effective, one must address a number of other issues because the cause of homelessness itself could be mental health, housing, economic (unemployment) to name a few. The bigger the need, the bigger the business and when the business gets bigger, all of the ingredients get bigger as well. No one can argue against the fact that Black needs are absolutely huge and require a level of corresponding organizational capacity and resources that we just don’t have. Without the ability to extract the needed resources from traditional sources (utilization of wealth and net assets), the Black community will not be able to sustain Black non-profits to the level of becoming institutions.

Have we already forgotten the civil rights movement, how much was done and how many sacrifices were made to get that legislation completed in the 1960s? This was no gift to the Black community. This was a very hard struggle and for what; the right to be treated as humans??? Up until that legislation, America openly participated in the overt oppression, discrimination, and racism against Black people. Our community was targeted for no reason except that we were Black. Don’t get it twisted, we didn’t get economic reparations for the nearly 400 years of slavery and 100 years of Jim Crowism; we didn’t get an equally funded public school system that would have the capacity to educate our children equitably; we didn’t get a whole host of things that would ultimately cost America its resources.

The economic structural deficit keeps the Black organization from growing, expanding, and most importantly, sustaining itself over several generations to address the many issues we face. Complicating matters is the fact that we are not isolated to just one or two concerns, but our concerns are complex and multifaceted. The homeless analogy suggests that just trying to feed people isn’t enough if you want to solve the problem. The problem is multifaceted and requires coordination that we have not seen to date.

Why has our experience been such a struggle? The Black challenge is both external and internal. They are external in that all of our issues have an historical connection to our start in this country, which has become the “status-quo.” Internally, we as a group have not responded correctly. We have acted as if the economic structural deficit doesn’t exist and we have acted like our oppressors and worked independently versus working together – a requirement for addressing a structural deficit. Our issues are interconnected, interrelated and require a multi-faceted approach that no one organization or individual has the capacity to take on. The Black community is owed a great debt by America.

The Black community must come to understand that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and we don’t have the luxury to act in a “silo” way. In fact, it is just the opposite. We must fight the Black inferiority programming and brainwashing that has forced us to become competitive with each other versus seeing ourselves as comrades and partners in the delivery of the Black agenda. We must see ourselves as partners and not as competitors if we are to have a shot at fighting against the economic structural deficit. This will require that we change some really bad behavior.

The internal dysfunction (disconnectedness) which is evident at every level of the Black community is our first order of business because we will need a certain level of unity to challenge America for what it still owes our community. We will never achieve this without some level of “functional” unity. Functional unity is predicated on a “critical mass” of Black leaders pursuing a common economic agenda because at the end of the day, while we have so many issues, none is greater than the structural economic deficit that we currently experience. We must get beyond our “perceived differences” to realize that our power lies within the unity of family, community, race and leadership.


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