Business

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Muslim Journal Business Category
Busiiness In Our Lives

By Bert Wilkinson?
Special to the NNPA from
the New York Amsterdam News
It certainly won’t be the first thing on the minds of Caribbean people when they wake up every day, but there is clear evidence that radioactive material from the area in Japan where a nuclear power plant failed after a 2011 tsunami and earthquake is beginning to turn up among commercial imports to the region.
Last December, customs and other enforcement authorities in Jamaica intercepted and quarantined a 40-foot container of vehicle parts destined for the Caribbean trade bloc headquarter nation of Guyana after tests had shown elevated levels of contamination.
That the levels startled authorities into quarantining the container and preparing plans to return it forthwith to Japan is slowly beginning to bring regional customs officials to the reality that other contaminated imports might have slipped through their monitoring net in earlier months.
But that should not have been the case. In late 2012, Jamaican authorities also discovered a passenger mini bus with similarly high levels of radioactive material on a city pier and impounded it as well but that very incident has only now come to light after the transiting Guyana container made news headlines.
Health and customs officials in Guyana say they were only alerted to the fact that Jamaica had saved Guyanese car dealers and owners from actually and unknowingly handling contaminated parts when local Jamaican newspapers exposed the story recently.
The country has no Geiger Counter to measure or test imports from Japan or any other affected country for acceptable radiation levels. Health Minister Bheri Ramsarran said only that “we will look into this serious matter,” while the head of the revenue and customs authority accused local media of sensationalizing the issue unnecessarily.
Thousands of cars, SUVs and other vehicles were washed out to sea or covered in radioactive water after the Fukushima Nuclear Plant was crippled both by the quake and the tsunami.
Contaminated water poured into the Ocean for days, severely polluting the area and reducing it to a virtual ghost town.
Russian authorities recently turned away a shipment of 132 cars from Japan after these had also tested positive for high levels of radiation.
Jamaican Customs spokeswoman Velma Ricketts said the island which is a major marine transshipment port, is lucky that the US Department of Energy regularly monitors its work and that the country has sophisticated equipment to test for radiation.
“Once it is confirmed to be outside the acceptable levels, the shipment will not be released. There are a lot of things we are doing that people don’t know. We are very vigilant,” Customs Chief Richard Reese said.

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Muslim Journal Business Category
Busiiness In Our Lives

CHICAGO, Ill. - January 16, 2014 - Topping the list of scam activity for 2013 is advance fee brokers, accounting for over 45-percent of scam inquiries to the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB).
Advance fee brokers are usually empty promises for a personal or business loan requiring payment of a fee in advance. This scam attracts vulnerable consumers that need cash urgently.
Coming in a close second is work-at-home scams. This scam lures consumers by using get-rich-quick approaches.
The BBB's Top Ten Scams are ranked based on number of specific inquiries made by consumers to provide insight on the deceptive and sometimes illegal business practices in 2013.
"In 2013, consumers were tight for cash and were trying to improve their financial situations," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the BBB. "Scammers took advantage of these vulnerable consumers."
Bernas explained, "It is important to be aware that these scams exist. That way people can avoid losing money or personal financial information."
The complete list of Top Ten Scams in 2013 from the BBB includes:

