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August 21, 2014, 8:03 am

A pastor’s Christmas wish for the Black community

I enjoy the Christmas season. I love seeing trees and lights and holiday decorations go up all over the city. For me, it’s a special opportunity to spend time with my family, relax, eat great food and give thanks for God’s greatest gift, His son and our savior, Jesus Christ.

While I thoroughly enjoy this season, I realize that for various reasons not all experience Christmas in this way. One thing that can make this particular holiday burdensome is the commercialization of Christmas. Gift giving and time with loved ones can get lost in the cost to “do Christmas.” I am particularly troubled by how much we, as African Americans, literally “buy” into the notion and increase the profits of companies who very rarely support our community. In fact, we spend billions of hard earned dollars each year that go directly into the pockets of others and that never benefit our community.

“The Buying Power of Black America,” the Target Market News 2009 report, revealed that Black households spent an estimated $507 billion in twenty-seven product and services categories. That’s an increase of 16.6 percent over the $435 billion spent in 2008. Indeed, this is alarming in view of African Americans’ total earned income for 2009 was estimated to only be $836 billion!

Despite the economic recession, there will be spending by African-American households this Christmas. It is my prayer, however, that this holiday season we will make some different choices. Specifically, my Christmas wish for the Black community is that we think about every dollar we spend during this holiday, and try our best to circulate that $836 billion back into the African-American community by supporting our own.

How many of us will purchase gifts from African-American retailers? I know many will argue well, “Pastor, what I want to buy, there are no Black retailers or businesses.” Now that may be true in some instances, however, I would argue that we have not tried hard enough to support our own.

Today, we live in a digital age. If you search for “Black businesses” on the Internet, you will find numerous websites where various products and services are offered by African-American businesses. Consider buying some of your gifts from those that are made or sold by us. More importantly, consider investing in our financial institutions for Christmas.

If for some reason you cannot find a gift from an African-American business, then consider a second option: building wealth and investing in the African-American community. How can we begin building wealth and investing in our community? How about setting up a savings account for your children at a Black bank for Christmas? I would encourage you to invest in and make deposits at United Bank; an African American-controlled and managed financial institution. Let’s give our children a gift by teaching them to invest in one’s future and community while they are young. It’s a gift that can last year after year. At Bright Hope Baptist Church, we have placed all of our accounts at United Bank and are in full support of making sure that our tithes and offerings circulate within our community.

If we do not invest in our own institutions, who will?

Beloved, we appreciate the freedom to spend our dollars wherever we like. Still, I pray that this Christmas will be different for you, your family and friends. As we contemplate our Christmas purchases, let’s do so with greater sensitivity and enlightenment. We cannot continue to make others rich, while our businesses struggle and eventually close because we did not support them.

Investing “Black” is the only way we can regenerate, recycle, and renew our dollars. This Christmas season, buy Black and invest Black. If you do not have a checking or savings account at United Bank or a Black-owned credit union, get one! Get one for your children. Do your part in helping to halt the economic crisis in our community by investing in it!

Lastly, here are some other things to consider to make this a wonderful Christmas for you and your family:

1) Pray and plan your giving. Seek the help of the Holy Spirit to decide within your budget who, what and how much you can afford to spend on Christmas gifts.

2) Refrain from going into debt for gifts.

3) Be creative, particularly if one or more persons in the household is unemployed. Come together as a family and think of ways to give or make gifts.

4) Since it truly is more blessed to give than to receive, consider giving of your time and energy to those in greater need than you. Make it a family affair. Is there a local group, church or charity where you can volunteer to make others happy this season?

As always, keep the faith!