Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The 2014 Fannie Lou Hamer Report Shines Spotlight on Political Spending and the Black Community

The recent 2014 Fannie Lou Hamer Report had Black Political Consultants in the Beltway throwing fits of rage when it was revealed that Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spent...
“half of all funds raised by the Party over the past two cycles to hire consultants to engage multiracial voters; however, of the firms who received a total of $515 million in disbursements, only 1.7% ($8.7 million) went to firms that were minority-owned or had a minority principal, signaling a need for additional needed progress and change in how resources are spent within the Party.”



Black folks have been screaming at the Republican Party and RNC for their overt treatment of minorities and their lack of minority outreach. But their screams were mingled with heart palpitations because of the convert actions of the Democrats. Well-meaning friends who are political consultants have been asked to give many hourly segments touting the goodness of voting for Democrats. But they were puking over toilets after realizing now what they gave awayfor free, Democrats paid top dollars to majority firms or businesses disguised as women owned consulting firms.

From time to time, I have had national leaders on my radio show, Living Your Best Life, or written about them to address major concerns regarding veterans, housing, immigration, or the worst Supreme Court ever. But I have never used my time and energy to push a political agenda on behalf of any politician or political party. Too often, political leaders at federal, state, and local levels will say whatever to anybody to get in office. This is nothing personal, just a fact. The Republicans are not the only ones stuck on stupid. The Democrats are still in a boys’ club with a few women and play the same games.

While campaigning to get the majority minority and progressive voters out to the polls around the country in 2010 and 2012, the Democrats paid who they wanted to pay to communicate the issues to the voters. It has long been instilled in the Black community that White folks’ ice water is colder. With that kind of thinking, a large majority firm can visit the Black community and use cold ice water and the fear of extremism to do just as much damage. Couple that with vote when it feels good and you can see the Black community is ripe for the picking by Democrats and Republicans. The Black community gives both parties what they want; one group wants folks to accept church and chicken dinner endorsements and the other group wants folks not to vote. Black folks do both…often.

This embedded craziness hurts us even more when a Black politicianfinally gets elected and is charted off to jail quicker than the polls closing early in North Carolina for criminal acts that others get off or reelected for doing. Black folks cannot win for losing. And when we lose, we are Gilligan Island lost. How can we stop the madness? It starts with how we treat each other in the Black community and how minority dollars are spent with minority firms.

As the owner of Holmes Pest Control, the majority of my customers do not look like me nor live in my neighborhood. As a matter fact, less than ten percent of our clients are Black. And many of them are business owners. Most of us started our companies between 1994 and 1997. We were young entrepreneurs ready to save the world and our community. We were too proud to receive our minority contracting “certification” and attended every minority contracting luncheon in the state. I was the only bug killer in the group and quickly noticed oddities the others did not see until later. Outside our group, it was very hard to solicit other Black owned companies, affluent Black leaders, government agencies, and my neighbors to do business with me. I could kill roaches in my sleep but could not get folks with roaches to become customers.

One day, after watching several national pest companies park in my neighbors’ driveways on my street for over three years, I had a come to Jesus meeting with myself. Gagging from disappointment that my neighbors would rather pay someone else to service them but often complained about the service they were receiving to me, I said, “No more expectations that those who look like me want to see me succeed and provide not only for my family but also for other families in the community. No more asking Black folks and neighbors to do business with me.” As harsh as it sounds, when I reached that fork in the road, a fire was lite inside of me. My community actions helped me find customers under rocks, in bends, and on the mountain tops. I started knocking on doors across town and showing up at Rotary meetings in a ten county region. Once, one group thought I was the new waitress who was on break. Ouch. But it took only one or two meetings to get them to understand that a roach is a roach. Those country folks out in the middle nowhere did something for me that my own would not do, they patronized my business.

I am two decades removed from my early years of starting Holmes Pest Control but those lessons I learned were humbling and educational. I learned much about human nature, my people, my community, and myself. The Fannie Lou Hamer Report reminded me of those lessons.

Fannie Lou Hamer
 Unfortunately, 50 years after fellow Mississippian, Fannie Lou Hamer, “challenged the Democratic party to allow Blacks to be part of the coalition”, Black folks are still asking for the same identical things from our country, our political parties and our own people. Majority firms that do business with us will treat us the way we treat ourselves. Until we begin to think differently and spend with each other first, change ain’t gonna come. Not with Republicans. Not with Democrats. Not with contractors.


I learned over time not to take it personally. People are people. A few years ago, I decided to invest in a bottle water company. I glue the labels on the bottles myself. I hired a young white 20 something to put the bottled water on ice. He sells them at all the HBCU games in town. My bottled water company is growing faster than any company I started. Who knew?

Photos Credits: Mississippi Libary Archives, Holmes Pest Control, White Folks Ice Water Company, FEC

 

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