What projects are the African Americans where you are, working on that are "shovel ready" and eligible for the stimulus package?   Read the response below to a public e-mail complaint shared with me, about the Stimulus plan not benefiting African Americans:

Original E-Mail Received: Unlike our Black "leaders",  Jewish leaders met w/BO  before he launched his campaign  for the presidency & secured his support  in exchange for theirs.  That 's why they  got $1bill. We did not meet w/BO fearful that it  would alienate his white base & cost  him the election so he didn't have to  promise us anything for our support  so we'll probably get nothing unless we are prepared to hold his "feet to the  fire" w/the threat of mass civil disobedience  tying up DC for weeks & jeopardizing the  solvency of his regime. Are we ready & able to play hard ball  w/BO?  I don't think we have the will  or the skill. We were had.

Roger E. Madison Jr., CEO, iZania:

The question that is asked -- "I wonder how far toward the end of the line  Black folks are?" -- is asked in an unfocused way.  Many of us tend to ask about "Black folks" as if we are an amorphous blob without shape or form. Of course, our pain is universal, and we all feel the impacts of unequal suffering.  The reality is that some Black folks are near the front of the line, and some are not even in the line.  Which Black folks is the questioner asking about?

This news report points to a lobbying effort, and celebrates success of that effort in the form of funds  that the organization will receive.

The referenced "we" in the response seems to me to not be directed at any organized "we" who have been lobbying, or are currently lobbying, or organized in any way to receive dollars from the stimulus bill.  Please don't mistake my comments as a negative tirade.  All of us have a stake in the outcome of this bill.  And those of us who are organized and prepared to compete for public funding should do so aggressively.  All the gears are turning.  The Mayors of cities where we live were in Washington on Friday. Anyone on this list who has access to their local mayors should get into that line.  Those who have access to their congressional representatives,  should get into those lines.  Those who are currently operating programs that receive public funding should be aggressively advocating for their fair share of the funds.

I heard about another form of "earmarks" last week.  It is called "phone marks".  That is when representatives and Senators call the agencies where the money is channeled and make personal appeals for a pet project.  This type of earmark takes place after a bill is passed, and occurs under the RADAR - only to be discovered by an audit, after the money is spent.  Do you have a pet project that is "shovel ready?"  Do you have access to a representative who voted for this bill?  This includes Black representatives that we voted for.  Then phone calls and emails should be directed to those who can help.


Standing around wondering where "Black folks" are in the line will accomplish nothing.  What I would like to see in response is some recommendations and ACTIONS from those who know where the dots are connected.  All of us aren't unorganized.  Someone is doing something successful.  Why not share success stories rather than invite us to a pity party?  Is everyone on this list not even in the line?

I am engaged with a Black-owned company that is focused on projects that we can execute.  I see a total of $8.4 billion appropriated for clean water projects:

  • $1B to Bureau of Reclamation for infrastructure projects for drinking water in rural areas
  •  $6B for local clean and drinking water infrastructure improvements
  • $1.48B for loans and grants for water and waste disposal in rural areas.

I see money directed to education, and I am involved with Baba Amefika Geuka in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Together, we are contacting everyone from the local school district, to state representatives, and engaging in a nationwide initiative to raise funds for one project - The Joseph Littles - Nguzo Saba Charter School in West Palm Beach.  We see: $5 billion in incentive grants to be distributed on a competitive basis to states that most aggressively pursue higher standards, quality assessments, robust data systems and teacher quality initiatives.  This includes $650 million to fund school systems and non-profits with strong track records of improving student achievement.

I also host an online community at www.izania.com, where we have a directory of more than 2500 Black-owned businesses that are scrambling for success, and sharing information with one another in our forums, blogs, and we also feature articles that focus on HELP.  If you are not a member of this community, membership is free, and you can receive our Weekly Newsletter that always focuses on wealth-building, health, and issues of high importance to the virtual Black community.

I am not sharing this for the purpose of drawing attention to myself.  The point I am making is that some of us are busy doing things.  Maybe all of us are busy doing things.  But we accomplish nothing if we don't share information about what we are doing.  I would much rather see emails about positive actions.  I created
 as a place where we can share ideas that help one another.

If we are going to spend time talking to each other, let's talk about ACTION.  If anyone on this list can help with any of these projects that I am involved in, I welcome the help.  I would help you also, IF I KNEW WHICH LINE YOU WERE IN.  Otherwise, let's stop wasting each other's time with empty emails that ask empty questions.

I applaud and support the comments of Mr. Madison and am adding a few of my own:


1) If you are still waiting for the forty acres and a mule or that ship to come in, my advice is you better start looking around for some good wood and build your own boat and the oars you will need to row it.  We are in a place and time where we must stop waiting for permission to make our own pie or keep looking to get a sliver from someone else's.  You may not be qualified or have the stamina or even the desire to build your own business, and there is not a thing wrong with that.  But the question is, what can you do to become qualified for the "shovel ready" jobs that will become open to you?  Have you looked to see what the potential opportunities are going to be and begin to plan to be a part of it?  If you are educated, have you put your resume in order, freshened it up, pre-applied for possible openings?  If you are limited in education and marketable skills, what are you doing to find out what's available to enhance your odds to get a decent job?   No one will be coming to your door to find you and give you a job.  Opportunities will not float by on the financial waters you are drowning in.  You will need to take a realistic view of how to save yourself.


