4/21/2017, 7:02 a.m.
Some of us believe that simply talking about a problem, mainly by delineating its symptoms, is actually doing the work ...

James Clingman

Some of us believe that simply talking about a problem, mainly by delineating its symptoms, is actually doing the work necessary for a solution. You would think that with all of the activists we have within our ranks that some actual activity, beyond mere exercising our powers of speech and penmanship, would take place.

That is especially true on radio talk shows. Those I call “Radio-Activists” are adept at identifying the symptoms and saying what “we need to do” while seldom, if ever, laying out the problem and offering a solution — a solution on which they are willing to work and help implement. 

Mere “Radioactivity,” and I would add “TV Activity,” while they may inform us, if not acted upon, is just more information. And just like knowledge, information is not power unless you use it — use it to your own advantage.

So all the pontificators, prognosticators, pundits and philosophers who simply offer their assessments of our problems by describing their symptoms should do a little introspection to see if they are really interested in contributing what they can to solve our problems. In addition to sounding the alarm, they should also offer real solutions and then prepare to contribute some time, talent and treasure toward solving those problems.

Radio Activists are usually busy telling others what must be done, as they continue to sit on the sidelines and critique problems. They seldom are willing to get into the game by initiating the solutions they espouse. Radioactivity, when it comes to economic and political action, is dangerous and seldom results in any real progress, that is, unless someone other than the Radio-Activist picks up the gauntlet and executes a strategy that evolves into a movement to empower our people.

Don’t be a Radio-Activist.  The next time you have the opportunity to speak on the air — or via any medium — don’t just say what “we need” to do. Follow it up by saying what you are doing about the issue or what you are willing to do about it. Don’t you want to leave a legacy of putting your words into action? Don’t you want your children to know you for your work on their behalf rather than what you said we needed?

We can see what our ancestors did, many who never gave a speech or wrote a book. They simply worked to leave something better for those who came after them. Frederick Douglass told Harriet Tubman, “I have had the applause of the crowd and the satisfaction that comes of being approved by the multitude, while the most that you have done has been witnessed by the few trembling, scarred, foot-sore bondmen and women, whom you have led out of the house of bondage … The midnight sky and silent stars have been the witness of your devotion to freedom and of your heroism … ‘God bless you,’ has been your only reward.”

Everyone can do something. You don’t have to be rich. You don’t need to be an intellectual. And you don’t have to be a leader. You have something more than words to give to our people. Love, trust, respect, encouragement, a smile, a hug, a couple of dollars to a person in need, the willingness to start a project, a movement or an organization are all things we can do as individuals. 

As a collective, we can unify, organize and work on building something for ourselves because just talking about it will not get the job done. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

The writer is founder of the Greater Cincinnati African-American Chamber of Commerce.