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Many debates have been had over what the biggest problem facing Blacks around the world is, and outside of unity the answer is clear.
From Barbados to Benin and from Los Angeles to Lagos, our biggest problem is that we lack the ability to control the economy of our community in response to our own needs.
If one doubts that, here are some reasons that economic sovereignty is the key to our freedom.
We Cant Trust Western Economic Systems
When the American economy goes into recession, Black America goes into a depression. In the great recession of 2009, unemployment for our Black men reached a 25-year high of 18.7 (the white unemployment rate hovered around 9 percent), we collectively suffered a 50 percent poverty rate amongst black children, we make up 50% of the homeless population (despite being only 12 percent of the overall population), and we are three times more likely than whites to live below the poverty level as a whole. Even prior to the recession, the Boston based non-profit company United for a Fair Economy found the following:
“That Blacks and Hispanics are three times as likely to be poor as whites; that Blacks earn 62 cents for every dollar whites earn; and that the family median net worth of whites in 2007 was $170,400, compared with $27,800 for Blacks and Hispanics.”
The root cause of these statistics cannot be explained away by low high school and college graduation rates, our disproportionately high incarceration rates, or any other social illness that pundits would argue are the main cause of our condition.
The real cause is the economic system where the rich get richer. We continue to suffer and slave and scrape to preserve the way of life for those at the top of the pyramid that is the workforce. We incorrectly believe that if we go to college and get a “good” job, we will be ok, when in reality nothing can be farther from the truth. This system of reliance on government and corporations to provide for us does not work out to our benefit.
White Nations Are Collapsing. Are We Going To Go Down With Them?
The necessity for us as Black Americans to become economically sovereign becomes more urgent every day, as more and more signs point to the American economy’s decline and eminent collapse. For instance:
- Homes used to be the most valuable investment a person could make and represented the grand majority of personal wealth. However, with the recent collapse of the housing market, homeowners saw a 10 to 20 percent decrease in property values that wiped out the equity of homeowners or left them owing more on their mortgage than the house was worth
- Despite efforts at health care reform, the American health care system is collapsing, hospitals are going under, and insurance premiums are going up, further robbing the American people of their hard-earned dollars
- Shrinking personal incomes combined with skyrocketing food prices will only make situations worse
For Black folks to entrust their economic well being to non-Black nations is as dangerous as putting our money in a safe on the Titanic.
21st Century Slavery
Capitalism as an Western ideal has put the African Diaspora into a financial matrix. We invest an outrageous amount of money attending colleges and universities that leave us in debt and without any valuable skills.
The college “education” that we so value only trains us to be another replaceable clone in a workforce that supports corporate interests over the welfare of the individual worker. We then beg for jobs, beg for benefits, tolerate being paid the lowest possible wages for spending most of our waking hours behind a desk, or engaging in manual labor, or busying ourselves with projects that have absolutely no value to humanity. And for 40 years we work 40 hours in the hopes that we will be able to retire. This is 21st century slavery.
A few of us wake up to this fact and start to seek out new means of income generation. Get rich quick schemes, lotteries, and multi-level marketing companies have made millions upon millions by taking advantage of those looking for a way out of financial bondage.
With the coming collapse of the global economic system, the fact that Blacks around the world suffer considerably more during economic downturns, and the realization that the way to long term success and stability can never come from any “job”, its time for us Pan-Africans to rethink our role. We have, unlike other immigrant and minority groups, allowed the fate of our economy to rest in the hands of “foreign” politicians and corporations.
It is time for us to jump-start our own economies, to produce our own jobs, and to become the producers and providers within our communities. Accomplishing these three goals is the true path to the economic sovereignty of Blacks in America.
From Buyer and Consumer to Producer And Provider
Armed with a determination to learn and succeed, Djehuty Maat-Ra started a multi-million dollar herbal supplement operation out of his home. D-Herbs now serves hundreds of customers a month with natural alternatives to artificially engineered medicine, as well as empowering informational products that offer as much entertainment as they do education.
Mr. Maat-Ra is just one example of an individual’s ability to support themselves by pursuing their passions. Compare that to the average Black worker whose livelihood is controlled by – and dependent on – their jobs. These workers are told when to clock in and clock out, what to do, how to do it, and the maximum amount of compensation that they can receive in return for their efforts. Again, this is 21st Century slavery.
You can escape this fate and learn to do for self by producing, marketing, and selling goods and services based on your passion, hobby, or your recognition of an unfulfilled need. It won’t always be fun and there is some risk involved in living outside of “the matrix”, but you will be rewarded with true independence and a valuable legacy that can be passed on for generations.
Look at “Chinatowns” as well as Jewish, Mexican, and Somalian neighborhoods. All of these communities start with nothing, build businesses based on their cultures, and build their neighborhoods and communities to the point that the local language even changes (you can always tell what part of the city you are in by the language of the store signs!).
These communities consist, first, of religious establishments, restaurants and grocery stores and eventually diversify into family clinics, clothing stores, general supply stores, bookstores, entertainment venues, and service provision offices.
These immigrants don’t plead for integration or equality, they are not interested in assimilating with mainstream America, and they make the most of what they have until their small neighborhoods become thriving and economically sovereign communities. All this from individual producers and providers that meet the needs of customers right in their neighborhoods.
Keep in mind that the formula for success is failure + persistence, and soon you could be in charge of your own multi-million dollar operation.
Become an Employer Instead Of An Employee
The Nation of Islam owns hundreds of businesses and hundreds of acres of farmland that put thousands of its members to work. The aforementioned D Herbs, Douglas Home and Office Services in Culver City, California, and Phoenix Publications in the Bronx are other examples of black owned employers.
The power of small operations is evident: small businesses employ more than half of the U.S. workforce, pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll, and have generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years.
By applying your newfound skills as a producer to starting a small enterprise, you can contribute to our collective economic prosperity and get some of these positive statistics working for us.
Bring Back the Buy Black Philosophy
“YOU BLACK PEOPLE JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND. IT IS NOT THE MONEY, BUT THE FACT THAT WE ONLY BUY FROM OUR OWN. ONLY YOU BLACKS WILL BUY FROM ANY AND EVERYONE.” – ASIAN CONSUMER
Once you have begun to produce and provide goods and services based on your unique passions, talents, or perceived needs and you have started a small scale operation with a handful of employees, the final step is to link up with and patronize other black businesses. Statistics have shown that only 4% of African American’s dollars are spent with Black owned and operated companies.
If you own a black bookstore, seek out black writers and black owned and operated publishers. If you own a fruit stand, seek out black family farms. If you are a black blogger, seek out black web designers and programmers. Even if you haven’t launched your operation, seek out and shop black owned and operated companies.
By applying these principles to your life and in your community, you are taking steps to finally realize the dream of a United Black America.