THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS – 21ST CENTURY STYLE
by James Clingman
God gave Black people 900 billion talents. He gave Hispanic people 700 billion talents. He gave Asian people 400 billion talents. He left us alone for one year and then returned to see what we had done with our talents.
God asked the Asian people, “What have you done with your resources?” The Asians replied, “We created many businesses and purchased many franchises. We used our resources to assist our families and our Asian friends, helping them to get into business as well.”
The Asians continued, “Lord, we knew that with 400 billion talents we could generate even more talents by pooling what we had and working together toward a common economic goal. We have doubled the amount you awarded us. And to top it all off, our restaurants are going strong; everybody loves our food!”
The Lord said, “Well done, my good and faithful servants. I will make you rulers over many things.”
God then asked the Hispanic people what they had done with their inheritance. They gleefully replied, “Lord, You are really going to be proud of us. Upon receipt of our talents we went to work right away and formed our own bank. We have one in Florida that ranks among the largest in all the land. And you know what else? The interest we are making will more than double the amount of talents You gave us.”
As God nodded approvingly, the Hispanic people couldn’t wait to continue. “We opened fast food shops and sidewalk stands. We sold fruit, enchiladas, and tacos. We supported Hispanic doctors, lawyers, accountants, and all the Hispanic businesses we could find. If a certain business did not exist in our community, we pooled our resources and started new ones. We have done very well, Lord, especially considering the short time we have been in this land.”
And God said, “Well done, my good and faithful servants. I will make you rulers over many things.”
Since God had given the most talents to His chosen people -- Black people, He couldn’t wait to hear what they had done with their 900 billion talents. Like a doting father, He proudly asked them, “What have you done with your inheritance?”
After turning their music down in order to hear what God was saying, the Black people waved their hands in the air (like they just didn’t care) and shouted, “Lord, we just threw the party of the century, and it was all good! Look at those bad rides parked outside. We bought them from the German people and the Japanese people. Wouldn’t You agree, Lord, that we did good deeds by helping to make them wealthy?”
Even God looked perplexed. He asked if there was anything else the Black people wanted to report. “Oh yeah,” they replied. “You haven’t heard the half of it, Lord. We’re the most charitable people on earth. We spent 94 percent of all You gave us with businesses other than our own. We helped everyone. We didn’t discriminate and we didn’t playa-hate.”
Then one of the Black “leaders” spoke up. “You know how we like nice clothes, Lord. So we went out and bought all of the right labels. You know what I’m saying? We just had to have it. Check us out.”
Now the Lord was quite concerned about His people and their attitude regarding their talents. Continuing to probe and expecting to hear something that would make Him proud, God pleaded, “Surely you have done something with your inheritance to generate more talents for yourselves?”
Another of their “leaders” stepped forward to sum things up. “Lord we have the finest cars, we eat and drink only top shelf, and we meet in the most elaborate hotels. Our children have several pairs of the latest gym shoes. Even better than that, we have good jobs to earn back our 900 billion talents next year, and we will again be able to help all the other inhabitants of this land.”
Sadly, God looked at His people and said, “With what you have done with your talents, you may as well have buried them in the ground. Because of your slothfulness and lack of good stewardship, I will give your future talents to those who have the least. You have gravely disappointed me by not adhering to one of my most important admonishments: To whom much is given, much is required.”
Stewardship is a tenet to which we can all relate. We have been given tremendous collective resources. It is our obligation to be responsible with those resources, just like the Parable of the Talents indicates. If Jesus returned today just for a visit, in the vast majority of our cities, we would not even be able to offer Him a luxury hotel suite. We would not be able to take Him to a nice sit-down restaurant in many of our cities, or provide transportation for Him, or purchase oil for His feet from one our own pharmacies, or take Him to one of our supermarkets to buy Him some groceries. With an aggregate income of more than $900 billion, why don’t we own and control more assets?
James Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.