Advance Fee Brokers. Often these appear to be very professional operations with attractive websites and advertisements. However, it is illegal for a business to charge a fee prior to providing a loan. Typically, after wiring money to the scammer, the victim never receives the loan. These "lenders" will use fake physical addresses or the addresses of real companies.
Work-At-Home Schemes. Legitimate telecommuting jobs do exist; however, many work-from-home opportunities are scams. Promising convenient work always attracts attention; however, when the requirement is to send money for materials first, consumers should always be on guard. Do not purchase services or products from a firm that's reluctant to answer your questions and be cautious of any company that offers an exceptionally high salary requiring few skills and little work. Check offers out thoroughly for free with the BBB at www.bbb.org
Credit Repair Services with Advance Fees. Consumers with bad credit ratings are particularly vulnerable to this scam. Everything a credit-repair operation offers an individual can do personally at little or no cost. Credit repair operations cannot ask for money in advance and they cannot automatically remove legitimate negative reports from your credit history.
Foreign Lotteries. Any lottery from a foreign country is illegal in the United States. Stating a person can win or is a winner already provides a strong incentive; however, people should never send money to obtain lottery money. Scammers using fictitious addresses will request you send "fees and taxes" to them through a wire service, take the cash and never provide any winnings because there are no winners.
Office Supplies - Sale by Deceptive Telemarketing. This scam features fake invoices for office supplies being sent to a business, often for only a couple hundred dollars. This relatively low amount makes it easier for company personnel to quickly sign off and feel it is not worth their time to check the invoice's validity, which would be done if it was for a larger amount.
Prize Promotions. There are several variations of this scam, but most include some aspect that requires people who are identified as "winners" to provide money or some type of personal information, such as a credit card or social security number, to verify being a winner. In the end, no prize is awarded and the personal information is then used to withdraw a victim's money from accounts or for identity theft.
Paving, Painting & Home Improvement by "Traveling" Workers. Never pay upfront to a "traveling" contractor who just happens to be in the neighborhood, is doing work nearby, or has extra materials. The technique to get your money often requires you to pay for added materials. Once you pay the contractor, he disappears with the money and no work is ever done. Having access to your property also provide an opportunity for these people to check what valuables you may have for a future burglary or ID theft.
Pyramid Companies. Pyramid schemes within companies are fraudulent because returns to investors are paid from personal money or the money paid by the newest investors, rather than from any actual profit earned by an individual or organization running the operation. These scams collapse because payouts exceed investments, or because the legal authorities prosecute the organizers for sale of unregistered securities. Often the organizers simply disappear with funds sent to them.
Sweepstakes. If you don't remember entering a sweepstakes, be very suspicious about being declared a winner. If the prize provider wants you to send money or give your social security number to receive your prize, take no action. If you send money you will likely never receive a prize or you will get a prize of lesser value than the money you've sent.
Debt Relief Services (Non-Compliant with FTC rule). The Federal Trade Commission has established rules for debt relief services (for profit businesses that represent that they renegotiate, settle or alter the terms of payment for an unsecured debt). The FTC rule governs disclosures and representations that debt relief services can make and does not allow advance fees. There are legitimate debt relief companies that comply with the FTC rule and the Better Business Bureau is identifying only the non-compliant companies as scams.

"Before giving any company your personal or financial information, review the business on the BBB website," said Bernas. "And remember, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is."

For more information on these top 10 scams, visit www.bbb.org

As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration.
BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reviews on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.

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Young attendees - Financial Literacy

The Council of Imams in New Jersey and City National Bank

Partnership for New Africa Community Service Accounts Hosts

By Imam Wahy-ud Deen Shareef and Anisah Muhammad

            NEWARK, N.J. –As part of the historic signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Imams in New Jersey (CINJ), a mutual consultative body of Imams representing Muslim Community Masajid in New Jersey, in agreement with City National Bank (CNB), an African American owned bank headquartered in Newark, the first in a monthly series of Youth Financial Literacy Seminars took place at Masjid Waarithud Deen/Waris CRDC in Irvington, N.J.

On Dec. 22, 2013, the owner and CEO of Unity Brand Halal Products, Mr. Akbar Salaam, advisor to the CINJ, welcomed CNB Vice President, Mr. Randall Strickland to address the audience of youth, parents and families.

Presentation topics included:

  • Basics of Islamic finance and saving
  • The History of Money
  • Savings and investment basics

The youth in attendance had plenty of questions and remarks as they engaged in a lively exchange of ideas sharing with the presenters and audience members.

Several Imams from the CINJ were in attendance, including Imam Wahy-ud Deen Shareef, Convener of the CINJ; Imam Abdul Kareem Muhammad, Secretary of CINJ; Imam Habeeb-ullah El-Amin; Imam Abdullah Toure; and Imam Abdul Aleem Razzaqq.

Two basic themes resonated throughout the Seminar: THINK and always CONSULT with your parents in making any financial/life decisions.

As part of a growing number of services being offered under the CINJ and CNB Partnership, the youth Financial Literacy presentations will continue to be provided to young people.

Other educational and training programs/seminars designed to inform young people and adults about the New Africa Community Service Accounts, the Community Economic Development Fund and other banking and investment opportunities will be made available as a result of the partnership agreement.

To learn more about the CINJ and CNB Partnership and the many services made available to the community, please visit the Council of Imams in New Jersey website www.councilofimamsnj.com or City National Bank’s website www.citynatbank.com.  Or call 800-966-8262.

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True Detergent

By Ayesha K. Mustafaa

Editor

Imam W. Deen Mohammed stated regularly that it is not acceptable that another people provide all of our basic needs.

