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From The Ramparts

 Junious Ricardo Stanton

Share Your Blessings


            “Be generous as long as you live. What goes into the storehouse should come out… Generosity is a memorial for those who show it, long after they have departed” – Ancient African wisdom saying 


            One of the qualities of African people was generosity; sharing and assisting others. When I was growing up we didn’t have a lot of money but I saw my mother give to others when they were in need. Sacrifice is a form of giving, giving your time, resources, the wisdom you have accumulated over the years so someone else can benefit. We have to get back to sharing and not be so self-absorbed, self-centered and selfish.

Unfortunately a lot of Black people think you have to be rich to give or to be a philanthropist. No so any and everyone can give.  The word philanthropy comes from the Greek; philos meaning to love, anthropos man, to love man or humanity. People think you have to be rich to be a philanthropist due to the work of a slick PR pioneer named Ivy Lee. Lee was a newspaper reporter who quit his newspaper job and began helping politicians run their election campaigns. He and a man named George Parker formed Parker and Lee the third PR firm in US history. Lee believed in working with the press and created the press release.

Another one of Lee’s major accomplishments was changing the public image of John D. Rockefeller Jr. The Rockefeller family was hated following the Ludlow Massacre when Rockefeller had striking Colorado coal miners who were striking one of  his family’s mines expelled from their company owned homes and had the tents they were forced to live in destroyed killing forty people and wounding hundreds.

Lee met with the miners and created a media campaign featuring pictures of him (Lee) and Rockefeller meeting with the miners union, dancing with their wives and planting positive stories about Rockefeller in the media. Lee’s efforts helped quell public animosity towards Rockefeller.

Image makers like Lee depicted the robber barons as philanthropists because they created foundations to hold onto their wealth but gave money to charity at the same time. This is where the American notion that you have to be rich to be a philanthropist originated.

African people on the other hand always knew the power of cooperation and sharing as their style was communal living whether they were herders or sedentary agriculturists. Cooperative work, responsibility and sharing the fruits of collective endeavors are part of our history. Mutual aid and support were always integral parts of African culture even during our enslavement in this country.

Today we live in a culture where people are fixated on themselves the so called “selfie generation”. If we are to grow, evolve and prosper socially and financially as a collective we have to return to our African roots, values and ways. Even the poorest Africans share.

When most of our people resided in the south, we had a tradition of helping, sharing and mutual aid. We have to get back to and improve that tradition! A 2012 report by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation entitled “Cultures of Giving: Energizing and Expanding Philanthropy by and for Communities of Color”, stated African-Americans were more likely to “give back to their community: than other ethnic groups.  “African-Americans, for instance, give away 25 percent more of their income per year than whites and 63 percent of Latino households now make charitable donations. People of color are also growing in size and their assets are increasing as well.” And this report was formulated after the devastating economic crash of 2008 that saw many African-American families’ wealth wiped out or greatly reduced.

An article about Black giving highlighted our history of philanthropy. “The WKKF data also shows significant growth in ‘identity-based-philanthropy’, where the incentive is to give is based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. The study, though, acknowledges African-Americans have a long history of philanthropic giving, with its first funds established in the 1920s. ‘Across communities, growth rates have varied but African-American funds have had the most consistent growth over time, increasing modestly each decade since the 1970s,’ says the report…It is not surprising black Americans are such generous givers. This commitment to give something back to society, especially to people of color, is best looked at in the context of a history of racism and oppression. In the early days of slavery the black church, with its emphasis on giving, played a central role in aiding the community. As the fight for equality intensified, African-Americans made significant contributions to the civil rights movement, ranging from financial aid to helping organize NAACP events. From this struggle for equality black people developed a loosely defined kinship, strong networks of mutual aid and sensitively towards the less fortunate.”

Let’s build upon this great tradition and step up our giving and philanthropic efforts. Share what you have, share your blessings.





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