I think that the economic downturn is an opportunity for those who are prepared or becoming prepared to wade in and turn the situation into success. If you are an entrepreneur, what does your business or business to be really offer that the market needs or wants?  Do you have a real business plan that is tuned in to the current economic status?  If not, are you in denial?  If you are not in denial, what is your plan B?  Have you looked around to see who you can collaborate with and take two mediocre businesses and build a stronger single business?  Have you considered broadening your market to include regional, national even global opportunities?  Are you a member of local chambers, where you can network for support of your projects and find resources who can fill the gaps in your product offering?  And no, I am not speaking of the concept of "partnering" where someone looks to latch onto another party, business, entity -- bringing nothing to the table, but wanting to benefit from the association.  You need to stop that notion at the door, do not invite it in, because wasting your time is wasting your money; none of us can afford to do that.


2) Stop "buying the box".  I repeat: "STOP BUYING THE BOX".  African Americans, Economically and educationally disadvantage Anglo Americans, Disabled Americans are the primary targets of those who seek to prey on their desperate need for income.  So they come to the table with government grant packages, MLM schemes, legal aid services, long distance services, cleaning products, etc, etc.etc,. that you -- just by attending a seminar at a local hotel  -- can achieve your financial dreams just by purchasing, at the end of "motivational talk" that's available today only for the discounted price of $100 - $1000 a box, that has everything you need to succeed.  Except for one thing: the only one who succeeds are those who sell you the box.  Usually what they are selling is either already obsolete, does not really provide what it promises, has gone past its saturation cycle in the marketplace -- the discount long distance service is a perfect example -- or there was never a real market need for it in the first place.  These people are characteristically short on actual provable examples of this scheme really working, i.e., the federal grant packages.  They always have a "millionaire" who has already made his money and is just doing this out of the kindness of his heart, but don't waste his time if you don't get it and join in right now. 


Those who buy into these schemes, handing over their check or credit cards because they are in, then discover that the "box" doesn't really work like they told him/her.  So they are embarrassed, feel like failures and/or want to keep their bad "investment" a secret.  This is much more common than you can imagine.  If you have never seen "Pursuit of Happyness"  or even if you have, I highly recommend you watch it again.  The buying of the box is what contributed to the demise of the man's family: he had purchased equipment to sell that was already obsolete.  He was able to sell them at a loss to keep himself and his son scarcely afloat during their homelessness while he worked on a plan B.  But most of us don't have a plan B.  Plan A must be to stop "buying the box."


3)  If you don't know what you are doing, stop doing it.  If you don't know anything about repairing,reconstructing, constructing houses, looking at HGTV and DIY will only make you conscious of what it is you don't know, it will not necessarily teach you how to do it, it certainly will  not make you a professional.  Get your GED if you don't have it.  Get certified to be an electrician. Become licensed and bonded as a contractor if that's what you want to do.  Take actual classes to become a mechanic. Continuing to do what you aren't qualified to do will leave you with a reputation that will catch up with you and ultimately reinforces your belief that you fail at everything.


We need more of us to become qualified to do the jobs of fixing what we already have as the economy requires us to make do with what we've got.  That's why shoe repair shops are back and booming.  That's why used car sales are up.  Our community has limited funds to get something fixed the one time.  We can't afford  to and SHOULD NOT hire someone who isn't qualified to do a repair or renovation.  My kitchen floors are filled with cracked tiles and poorly mixed grout where we hired a "family friend" who assured us of his experience.    And let all of the buyer's beware, get good references, check Angie's list and the Better Business Bureau and DO NOT PAY UNTIL THE JOB IS COMPLETED.  If they can't afford to do the job before being paid, they are not the right source for you.


4) Do a reality check of your lifestyle, your business ability, and the truth about what you are really capable of. Again, it takes a certain mind and skill set to be in business for yourself.  You need to make sure you have those skills, you need to make sure you are offering a product or service that someone will buy and you need to know how to sell what it is you offer, most importantly, begin to change your mode of business operation to reflect the fact that it's not personal it's business.


5) Find a way to seriously contribute to your community while you are waiting for new opportunities.  Volunteer at neighborhood schools, nursing homes;  Get your neighbors together and build a neighborhood garden; I have, in fact, suggested to the White House that we should initiate a national project called "Stone Soup" Gardens. Just by doing something, by giving, you will at least reinforce your worth to others. You never know when you will find what you are looking for that will get you employed, just by being in the right place at the right time, right there on the street where you live.  I have a personal wish list: every large city needs a mid-career teachers program that would enable more people who are out of work, have a four year  college degree in good standing, and  a desire to contribute to the community through education, to certify as K - 12 teachers within one year.  Certification must include diversity training from the perspective of teaching inclusion and acceptance.  I would love to have a program within the larger cities, where writers, performers, fine artists, musicians have a rotational program that consistently exposes K - 12 children to the arts throughout the school year, in exchange for greater opportunities to exhibit/create/expose their art in public places, during city events without cost to the artists


6) If you lost or might be losing your job, the best and brightest say that you need to have eight months worth of living expenses stashed away.  You should look at your spending and pare it down to the basics, which means you may have to give up premium cable, the twice a week dinner out and  the weekend drives to the casino. 


There's more to say, but this will hopefully give us all, myself included, a lot to think about.  We cannot continue to be the victim of circumstances.  We must become the directors of our destinies.  Is your life "shovel ready"?


'We hold as the arbiters of truth, those who have lied to us the most.' -- Dr. Amos Wilson