His call to action to continue the legacy of his father, the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, to “do-for-self” inspired Muslims of the African American community to, in fact, provide their own basic needs to their families.

The Salaam Group of Atlanta has begun this process by making available the all new True Detergent. The True Heavy Duty Liquid Laundry Detergent is the latest product under a category of “halal laundry products in America.”

The four individuals who started True Products LLC in November of 2012 are Abdul-Aleem and Malik Saleem in the association of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, and Ali Muhammad and Abdur-Rahim Shaheed, both of the Nation of Islam.

Chemist who made the formula for True Detergent is a Muslim from the Nation of Islam, one of the top five chemists in the country.

According to its producers, “True Detergent is void of any caustic ingredient and animal essence, making it safe for all types of machines and fabrics. As a concentrate, the consumer will use much less resulting in savings and environmental consciousness.”

Many detergents contain caustic ingredients of dioxane, a petrochemical solvent found in paints, varnishes as well as some cosmetics – which are suspected as cancer causing agents.

True Detergent is a “low suds” product but testimonies compliment its effectiveness. “Many commercial manufacturers have developed products that release throughout the washing cycle leaving residue on the skin once the clothing is worn,” explains True Detergent investor, Bro. Malik.

These detergents also are pollutants running off in wash water into streams and water supplies.

According to True Detergent user, Suad Sabree of Suad’s Elegance in Trenton, N.J.,  “True Detergent is a great eco friendly product. It truly excels in its class and with the ‘he’ ( high efficiency) seal of approval, it is  the must have for environmentally friendly washing machines. You can wash all types of clothing with confidence – from normal wash to fine, delicates, hand washables and even baby clothes, leaving them fresh and phosphorus free.”

Sis. Suad adds, “This detergent is all in one. These are a few of the reasons why I like it so much and one of the reasons that I became a distributor. True Detergent saves money, especially when compared to the commercialized products that you buy in the store.

“You save with each wash because you only use 1/4 cup per load. Its 4x concentrated and you get up to 128 washes per gallon! The reasonable cost and excellent results make this a great and must have alternative to the ‘competition’… and that’s why the competition can’t handle the TRUE.”

Satisfied customer Algenise Brown said, “I have been using this detergent for approximately 10 months.  It has been a wonderful household experience for me, because it gets my clothes clean and leaves them in mint condition.  When the clothes are in the dryer, the odor fills my house with a very nice smell.  I would recommend this detergent to anyone for a color-lasting experience for all washable garments.”

Tran Nguyen says, “My family is large, and we wash cloths a lot. We have used this True Detergent for a while and it makes our cloths clean and fresh.

We are happy to give you our support in the future for this product.”

According to Julla Mendoza, “I would like to say that I have tired True Laundry Detergent, and my family has been very satisfied with this product. It cleans good and leaves our clothes smelling very good. We also found that we save money and don't have to use too much.”

And Wajeedah Muhammed said, “One of the newest products on the market that I like and am excited about is the True Laundry Detergent.  I am on my sixth bottle and love that it cleans my clothes with so little used.  The bottle lasts much longer than the leading brands, thereby saving me money.

“True is biodegradable, therefore good for the environment and my septic tank. I highly recommend True to everyone who cares about their clothes, protecting the environment and saving money.”

B.J. Reynolds added his assessment of the product.” Since using the laundry detergent, True Product, over a year ago, I can truly say I am completely satisfy with the way my clothes smell and how clean they get with only using a small amount.

“I had to get use to the fact it does not make a lot of suds, but it certainly does the job. And I have saved a lot of money from not having to buy a lot of laundry detergent.

“I also like the fact that this product is manufactured by an African American chemist who happens to be a Muslim brother....”

To find True Laundry Detergent in your area, visit with these distributors:

 

1. Adib Shakir

265 Clinton Ave.

Newark, NJ 07108

Ph. 973-420-4172

 

2. Haaziq Muhammad

2191 Lake Ave.

Altadena, CA 91001

(Los Angeles area)

Ph. 310-877-7014

Email: betruelaundry@aol.com

 

3. Rasool's Sportwear

6301 N.W. 7th Ave.

Miami, FL 33150

Ph. 305-801-6158

 

4. Suad Sabree

105 School Ln.

Trenton, NJ 08618

Ph. 609-775-7054

 

5. Threez Company LLC

700 E. Union St., Suite I-l

Jacksonville, FL 32206

c/o Zakee Furqan

Ph. 904 343 9714

 

6. Cosmic Innovations Consortuim LLC

4741 Central St., Suite 104

Kansas City, MO 64112

 

7. Shaheed Wangara

8211 S. Exchange Ave.

Chicago, IL 60617

Ph. 312-560-6884

 

8. Naim Muhammad

South Orange Ave. and Bergen St.

