David Banner’s New Year’s Resolutions for the Black Community in 2012

The outspoken entertainer offers up three key lessons for Black America in the New Year

David Banner

When we think about alleviating the economic woes of the Black community, what can we learn from the actions of LeBron James?

When analyzing the political stagnation of the Black community, what role is played by our community’s undying loyalty to the Democratic Party?

How can the “360 deals” (popular in the music industry) shed light on the inability of the Black community to prosper?

The answers to these seemingly unrelated questions hold important keys to creating a different reality for the Black community in 2012. The lessons we can learn from each of these scenarios are critical to both understanding and allaying the economic and political ills currently plaguing our community.

As we enter the last days of 2011 many have began formulating their New Year’s resolutions. But, unlike most people who are crafting individual goals for 2012, my thoughts are more collective in nature—they are thoughts about New Year’s resolutions for the Black community as a whole.

Scenario 1: The Curious Case of LeBron

When LeBron James made the decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers after his contract ended, many questioned his loyalty to the city and the fans. Some denounced the “greediness” that supposedly motivated his interest in other teams, and still others condemned his signing with the Miami Heat as being “bad for basketball.”

In actuality, the actions of LeBron James—as well as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who assisted in bringing him to the Heat—displayed a degree of independence and autonomy previously unseen in the NBA. In the past, superstar athletes thrived off the benefits that come with being the one “great” player on a team full of “good” players. Additionally, superstars were content viewing the superstars on other teams as “rivals” to be defeated in competition. But, with the actions of LeBron, the self-centeredness of the “great” player was replaced by the common goal (an NBA championship) of multiple players and one-time “rivals” who had been transformed into teammates, working together toward that common goal.

Needless to say, Black men organizing, thinking independently and acting collectively has always been met with opposition, especially in the NBA where the owner-player relationship is often reminiscent of the owner-slave relationship on the plantations in the antebellum south.

Scenario 2: Democratic Loyalists

The undying loyalty of the Black community to the Democratic Party came bubbling to the surface recently with the comments of Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain. Pointing out this ironclad allegiance, Cain characterized Black people as being “brainwashed” into supporting Democrats and Democrats only. Whatever you think of Cain’s use of the term “brainwashed” the history is clear. Since the early 1960’s, 80-90% of the Black community has given their support to the Democratic Party. To be sure, the reasons for our support of Democrats are also clear: Democrats have historically championed civil rights, affirmative action, education and other social programs that benefit our community. But, Cain’s partisan politics aside, even Black Democrats are beginning to question the loyalty given by the Black community to the Democratic Party. The following quote from Jack & Jill Politics summarizes this rethinking:

“Although the Democratic Party is the better choice, our unconditional loyalty to the Democratic Party has weakened our ability to negotiate and further our interests.”

In truth, the Democratic Party has withered in its support of traditionally Democratic issues like social security, welfare, civil liberties and the support of “Main Street” over Wall Street. Add to this the complete disregard by the party (and the current administration) of issues impacting the Black community and we begin to see that while we’ve been unwavering in our support of the Democrats, the Democrats have begun to abandon us.

Our unrelenting support of a party that, at best ignores, and at worst undermines our community’s needs continues to “weaken our ability to negotiate and further our interests.” And, to the Democratic Party, it renders our support for them a foregone conclusion.

Scenario 3: The Infamous 360 Deal

Today’s music industry has been engaged in a virtual scavenger hunt for revenue streams. Facing plunging profits and having resisted instead of embraced entry into the digital age, the music industry has recently resorted to more “creative” and exploitative ways of securing profits—“Multiple Rights” contracts, otherwise known as “360 Deals.”

Simply put; in a 360 deal a music company signing an artist receives a percentage of EVERY aspect of said artist’s career, not just the recoupable costs related to the promotion, recording, publicizing and sales of an album. For example, a typical 360 deal now allows a company to receive a percentage of the money an artist makes on touring, merchandising, endorsements, TV and film appearances and ANY OTHER REVENUE generated by the artist’s “360 degree” sphere of activity.

To further highlight the oppressive nature of 360 deals:

“Back in the day, labels took roughly 87% of the pie while giving the artists 12% of the money AFTER the artist paid back everything spent on them from that 12% share. This means that if the artist sold $500,000 worth of CDs, and it cost $50,000 to market and promote that CD (a very low example), the artist share of $60,000 (12% of $500k) would be divided between paying the label back that $50,000 and a check for the remaining $10,000. The label would receive $490,000 for its investment and belief in that artist while the artist made $10,000.”

