*After the now infamous remarks about Blacks philanthropy towards Black causes compared to that of Jews made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, crickets is the word I would use to sum up the response from Black America’s leadership.
The comments were made during Sterling’s first interview since getting banned for life by the NBA for making prior racist statements.
Sterling: “Jews, when they get successful, they will help their people,” Sterling said. “And some of the African-Americans — maybe I’ll get in trouble again — they don’t want to help anybody.”
CNN: “He has opened a lot of business in inner-city neighborhoods.”
Sterling: “The Jewish people have a company and it’s for people who wanted to borrow money at no interest. They want to give them a fishing people. We want to help people. If they don’t have the money, we’ll loan it to you. You don’t have interest, one day you’ll pay us back. I’m just telling you, he does nothing. It’s all talk.”
CNN: “So are you saying African-America don’t contribute to African-American communities as much as Jewish people.”
Sterling: There’s no African-American… never mind, I’m sorry. They all want to play golf with me. Everybody wants to be with me.”
The only thing more troubling than Sterling’s comments was the Black leaderships silence on defending the reputation of Black’s philanthropy not only to the world, but sadly to ourselves.
Blacks give back to their community everyday in ways that are considered traditional and very public and in ways that are not so traditional and not always so public.
Below are ten real world examples of Black philanthropy that most of us participate in everyday of our lives and oddly, most of us don’t even consider it giving back to the community but it is.
1. Blacks who raise children who are not their own
A shout out goes to all of the grandparents, play parents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins and friends who have taken on the responsibility to raising someone else’s child. Blacks who open up their homes to other folk’s children are giving back to the Black community by making sure that those children don’t end up lost in the foster care system dependent on the government for care or worse, homeless living on the streets.
2. Blacks who give when asked
Blacks donate to the cause of Blacks everyday. The numbers of Blacks who reach into their pockets or the center console of their car and pull out loose change when asked by another Black person on the street is more than the number of people who don’t. We do it at the gas station, in the car while stopped at a light, and even going into or coming out of the store. We give.
3. Blacks who hook a brotha or sista up
When I go to Starbucks and my barista, who just happens to be Black, upgrades my tall skinny vanilla latte to grande without charging me, that’s giving back to the community and hooking a sista up. Similarly, when the Black car mechanic charges you $150 less to fix your car, that’s hooking you up. We wheel and deal in our community everyday saving each other money on all kinds of items and services. When we hook each other up we’re giving back to our community.
4. Blacks who give of their time, knowledge, and expertise to other Blacks
I’m channeling Laurence Fishburne’s Boyz N the Hood character Furious Styles. This one goes out to all of my real community activists. The community activists who are in the streets organizing candlelight vigils while working to keep down gang violence in their neighborhoods. This is for the folks who could be doing something else with their time and their lives but are committed to helping their community. Fist bumps to the attorney’s who could charge $5,000 retainers to the mothers crying that their baby ain’t never hurt anyone, but take on the case for half of that. Shout outs to the Black medical professionals who are in private practice in the hood trying to make sure that their people receive the healthcare they need at a price they can afford. Much love to all of the Blacks professionals who make it point to give back to their community.
5. Blacks who tithe
Since the first ones of us stepped off of the boat and were handed the Bible and Christianity, we’ve been tithing. There would be no Black church if it weren’t for Black’s commitment to giving back. We do it week in and week out. Our tithes have sustained the church of our choice through thick and then over the years. Our tithes have taken small congregations and turned them into mega churches. Giving back at church in the Black community is giving back to the Black community.
6. Blacks who buy from other Blacks and keep the money in the hood
I don’t care what it is you’re buying—if you’re Black and you buy from another Black you are giving back to the community. So let me give a personal shout out to all of my sistas and brothas who get their hair braided by the homegirl while sitting on the front porch. You, are giving back to the community. Props to those of us who understand the importance of hiring the Black gardener, plumber, contractor, or other professional when we need a job done. When you patronize a Black business or a Black person who is taking care of business using their home as their office, you are giving back to the community.
7. Blacks who stop the fight before another Black ends up in jail
You may not look at this as giving back to the community, but it is. Anytime anyone of us do anything that keeps another one of us out of jail or prison, we’re giving back to the community in a way that isn’t always recognized, but I see you and I’m giving you your props. There are far too many Black people locked up now. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends lost behind bars—most for life without the possibility of parole. When we lose a Black person to the criminal justice system, we all lose as a community. So for those of us who try and step in to keep someone out of handcuffs, props to you. For those who see the police and warn a brotha or sista, bravo! For those who get in the middle of that fight that’s about to go down, thank you. I see you and I appreciate you because you are giving back to the community.
8. Blacks who support Black owned media
When you pick up that Black owned newspaper or listen to that Black owned radio station if you’re lucky enough to have one in your city, you are giving back to the your community. Our newspapers and radio stations exist for us. We are their audience and their ad revenue depends on being able to deliver a Black audience. Kudos to those Blacks who still make it a point to read a Black newspaper every week or keep their radio tuned to a Black owned radio.
9. Blacks who keep other Blacks from being homeless
When you let your unemployed sister and her kids come stay with you, your man, and your three kids in your two-bedroom apartment after she got evicted—you just participated in philanthropy and gave back to your community. You kept another Black person from being homeless and you deserve to be recognized for that. We are always letting our friends and relatives live with us until they can get back on their feet and every time that we do, we are giving back to the Black community and keeping another Black person from being homeless. Thank you!
10. Blacks who get the job and then get another Black hired
So many of us have gotten hired on a job and made it a point to get a friend or a relative hired as well. That’s giving back and in a big way. You just made sure another Black person went from being unemployed to employed and that’s a big deal. You just made sure another person was able to afford to pay their rent or mortgage and take care of their family—that’s a big thing considering many non-profit organizations with mandates to help Blacks find jobs can’t even manage to get what you did accomplished.
So you see, Black people give back everyday of their lives in one form or another. Some of us who can give the big dollars, but others give in ways that are just as relevant and meaningful—some might say even more so than the big ticket donations.
I’m less concerned with what Sterling thinks about Black charity and more concerned that Black people recognize and honor the role they play in giving back to their communities each and everyday. Just imagine if we didn’t do any of the things listed above.
#Blackphilanthropy pass it on.
Selected as one of ESSENCE Magazine’s 25 Women Shaping the World and one the Most Influential African-Americans in Los Angeles Under 40, on radio, television, and in print, Jasmyne Cannick is a politics, race, and pop culture social commentator who has cultivated a national following for telling it like it is on hard to deal with issues. She can be reached at www.jasmyneonline.com and on Twitter @Jasmyne.