Newark, NJ 07102

Ph. 973-819-5958

 

9. New Mind Investment Group LLC

730 Summit Ave.

Columbia, SC 29203

c/o Ramziddeen Ameen

Ph. 803-960-8592

 

11. Z and Z Distributors

4416 Germantown Avenue

Philadelphia Pa. 19140

Zakariyya Abdur-Rahman  215 416 3669

Samir Muhammad  267 988 5976

12. Malik Saleem

The Salaam Group

1036 White St., SW

Atlanta Ga. 30310

Ph. 404-578-7457

404-755-7008

Email salaamgroup@yahoo.com

Abdur-Rahim 404-547-7455

 

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Muslim Journal Business Category
Busiiness In Our Lives

Empowering Girls to Embrace Technology

By Lea Michelle Cash?

Special to the NNPA from

BlackVoiceNews.com

Over 20 years ago, African American Latasha Gary, 37, became interested in computers. Today, she is the Director of World Wide Sales Operation Systems for Compaq Computer Company.

She manages 25 employees working on various projects around the country and overseas. She became interested in computers in high school, and the school only had one computer.

Gary says, “Hanging around that computer was my natural interest. My high school math teacher noticed my computer talents and encouraged me to look into colleges with strong computer science programs. I did and was accepted in my senior year at Texas A & M.”

She continues, “I found myself one of only a handful of females. Texas A & M at that time was exclusively male and populated by mostly white males, many of whom had been exposed to high-level math and computer programs at their school.

So  I had to show some initiative to my professors and ask them for help, letting them know that I was going to stick to it and go all the way.” Gary graduated and stuck it out. Then she moved on to Howard University where she earned a Master degree in Computer Science. The year was 1987.

Today, 25 years later, the technology field (at large) is desperately looking for architects of change.

Females who put an end to the long living myth that girls and women cannot perform as well as men in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Environments and afterschool programs promoting “girl power” are popping up all over America, supporting leadership development and career exploration for girls, transferring knowledge of technology, while introducing concepts such as logical relationships, graphing, and algebra.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and National Science Foundation the STEM fields are expected to add 2.7 million new jobs by 2018, yet women and minorities are vastly underrepresented in those fields.

Women make up 46% of the total workforce but hold only 24 percent of jobs in technical or STEM fields. African-Americans and Latinos each comprise 13 percent of the total workforce and only 3 percent of the technical workforce.

In the Inland Empire, starting a technology program for girls has been a dream for the founder, President & CEO of Tech Divas, Cynthia Renee Frazier. Its title is “Girls Got Geek”.

Girls who enter this program will learn about creation, innovation, problem solving, teamwork and career development. Recently in June, Frazier held an open house at the Henderson Auditorium located at Community Hospital of San Bernardino. Girls were introduced to many of the latest e-devices that they could explore.

The Greek sorority sisters from Sigma Gamma Rho volunteered to assist with the event. The turnout was exceptional and Frazier was very happy. She says, “Girls like solving problems as much as boys. Girls can develop games and mobile apps even better than boys. So, we have got to get girls more excited about today’s technology.”

Therefore, Frazier has taken on this project passionately in the efforts to engage, enrich, and empower girls in STEM. She has been active in technology for years. The application creation is growing into a $55 billion dollar industry. Frazier states, “More girls in this career field can really change their lives.”

Latasha Gary would agree. Gary said, “My career field has provided more opportunity beyond anything that I could imagine. I would definitely encourage women to consider a career in technology.”

Her greatest achievement was spending 13 months in Singapore, rolling out and implementing a Software Application Program (SAP) for Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and India.

This Fall, “Girls Got Geek” is having a Hackathon. They are looking for girls ages 13–25 who would like to put together a “webisode” as a challenge. A webisode is a short episode, which can be downloaded or streamed on YouTube or Cable television. I

t could be a commercial or collection of short stories. The girls who participate will be grouped into teams. Each team will come up with a theme for their webisode. As a challenge, the webisodes will be played and judged for fun and prizes. The dates are November 16, 17, and 18. The technology used for creating, making and editing the webisodes will be provided.

