The Institute for Black Men

9 STOPS FOR POWER

1998 Revised 2004, 2006

 

Introduction

 

The NINE STOPS FOR POWER is the result of a collective effort to put forth a series of ideas which can be used by anyone with an interest in bettering their own life and their community. It is NOT an attempt to be a total solution nor is it intended to be an absolute program. It is meant to be a catalyst for individual thought and action. Take from it what you can and pass it on. It IS meant to be shared.

(Freedom: the state of being free of restraints;

political independence; free will)

(Power: the capacity or ability to accomplish something;

strength, force or might)

We see a difference between freedom and power and we believe that Black People have been mis-directed to seek freedom, rather than power. We submit that individual freedom, freedom of choice, freedom of movement, freedom to consume, etc, has blinded us to the reality that we wield no power of consequence in america. We want to focus on building collective power; power to protect, feed, clothe and house ourselves and to produce for ourselves and to be respected in the world

Why NINE STOPS FOR POWER? We have looked at the many problems we have and it occurred to us that some of these problems are the result of a lack of self-control; things that we are DOING which aggravate our existing conditions and prevent us from working collectively to solve these problems. We are, in a collective sense, out of control. We believe that control is a matter of power and the more individual power we have, the more powerful we become as a whole. Therefore, the NINE STOPS FOR POWER are simply nine things that, if we just STOP DOING them for various lengths of time, will enable us to take more control of our lives and gain some POWER.

We have proposed that the NINE STOPS FOR POWER be tried for 30 days. At the end of this initial trial, we recommend an evaluation and sharing of the results with others. This is a voluntary action and it is up to each person whether they will try one, some or all of the NINE STOPS. We do believe, however, that if a significant number of Black People were to do the majority of these NINE STOPS for 30 days, it would generate tremendous change within and without our communities in a very short time. The NINE STOPS can be done without anyone’s ‘authority’ or permission except our own; they cost no money; are not illegal and can be done individually or collectively. In fact, the more individuals who participate, the more collective it becomes.

There will be those who will dismiss the NINE STOPS out of hand because they seem so simple. This is not for them and we will not spend time here debating the various critics who will jump out to oppose. There will also be those who will see the NINE STOPS as an affront to their freedoms. That is why we propose the NINE STOPS as a voluntary effort by individuals and collectives by choice, because we desire action and results. We recognize that gaining power by STOPPING is a radical idea, and what those who control fear the most are ideas about self-control. By STOPPING, we could gain control of 100 billion dollars!

 

  1. STOP WATCHING

 

Stop watching television, videos, and movies for 30 days. In 2004, Black People in the USA spent over 6 billion dollars on media. That’s over 525 million dollars a month! Of all the stops, this one seems to generate the fiercest debates. The very idea of not watching television by choice for a month seems to bring out the most insane arguments for the most sane of us. Television has become so important in our lives that many of us cannot concieve of its not being there, even for a day. Granted, television does has some benefits. We’ll leave those to you to address. The detriments are what we’re concerned with here. There is a fair amount of information available about the PROGRAMMING on TV. The images of ourselves that our children see, that we see and how this affects us in negative ways is well documented. But there is a much deeper problem with TV and is why we recommend a 30 day period of un-hooking the 'idiot box'. The most dangerous things on television are the COMMERCIALS. Television commercials program ideas and beliefs directly to our SUB-conscious mind without our conscious knowledge or permission. (Please read that last sentence again.) Many people believe that this cannot be or that it is illegal. Neither is true. In fact, it is done so much and so sophisticated and has been done for so long that we are just simply not aware it is there. Another common belief is that, if it is being done, the purpose is to merely sell products. Wrong. Years ago the advertising industry stopped simply selling products and began programming ideas and beliefs.

One of the primary ideas or beliefs programmed constantly is that we are inadequate and we can never find satisfaction in ourselves. This simple idea transmitted long enough becomes a belief which causes us to be CONSTANTLY DRIVEN TO BUY! The american economy is a ‘consumer driven’ economy. That means its power comes from how much people buy. Black People are known to be the ‘best’ consumers because we spend over 95% of our controllable income with others. We will speak to this subject more in a later stop but we mention the ‘consumer consciousness’ here because television is the primary device for implantation and maintenance of this programming.

