My premise in writing this paper is to draw distinctions between “capital” and “capitalism” on the one hand, and correspondingly, between the concept of “God” and “religion” on the other. This is especially important for those Black people who consider ourselves to be “conscious” on matters pertaining to Race, or even “righteous” if we are ideologues about the subject. Race-conscious Blacks should not and do not have to eschew capital or their spirituality in order to be true to the best interests of our Race.
Webster’s dictionary defines “capital” as: “…assets, as money or property; accumulated goods devoted to production of other goods.” Capital then, is neither good or bad in and of itself. At best it is a ‘tool,’ or medium of exchange. As with most tools, it can also be used as a weapon however. The Christian Bible states that “Love of money is the root of all evil,” not money (capital). However, black church-goers have misinterpreted that scripture to mean that money (capital) itself is the root of all evil. This has caused our people to have a conflicted attitude towards money which has contributed to development of an “oath-of-poverty” approach to capital. We feel guilty about wanting or having it, but know full well that we need it in the society we live in — the only society we know and can identify with!
Webster’s defines “capitalism” as: “An economic system in which most means for the production of goods and services are privately owned.” As the system of capitalism has evolved, classes of individuals motivated by greed and selfishness grew to dominate and control its development. They have thus given the “ism” a bad name. Capital has become corrupted by the uses to which it has been put by those capitalists!
My observation is that most Race-conscious blacks have deep roots in the black church tradition; accordingly, we are subject to the same misinterpretations as our steadfastly religious brethren. We bring to Race-consciousness an anti-money mentality, knowingly or unknowingly. As a result, we tend to ‘muddle’ where money is concerned. We know we need capital to get anything done in America, but we don’t want to risk being corrupted by it. As the motivational speaker Les Brown would say, we are afraid to ask for the sale, or “close the deal” so to speak.
In an article he wrote some years ago titled: “The Conundrum of Consciousness and Capital,” my colleague Jim Clingman noted the perplexing fact that “..many conscious brothers and sisters have little capital, and many Black folks who have a lot of capital have little consciousness. Thus, we must raise both consciousness and capital.” Back then we dealt with the chicken-and-egg quandary, and wondered which would have to happen first, raise the consciousness of Black capitalists; or get more capital into the hands of conscious Blacks. We decided then that it could not be an either/or proposition, but a both/and approach would be needed to solve the dilemma. We brought that belief to the One Million Conscious Black Voters & Contributors (OMCBV&C) initiative, and have met with promising success at this early stage of that campaign.
Two well-to-do Brothers with plenty of consciousness have seen fit to join our OMCBV&C movement, John Brown, Principal with The Bedford Group; and Dr. Jackie Mayfield, Co-Founder of ComproTax, the largest black-owned income tax preparation and bookkeeping company in America. To compliment that success, we are urging all who join our movement to purchase at least one copy of Jim Clingman’s latest book, “Black Dollars Matter!” If our eventual One Million members each bought the book, Jim’s profit from those sales would earn him the status of a millionaire along with Brothers Brown and Mayfield. That is representative of the potential impact the OMCBV&C could have! The design and approach of the OMCBV&C gives us the capacity to create as many conscious Black millionaires as we choose, in whatever timeframe we decide upon. But we need the right kind of people to comprise the One Million we envision.
Race-conscious Blacks cannot afford to allow capitalists of any race, creed, color, or nationality to have a monopoly on the accumulation and use of capital, and our Race would be far better off with more substantial capital in the possession of Brothers and Sisters whose consciousness would compel them to give back to the uplift and advancement of our collective group.
Webster’s defines “GOD” as: “The supreme or ultimate reality; the Being perfect in power, wisdom and goodness whom men worship as creator and ruler of the universe.” Conceptually, ‘God’ is “no respecter of persons.” Therefore, anyone and everyone has as much right to claim “sonship” to It as any other person or people. Yet “religionists” have managed to gain a monopoly on the concept of God in much the same manner, and to a comparable degree as capitalists have gained over capital. How often do we hear zealots of religion refer to themselves as “God’s people” as though they alone could claim such an exalted status? And if they are God’s only people, whose people are the rest of us; where did we come from, how did we get here, and what is our purpose in this realm? It is one thing for religionists to attempt to claim exclusive right to sonship for themselves, but absurd for the rest of us to allow them to get away with such audacity!
Webster’s defines “religion” as: “Belief in a controlling power outside oneself; a system of belief; an order of worship; an obsessive pursuit or cause.” While most Race-conscious Blacks believe in a “Supreme Being” by whatever name, and many continue to be “religious,” they do not allow their chosen religious belief system to displace their convictions about the natural state in which they came into this human experience. Whereas a person chooses, or their parents choose for them — a religion to practice, one’s natural life-form (human), race (black, white, etc.), and gender are decided before one enters the human experience by whatever force is responsible for giving us life. Common sense would therefore suggest that what is natural should supersede anything unnatural or contrived by some group of humans.
All human life had to arrive on this Earth from the same place and by the same means — wherever and however that was, so Race-conscious Blacks have as much right to claim the concept of God, or a Supreme Being by whatever name, as any non-conscious blacks — or non-blacks for that matter. We owe no one an explanation or apology for adhering to our own knowledge and understanding of existential truths, especially those of us who have gained the wisdom to know that we need no intercessor between us and whatever force might have been responsible for our being here in human form. After all, according to the Christian Bible, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.”
Increasingly, Race-conscious Blacks have exhibited a tendency to allow religionists to have a monopoly on the concept of a Supreme Being, and anything else related to “good” as opposed to “evil.” We’ve even allowed religionists to lay claim to spirituality, though few religious people are truly spiritual. After all, by definition religion is belief in a controlling power outside oneself; whereas the spiritual person’s deity as it were, is within him or herself (“nearer than hands or feet”), and exercises no control whatsoever.
So we do not have to “throw the baby (spirituality) out with the bathwater (religion)” because we have erroneously assumed that the latter had a monopoly on the former. Nor do we have to condemn religion, or religionists for their religiosity; we but need to remember that “It is not necessary to condemn a dirty glass, just put a clean one down next to it.” The difference will speak for itself!