This is Volume 9 of my monthly column entitled Black Dollars Matter. As I point out each month, this column is generally designed to compel white businesses/entities in Philadelphia and white employers in Philadelphia to treat Black consumers and Black applicants/employees/firms with respect. But, more important, it is also designed to convince Black people in Philadelphia to “do for self” economically as well as politically because, in a capitalist democracy, money and politics talk — meaning persuade — and BS walks — meaning leaves empty-handed.
As reported by Forbes on Sept. 17, 2021, (which cited 2019 numbers as the most up-to-date data available), the 47.8 million African-Americans in this country “present … businesses with a $300 billion opportunity.”
And as documented by the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth, which relied on data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, and other sources, “The combined buying power of U.S. consumers grew from $11.3 trillion to $17.5 trillion between 2010 and 2020 [which constitutes] 55%. Over the same time period … African American buying power grew by 61%.”
Wow! $300 billion? 61% buying power growth? That’s a lotta dollars. But, sadly, those holding it have little sense.
Joy DeGruy, who has a master’s degree in social work and a doctorate in social work research, wrote in her seminal 2005 book, “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome,” that centuries of slavery followed by systemic racism have resulted in multigenerational maladaptive behaviors that began as survival strategies.
It’s like Malcolm X’s point about how, during slavery, many Blacks were so enamored with whites that when their so-called owners weren’t feeling well, some Black servants would say, “What’s the matter, boss, ‘we’ sick?” Think about that for a second. Those particular enslaved Black people were so emotionally attached to their white enslavers that they could literally feel “massa’s” (i.e., the “boss’s”) pain.
The aforementioned multigenerational maladaptive behavior and emotional attachment continue to this very day. Many of us up to 2021 and even today in 2022 still believe that “the white man’s water is wetter than ours.”
That explains why we finance our own oppression by spending money where we are not hired, not promoted, and not respected as consumers. We actually pay racists for racism. Think about that for a minute.
“What’s the matter, boss, ‘we’ sick?” Yes. We are. But there’s a cure. And it consists of knowledge of self. We need to read/ingest books like “The Mis-Education of the Negro” by Carter G. Woodson, “The Philadelphia Negro” by W.E.B. DuBois, and “The Destruction of Black Civilization” by Chancellor Williams, as well as DeGruy’s essential book along with “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by Alex Haley.
Those books and many similar books will get us out of the economic Intensive Care Unit. But that’s not enough. In addition to leaving that unit and the entire hospital, we need to become financially healthy.
As I referenced in previous editions of “Black Dollars Matter,” we become financially healthy by demanding economic respect. And we demand economic respect simply by reaching back and engaging in the type of economic activism that our self-respecting ancestors initiated. It’s called the “Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work” movement.
During the 1930s, Black folks in numerous cities throughout the nation responded to white merchants’ disrespect in Black neighborhoods by organizing the “Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work” campaign and boycotting.
For example, there was the New Negro Alliance, founded in D.C. in 1933, that successfully used boycotts to protest white employers in the city who refused to hire college-educated Blacks in professional positions. Those boycotts were part of their “Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work” and “Jobs For Negroes” strategy.
They told those white business owners that Black people were no longer going to allow themselves to be the instruments of their own economic destruction. In other words, they said they were going to stop financing their own oppression and stop making racism profitable.
Their strategy and similar strategies throughout the country were so effective that not only were they credited with creating thousands of new jobs for Black professionals and Black laborers, but the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists began copying it beginning in the 1960s.
There are nearly 50 million Black consumers in America and we have $300 billion to spend. Once we finally get our minds right, we’re gonna sensibly spend most of those dollars on Black businesses. And if white businesses want some of what’s left, they must start hiring us and promoting us and respecting us. Otherwise, in 2022, we’ll start doing exactly what our ancestors did during the 1930s and the 1960s.
It’s based on the concept of “Sankofa.” And that’s a Black thing, so racist businesses wouldn’t understand.
But, as my grandmother used to say, “You gone learn today.”
Michael Coard, Esq. can be followed on Twitter, Instagram, and his YouTube channel as well as at AvengingTheAncestors.com. His “Radio Courtroom” show can be heard on WURD 96.1 FM or 900 AM. And his “TV Courtroom” show can be seen on PhillyCAM/Verizon Fios/Comcast. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Philadelphia Tribune.
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