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How To Build Grassroots Economies In Black Communities

We need a stimulus plan for us, by us.

How To Build Grassroots Economies In Black Communities

You have heard these observations made before…

– When the world economy catches a cold, the Black economy catches the flu.
– Around the world, Blacks are the last ones hired and the first ones fired.
– A dollar circulates in Asian communities for up to 28 days, in Jewish communities for nearly 20 days, in white communities for 17 days and in Hispanic communities for 7 days. Yet in the Black community, a dollar circulates for only 6 hours.
– We own less land than any other group on the planet.

And all of the above are true. Even on our own continent. In South Africa for example, Blacks own less than half of all land.


Map of Land Ownership by race in South Africa Source Department of Rural Development and Land Reform ( 2018)
Map of Land Ownership by race in South Africa Source Department of Rural Development and Land Reform ( 2018)

And because the Black community owns so little, we find ourselves homeless more often than other groups.

These distressing economic conditions have made us prime targets for all the other weapons of neocolonialism and white supremacy.

In his book Dark Ghetto, Dr. Kenneth B. Clark wrote “The dark ghettos are social, political, educational and above all—economic colonies. Their inhabitants are subject peoples, victims of the greed, cruelty, insensitivity, guilt and fear of their masters.”

The statements above should emphasize to us that the most pressing problem we face in the Black community around the world is an economic problem. The economic effects

A responsible citizenry controls its community. An irresponsible, incapable, or uninformed citizenry becomes a colony. – Asad Malik

But there is a solution to our economic bondage: forming alternative economies within the Black community.

What Is An Alternative Economy?

An alternative economy is an economic structure that is separate from, and operates largely independently of, the traditional economy. These economies are controlled by the members of a small, connected community.

For example, a community that owns its own land and means of production with its own model for growth, employment, and distribution of wealth can protect itself from severe economic downturns that other communities may suffer from.

A Black community that builds an alternative economy can meet the needs of the community by producing goods and services inside of the community. These goods and services can then be exchanged between ourselves and others in exchange for time, money or other goods and services.

Wealth remains inside of the community while growth is positively impacted by – without being dependent on – commerce outside of the community.

More importantly, the Black community that controls its economy also controls its political system. Here is how:

Members of alternative economies have the resources and focus to hire, fire, and regulate the behaviors of their state and local government. These local governments tend to pay for its police force using the taxes collected from the citizens of that state or locality and have the power to regulate that police force.

So it is by using our economic power to fund, build, and sustain movements that we can re-gain control our political environment.

Here are 5 ways that we can create alternative economies – step by step – within the Black community.

Step 1. Get On Code

Not every Black man and woman will agree with or participate in an alternative economy. By sacrificing their identities and participating in the destruction of their people, some of our people have been bought and sold.

We dont have to be uniformed in our ideas to be unified in our intention. – Asad

While these few token integrated, culturally white-washed negroes receive the benefits of participating in their own destruction, the remaining Black masses that refuse to bend the knee are left in the fields.

The masses work in the most menial of positions, preyed upon for their labor, and exploited by fraud. It is amongst these Brothers and Sisters that an alternative system of group economics can and should be established.

The masses must come to understand that their single most important mission is to reclaim their lives and liberation by:

1. Building, supporting, and growing local black businesses,
2. Using profits to buy local assets, and
3. Protecting and defending our community against fraud and future exploitation.

This is the economic code that members of a Black alternative economy must obey. Each individual must, in turn:

1. Take their paycheck income, and use a portion of it to start a local business,
2. Use profits from that business to buy local rental properties and other businesses in the area, and
3. Defend what they build and grow the value of their business with vertical and horizontal integration – a concept taught by Marcus Garvey that you can learn more about here.

Most importantly, members of the group must be co-located, and build in their local areas. These individual sovereign communities will have the power to support larger Pan-African states in tangible ways that individuals can not.

Once these codes of conduct are agreed upon, members of the local community can begin the construction of a local economy.

Step 2. Learn How Local Economies Work

Once our group understands how and why the economic code works on the individual level, they must then understand how their individual behaviors serve their local economy.

How To Build Grassroots Economies In Black Communities
A Village Savings and Loan Association Meeting in Ghana Courtesty

A dollar circulates in Asian communities for up to 28 days, in Jewish communities for nearly 20 days, in white communities for 17 days and in Hispanic communities for 7 days. Yet in the Black community, a dollar circulates for only 6 hours.

The reason for this disturbing trend is that Black communities allow other groups to freely exploit us. We allow other groups to come into their communities, establish businesses, purchase real estate, and collect their votes for positions of power.

These outside groups then take the profits from their business back to their own communities. They collect rents from Black residents and gentrify Black neighborhoods. And they are elected to office with Black votes without serving the interests of the Black voter.

The results are that Black residents pay outside groups by supporting the businesses they set up in our communities. We pay rents to landlords who do not live in our communities. And we obey laws set by representatives that do not come from our communities.

At the most basic level, local economics work when members of a community buy local, hire locally, and build in their own communities. This is practice is known as group economics.