Most of us are literally hooked to our TV’s. We think it’s the ‘shows’ but its really the commercials we’re hooked to. We are under a ‘sub-liminal spell’ and it feeds us sexual and violent images 24 hours a day. In order to become AWARE OF and to BREAK THE SPELL of this programming, one must literally STOP WATCHING the ‘tube’ for a long enough period that the sub-conscious can function without it. We challenge you to prove that television doesn’t have you under its control. Even more, if you have children in your home, turn off the TV for a week and watch what happens in your home. The effect will be so dramatic it may cause you to find out for yourself how television works. It is not simply a radio with pictures.

Videos are our youth’s heroin. If we think they are harmless, then we aren’t paying attention to the people who pay for them and those who make them. Videos are the true ‘infomercials’. They program our young people by ‘informing’ them about the world and how they can ‘fit in’. They also program their IMAGINATIONS and TEACHES them social behavior. Movies did the same thing, to some degree, for our parents generation. Television did this for our generation, to a greater degree. (If you were born between 1945-1965, you are a member of the 1st ‘television’ generation. It was the primary information source for us. Those born between 1965-1985 are part of the 2nd television generation, in that you were raised on multiple TV channels, cable and ‘advanced’ commercial programming, including videos. The present generation of youth is the 1st ‘computer’ generation and we have only begun to fathom the long-term effects.) Unhook your children from videos for a month (especially males) and watch what happens. We will even predict that many parents will encounter such extreme resistance and defiance from your offspring you’ll be wondering where these children came from. To take control of our minds is one of the most, if not the most, important challenges we face. We start by breaking the spell of the most dangerous device for mind control in our home, the television. One of the results is a whole different view of the world and everything in it.

 

2. STOP DRINKING

 

Refrain from buying and consuming alcohol for 30 days. It should not be difficult to imagine the difference in our communities if a significant number of people did this for a month. First, the level of violence would drop immediately because so many incidents of violence are fueled or aggravated by alcohol. Whether it is domestic or street violence, alcohol is a major influence in petty arguments escalating out of control. Our young people have taken the example from us and their alcohol use is light years beyond our youthful drinking. High school drinking is different than 25 years ago because advertising is more direct and pervasive, and the alcohol content of the ‘beverages’ marketed to the youth population is much higher. This behavior must be arrested by serious methods because present methods merely seem to encourage it.

Second, the money we spend on alcohol is obscene. In 2004, Black People spent 2.3 billion dollars on alcohol! That’s 191 million dollars a month! More than 47 million dollars a week! Nearly 7 million dollars a day! Ask yourself, How can we do this? Why do we do this? Just on the surface, it seems insane. No people ‘in their right mind’ (in control) would do this. Have much land have we lost; how many institutions have we not built; how many businesses have we not had; how much education have we not gotten because we’ve spent that money on alcohol? If we just STOP buying alcohol one day per week, we’d have over 25 million dollars per month to spend on our selves and with our selves. What could we do with 300 million dollars more in our pockets next year? Think about how no alcohol for a month would LOWER THE LEVEL OF VIOLENCE AND RAISE THE LEVEL OF PEACE. Isn’t it worth a 30 day trial to see how much different it could be?

 

3. STOP DRUGGING

 

Our drug problem is apparent to all of us, and at the moment, appears beyond our ability to control. Illegal, narcotic drugs are our plague. Plain and simple, this plague is killing us. It goes without saying how 30 days without drugs would affect us, physically, mentally, spiritually and financially. A month without non-prescription, over-the-counter drugs would also affect us greatly. If you go through any Black community, you’ll find almost as many drug stores as liquor stores. If you research drug company figures you’ll find that Black People are a highly prized segment of the LEGAL drug industry for drugs that cure nothing and merely DULL THE SENSES, to the tune of HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS PER YEAR! If we combine the amount of money we spend on LEGAL and ILLEGAL drugs per year, it is staggering. Think about this. If, in your city, 100,000 Black People spend $100 per month on illegal drugs, that’s $10 million or $120 million per year! STAGGERING! And remember, this is a very conservative figure. In 2004, we spent 2.4 billion dollars on tobacco products. That’s 200 million dollars a month, 50 million dollars a week!

