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CLINGMAN: Exiting the Train of Consumption

James Clingman | 11/20/2013, 3 p.m.
James Clingman

It all boils down to what Brooke Stephens said about how we view ourselves. We have been so programmed to believe that having “things,” especially the best and highest priced things, is the key to our personal value. We are mesmerized by luxury and excess and have become obedient consumers who will rush out, sleep out, and even knockout someone else just to have the latest fashion, gadget, or whatever anyone is selling.

Maybe we can change our tenuous and abbreviated relationship with our money by holding on to it a little longer. Maybe we can educate our children and guide them in such a way that they will not make the same mistakes we made when it comes to handling money. Maybe we can gain a new and different perspective on ourselves as a people and as individual consumers. And, maybe, just maybe, we will take that first giant step toward economic self-reliance and achieve a proportional level of ownership and control of income-producing assets in this country. After all, we have been here since it began, yet we lag far behind where we should be economically, slavery and mistreatment notwithstanding.

I believe those of us who have been through some “stuff” and made poor decisions in our lives have an obligation to at least share our experiences and use them to help others. I know I have been down a few economically dead-end roads, and I do not want to see our children go down those same roads. I am sure many of you feel the same way. So don’t be ashamed to admit you messed up a few times – or a lot of times, for that matter. When it comes to our money, we simply must change.

The Bible says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 NIV). Where is your heart these days? When will you derail the madness of shopping ‘till you drop?

Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his website, blackonomics.com.