I’on know what you been seein’, but in the days following the murder of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the Dallas 5, I’ve witnessed an exodus. My Facebook newsfeed has been full of optimism and self-determination in the form of advertising. That’s right—advertising. My friends, colleagues, and acquaintances have been buzzing about The Solution to the lasting problems that we have been forced to face in the past week. That solution is personal sovereignty through increased support of black-owned businesses.
Yep, personal sovereignty- that little phrase that sometimes gets the side-eye due to the fact that it often accompanies some calloused proclamation that the poor should simply pick themselves up by their bootstraps and do better (assuming they have boots). It’s used to taunt the systemically disadvantaged. It has often been used to create the perception that poor people—who often need a hand up despite working themselves into oblivion—are not taking control of their lives.
But when your cries for equality fall on deaf ears, when you get tired of attempting to reason with those who cannot reason, when you realize that you never should have wasted so much time begging others to view you as human—you understand that personal sovereignty is the only answer. You begin to understand that you have your own resources and that the things that you can produce are just as good or better than all the things you once pleaded for from someone else.
Economic autonomy allows for community stability and wealth-building. Period. When your dollar circulates through your community 5, 10, 20 times before leaving it, that’s 5, 10, 20 additional people who have benefited from that one dollar (Analogy courtesy of Dr. Boyce Watkins). Over time, that translates into more income for local businesses, more jobs, increased investment opportunities, higher property values, better education opportunities, less debt, less crime—the friggin list goes on and on!
For those of you who are a little unfamiliar, this is a conversation that has been going on in the black community for decades. Why IS our hair care industry dominated by Koreans? Why ARE there so many fast food restaurants and liquor stores in a half-mile radius in economically depressed areas? Why HAVE so many of the neighborhoods that we loved been developed while the original inhabitants have been displaced? It is because we ALLOWED the economies of these communities to be dominated by those who take those dollars to other communities after locking up for the night.
Community loyalty. They know a lil’ sum about that in Little Italy, Chinatown, Little Ukraine, Le Petit Senegal, and other ethnic enclaves around the country. That’s called common sense, responsibility, pride in heritage, taking care of home, minding your damn business. Awesomely, minding your own business leaves you less vulnerable to economic meltdowns, job insecurity, and the unfortunate discrimination that still plagues this nation.
I saw a great meme today (courtesy of WEBUYBLACK, a directory of black-owned product providers) which said: NO JUSTICE…. NO MONEY. And it appears that these sentiments will not be short-lived, because as of yesterday the black-owned Citizens Trust Bank in Atlanta had 8000 new account signups. So, if you’re still mourning Rosewood or Black Wall Street and wonder why they were never rebuilt, may I remind you that it is a new age? Black Wall Street has gone digital.
The best thing about this exodus is that (while some “fasting” in the form of economic restraint may be in order) we don’t need a Moses to spend 40 days on a mountain to figure out our next move. We don’t need anybody to part the seas. We don’t have to beg and plead for any Pharaoh to let us go. All we have to do is take our cash and walk the hell out.