For more information or to register for this event visit the Girls Got Geek website at www.girlsgotgeek.com.

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Islams Climate For Business Success Cover

SiaBy Sia Muhammad

The book “Islam’s Climagte for Business Success” by Imam W. Deen Mohammed was published by The Sense Maker, the book publishing arm of the Muslim Journal. The book was formulated from a collection of articles by Imam Mohammed that ran in the Muslim Journal.

Lest we forget, let us visit often the words of Imam W. Deen Mohammed in his establishment of a “climate for business success” in our lives….

In the foreword, Editor Ayesha K. Mustafaa wrote, “Islam’s Climate for Business Success by Imam W. Deen Mohammed encompasses the principles of the religion of Al-Islam within the context of the climate those principles cultivate.  He incorporates the concepts of fairness in trade and strong families as classics held high in Islamic beliefs.

“They are treated as revolutionary catalysts in the lives of those so obviously impacted by community blight and non-productivity…. Imam Mohammed has lived a lifestyle of austerity.  He ministers that the acquisition of wealth is for the good of the whole and not to be put to exaggerated self-adorations.

“Imam Mohammed was a man who put faith over matter and principles over material gain and G-d above all.”

I am reflecting on Imam Mohammed’s words as a business woman; this is in my blood.  I have had unique opportunities of working with many businesses in the African American and Muslim community, including CPC, Salaam Nutrition and the Muslim Journal.

My experiences thus far have shown me that business and entrepreneurship are natural to individual and critical to community dignity and self-respect, as well as for producing and sustaining a livelihood for our families.

I have studied “Islam’s Climate for Business Success” for a few years, because the concepts in this book are key to assisting us in developing and sustaining businesses that are useful to our communities and the nation we live in.

My intention here over the next few weeks is to highlight concepts in this book that I think will be useful in developing and sustaining healthy, productive businesses.

Excerpts from Imam W. Deen Mohammed’s “Islam’s Climate for Business Success”:

A Concept of Destiny

As Salaam Alaikum. That is peace be unto you.  We always like to begin by giving recognition to Allah (G-d) Who is responsible for everything that is good and is responsible for all the benefits that we receive.

Giving recognition to Him we say, ‘With Allah’s Name, the Merciful Benefactor, the Merciful Redeemer.’  We give thanks to Him for the blessings of the last and universal Prophet Muhammed, upon him be peace and prayers and what follows of the best salutation.

The Role of Al-Islam in Promoting Business Development

”For those who do good in this world, there is good.” In other words, the blessings of good is guaranteed.” (Qur’an)

”And certainly the home of the destiny is best for those who are regardful.” (Qur’an-Ch. 16)  We are to recognize the Lord Creator (Allah) as being uppermost in the attention to regardfulness.”

“That special home of the destiny.  We have made it for those who do not want dominance over the earth and who do not want to make corruption.” (Qur’an)

Prophet Muhammad has said, peace and blessings be upon him:  “Live in the world as though you are going to die tomorrow and live as though you will never die.”

For those who do good in the spirit of goodness and human excellence … there is hasana (good).  If we strive for excellence in business, according to what Allah says here, we are to have excellent results in business in this world.

Khair is a strong word for what is good and is distinguished for other terms that mean good.  Khair means “useful” also, not only what is useful to one person, but what is useful to everybody.

It is not only useful in one town, but in all towns.  Not just in this country, but in all countries.   It means that which is claimed by everybody as being good and useful, with universal value.

We believe Allah points us to the destiny to tell us that to work for the future good is best.  To look to the future for results and for establishment and to plan the long range plan is better than the disposition to have immediate, quick, benefit-me-now results.

The quick plan just for today or just for next week or next month when the rent is due, to just get the things done, are not as important to my life, to my son’s life, to my daughter’s life and to my wife’s life as will be the long range plan that looks ahead into the future.

The long range plan looks beyond my children to my children’s children.  This is the way we should think.

(To be continued

 

 

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Cheryl Mcpherson

By Cheryl Pearson McNeil

I've spent the last three years sharing important facts about African Americans' consumer power.  And I know those of us who are certified black-belts in the time-honored martial art of shopping are fired up for the Black Friday super sales with our artillery of cash and/or credit cards in hand.

But first, let’s breathe deeply and think about this, especially in light of recent allegations of retail establishments questioning purchases made by Blacks, which have brought the very essence of our purchasing power under assault.

Now, more than ever, it's important for us to understand what it means to be a Conscious Consumer – particularly during the busiest shopping season of the year.