No drugs for 30 days would allow us to begin to arrest our ‘drug mentality’. We have it. America has it. Our LEGAL drug consumption fuels our illegal drug consumption. Both are a reflection of the lack of control over our own minds. Just as the abuser of illegal drugs says he ‘needs’ his drugs, abusers of legal drugs say they need their tylenal, advil, aleve, etc. We spend 18 billion dollars a year on health care, yet we have the worst health. That’s a billion and a half dollars per month, a great deal of that is for prescription drugs. We do not believe for a minute that a month without drugs would solve our drug problem; we do believe that it would give us a starting point in a different direction. Does anyone believe the direction we’re going now is working?

The economic cost to Black People due to drug abuse is INCALCULABLE. That means the amount is too high to be figured out. The social cost is higher than that. If we think of what we’ve lost in the past due to drug abuse, it should make us aware of HOW MUCH OF THE FUTURE WE ARE LOSING TODAY. If we could rescue just 10% of what we’re losing right now, it would mean millions of dollars that we would control. Millions of dollars for our present use and our children’s future. If the reality of the waste of our precious resources, both human and economic, doesn’t scream at us to STOP, then maybe we have, truly lost our minds.

 

4. STOP CONSUMING

 

Buy only what is ‘needed’ for 30 days. The american economy is ‘consumer driven’, meaning that its health is dependent on people buying as much as they can. Not buying what is ‘needed’, but buying everything one ‘wants’ or ‘desires’, buy everything that isn’t nailed down. In 2004, we spent 2 billion dollars on computers and equipment; 3.7 billion dollars on consumer electronics; 10.7 billion on household furnishings and equipment; 1.7 billion on appliances and 14 billion on telephone services (32 billion total). It is also necessary to buy, even if one doesn’t have the money, buy it anyway, especially if its ‘on sale’. Put it on CREDIT is the american way.

Black People are the number one consumers in america; we spend 99% of our income as soon as we get it. We do not save or invest any significant portion of what we earn. We spend like THERE IS NO TOMORROW. What’s worse is that we also have a mis-understanding of what ‘credit’ is. We think credit is the opposite of debt. It isn’t. CREDIT IS DEBT when it is used to secure what we don’t have the cash to purchase. We have become so used to ‘buying’ on credit that we seem to have forgotten that every time we buy something ‘on time’, we are PROMISING OUR FUTURE to the creditor. And we are also paying EXTRA for that ‘privilege’. Collectively, Black People have already promised not only our future also our children’s future, because the debt we have will be passed on to them. For example, we buy TV’s, VCR’s, DVD’s, and all the other electronic gadgets and doodads on credit, which means that the extra cost (finance charges/interest) is money that we cannot save or invest for our children’s education/growth. Then we must go into further debt to finance that. Our children are also financing their education and desires through debt. Debt making more debt making more debt.

On the other hand, if we saved just 10% of our earnings for their education, we could pay for the best educations money could buy. For example, if 100,000 parents saved $10 per month, we would have a million dollars per month to put toward our children’s education. That may not seem like much, but it’s a lot more than we’re saving right now. A primary challenge is that we don’t have a collective desire to do this. We DO have a collective COMPULSION TO SPEND, even though we should know better. It is as if we CANNOT CONTROL OURSELVES.

Therefore, we believe we need a period of time to literally take control. To STOP CONSUMING for 30 days means to buy only what we need and examine our spending habits. We should look at how much we spend on WANTS and DESIRES. We should also calculate how much of our income is going toward paying for debt, i.e. finance charges, interest and penalties. We believe that Black People would gain a great deal of power if we can arrest our addiction to ‘consuming’, and further, we will never ‘buy our way to freedom’. We can only continue to enslave our selves and our children with the golden chains of debt.

