Economics, Not Electoral Politics, is the Key to Success

A. Peter Bailey

By A. Peter Bailey

( – At the risk of being accused of repeating myself, I will say once again that black people who live in the continent of North America (aka USA) continue to recognize the importance of maximizing their economic potential.

In 2018, as in the previous 100 or so years, we as a people put most all of our time, energy, and resources into electoral politics. We jump for joy when a black person is nominated for or elevated to some political position without understanding that a group of people may have a limited degree of political influence but will absolutely never have political power without economic power.

No one better understands and explains this better than the perceptive visionary James Clingman, who warns us of this basic fact over and over again in his must-read book, Black Money Matters. The book, published in 2015, includes the following:

“Our aggregate annual income of $1.2 trillion is mainly used to create wealth for everyone except black people because we spend the vast majority of it at their businesses. Politics has not and will not solve these issues. We must solve them ourselves by ‘the work from our own hands’ as Martin Delany told us. This book deals with the potential and economic issues that affect us and between 2008 and March 2015; it directs the readers’ attention not only to the problems we face as individuals and as a collective, but also to practical, achievable and appropriate solutions. It points us to a way out of the economic ditch in which we have remained for decades since the 1960s when we owned more assets, relatively speaking, and controlled economic enclaves across the country…Each day we can see how much ‘Black Dollars Matter’ to everyone else’s worth and well-being, the question is: How much do they matter to black people? This is my final attempt to enlighten, to inspire, to challenge and to change our thinking in such a way that it has a positive impact on those who come behind us. It encourages the elders among us but our passing must be with patience, direction, advice and counseling.”

This is serious guidance from a Brother who now is dealing with a debilitating illness. In his book he does exactly what he advocates above. It offers concrete guidelines on hot to more effectively use our collective economic resources in the campaign against white supremacy and for equal right, equal opportunity and equal justice.

By the way, Prof. Clingman is not the only one who urges us to do more to maximize our economic potential rather than relying much too much on electoral politics. Ancestors such as Booker T. Washington, Mary McLeod Bethune, Marcus Garvey, Chancellor Williams, Harold Cruse, Brother Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have also spoke out on our becoming more diligent and intelligent economically.

If we chose to ignore their wisdom and guidance in this arena, we will have no one to blame but ourselves if other ethnic and religious groups continue to take advantage of our willful ignorance.

A. Peter Bailey, whose latest book is Witnessing Brother Malcolm X, the Master Teacher, can be reached at [email protected]

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