These are a few important questions you should ask yourself before making any consumer decision:

1)      Did I find this service or product in my neighborhood?

2)      Does this company, network or business hire people who look like me?

3)       Do I see positive images of myself reflected in the content this company or program promotes?

4)      Does this company have a history of supporting causes that better my community?

5)      Am I still willing to spend my limited time or hard earned dollars with this company if the answer to any of the above questions is “no”?

With that in mind, Nielsen’s Holiday Spending Forecast expects this shopping season to be financially stronger than last year, with dollar sales up about two percent.

Even though an increase in sales is predicted, 68 percent of shoppers who responded to the survey still feel as though they’re in a recession.

Twenty percent of U.S. consumers say they have no cash to spare.

Forty-eight percent report living comfortably or spending freely.

Fifty-two percent of consumers are only buying on the basics.

Thirty percent of us across all income ranges say we’ll spend between $250 - $500 on gifts this year.

Twenty percent of consumers estimate they will spend between $500 - $1,000, with just six percent predicting that they’ll drop more than $1,000.

How, where and on what are we expected to spend our money?

Dollar stores are expected to enjoy a banner season, with 12 percent of consumers in households earning $50,000 or less, reporting plans to shop in these channels, versus four percent of consumers in households earning $100,000 and up.

Twenty percent of those consumers in the $100,000+ category say they will be shopping more online, compared to 15 percent of consumers in households earning less than $50,000.

The 10 hottest holiday items for 2013 are as follows:

  1. Gift cards
  2. Tech products
  3. Toys
  4. Food
  5. Apparel
  6. Video games
  7. Cookware
  8. Sporting goods
  9. Jewelry

Nielsen has traditionally been on point with holiday spending projections, successfully predicting five out of five category trends last year.

The information is gathered from consumer surveys of more than 22,000 households of all demographic groups across the country and an analysis of 92 product categories with over $99 billion in sales.

Snacks and candy are expected to bring in $199 million and $95 million in sales, respectively.

Sales of holiday treats like cheese, jams and jellies are also expected to jump.

We love our canine-American and feline-American family members; so pet care is expected to grow by 5.3 percent and pet food 1.4 percent.

Do you find yourself among the 60 percent who love the adrenalin rush of crowds and last minute deals?

African Americans are frequent shoppers, savvy digital users, high volume owners of smartphones and users of social media and voracious consumers of media – in other words, powerful consumers.

We cannot expect different results if our consumption patterns and habits don't change.  It's just that simple, no matter what time of year it is.

Remember, the final decision to be a Conscious Consumer is yours to make.   As always, I encourage you to choose wisely.

(Cheryl Pearson-McNeil is senior vice president of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Nielsen. For more information and studies go to www.nielsen.com. Follow Nielsen on Twitter @NielsenKnows  #AAConsumer13. “Like us” on Facebook at wwwfacebook.com/NielsenCommunity)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Charlene-Crowell

By Charlene Crowell

NNPA Columnist

As part of the recent 43rd annual Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Conference, the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) unveiled new and disturbing research on how communities of color are suffering a worsening racial economic disparity.

The State of Housing in Black America reveals that while the private sector and financially secure consumers recover financial ground from the Great Recession, much of Black America is being economically left behind.

Long-time civil rights activist Benjamin Chavis Jr. wrote the report’s foreword advising, “African Americans have a large buying power nowadays, yet we continue to be the most foreclosed and wealth-depleted community in America. We cannot and will not just be bystanders as the American economy continues to rebound.”

Julius L. Cartwright, NAREB president added, “Not only has our homeownership rate plummeted, but also accessing mortgage credit has become nearly impossible outside of government insured programs such as the FHA and VA.”

The report examines how African Americans and Latinos have been cut off from the housing market and home finance in addition to employment opportunities.

Further, according to the report, until economic equity and recovery are added to the long-standing issue of equal access to housing, the ability for communities of color – Black and Brown – to build wealth will remain an elusive and distant dream.

For example, today the majority of mortgage loans made to African-Americans are FHA backed. Long-lured by FHA’s low down payment requirement (usually 3.5 percent), today’s costs for these loans have increased, particularly in the areas of mortgage insurance and fees.

Consequently, although available, FHA loans will cost more over the life of the loans and they will also be higher than a decade ago.

