Monthly Archives: June 2015

Economically fuelled black political participation

There are presidential elections coming and as Dr Claude Anderson speaks about there is the potential for black people to have a say in politics, within America, I am not saying we will get much but we must at least show some of the following:

  • Unification
  • Seriousness
  • Intent

Considering each of the above, we as a race are not currently unified, either in the US, Caribbean, South and Central America or in Africa. We need to put asside our differentces, in a discussion which I was having I listed at least 5 different cateogaries of black people which did not agree and were not able to see race as a way in which we could work together. These groups were:

  • Religious

  • Middle class

  • Working class

  • Concious

  • Entrepreneur

The religious persons, only unite with each others denomination, e.g. Christians unite with other Christians despite colour, Muslims unite with other Muslims despite the colour (on the surface) and other religions unite and support the other members. The middle class blacks largely leave the black areas which they grow up in and do not tend to invest back into the community as there is a individualistic point of view that I have to get mines, which is what the working class black people become indoctrinated and aspire to being afraid of working together as they fear other black people will leave the community and forget about everyone, which is largely true.

Then, there’s the concious people who can be exclusive and only want to work with conscious people and the entrepreneur, which is only in some cases considering the monetary value that a person can bring to them and their company, rather than the long term knock on effect of the social ramifications of looking at people as a meal ticket or a dollar sign.

The aim should be to get a representative of all these people in a room and consider that the common ground everyone has is they are black and that they are all treated the same when they walk out on the street and that if they blindly go out to vote then they will not get anything delivered to them. These past 6 years has seen the current presidency deliver anything to black people as a whole since we did not sit down and demand action in favour of our communities.

The set out could be as follows all the groups of black people meeting at the following levels:

  • Local
  • Regional
  • State
  • National

At the local level it could be a group meeting with a representative elected by interested members of the community, with an agenda to present to the different groups. The local groups of persons meet up and discuss what they want from the electoral candidate on a local level.

On a regional level the representatives meet with the candidate on a regional/state level discuss what they want in return for their vote. This would be after dialogue has been made with the candidates representatives on a local and regional/state level.

On a national level the representatives then meet with the candidate on a state level and discuss what they want. This would provide a seriousness and intent on the candidate getting the black vote rather than just providing promises, which will be difficult to fulfil when they think, ‘yes you voted, but these people financially contributed to my campaign’, since money talks.

There are many factions within the black community who can provide different resources to ensuring a presidential in the short and medium term can deliver what we need rather than a free black vote:

Religious – Numbers and access to some finance to fund a candidates campaign in return for action, which serves our purpose.

Middle class – Finances which can support the candidates campaign and ensuring that our communities are economically, socially and politically developed to serve our purpose.

Working class – Provide the ability to put finances together and undertake groundwork to ensure our communities can be developed to ensure our futures and welfare to a certain degree is considered.

Concious – Can provide information on how the representative can put policies in place to ensure black people can prosper as a whole (where possible from the candidates policies)

Entrepreneur – Provide economic empowerment to the local communities and how the candidate can implement policies to ensure this is possible.

Despite these ideas there is a 16 month window in which black people, can have a say through unification, seriousness and intent, by talking to the candidates and paying for policies to be in our favour even on a just below the surface as we need something in the short term to allow us to regroup as a people then make strides, to the next action we must take to improve our situation in the west.

Here are some sources:

Dr Claude Anderson (video) How to play the game of politics and win

New York Times – Who wants to buy a politician

Consumerist.com – Supreme Court Ruling on political donations

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African Caribbean Society – President

As a black person who studied at university, I was interested in becoming involved in extra curricular activities. This was where I became president of the African Caribbean Society in the 2nd year of my studies. The position was suppose to be an opportunity to provide a cultural education of African and Caribbean history, to these students.

The plan was laid out that I would be seeking cultural events, such as film showings, getting speakers and organising trips to museums and cultural places. There was also an ambition for me to network with university African Caribbean societies within the region of the university (East and West Midlands).