Today’s 360 deals continue to drain money away from artists by taking from the revenue (touring, endorsements, merchandising etc.) that artists have traditionally used to make up for their menial 12% share on album sales. For the artist, these new “Multiple Rights” deals have made a bad situation worse.

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  • Craig

    Good piece David, but all this starts with the kids and the parents, I’m 23 black male and the way things look I don’t think anything is going to change for alot of Blacks and the rest will stay the same while a minority will get better.

    Example: People want health care right? but u see all across the country mostly young Black kids were in a rage over some high priced Jordans, that money would have taken care of their healthcare. So u see its a matter of priorities and it starts with the parents and the kids. Sorry to say it but not much is going to change these are the last days.

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  • Marco Panache (dot) Com

    You make a valid point craig, but i can’t say i agree, entirely. I think DB’s proposal is a great place to start, it just need to be packaged in a way that is as appealing to our youth as those “high priced Jordans” you mentioned. Admittedly, hip hop and its elite dictates and influences a large part of how our youth move and what they gravitate to. Sadly, a huge majority of those who are in their impressionable years look to hip hop, not parents or politicians, to see what’s considered cool or hot via clothing, lingo, fly whips, etc etc. I’m not a betting man, but if i were, i’d be willing to bet that if these hip hop heros began buying up all the foreclosed property in their respective communities and flossed/rapped about their phat/fat property portfolios, instead of flossing cars, bling, high-priced euro brands, big booty vixens and a closet full of brand new Jordans, then our impressionable youth would latch on to that too, and aspire to do the same because that too would be considered dope (cool). …just a thought

  • Eddie Perkins

    I’ve been saying that years why spend money and smile at someone who dosn’t even like you, don’t want you in there Community and gets mad when you even come to spend dollar. Chris Rock even did a movie about this same subject all anyone ever got was “that hair sho’ look good “

  • Just A Thought

    I think whatever plans are implemented, we have to be wise, humbly aggressive, strategic, and remember that we are a minority (with all that word entails). A few words for that that I read on another site by KIR10:

    “I have great respect for what Malcolm and what the Black Nationalists stood for. The Black Nationalist and Militant movements were needed AT THAT TIME, but was not successful. They just weren’t. Let’s stop acting like it was. Where are their hospitals, colleges, trade schools, manufacturing companies, farms & food distribution networks and business organizations? They want to call everyone else out but what the hell have they accomplished? Please, can you name the black militants and nationalist major accomplishments over the last 100 years.

    I think their goal was honorable but it failed, for a variety of reasons. I think the reason that it failed, is failing, and will continue to fail is because people in the community and outside of the community associate black pride with condemnation of blacks who don’t think exactly like them and condemnation of whites and non blacks. That IMO is a prescription for failure. As a matter of fact, I thought the NOI had it just about right if they had excluded the hate and the Muslim religion. I understand why they had a hate message, however, long term it was and is not sustainable. Black people did not and are not going to buy into that. The Jews, Asians East Indians and Mexicans are Nationalist based on love for their people and to a certain extent acceptance of others. And definitely, no public pronouncements of hate for anyone. It’s bad for business.

    Social.ism in a capitalist country is doomed for failure. Hell, Social.ism, Marxism and Communism don’t even work in the countries that practice those economic principles. To expect a community to practice those principles in a capitalist country is economic suicide.”

    Second Post:

    “At what point are black folks going to figure out this model they’ve embraced. Straight one party voting, Black Matriarchy and Rejection of Capitalism is A BIG LOSER? Unfortunately 90% of black people cannot see the connection between the condition of their community and their political and economic views combined with almost all of the homes being baby mamma led households.

    What you all are looking for are specific economic programs for blacks only. Good luck with that. :lol: Anyone with half a brain knows Obama can’t create bills without the Congress and the Senate. And every bill has to be legally correct so that it passes any challenges thru the courts. Obama can’t solve all our problems. Blacks need to stop relying on government to create jobs. That is not the government’s primary responsibility. Citizens must create jobs within their own communities. There are jobs being created everyday in the black community mostly by foreigners on a shoe-string budget. Some will succeed and some will fail. But, at least, they tried.”