By contrast, the report states that loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, “are all but impossible for many African-Americans to secure.” The typical credit scores of borrowers for these mortgages are in the upper 700 range with down payments at or near 20 percent and usually resulting in a more affordable monthly payment.

According to James Carr, lead author of the report, “One of the major problems with most proposals to revamp Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is that access and affordability is not the driving goal of those recommendations. Rather, risk sharing between the private and public sector seems to be the driving mantra.”

In the meantime according to the report, nearly 5 million borrowers remain either in the foreclosure process or are seriously delinquent on their mortgages.

Between January 1, 2007, and May 31, 2013, nearly 14.8 million foreclosure notices were filed. Since the onset of the crisis, African Americans had 7.8 percent of mortgage originations, but 11.6 percent of completed foreclosures.

When similar statistics for Latinos are combined, people of color are more likely to have completed foreclosures at a rate higher than 70 percent.

The loss of homes to foreclosures is also lost family wealth. While African American and Latino families respectively lost 53 and 66 percent of their net worth, non-Hispanic White households lost wealth was limited to 16 percent.

The report states, “More than 90 percent of the amount of total aggregate wealth lost during the collapse of the housing market and the subsequent recession has been recovered.

However, this wealth recovery is not equally shared across households as a large proportion has occurred for stocks that are disproportionately held by high-income, typically non-Hispanic White households.”

The report urges measurable progress in four key areas before consumers of color can begin to financially recover:

• Reducing the existing number of underwater mortgages through principal reduction;

• More consumer mortgage purchase originations;

• Easing of tight mortgage credit; and

• Reducing the growth of investor purchases that transform former owner-occupied dwellings into rental properties.

“Owning a home has been the most successful vehicle for people of color to build wealth”, observed Carr. “But with a tightening housing market and weak labor market and no exceptional programs to assist communities battered by the crises, the outlook does not look promising.”

(Charlene Crowell is a communications manager with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.)   

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Black Consumer Report

By Cheryl Pearson-McNeil

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Resilient, Receptive and Relevant: The African-Consumer 2013 Report (Download Here ). This is Nielsen and the NNPA’s (National Newspaper Publishers Association) third comprehensive, in-depth report on African American consumers.

I, along with Cloves Campbell, chairman of the NNPA; Rev. Jacques DeGraff who is the co-chair of Nielsen’s External African American Advisory Council, officially released the report during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 43rd Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. during a press conference.

Since I have been writing this column, you’ve seen me repeatedly write about our tremendous buying power and how we are to use that power wisely. Well, guess what? That buying power sees no signs of slowing down.

Black buying power is on the rise and is expected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2017.  That’s some serious economic clout.  How and where we use it is explained in this year’s report, with an even more thorough picture of the African-American consumer.

There is so much valuable information; we can’t possibly digest it all in one sitting, so, in the coming weeks, I’ll help explain this report section by section.  So, this week, let’s start with our strength in the U.S. population – the demographic information.

On average, our population is three years younger than other demos – 35 compared to 38, which is a coveted age for marketers. Our population numbers have grown 64% faster than any other group in the country since 2010, which includes people who claim Black and another race.

That’s 43 million Black people, or 14 percent, of the entire population – the largest racial minority in the United States.   The Black population remains the largest racial minority in the United States as Hispanic is an ethnic identity, not a race.

Blacks live all over the country, mostly in or around large metropolitan areas such as New York City, Atlanta and Chicago.  But 55 percent of us live in the South. And here’s an interesting fact, Blacks who moved to the South were young – 40 percent were adults ages 21 to 40. So the Southern migration is not limited solely to older retirees.

Black women are a force to be reckoned with, representing 52 percent of employed Blacks, controlling 43 percent of the $1 trillion current, collective African American spending power, and owning the majority of Black businesses.

The insights in this report do, indeed, show that we are a resilient group, but the report also documents our ability to thrive through tough economic times.

 

Seventy-three percent of Whites and 67 percent of Hispanics believe that Blacks are a great influence on popular culture, e.g. music – jazz, blues and hip-hop, clothes, language (e.g. slang), gestures (e.g. “fist bumps,” thanks to the Obamas, also known as “daps.”

Education is important to us.  The number of African American college graduates was up nine percent between 1990 (11 percent) and 2010 (20 percent).  And in a myth-shattering revelation, the report shows that we spend 44 percent more time on Education and Career sites than the total market consumers.

Did you know that we read financial magazines like Forbes, Fortune and Black Enterprise, 28 percent more than other consumers?  And we spend an average 87 minutes on finance and investment websites.  That’s 12 percent more than other groups.

