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 established 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 current position in the United States.
If we use our common sense, we will definitely have common cents. Common sense suggests that we do as other groups are doing, and as our ancestors 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 to 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 industrial complex; we must institute a national "Boycott Prisons" campaign and work to give our youth alternatives.
Common sense should have taught us that banks and other financial institutions still discriminate against us, and by using our common cents we can overcome much of that discrimination by creating and maintaining our own financial institutions (Before anyone gets scared or asks why we need Black-owned banks and credit unions, just think about the Korean banks, the Cuban banks, the Polish banks, the Chinese banks and all the others that exist in this country.)
Common sense dictates that we use our common cents to fund our own initiatives first and then look to others to support them — 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.
As we look back on our progress for the past 45 years, common sense shows us how far we have come relative to the strategies we chose to pursue and the leadership we decided to follow. Common sense says several of our leaders have done marvelously well, but as a whole, Black people are still stuck at the bottom of the economic ladder, a ladder with rungs that begin at the halfway point. It is up to us to figure out how to get to the halfway point; common sense suggests we must build our own rungs to that economic ladder.
Currently, we are too individualistic in our thinking and our actions to create common cents strategies.
We must be willing to use our individual, God-given gifts to contribute to the uplift of a people who have suffered more horrendous treatment, both physical and psychological, than any other people in this country. Common sense tells us that. How else are we going to prosper? How else will we achieve economic empowerment? How else will we ever be able to positively impact the futures of our children?
Our great-grandparents could not have done all they did without possessing a tremendous amount of common sense that, in turn, directed them to accumulate a great deal of common cents with which to take care of their business. What's up with us?
James E. Clingman is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati's African American Studies department.