    • Anonymous

      so what exactly do you suggest? And what exactly is black pride to you? do you know that without these leaders that did ‘nothing’ black people in the 80′s woulda given hope? Remember when BPP first started out, black folks weren’t defending themselves in the west coast, BPP changed all that. To apply that to this article, if you can defend yourself, you damn sure can defend you wealth n resources. Plus there are two sides to everything you’re either this or that, that’s just how it is. You’re either insane or snae you can’t be both. Hence you can’t be down with black people and change in the black community and be all jolly with the white folks. Anyway instead of slamming BPP and the NOI why don’t you appreciate em, at least they caused a revolution, unlike yourself. What pray tell have you done for your communtiy?!

      • Just A Thought

        Reading is fundamental! So is comprehension… The above commentary said the movements were needed “At That Time” (i.e., they had a place, one that should be acknowledged, but times are different and so should our tactics be). Refusing to adapt and adjust strategies is fatal. How do I know this? By assessing the end results! Yes, those men were committed, but ultimately, their efforts and movements were not the answer, otherwise we wouldn’t be reading this article nor having this conversation. That’s what was meant by ‘nothing’. NOI talks about hospitals, farms, etc. Where are they?! Tangible long-term substance is what was referred to. It wasn’t an attempt to say they did no good (which clearly they did). Again, reading is fundamental! Further, “Black Pride” as stated in my above commentary is based on love for the people, yes, but to a certain extent accepting others and certainly not unabashedly pronouncing unnecessary hate towards others. I understand that, unfortunately, some blacks have become accustomed to spewing the same hate they decry in others whilst refusing to accept some responsibility, but it’s only hurting us. Right now, I’m more concerned about the young thug on the block than the KKK. As for what I suggest, go back and read it, because clearly you didn’t understand it! Further, how is what I’ve done for my community relevant to the validity of critic. It’s that mentality that’s crippling. A valid observation is a valid observation regardless. Note again that I empathize with the way the leaders handled the movement at that time, but my point is that said tactics aren’t the solution NOW!

    • Attilia

      in books on mind-brain research, neervs that fire together wire together, and as the author says, you’re stuck with them. What she proposes is not brain surgery to remove the troublesome pathway but developing a new pathway that competes with the old one. She points out that it takes a lot of time and work to create such a competitive behavior, but that with each successful effort to do so, the neervs responsible for the behavior become more habituated to the activity, making it easier with time. Ryan also notes that we WILL have lapses as we go, because those old pathways are pretty powerful. Just having given it a try, though, has already started to initiate the changes desired at least we now have a wagon to fall off of. She has several good recommendations on how to gradually bypass that old pathway and even several alternative approaches for some tasks.The book is arranged in a graduated format of chapters, each one giving in a short few pages the information you need at each point in your effort to change. I read the book cover to cover first in about two hours, then I began at the beginning and started following some of her suggestions. Each chapter becomes sort of a workbook of things to do at each level of the change process. The author also makes reference to other writers on the subject of personal change that have interesting things to add, and it is obvious that she does not work in a vacuum but in collaboration with others in the field; in short she’s open minded. So there are other resources to which you may turn as need arises.Probably one of the most important points she makes is that one needs to be definite about which change you’re willing to make the effort to undertake. Global responses make taking action on anything impossible, so you have to select your changes with care. She also suggests that the problem be specific, with clearly defined behaviors needed to accomplish your goal and a clear means of evaluating the change. She makes a point of noting that monitoring the progress of your change is important, partially because it gives a clear measure of success and partially because it provides the satisfaction of actually seeing your efforts worth their expense. Ryan even sees back sliding as a means of assessing your progress and as an opportunity to evaluate what works and what doesn’t, and thereby to make appropriate changes in your plan.An excellent book, very precise in its recommendations.

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  • evelynwaller

    You made a valid point, but I have to say that we as a race are our own worst enemy. We allow other enthnic groups to come into our communities and drain all our financial resources out. But we would never be allowed to open small businesses in their neighborhoods(Asian,White,Latino,etc.)They know we spend money, no matter what it takes to make it happen!I feel that those athletics,business owners,actors and others that are wealthy if they really want to do something great “giving back to the community no matter which community they choose” instead of opening or re-modeling rec center’s, how bout developing training programs to teach our youth a marketable skill so they be able to get a meaningful job so they can become self sufficint later in life? We as a race have a duty towards those coming behind us to love ourselves and educating our youth so they will expirer to become business owners and productive adults. We must re-train the way we think about ourselves and how we spend and where we spend our monies! It is sad to say that in the year 2000, we are still falling victim to a “Master Plan” that was put into place back in the 60″s. Shame on Us!!!! We need to Wake Up!!!

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  • Ahmet

    Way cool, some valid points! I apteacirpe you making this post available, the rest of your blog is also well done. I hope you have a great day.