Regular contributing writer John Anthony discusses the Million Man March and "The Marching Jamaicans" for change.
Commentary Jamaica Magazine

Beware The Marching Jamaicans

I generally oppose marches of all sort. As a advertising medium they may be useful in attracting publicity which could also be obtained by running advertisements in the media, but as a way to generate follow up action they have a poor record unless managed properly. Most marches just raises the emotional temperature of the participants but effective managers know that emotions are not the best foundations on which to base decisions or actions.

Look for a minute at the march after which the women march in Jamaica is named, the Million Man March in
the USA. If the Million Man March was managed properly it could have been one of the greatest events in the history of African Americans in North Americay but after much publicity it faded from view and no long term effects are noticeable because of poor management. Here is how in my opinion it should have been planned.

Firstly, it should have been named The Million Man March for Economic Freedom or given some other title that branded the event and linked it to something that would come to mind whenever anyone thought of it. When someone mentions the Million Man March to me today I cannot link it to anything because it was not branded effectively. When I hear of the Million Woman March I do not hear a brand. It may exist in the minds of the organizers but it has not been sufficiently publicized and I have read of the march several times.

Secondly, it should have been used as a event to raise funds not just consciousness and emotions. Many
church goers still incorrectly quote the Bible in saying “Money is the root of all evil” and many preachers still preach about the evils of money when King Solomon in the proverbs call it the answer to all-note that he did not say Jesus or God, he said money is the answer. So churches should not have to apologize for raising monies. Farrakhan and the organizers should have begun one year in advance of the march to send out the word that all attendees should bring an offering of $500 each for persons making over a certain amount in income and $200 for those below that amount and then say $50 for children below 16 years old, to use to set up an investment fund to fund businesses and empowerment zones across the country. This would have been significant because the persons would easily save the money because they would have had 12 months to save it and it would have been used to address a need. Naming an amount is significant because it puts a figure in the minds of listeners and giving choices allow for gravitation to the goal easiest to attain, a common technique in sales. The time span between the announcemeent of the million woman march and the actual march date is insufficient to brand it, to bury the brand in the minds of everyone and to get the participants to help bring in funds. If the sole purpose of the woman march is for publicity then the organizers are missing a tremendous opportunity which they will never have again because first impressions are lasting.

There were over one million men at the march in Washington DC so you can do the math and see what would have been raised if various percentages of attendants had brought in various amounts of offerings suggested. The money raised should then have been placed in African American banks and a board of retired executives set up to manage the disbursement of monies as business plans come in. Conservatively at least one hundred million dollars could have been raised which could have been used to fund thousands of micro businesses all across the country and start a revolving loan program which would have been the most defining moment in the history of African Americans.

I do not know what are the financial goals are for the march but if they have none it is simply an exercise
of paying for publicity, which is not necessarily a bad thing but the advertisers need to know that this is just what they are doing. Then the question must be answered- is this the most cost effective form of advertising? I guarantee you that it is not. I bet that the organizers have not analyzed the total costs of the event- the costs not only include their own out of pocket expenses but what it costs the attendees to attend, damage to equipment, injury to marchers and their consequent medical bills, the loss to the economy from traffic diversions and delayed delivery of goods and services etc, and when you do the math it should be clear that it would have been better to run advertisements on television and radio, but we have a culture that resorts to marches without examining the total costs involved.

Now when it comes to spirituality the best business way to accomplish a thing is not always the best spiritual way because God does work in strange ways sometimes. I say this becuase only God knows the complete future of all events and if he spoke to Ms. Billings and said specifically hold a march and do such and such, then that is what she should do. If he did not speak thus then clearly this is not the best way forward- but now too late to cancel!

While her organization and goals are noble and which I believe are God-inspired, and which I will support, she
must be careful that the divine order of the family, which stipulates that the man is the head as Christ is the head of the church, is maintained and taught. To do otherwise would be in serious error and would undermine a divine calling.

Marches are generally not effective in getting things done because they are managed poorly. Someone or
something has convinced the Jamaican populace that marches that they are, but if you examine the overall costs of putting on a march, and the consequent actions that follow they are extremely ineffective.

Your goal is to reduce crime and violence. But I know of many more effective ways to reduce crime permanently and any one of these should have been chosen. Reducing crime and violence is the ultimate goal but when you want to achieve a goal, you should not just go after the goal directly, but you should go after the things that will automatically lead to the goal. We in Jamaica know what are the root causes of crime, we just like to talk around it and say that it is poverty and a lack of jobs, but that is not the root cause at all. One of the root causes of crime is absentee fathers in the home- research around the world has proven that the majority of prisoners come from homes with no fathers so this point is not arguable. What is one solution for this state? Well every female who has a male child should find him a mentor- from a church, Kiwanis Club, Jaycees, Boy Scouts, etc. Finding mentors for young boys will automatically result in a fall in the crime rate-albeight not immediately- but a march is not the best way to accomplish this because it will require follow up action to help the females do this. This is just one example and I could write pages of many more. Again, I think that I laid out some arguments in the previous email which you may want to go over slowly with an open mind, because if you are convinced that marches are the best way to change behavior you will not comprehend what I was trying to put across.

Lorna Graham in Trench Town has what I think, is a program should be replicated across the country. What
she is doing is more effective than any march. You have tremendous motivation and aspirations and this is
to be encouraged but know this that your efforts need to be challenged into an area which is more manageable
and cost effective. All the funds that are being used to put this march on for instance could have been used
to set up an organization like Lorna Graham’s.

About the author

John Anthony