What a raucous, topsy-turvy, heart-wrenching, angry year we experienced in 2014. We had everything from the sadness of lives lost on airplanes and ferry boats, to the anger of Black men being killed and Black women being beaten by police officers, to the elation of a record-breaking stock market and the lowest gasoline prices since 2008. Certainly our emotions have been mixed as we witnessed a potpourri of ups and downs while we pondered the question: “What’s next?”

What happened during the past year is now a lesson for all of us, whether positive or negative. We must move forward. We cannot live in the past; we can only learn from it. In light of that reality, here are a few suggestions to help get you moving in a positive direction in 2015.

First and foremost, build, strengthen, and nurture your spiritual foundation. Be thankful for each day, and use it wisely. Stay informed with real news, not with mere views from talking heads. Remember that followers pick their leaders; it’s not the other way around, so pick leaders who work in your best interests rather than self-serving charlatans who are only concerned about themselves.

Make an even stronger effort to support Black businesses and, Black business owners, take care of your business by doing what you say you will do with honesty and professionalism. It’s tax time, so if you need a tax preparer use a Black firm. Talk to your church leadership about joining or forming a local chapter of the Collective Empowerment Group (CEG).

Don’t waste your vote. Give it to someone who is not afraid to state their position regarding Black voters during the campaign and afterwards—and then fulfill their promises. If they fail to do so, don’t vote for them. Also, on the political side of things, stop putting the same old folks into office, especially if they have not delivered anything to Black folks and/or if they have been in their particular office for decades. Put some new “young-bloods” with fresh ideas into office. We will never be politically empowered until we start playing to win instead of playing just to play.

Find a Black certified financial planner and get involved in some level of investment in the stock market. As we are standing in line to buy Nike shoes, we should also be teaching our children how to buy Nike stock. Also, teach entrepreneurship to our youth. Let them know they can own a business even if they end up working for someone. Teach them early by using examples of young Black business owners like Jasmine Lawrence, Moziah Bridges, Cory Nieves, Omar Bailey, and many others you can find on the Internet.

Make it a habit to listen to the Carl Nelson Radio Show (1450AM WOL in Washington, DC or www.woldcnews.com), Brother Daren “State of the City” Muhammad in Baltimore, Dr. Rosie Milligan in L.A., Elliott Booker (Time for an Awakening) in Philadelphia, WURD in Philly, and other conscious and informative radio shows.

Finally, in response to the outrageous treatment some of us have received from the police and the criminal justice system, first, let’s boycott prisons, that is, stop committing crimes and putting yourself at the mercy of a system that cares absolutely nothing about you. Second, in addition to the protests the young folks are doing now, add a strategy, an end game that uses economic sanctions (No Justice, No Profit!) as leverage to get the CEO’s of various corporations to come out publicly and denounce the abuse being inflicted upon our people. Remember, it’s not simply about withdrawing our money just to hurt someone else; it’s about using that same money to help ourselves by building our own economic infrastructure.

Last but certainly not least, sign up as one the Million Conscious Black Voters and Consumers by going to www.amefika.com or contacting me at jclingman@blackonomics.com. One million Black folks willing to leverage our votes and our dollars can change our situation. And in New Orleans, you can get involved in the local “We are the Missing Piece Movement” by pledging to spend at least $50 a week with Black-owned businesses.

Get involved in 2015; let your actions outweigh your words, and let’s move forward. Peace, love, and blessings to you in 2015.

We Are Proud to Have Served Our Community for 38 Years. Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Providing a Trusted Voice. We Look Forward to 38 More!