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CLINGMAN: Common Sense Leads to Common Cents

James Clingman | 5/29/2013, 9 p.m.
Some people say "common sense is not common," which may be the main reason Black people are not as far ...
James Clingman

Some people say “common sense is not common,” which may be the main reason Black people are not as far up the economic ladder as we should be. Having been in this country since it started, having provided the free labor that led to the creation of much of the wealth now enjoyed by those in charge, and having built a history of self-help and entrepreneurial initiative since our enslavement, Black people have the strongest case and the greatest need to exercise a little common sense when it comes to working collectively to improve our position in the U.S.

If we use our common sense, we will have more common cents. Using our common sense will cause us to do what other groups are doing, and as our forebears did in this country: pool our resources and support one another.

Common sense tells us to look around and see the dire straits our children are facing in this country and start compiling some common cents to help them meet and overcome their current and future economic challenges.

Common sense teaches us that we must not do anything that will subject us to the misery of incarceration and the profiteering of this nation’s prison system; we must give our youth alternatives, especially economic alternatives, to their negative behaviors.

Common sense should have taught us that discrimination still exists in financial institutions, and using our common cents we can overcome much of that discrimination by collectively leveraging our resources and supporting our own financial institutions. (When you ask why we need Black-owned banks and credit unions, also ask the same about Korean banks, Cuban banks, Polish banks, Chinese banks, and all the others that exist in this country.)

Common sense dictates that we utilize our common cents to fund our own initiatives, first, and then look to others to support them, not control them. Having common cents would also increase our ability to defend ourselves against local political issues that are not in our best interests; our common cents can be used to fund ballot initiatives, finance the campaigns of candidates who will work on our behalf, and pay for research, analyses, and recommendations that can be used to make informed voting decisions.

Common sense instructs us to pursue our self-interest in a society that is rapidly becoming more polarized. Common sense tells us that we do not control the major political and economic games. However, in order to assure a win every now and then, we must use our common cents. Economics runs this country; common sense tells us that.

If we use our common sense, we will also use our common cents to create and sustain an economic foundation from which to operate and on which to build even more common cents’ initiatives. We must use our common sense the way our ancestors did, as they quickly caught on to the system they faced and immediately went to work building their economic resources to purchase their freedom and that of their relatives and friends. Freedom still ain’t free, y’all.