Black History and Today’s Black Business
2/21/2017 3:23:54 PM
By Hakim Abdul-Ali
Greetings to you during this month’s national observances of the annual African-American Experience here in the United States of America. The month, of course, is referred to as Black History Month.
I was thinking of a concluding thought or theme that I could offer in respect to the legendary striving contributors to our causes of freedom, liberation and survival going forward. For some relevant reason, I can’t help but think of the pertinent issue concerning the lack of Black businesses, jobs and ebony entrepreneurial endeavors that’s absent in so many of our communities.
Before I begin, I must give credit to The Chronicle’s energetic and thoughtful editor, Mr. Damion Smalls, who approached me about two months ago about addressing this topic in one of my columns during Black History Month. Mr. Smalls, 30, is very concerned about and involved in the area of Blacks supporting Blacks, so it was not difficult for me to entertain his request and attempt to give a little sparkle to this consuming, but all-too-neglected, aspect of African-American existence. Please think with me as you read.
Well, let me start off by saying that the cold hard factual reality is that being in business, no matter whatever an entrepreneur’s ethnicity maybe, is a daunting challenge from beginning to the end of any business desire or involvement. And, being of ebony color in a “his-storically” biased society has and will always present more numerous obstacles from the start of one’s business visioins.
That’s just the way that it is in this “his-storical” programmed society that we call the home of the free, and the concept of Blacks doing for self has become a lost entity among most of the nation’s ebony classified “colored” populace. I hate to offer that but, it unfortunately, is so true until it brings pain to my consciousness. Does it to yours?
Black is Beautiful. You see, being a septuagenarian, makes me think of all the Negro, “colored,” Afro-centered, Black and African-American labeled businesses throughout “our-story” that once flourished in this country with esteem and glory. Understanding that Black folk of all labels once knew what sticking together and supporting self really meant enriches me during Black “Our-Story” Year.
That’s something you don’t see occurring today with prolonged actuality for the most part in many of our dwindling, overall business communities. This saddens me because as this country becomes (and is) more and more divided along so-called racial lines, the African-Americans, and other unashamed to be African descendant ethnic folk, need to recognize that they all must, should and need to support each other in order for Black entrepreneurial business to thrive and succeed.
I’m a deep believer in the motto that “each one should teach, or help, one another,” especially those in their own communities. With hatred for none and love for all, I believe that it’s a philosophy that every other ethnic “colored” grouping uses to their distinctive cultural advantages, and there’s nothing wrong with it. I respect them for that.
I offer that knowing that the wisdom behind self-preservation lies behind (and with) economic empowerment and cultural self-support of one’s culture. “If you don’t love you, who will?” I sometimes wonder if during Black History Month that some of Africa’s modern day descendants really economically scope what’s going on and happening in what few communities they can actually call their own.
In today’s America, with larger and larger segments of this country’s once predominant “our-storical” Black communities now being obliterated, politically gerrymandered, culturally decimated and completely taken over in every senses of those terms, Afro-America is facing a dire time in its economic existence in the Western hemisphere.
If you have trouble dealing with what I’m saying and thinking, I ask you to recall, if you can, the visions of Tulsa, Oklahoma and the legacy of “the real” Black Wall Street and the splendors of Harlem, New York’s Black Renaissance. These magnificent places and times were all a part of what we’d like to think of as authentic Black America “Our-Story” triumphs with pride, respect and honor.
Much has happened by systematic design to destroy Black business initiatives, en masse, in continuing to support each other. That truly is sad because, unlike the past glories of Black business strivings, many of today’s young Blacks, for the most part, don’t see the need, or wisdom, behind supporting African-American owned businesses, especially in today’s hyper-racial atmosphere of political bigotries, racial biases and economic uncertainties galore.
That analogy from me doesn’t fall just on the young, because some older Afro-Americans, with a little cash in their spending coffers, won’t think for an exploited second about spending their “duckets” in other communities rather than supporting and making those other foreign and, sometimes, uncaring ethnic communities more economically wealthy and stable than their own. That’s as true and factual as the color of the skin that adorns their faces.
I’m not an economist, nor am I a financial advisor, but I write this as an observant brother of color, who’s lived a “few” years in this melting pot of “his-storically” blended racism, political injustice and economic inequality. Other folk of color experience the same while dreaming, or wondering, when will democratic equality for “all” discriminated minorities ever be a reality rather than a fractured political premise that literally means nothing in application to equality for all.
Listen, I’d like to think that I’m a somewhat sophisticated shopper, always looking for the best quality and deal in this or that which peaks my interest.
I believe we’re all like in that as we look for the best bargain in everything that we purchase, no matter from whom we may purchase whatever it is that we acquire. No likes to be cheated or shammed because, after all, “business is business.”
I like quality items, and I like being around quality business people from professionals to the corner store merchants. The Afro-business community is still in existence in many diverse arenas, but we must remember that they “need” our financial support.
For example, from the newspapers of Black Press of America to the local enduring cauldrons of Afro-businesses everywhere, economic support is necessary in order for them to continue offering vital services and information to “our-storical” communities.
We are all to be held accountable because we’re all bricks in the formulation of the building fortress we envision and describe as Black Economic Empowerment. When we realize that, then we all survive solely because of our support of each other’s businesses.
“Black Power is Green Power,” so please don’t forget that basic lesson in Economics 101. Sadly, everyone else but us seems to get that except the majority of a few. Think about that before skipping to the next paragraph.
Again, if we don’t learn from the past failures of where disunity, mistrust and self-hatreds once crippled and destroyed us, then we have no one else to blame today but ourselves. Building on our past and present success efforts in supporting each in today’s businesses, even in times of virulent enmity, will make Black “Our-Story’s” significance in the future something we’ll all be proud of year round, and for today and always, that’s, “As I See It.”