 

5. STOP FORNICATING

 

The issue of sex is a minefield of explosives questions for us. In a society where all moral values have ceased to have meaning except for those labeled ‘old fashioned’ or ‘politically incorrect’, we would need a whole book to address these issues even superficially. We do want to adddress the idea of ‘recreational sex’, sex for ‘fun’ and the pursuit thereof. We’re talking about the TIME, MONEY and ENERGY spent chasing SEX, the physical act, for ego gratification. This includes the money spent on clothes, booze, clubs, hotels, motels, drugs, fragrances, jewelry, make-up and the like. In 2004, we spent over 2 billion dollars on entertainment and leisure; 22 billion on clothes and shoes; 6 billion dollars on personal care products and services, including hair and nails and 2.3 billion on alcohol (32 billion total). This includes the lying, sneaking, denying, playing, laying and delaying. The worst use of our time is when we engage in the madness of ‘games’ in the pursuit of someone for the purpose of having sex for recreation. We need to understand that SEX is BIG BUSINESS in america. We are being manipulated sexually just as clearly as we’re being manipulated to buy.

We believe that a 30 day period of no recreational sex, (abstention from sexual activities, except for procreational purposes, to create babies), will allow us to look at ourselves and what we DO in a new light. We have been made into SEX MACHINES and we perform on all our cues. It should frighten us that our children are way ahead of where we were at their ages. Perhaps during the month we are abstaining, we will use that time to study with and teach our young people some of the basic knowledge of human sexuality that we’ve neglected all these years. We may be very surprised to find that our young people are thirsting for self-knowledge and to understand the place that human values plays in our lives. Our continued refusal to face the fact that we’ve allowed recreational sex to become a primary pursuit for many of us, to the detriment of our relationships, families and communities can only insure that our children will inherit a world where disease and madness reign.

 

6. STOP GAMBLING

 

STOP GAMBLING (wishing) FOR 30 DAYS. We equate gambling with wishing, because it seems apparent from the money we spend on the state lotteries alone, we believe we (I) can beat a system DESIGNED to take in much more than it pays out. Consider this: the Georgia Lottery WEEKLY sales for 8-12-95 were $27,614,513.00. This is more than $100 million per month. Now ask yourself if Black People account for at least 10% of that $100 million. If so, that’s $10 million per month we’re spending and we definitely are not getting anything near that back. That’s 120M DOLLARS A YEAR!

In Illinois, figures from 2002 reveal that the top nine zip codes in the state for spending on just the Daily Game alone are in Chicago, are Black communities and accounted for over 130 MILLION DOLLARS! (In addition, these commisions paid to the vendors, 90% of whom are not Black nor do they live in these communities, amounted to over $6.5 million.)

How long can we sustain collectively spending billions of dollars per year and getting little or nothing back? How can we justify this disgraceful squandering of our labor and our children’s futures? And what we will say to our young when they are ready to inherit the generational wealth we inherited from our parents and are supposed to be adding to? Add to the lottery, horse racing, dog racing, sports betting, casinos and all the other forms of gambling that permeate this society and we can begin to see ‘The Big Picture”. Gambling is a symptom of some deeper problems within us. We need 30 days minimum to look at ourselves and how many billions of our hard earned dollars are making other folks richer.

 

7. STOP DANCING

 

Turn on the music and Black People will dance. But if we ask ourselves what we’re dancing for, we don’t know. Just dancing to be dancing. Our dances have lost their messages, have lost their meaning. We believe dancing has become a way of telling massa that everything is fine. Happy dancing darkies are we. If we STOP DANCING for 30 days, the message we would send would be a deep one. The self-control we would demonstrate to ourselves is deeper. For those who study and research us, the first question would be, ‘what’s wrong with Black People?’ If Black folks don’t jump up at the sound of music there must be something wrong! Well, isn’t there?

