Beyond the Rhetoric
By Harry C. Alford & Kay DeBow
Let us start this by looking at the stated goals of the Congressional Black Caucus. According to Wikipedia: “The caucus describes its goals as ‘positively influencing the course of events pertinent to African Americans and others of similar experience and situation’, and ‘achieving greater equity for persons of African descent in the design and content of domestic and international programs and services’.”
“The CBC encapsulates these goals in the following priorities: closing the achievement and opportunity gaps in education, assuring quality health care for every American, focusing on employment and economic security, ensuring justice for all, retirement security for all Americans, increasing welfare funds, and increasing equity in foreign policy.”
Please note “increasing welfare funds” which we believe is a big flaw in their approach to economic empowerment of our people. It gets very “over-weighted” in their mission and general activities.
History will show that the CBC got too carried away with promoting welfare funds versus opportunity via capital access and procurement development. Why won’t they embrace capitalism? The biggest rage right now in terms of economic development is “Opportunity Zones.” It is a fascinating approach to invigorating our communities and generating new capital for investment. Yet, the CBC won’t endorse it. Why? Because it is the vision of Black U.S. Senator Tim Scott. Senator Scott is not a member of the CBC. In fact, when you look at all the programs that promote Black business procurement you find very few “footprints” of the CBC.
Our concerns about the emasculated CBC is the recent past. When Barack Obama became President, the CBC automatically bowed to his wishes. He decided to destroy the National Black Chamber of Commerce to appease the white labor unions who deplored equal opportunity, opposing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The unions were happy, and the CBC kowtowed to the desertion by the Obama Administration. The result was the obliteration of the gains made during the George W. Bush Administration. SBA lending was reaching new highs until Obama came in and shut the door. Today, the levels hardly register. Black procurement was reaching 8 percent through the activities of the SBA (8a Development Program) but now are less than 2 percent. There has not been a stir from the CBC about these two tragedies.
The big problem is this: The key congressional committee to solve the capital access problem is the Financial Services Committee. It is chaired by Maxine Waters and the DNC. The prospects of any improvement look very dim. They want to wait for a new Democratic president who could take the credit. But we saw what happened when we had the last Democrat president. He fought against us with a vengeance. The CBC had a Democratic House, Senate and White House and did nothing to increase our productivity at the federal level. In fact, they watched as we faltered, and they lost the White House, Congress and Senate. It was cool to them – we had a Black President.
So now here we are. They are clueless about the damage done to our 8a firms. They won’t even make mention of the Capital Access declining under their watch. Why can’t they do the following: Quarterly review Black procurement of each federal agency and demand a continuum of progress. Also, hold financial institutions accountable for the levels of Black business lending both commercially and through the SBA lending program. If they challenge the Trump Administration positive changes would occur (as opposed to the Obama disasters). Yes, President Trump would claim the improvement, but they can show the world how they motivated him through their determination to improve Black economic development as opposed to welfare building.
Such activity would bring back the days of the late Parren J. Mitchell, Shirley Chisholm and Adam Clayton Powell (founders of the CBC) who were steadfast in their mission to include Black America in the capitalistic activities of our great nation. Oh, we miss them so! As we sing on Sunday morning: “Give me that old time religion” the same can apply towards the Congressional Black Caucus. It appears to have lost its roots. This is America! We are a capitalistic system which should be inclusive of the Black segment of our population.
From this point on, the CBC should report to our Black community the quarterly progress it is making on Black lending and procurement. Also, it should resurrect the strength and longevity of our 8a development program. This program developed more Black millionaires than all the other federal programs combined. As a minimum this is what they can do if they really care about the economic plight of Black America. Come on CBC- REPRESENT!!!!
Mr. Alford is the Co-Founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce® Ms. DeBow is the Co-Founder, Executive Vice President of the Chamber. Website: www.nationalbcc.org Emails: [email protected] [email protected].