Step 3. Practice Group Economics

Read Also: Powernomics – 27 Ways You Can Practice Group Economics

When we talk about group economics in the context of Black Consciousness, we are talking about “Powernomics” – Dr. Claud Anderson’s Economic Action Steps mentioned in the book of the same name.

The 10 Economic Action steps are:

  • Economic Action Step #1: Create an alternative economy within Black communities.
  • Economic Action Step #2: Dominate business ownership and management where Black people are the majority.
  • Economic Action Step #3: Focus on ‘Wealth Building’ and restoring the economic intent of the original Civil Rights laws.
  • Economic Action Step #4: Counter the ‘Brain Drain’ with businesses that aggressively attract Black talent from schools, the government, and corporate America.
  • Economic Action Step #5: Establish solid ‘Root’ businesses within Black communities.
  • Economic Action Step #6: Construct vertical businesses and industries that control all processes from raw resources in markets within and outside of Black communities.
  • Economic Action Step #7: Stop the ‘Money Drain’ out of Black communities. In other words ‘Buy from your Sister or Brother before you buy from Another. ‘Buy Black’ but sell to anyone.
  • Economic Action Step #8: Attract semi-finished products into Black communities for value-added manufacturing, processing, and assembling.
  • Economic Action Step #9: Promote the competitive advantages of Black communities.
  • Economic Action Step #10: Establish ‘Safe Business Zones’ based upon a code of conduct in Black business communities.
  • Economic Action Step #11: Amass ‘Vision’ capital and wealth through community-based financial efforts.
  • Economic Action Step #12: Establish international economic alliances and marketing agreements between Black America, Black Africa and Caribbean nations.

It is critical that we learn and apply the lessons taught by Dr. Claud Anderson to both repair our collective economic condition and so that we dont repeat mistakes made in the past. 

Step 4. Become the Lord of our Land

Gentrification in the United States is becoming the 10th weapon of white supremacy. White investors swoop into Black neighborhoods, buy up properties, and drive up prices. This is not unique to the United States – it is happening in Africa, Europe, and in South America – where Black residents are increasingly being pushed into Brazillian ghettos.

When all is said and done, the original Black neighborhood inhabitants can no longer afford rents, are driven out of their communities, and an area that was once a Black community becomes a gentrified white neighborhood.

Gentrification would not happen if Black residents owned the land that they live on.

Owning land is arguably the most important economic action step. That is because the ultimate asset is, was, and likely always will be land – and you cannot be gentrified if you own the property and land beneath it.

Read Also: Become Lord Of Your Land With These Free Ebooks By Black Real Estate Investors

Land is the root of all wealth: no land means no food, no metals for machinery, and no timber for homes.

But all land is not created equally. Land can only be considered an asset if it is useful. That means your land must be connected to infrastructure and is located somewhere that others would want to live, and/or your land can grow food, sustain livestock, or is rich with resources that can be mined.

Thus, in order to build an alternative economy, local groups should focus on buying both real estate as well as fertile, desirable, and/or resource rich land.

The closer you are to the land the wealthier you become, and the stronger your economy.

5. Deploy Vertical and Horizontal Integration

Once the community has a growing ecosystem of local businesses and has control of the land and property within their community, practicing horizontal and vertical integration is one of the best defensive strategies against outside interference.

Vertical and horizontal integration means buying control of every part of our business – from the building to the companies that keep the business running.

In other words, rather than just buying and frying a chicken to serve in your restaurant, you own the chicken farm, the seed company that feeds the chicken, the processing plant that cuts the chicken, the land that produces the brick and mortar to build the restaurant, and the construction company that builds the restaurant.

We dont stop at buying houses, we buy lumber mills that process the wood that build our homes
We dont stop at opening restaurants, we buy farms (remember step 4?).
We dont stop at opening beauty salons, we manufacture our own product lines.

Vertical integration is the degree to which a firm owns its downstream suppliers and its upstream buyers. Horizontal Integration is the expansion of a firm within an industry in which it is already active for the purpose of increasing its share of the market for a particular product or service.

In our chicken farm example above, you would use your profits to buy out competing chicken farms, seed producers, other pieces of real estate, etc -think monopoly on a macroeconomic scale.

McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and De Beers have all executed successful horizontal and vertical integrations.

In effect, Vertical and Horizontal Integration is what Marcus Garvey attempted to do with The Black Star Line, three seaworthy steamships that were purchased to move raw material from one Black Nation to the next.

Bananas and Coffee from Central America could be taken to Africa using those three steamships. Mineral wealth from Africa could be brought back to the U.S., and finished goods could then be sent to the Caribbean.

Next Steps

The practices mentioned above are nothing new. But because we have remained committed to white western practices, we disregard other strategies that could help us win the economic battle waged on us by white supremacists and neocolonialists.

We must return to our abandoned communities, teach our own how to live, work, and build together, and develop innovative ways of amassing resources and controlling the production and distribution of goods, services, wealth, and labor amongst ourselves.

This is the cornerstone of any nation building effort.


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