There are some of us who say we HAVE TO dance, that its in our bones, in our blood. This may be true but we believe that if we simply do not do any social dancing for one month, we would be exercising personal discipline and self-control. In 2004, we spent over 2 billion dollars for entertainment and leisure. That’s 166 million dollars a month, over 41 million dollars a week! We need to look at the reasons we dance and what we are communicating, what we are saying when we dance. We need to ask ourselves whose music are we dancing to. We need to look at the dances our children are doing.

 

8. STOP PLAYING

 

For 30 days, lets STOP PLAYING games if we’re not being paid to play. It amazes us how many brothers spend a lot of time playing various athletic games. We’re in all kinds of ‘leagues’ that compete in communities all over the country. We admire the effort and applaud the bonding, the comaraderie, the sharing and exercise. We believe that if we were to take 30 days of sharing all these with our young people, particularly our young Men, some inroads of influence can be made between our Men of all ages. We are not saying that ‘sports’ are wrong or negative, but we are saying that we have allowed our children to become physically unfit, even though many of their heroes are athletes. Our young people look to us for guidance and example. Physical fitness is a necessity for struggle and longevity. Our young people’s attitude about their physical health and lack of self-discipline are an indication to us of how much work we’ve got to do.

For Women, the challenge is to impart to our young Women some of the qualities of character that will enable our females to combat the madness of this consumer-driven, clothes-buying, hair-dressing, fingernails-painting, wish-shopping, living-in-debt, talk show-watching, soap opera-imitating culture that has us running around trying to show the world we have no SELF-CONTROL.

In 2004, we spent 2 billion dollars on toys, games, pets and sports and recreational equipment. That’s 41 million dollars a week we could spend much better. Its all about playing, whether we’re playing on a court or playing at making a home. Our children are being raised with no CENTER, no sense of who they are or where they stand in the world. They reflect our future.

 

9. STOP KILLING

 

In doing the first eight STOPS, this last STOP will take place automatically to some degree. With more self-control we would not kill each other. With more self-control there is more self-love and we will not waste ourselves. We have become a people so devalued that our death rate doesn’t frighten us, doesn’t phase us. We just accept is as a NATURAL PART OF LIFE. The murdering of Black People is UNACCEPTABLE! The active promotion of murder as a form of ‘entertainment’ is OBSCENE! We are raising a generation of people who believe that the killing of human beings is a normal part of family and social life. Children don’t kill each other in a vacuum, they are following the examples of the adults around them – US. Murder is not ‘funny’ or a ‘game’ or ‘entertainment’. It is killing us. During the 30 days of no killing, we believe that we should literally count with our children how many murders they see and talk with them about how they see death. If you spend one weekend watching television with them, you’ll be amazed how many murders, assaults and incidents of violence you’ll see. We live in a culture of SEX and VIOLENCE. The two have been so intertwined that our children can’t see a line between them. And most of the time, neither can we. We need 30 days of no killing so we can know what it feels like. Its like peace. If you’ve never known a moments’ peace, then how can you know how to make it?

 

FINAL THOUGHT OR TWO

 

Many times the first comment that comes from reading the NINE STOPS FOR POWER is, ‘If I do the NINE STOPS, my whole life is over’. We picture our lives as being ‘empty’ without these things we’ve grown accustomed to doing. We see them as expressions of our ‘freedom’. On an individual level, what we do seems minor. ‘I don’t drink a lot, so the money I spend on alcohol doesn’t make a difference’. ‘I only play a few dollars a week on the lottery, so my stopping wont make a difference’.

‘I only watch a few shows regularly and I don’t pay attention to the commercials, I’m not affected by television’. Before you know it, you’ve CON-vinced yourself that everybody else need to do them, but not you. That denial is what this system relies on.

Hopefully, you will take from these NINE STOPS FOR POWER something that will enable you to gain power from those we have turned it over to. With every STOP we do, we gain some PERSONAL POWER and COLLECTIVE POWER, while the opposition loses some of theirs. Thank you for reading the NINE STOPS FOR POWER. Please pass it on.

KNOWLEDGE STRENGTH COURAGE

DECADE OF THE BLACK MAN

Black Men, Saving Ourselves

OldSoul@BLACKLAND.zzn.com