Black Agenda - Hijacked
John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM | 11/9/2017, 6:22 p.m.
Contrarily, African Americans have one of the highest consumer spending levels in the country, estimated at $1.2 trillion dollars annually which makes us very appealing to a number of segments of society. For example, according to the 2016 Nielsen Black Consumer report, which shows the extreme levels of African American loyalty to certain brands, the over indexing on cell phone usage, texting and hours watched on television as compared to other groups in the United States. What is striking about the data provided in the report as it relates to consumer spending is that the readers of this column have to look no further than their local corner store to see the level of patronage from members of their community. In communities, like Trenton, Willingboro, Newark, Atlantic City, Lawnside, Camden etc., African Americans in most instances represent a majority of the population and political representation. However, much of the economic residual from public contracting, corner stores, nail salons, repair shops, franchises and industry are owned and operated by non African Americans. What is telling about this reality is that its strikingly different from the experiences of those who grew up in the above mentioned cities during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s wherein, not only did African Americans have political clout being the majority population, they owned and operated a significant number of the businesses, therefore, dollars were recycled back into the lives of African Americans. The value proposition of African Americans in the United States is well chronicled through a number of prisms; consumer spending, intellect, courageousness, resoluteness, perseverance, professionalism, athleticism, artistry and creativity, a multitude of inventions, scientific and technological advances, and originality, however, sometimes it appears that others are more aware and take full advantage of opportunities that will satisfy their agendas or objectives at the expense of African Americans nationwide.
Let me close with a recent example of how African Americans were exploited for the benefit of others. It was recently disclosed on CNN that during the 2016 Presidential race between Clinton and Trump that Russian Trolls purchased footage from black personal trainers teaching self defense classes then used this information to portray blacks as preparing for a race war across the United States. It appears that this was one of the tactics deployed by outside forces to create racial tensions and to divide the country along racial lines during that election. A very clever tactic in a hard fought battle to become the next commander in chief of the United States of America. I am not sure how effective this was in increasing the rate of participation of Trump voters however what I can conclude is those whom devised the plan had some degree of certainty that a portrayal of African Americans as aggressively violent could have a predictable effect.
This leads to a question, if others know our influential power, when will African Americans in America come to the same conclusion and use it to strengthen our standing in New Jersey and America?
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John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM is the President and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.