This was the plan, but like with most elected positions, you are voted in with a committee, who must work towards this. Firstly, the committee had some people who were there for a CV and to have the status of being on a committee doing nothing, this included any ideas they had or I had, as a committee we would suggest ideas and vote on them and many ideas were agreed upon. This was the easy part, the difficult part was actually arranging the events, many of the people on the committee were either busy or lazy and needed chasing up to see if they had completed the tasks. This lead to some events being staged but not to the full capacity and some events having a relatively low turn out due to a lack of marketing.

This could have been due to faults of my own such as naievity as most of the committee and the members when asked which type of events they wanted, were looking for parties and going to different parties at the different universities and venues. The plan was to have a party as a small segment at different intervals within the year rather than on a regular basis. To offset this based on work and voluntary experience since this time period, there possibly should have been a partnership (formal or informal) with a black based music society created at the time. This would have ensured the cultural aspects of the society would have been fulfilled and the partying needs of the members would have been covered by the black based music society.

The second point about the networking, this was my original attempt at group economics or at least group sociology, where the aim was to host events and invite the other African Caribbean society to our events and then attend other societies events. As stated earlier this was successful in regards to the discussion and initial planning, though one of the biggest universities in the region at the time, was not interested as they felt they had their own network within their own city.

Had this have been undertaken at the time it would have allowed for the sharing of resources and the support of each others events and making events even more fulfilling with the potential of building and improving relations. The other universities lost contact and despite the society I was president of creating events, the interest in this fell and with a committee not fully cooperative the efforts were difficult, as my missus told me recently I may have been ahead of my time.

This experience made me not want to work in a voluntary capacity again with other black people, but I felt this was unfair, as I gained more life experience and volunteered more as I realised, there are people out there wiling to make more of an effort and to make a meaningful contribution to improve the community they are working in.

The reason I am writing this is, because I feel sometimes as a people we have some that want to work towards a cause and its the others around them that let the whole thing collapse. As adults or participants we should only participate in the best interests of the organisation and the people it is meant to serve.

Cashless Payments

You may have noticed that less and less cash is being circulated and this is being replaced by contact-less cards, and now cashless payments will be made by your phone device. Now how does this affect community development or development information which I usually blog about. Financial exclusion is a term, where you have little access to money (if any at all) or to financial services such as a bank account or building society. Most people with Bank Accounts, access to financial services and activity are seen as financially included.

In the UK, if you have bad credit or otherwise you may be prevented from opening or accessing bank account facilities. Some people have never had a bank account and this is prevalent in the black community, Yard and foreign (sorry it was the Jamaican coming out in me). Black people are known to place money under mattresses as there was a lot of insurance companies and banks who would refuse to pay out on black people who had died or want the money which they had paid into the account in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The new cashless payment will mean people will have access to more financial services as the money can be stored in a central place for you to access this and it has the potential for controls to be put on this (if you chose, though I’m sure there will be a facility for the powers that be to select how you spend it). The problem will mean that the money will be centralised and you may need to be part of the central system to access these funds which will mean that you are then vulnerable to the system (in the west) rather than being able to go off the grid (so to speak).

The cashless system will work in a way in which you will be able to just tap your smartphone device against a reader. The first concept used in Kenya (M Pesa) in 2007 allowed residents of the first village which this was trialled in to type a code into their phone and another code would appear and the would provide this to the shop keeper who would place it into a computerised till system.

Its a interesting concept cashless society, as it will financially include many people but some people may be come excluded as a result, especially if they are resistant to the use of technology or have little access, due to digital exclusion (little or no access to the internet or technology which facilitates cashless payments).

If you want to find out more about this please look at the sources below:

M Pesa (www.economist.com)

The Future of Mobile phone payment (www.theguardian.com)

The battle between Google and Apple for cashless mobile payments (www.popsci.com)

Cashless transaction trends (www.trustedreveiws.com)

Financial Inclusion (broad definition) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_inclusion)

Using the sun to power us

There is much discussion in the black community about Akon and him providing solar power to 600 million Africans. My viewpoint is its a great initiative with some wider considerations.

