Let’s talk dollars and sense

by Curtis Ray Davis II

I have been for the past several years engaged in a series of debates, discussions and arguments on a topic of vital importance to almost everyone that I know. No, not the race for president, the war on terror or the constant expansion of the U.S. prison industrial complex. Though they are all vitally important and serious topics, the “thing” that has taking center stage in many personal discussions, discourse and dialogue is that “almighty dollar,” or what I refer to as paper currency.

The conversations have centered around the void in coverage and lack of meaningful dialogue in the Black press regarding the condition of the U.S. economy as it pertains to the African-American community. The mainstream media reports that the economy is in a recession or downturn, and you can bet your bottom dollar the “recession” translates into “depression” for the hoods across the country.

My largest concern is that no one seems to be willing to talk openly and honestly about it. There is real poverty in America; the homeless rate in New Orleans is four times the national average with 1 out of every 25 citizens without food and shelter.

These kinds of numbers have not been seen in a U.S. city since the nation was founded. The recent layoffs at Ford and General Motors are having crippling fiscal effect on urban laborers that will exponentially touch millions of lives, most of them people of color.

Let us not forget the housing meltdown led by Countrywide and the predatory lending practices of greedy bankers. Nor can we excuse the economic naivete of some very desperate and foolish borrowers. These ingredients, which include a Middle Eastern war that has disrupted the trade in global natural resources, have combined to create the economic situation we are in at the present. It also points to leaner times up ahead or what is know as “stagflation,” an economic slowdown mixed with eroding currency.

Of course we can all waste time pointing the finger at the usual suspects and beg the government to come save us – or we can come to the realization that the Black community is facing a devastating crisis and start dealing with it. The time is now to start becoming more vocal in regards to Black fiscal responsibility. The days of squandering our wealth on jewels and rims must end today because tomorrow that dollar in your pocket may be worth 50 cent.

Black people have major money problems; we are the number one consumers in the U.S. blowing upward of $800 billon annually on trinkets and toys that shine. We are literally dying to give our earnings away – most of the time to those outside of our own communities. We buy our children Coogi shirts that cost $200, video game consoles for $500 and $400 iPhones. Instead of college plans, we invest in ringtones. Where is the love at?

The Black community must engage in a conversation about money because with all our talk of hustle and paper chasing we still know very little about the dynamics of economic development. We have mastered the backwards mathematics of “Doin’ it Big,” “Making it Rain” and “Icing it Out.” Now it is time to learn a little something about “stacking,” “flipping” and “buying assets.” Oh and before I forget, tell Mr. Bush that he cannot make it all better with stimulus checks to spend on nothing.

Curtis Ray Davis II is incarcerated at the Louisiana State Prison at Angola. To learn more about him and how you can aid in overturning his wrongful conviction, contact April Davis at ms577amd@aol.com or write to Curtis Ray Davis, 320151, Oak 3, Louisiana State Prison, Angola, LA 70712.