For those of us who were blessed to see it, another year has arrived and brings with it another opportunity to start afresh with new ways to move our people closer to economic empowerment. The new year brings a clean slate, so to speak, since we like to make resolutions and promises regarding things we would like to change. So what will we write on our 2017 slate? What will be our agenda this year? What strategy will we employ to empower our people? Will we stay on the endless circular path that has led to where we are today? Will we follow a new path? Will we adopt a new strategy?

Whatever we decide to commit ourselves to will certainly not be new; everything we need to do in 2017 has already been done by our ancestors who lived and survived in this country for centuries, under the worst treatment human beings could suffer. But 2017 is new, and it’s always good to look at our commitments in a new light, with a new resolve and out of a renewed strength. Are you ready?

Here we go. Don’t fall for the same old tired rhetoric we hear every day from self-appointed “leaders” who do not lead by example. Don’t continue following folks that are only sending you deeper into the woods of poverty while they relax in the lush fields of prosperity.

Don’t get hood-winked by pandering politicians and prosperity preachers who are only interested in what they can get for themselves and how they can use you to get another pair of “gators,” a Bentley, a mansion, or elected to public office. Don’t be lulled to sleep by intellectual banter that makes you feel good but never tells you how to do good, or do well, for that matter.

Don’t succumb to celebrity claptrap, which only excites the paparazzi rather than enlightens our people. Don’t get down in the muck with entertainers who denigrate themselves and us. And please don’t subscribe to the same old “okey-doke” that has literally and figuratively programmed our people to wait to be rescued by folks who care very little about us.

What must we do? First, raise the level of your Black consciousness by reading, by studying, by listening and by associating with brothers and sisters who are serious about doing the work of liberation and unashamed to proclaim their Blackness. Connect with other individuals and collectively establish economic initiatives that benefit Black people; trust me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that; other groups do it all the time.

Be prepared to make the sacrifices required to move the masses of Black people forward. Always define yourself, and do not accept definitions like “minority” and “person of color.” Terms like those really lose something in translation, namely, us.

Stand up against injustice and wrongdoing, no matter who the perpetrator is: White, Black, or any other color. Follow through on your commitments. Get fired up, but stay fired up long enough to get the work done. Teach your children how to navigate through this world.

Take better care of yourself. Find something physical that you can do and keep doing it for the rest of your life. Yes, it will hurt sometimes, but it’s worth it. Try not to eat so much of whatever you are eating. Just eat less of everything and get up and do something to burn some calories.

Do kind things for those less fortunate than you. It doesn’t always have to be money. It could be an encouraging word, a hug without words, some baked cookies, a small gift just because or a few hours spent with a child who may not have a father or a mother. You don’t need a program to do this; you just need yourself.

Seek out new Black leadership – authentic leadership – or be a leader yourself. There are young folks all across this country waiting to step up to the task of leadership, many of who are leading right now. Find them, especially you old soldiers out there; you can’t hang on forever, you know. Teach the young and pass the baton to them, not to someone on the other team.

Start viable businesses, grow those businesses and create jobs for our people. Build economic enclaves throughout this country, like our relatives did 200 years ago. Identify industries where we have the competitive advantage because of our consumerism and build vertically integrated businesses within those industries. Boycott prisons! Stay out of the cells and get into sales. The time is long overdue for us to take our rightful place in this country, politically, socially, educationally and most of all, economically.

I have hitched my wagon to THE One Million; you do what is right for you. Have a wonderfully blessed 2017.

Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the author of Black Dollar$ Matter: Teach Your Dollars How to Make More Sense. He can be reached through his website,

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