For Black businesses to succeed, we need to ‘Do for Self’ first | Michael Coard

By Michael Coard
(Editor’s Note: This column is one of a series explaining why Black Dollars Matter.)

As I point out each month, this column is designed to compel white businesses/entities in Philadelphia and white employers in Philadelphia to treat Black consumers and Black applicants/employees with respect.

Michael Coard (Twitter)

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).

I respect the undeniable fact that the great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and thousands of other courageous and selfless civil rights ancestors and elders shed blood, sweat, and tears to better my life and the lives of tens of millions of other Black men, women and children.

Because of those ancestors and elders, we today have more access to education, housing, public accommodations, voting, etc. We also have more dollars — but less sense and even less self-respect. I understand that those ancestors and elders needed to create and intelligently implement a practical strategy to confront and defeat the lingering effects of then-relatively recent slavery, of legalized second-class citizenship and of Jim Crow.

And they successfully did what they had to do in the way they did it in order to move us closer to where we are today. But instead of us perceptively using their ingenious strategy as a malleable guideline temporarily, we blindly applied it as a rigid mandate forever. In other words, we began using old solutions for new problems.

And not only did we act senselessly in the process — and continue to act senselessly in the process — we also acted and continue to act foolishly like an abused spouse who repeatedly gets beaten every Friday night, leaves the abusive spouse every Saturday morning, receives a phony apology every Sunday afternoon, and returns home at the break of dawn every Monday.

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That’s an analogy for what white abusers — as manifested in systemic racism since 1619 — continue to do to Black people.

They enslave us then deceitfully apologize with the 13th Amendment, so we forgive and embrace them. They ban our children from receiving a proper education then deceitfully apologize with 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling. They sharecrop and convict-lease us then deceitfully apologize with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, so we forgive and embrace them. They deny us the right to vote then deceitfully apologize with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, so we forgive and embrace them.

Despite the 13th Amendment, we still ain’t free. Despite the Brown ruling, we still have under-resourced schools. Despite the Civil Rights Act, we still have to battle to prove that Black Lives Matter. Despite the Voting Rights Act, we still are widely disenfranchised.

But we keep returning to the racist abuser. That’s the problem.

So what’s the solution? The solution is separatism — but not the “leave America and do no business whatsoever with the white man” type of separatism.

Instead, it’s the “do for self” type of separatism.

The reason it’s the latter type and not the former type is we built this house called the United States of America, so we ain’t going nowhere. If anyone should leave, it’s the enslaving colonizers (and their privileged descendants along with benefiting European immigrants), not us.

We slaved on this land from “can’t see in the morning to can’t see at night” for 246 years from 1619-1865 while they lazily sipped cold lemonade from sunny plantation porches whenever they weren’t buying, selling, leasing, raping, castrating, whipping and lynching us.

Among many other things, we built, for example, the White House in 1792, the U.S. Capitol in 1793, George Washington’s Mt. Vernon, Va., plantation/estate in 1758, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Va., plantation in 1772, and New York’s Wall Street in 1652 (which was used as a “slave” auction site from 1711 to 1762).

In regard to the latter type of separatism, i.e., the “do for self” type, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

We simply have to look at Black Wall Street in the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Okla., where it was prosperous until 1921. This is when devils wantonly murdered approximately 300 Black men, women and children and hospitalizing over 800 while completely incinerating the self-sustained 35-block Black community consisting of around 1,250 beautiful Black homes and over 200 prosperous Black businesses and facilities including, but not limited to, 30 grocery stores, 21 churches, 20 restaurants, several law offices, six single-plane transport airlines, two newspaper publications, two movie theaters, a bank, school, library, hospital, bus system and post office.

Our ancestors and elders taught us what to do. All we have to do is listen and follow their lead.

And in that Black business community, the dollar circulated 36 to 100 times before leaving. In other words, Black residents spent their money at Black grocery stores, at Black restaurants, at Black law offices, at Black airlines, at Black theaters, at the Black bus company, at the Black hospital, for Black newspapers, for the Black school, for the Black library, and deposited their money in the Black bank.

In addition to the “do for self” success of Black Wall Street, we also can look at Negro Leagues Baseball and the Black economy it sustained before that league and that economy were killed by the integration of Major League Baseball with the 1947 signing of Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Robert J. Newman and Joel Nathan Rosen meticulously documented this history in the Feb. 17, 2014, edition of The Village Celebration newspaper:

“Made up of African-Americans and dark-skinned Latinos …, [Negro Leagues Baseball, which was founded on Feb. 13, 1920] represented a vibrant business enterprise. Black baseball was a central cog in a machine, a series of businesses that made up a segregated economy that developed in response to both custom and law. Along with Black-owned insurance companies, the Black press, and the ‘ethnic’ beauty industry, Negro Leagues Baseball fueled an economic engine that powered a system of smaller, though equally essential businesses in urban African America,” they wrote.

“At the same time segregation severely restricted economic prospects for most African Americans, it provided the opportunity for businesses to offer goods, services, and entertainment otherwise unavailable to their patrons, thereby creating a localized economy,” they concluded. ”

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Although this economy was limited, the money flowed back and forth within African American communities in cities such as Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Chicago, New York, and Indianapolis, communities built by the Great Migration, a movement which saw as many as six million African Americans… move North and West during the first six decades of the twentieth century.”

Our ancestors and elders taught us what to do. All we have to do is listen and follow their lead.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we shouldn’t patronize any white businesses. I’m simply saying we should “do for self” first.

We must stop getting abused. We must stop accepting the abuser’s phony apologies. We must stop returning to the abuser. We must leave the abuser permanently. We must respect ourselves. We must support ourselves.

We must “do for self.”

Michael Coard, an attorney and radio host, is a columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this piece first appeared. 



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Capital-Star Guest Contributor

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