On the flip side, we could catch up in the actual purchase of mutual funds, first mortgages and stocks.  But the curiosity is there, which helps illustrate to financial institutions that there are opportunities to market and create more awareness about services to Black audiences.

Now, we are just getting started, so stay tuned. Read the two-page copy of the report in your newspaper. Check it out and let us know what you think. Follow Nielsen on Twitter @NielsenKnows  #AAConsumer13; “Like” us on Facebook: wwwfacebook.com/NielsenCommunit

(Cheryl Pearson-McNeil is senior vice president of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Nielsen. For more information and studies go to www.nielsen.com.)

 

 

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Lee A. Daniels
Lee A. Daniels

By Lee A. Daniels

NNPA Columnist

            This year on Sat., Aug. 24, and Wed., Aug. 28, tens of thousands of Americans gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to honor the 1963 March on Washington and the Movement that brought America into the modern age.

Speaker after speaker – including three American presidents who declared they owed their presidencies to the societal changes the Movement made possible – urged America to heed the substantial work that remains to be done.

It surely must have been the work of divine intervention, then, that three events which broke into the news – Tues., the 27th, Wed., the 28th, and Thurs., the 29th – would underscore why the 1963 March “for Jobs and Freedom” was necessary then and why the pursuit of those twin goals still remains an urgent matter today.

The first event occurred on Wednesday. Merrill Lynch, the financial-services giant, settled a class-action racial discrimination suit involving 700 Blacks who worked as brokers or were in training to become brokers for the firm since 2001.

The $160 million the company will pay out to those involved in the suit makes it the largest such settlement ever against an American company.

What’s more important were the facts which brought the case to settlement:

The 700 Black brokers were just a token number of the firm’s worldwide total number of 14,000;

They endured the common “techniques” of corporate racial discrimination – isolated from the flow of information about the business;

They were denied good assignments and lucrative accounts;

They subjected to harassment from some of their co-workers; and

They given substandard performance reviews by their managers.

The Merrill Lynch suit, first filed in 2005, spotlights how blatant acts of discrimination in the workplace wreck not only the careers of individuals but produce harsh, long-lasting effects on the economic standing of Black Americans as a group.

The following day, Aug. 29, thousands of fast-food workers across the country – most of whom are paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour – staged their second one-day job action in a month to dramatize their demand that the national minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour.

The job actions, which occurred in dozens of cities, not only underscored that nearly 40 percent of fast-food workers are older than 25 – and many have families to support. It also underscored that even if they work a 40-hour week, they earn only about $15,000 a year.

That is far below the formal federal poverty line income level of $23,283.00 for a family of four.

The efforts of the fast-food workers exemplify how the global and national transformation of the workplace can produce harmful economic effects that intensify both a general inequality and the racial inequality that stems from the nation’s once-pervasive acceptance of racism.

The third event involved an article in Fast Company, a business magazine that focuses on innovative thinking about technology and design, that purported to identify “25 of the smartest women” in business whose use of twitter show them to be “most valuable thought leaders” who “enrich discussions related to top business trends.”

But the article named only White women to the list. Reaction, particularly from the Black twitterverse, was swift in coming about the “unintended racism” the article put on display.

Many of those comments showed they understood that being on such a list in a magazine of Fast Company’s influence was likely to bring new business contacts and new business dollars to those on it.

Such comments showed, again, how the seemingly “unthinking” exclusion of Blacks and other people of color from mainstream institutions, companies, events and activities has always been an important component of stamping a “Whites-only” sign in front of vast pathways to advancement in America.

What does each of these events have in common, then?

Money, of course.  Money is not simply as legal tender to buy things; but money as a marker of an individual’s value in the labor market and in the larger society.

Money as the means by which an individual can forge a measure of comfort and security for his or her family and provide a solid financial foundation for the family’s next generation. And money that can circulate in one’s own community to help build and maintain the resources that make that community a viable place to live.

That is what Martin Luther King, Jr. and A. Philip Randolph and the other organizers and participants of the 1963 March on Washington understood: That economic fairness – a decent, liveable wage in exchange for good work – was as much a foundation of a just society as were laws that barred discrimination and promoted opportunity.

That’s why they called that iconic event “The March for Jobs and Freedom.”

Politics

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By Nusayba Hammad, Communications Director, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (nusayba@uscpr.org) WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an act unprecedented in recent history, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand...
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