Jun. 9, 2017

Provoked Thoughts: Happy Birthday James Napier

Provoked Thoughts/Project Uplift Literacy

Black Communities Stop Hustling Backwards 

James C. Napier Plan For Black Financial Independence


On the 172nd Anniversary of the birth of James C. Napier, who founded the One-Cent Bank Savings Bank in Nashville, Tennessee in 1904. Mr. Napier, who also served as the Register of United States Treasury under President Taft, was the very first Black to preside over the Nashville City Council and was instrumental in the hiring of Black teachers in the city of Nashville’s public schools. I salute the contributions over this outstanding civic leader, defender of black civil and economic rights with a proposal that would honor his spirit, his soul, and his philosophy of a grander life for Black Americans. Since the United States outlawing slavery in the United States. We as Black people have sought but never fully achieved the promise of economic equality or true civil equality. When the Governor of Delaware Jack Markell, announced that the state would officially apologize for his state’s role in slavery. That apology didn’t come with a massive financial commitment to recovery or loss caused during human our period of 4 centuries of bondage. Especially if this apology came from the government of the United States that allowed this peculiar institution to flourish for over 200 years. Yet, this isn’t what happened, or is ever going to happen.  Of course, the apology came with nothing other than words on paper with this caveat and pledge: 

 “to fix the long legacy of damage that continues to result in inequality and unfair obstacles for countless citizens because of their race”

 Now if this apology came in 1865 with the full weight of financial commitment of every state in the union, along with the proposed 40 acres and a mule to every recently freed slave. Then the Governor’s words of apology may have carried some real weight.  We as the affronted peoples are stuck on attempting to get from this government reparation they are simply unwilling to give. We will never see full or partial restitution for the slavery system that bound men and women to chains, and built enormous economic wealth for those who were the profiteers of that ugly, malicious system. Mr. Napier called his bank the One-Cent Savings Bank because he understood his communities were pinching pennies not dollars. He, however, wanted those pennies to gain our communities wealth. We are never going to get even what the United Nations says we deserve “economic recovery in the form of reparations”. So I guess the time has come to move away from that fixated mirage of Neverland. We must develop our own systems of recovery. Running into a wall that only strengths with each collision are a tiresome and useless undertaking. Black communities must continue to reflect and live their current lives never forgetting the past wrongs done to ancestors.  We must, however, take those learned lessons and build our new communities based on some level of financial independence.

 Educated brothers and sisters are needed to capture new lights of majestic dreams. We need not relive those nightmares of our ancestral past over and over again.  Learn from the strength that our ancestors had like James Napier and build from where we are.   Our communities need answers to today’s problems a defiance that commands the attitude never again. How about rather than regenerating a One-Cent Savings Bank, we start in our communities Cut The Brand Selling Savings Banks. You see we, including myself, have been victimized by Madison Street to think that a name instantly means quality, perfection, desire to own. We have actually become the marketers for those brands when we flaunt our purchases. We want our friends, relatives, and even our enemies to feel the need to follow our desire and purchase what we purchase. 

“It’s the Jones keeping up with the Jones syndrome.” 

Who told you Hennessy White was pure magic, the Mercedes in your driveway was majestic, or 18 TV Screens in your home just the right number? Who said that those $250.00 MJ’s made you a cloud walker, or the $1800.00 Louie V Bag was the go to purchase?  You have a family of four but a home built for 20 with all the unnecessary empty rooms? So here is the James C. Napier Plan for building Black Financial Independence. Rather, than drinking 12 bottles of Hennessy Black, Jack Gold, or Johnnie Walker Blue a year trying cut that down to 3 bottles a year. The save the remainder for something truly significant like an expanded investment package. This simple action builds something significant rather than expelling that liquor into the wasteland of nothingness.  Another avenue of change rather than buying those monthly MJ Nike Brand, or Curry’s new UA brand. Just cut that expense down to semi-annually and put those monies you saved into buying back our communities. Build your own bottom-lines rather than constantly juicing up corporations bottom-lines. Do you really need the name of Michael Kors, on your bag ladies? Is simply MK worth that extra $200.00 to sling on your shoulders?  Versace is nice and all but when was the last time Versace invested in the hood?   The Italian communities are flushed with dollars how about ours? Jimmy Choo, how about you? We need to follow the James Napier pennies/dollars game plan my brothers and sisters.  We’re always the communities being hustled time and time again. It’s time for that hustling spirit of our past ancestors to be renewed. Why get hustled by the aura of bling and need to have that unwanted bling on our bodies. Bling isn’t ringing the bell of black community redemption.

When I was young by daddy taught about the need to learn not to hustle backward. My Dad spoke to me incessantly about putting something away from every little bit you got. My dad told that if you weren’t hustling forward someone would definitely take advantage of you. If you are hustling backward why continue to let Madison Avenue hustle forward.  It wasn’t until later as a full grown adult that I came to understand that wise old tale of getting stuck in the cycle of hustling constantly in a backward motion. The communities in which we live in can thrive beyond today’s measures of success. However, in order to do that we must start incentive plans of investment and redevelopment that will be geared towards establishing our own mechanisms of wealth building.  Brothers and Sisters, develop learning economic centers linked to our historic educational institutions, our HBCU’s.  This partnership would provide these HBCU’s the ability to transfer ownership and developed enterprises to college students. The students in turn upon graduation would have the real enterprise development skills to work for themselves rather seeking employment from others. How about taking advantage of the investment minds of professors and students on a national level? This economic alignment could produce effective strategies for building wealth for not just a few but many of our community residents. Just because you may a push a broom doesn’t negate your ability to turn dimes into dollars and dollars into future independence. 

The time starts now for our black communities to envision better tomorrows. So whether you have bills collectors as your primary contacts. You may even feel like you are mired in poverty. However,  the decision to make new economic self-reliant decisions starts with the personal belief that our communities we have aren’t the communities we need accept. The communities we need are the communities we can achieve but only by belief in doing something different, something engaging, no longer being complacent, no longer being reactive but being forever now pro-active. The mindset will change once we realize our past isn’t our future. When we step beyond the miseries that beset us all yesterday. Hell, maybe those miseries are only stepping stones to a promising tomorrow.  There are over 41.7 million blacks in this country what a difference brothers and sisters could make if only we gathered $200.00 from every family? Those that could give more give. Those that can only give a few dollars give what you can but give something. This ship of an enterprise will sail for everyone to gain but the ship must indeed sail from the every port of this country. Happy Birthday James C. Napier your techniques have taught us well.