I have previous experience and a interest in solar power, back in 2006 I had travelled around south Africa for 4 months and had come into contact with solar powered street lights, houses (and in some cases) houses. The solar power on the streets were provided by local community and national agencies, which would work by charging up during the day through a battery and at night or during power cuts the battery would discharge the power to the street or indoor lights. There were also solar showers, which differ in relation to how you feel, I felt as it was different to having a conventional shower.

The demographic of people who had the solar power, were middle class persons. The reason being, solar power is expensive to purchase and install. The areas where the street solar power was installed, were either lower income or rural communities. The reason I add this about demographics is in many parts of Africa, there is a divide between those who can afford semi or mostly consistent access to electricity and those that cannot. The rural areas, where people have a lower income or access to amenities available in a city or larger town will have less access to a generator whilst those who have a higher income will have access to solar power or generators.

The challenge for getting 600 people access the solar power, will be how it is rolled out to the respective communities in Africa. As I have suggested it could be rolled out to the use of street lights as, there is commonly power cuts in many parts of Africa and in Ghana, they call it ‘lights outs’. This would make the scheme manageable rather than homes getting the power at first.

Reviewing this from a regeneration perspective, is this venture will be expensive to roll out and fair play to the funders, who are currently on board . The challenge is the governements and the municipalities in African countries agreeing and looking at rolling this out, whilst engineers would be trained up to install this. Is there enough national, regional and local support when looking at planning and determining the areas which get access to this first.

The initiative is great and I hope it works, though there are always political obstacles to overcome even in Africa, what happens if the local people do not want this and when considering what localities get this first, not from Akon but looking at the project being rolled out nationally and locally, will it be the lower income areas or will it be the higher income areas. Will there be enough money to pay for this to be rolled out and how will it be paid for, is there just a fund for a general roll out in terms of powering street lights or will houses get access to this too.

The one question I have is how will the maintenance of the solar power be managed and financed, will it be via the foundation which Akon has or will it be via the governments. Are these parties accountable and capable enough to ensure this is rolled out and the project reaches its aims, financially, socially and politically. Different countries have their own methods as well as communities so working with local people on this and asking them if they want this and how they want it rolled out locally will be important, if it is to be a success.

I applaud the initiative and hope he achieves this as Africa has 320 days at least of sunlight per year so its the best place to have a constant reliable source of electricity. The reservation I initially have is I hope it serves the simple agenda of providing greater access to electricity and nothing else.

Social Regeneration sneak preview

Over the last year I have been working on how black people may be able to overcome our economic, social and political problems or assist in overcoming this.

I have a regeneration and social inclusion background and I am using this to assist and develop the black community as much as possible.

Below I have included a snippet of the document which I have written and have previously provided a presentation  on this as a blog which can provide you with some information.

If you would like to discuss this further or have any questions please visit our contact us page.

Black Retail

Greetings readers, it’s been a long time. I have seen something which had caught my attention very recently and was considering sharing this with you.

Notably the spending habits of black people and the ability for us to buy from ourselves rather than someone else. For example shopping and spending habits are difficult to break and it starts with the individual and the community which they come from and are part of.

For example if a person decides to buy hair products from a particular vendor who is not the same race as them it cannot be stopped but if the person looks at why is there no black people who work in a shop where your product is sold, this should spark alarms as you should recognise that if there are non of your own people working in this shop selling a product unique to yourself then why should you purchase.

Another point is we as a race would rather spend in a shop of another race than assist our own in building a business and employment for our own youth. I would also ask can your own teenage child or other teenagers get a summer or weekend job in these shops. If not then why not and what is the colour of the young persons in these businesses.

Black people we are laughed at, I remember 12 years ago as a twenty year old fresh out of my teens not buying from persons who were not black when purchasing food (largely) or cosmetics simply for that reason, I was told I was mad but I stick to my guns. The price was more but I understood why (due to black shops not buying products in bulk and paying more and passing this onto the customer). Don’t get me wrong I would only go to places with decent service, but I am glad any hard food I buy is from a black business.

I challenge Caribbean and  African persons to purchase  from black shops when looking at our own cosmetics rather than an Asian or Arab who looks nothing like us.