The Honorable Louis Farrakhan has notable company such as Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Claude Anderson, and Malcolm X in repeatedly pointing our people toward entrepreneurship as the primary path to liberation. During a long forgotten moment of oratorical wizardry, Minister Farrakhan advanced the following analogy.
The Black Community is like a big nutritious breast that every immigrant group that has come to this nation has been able to suckle upon until they were big and strong, strong enough to leave it for the next immigrant group that comes to this nation. The entire time that these various groups have come into the Black community and gathered their strength from this Black breast, there stood the Black businessman trying to latch onto this same breast; however, the Black community does everything in its power to move the breast from the parched mouth of the struggling independent Black businessman.
One would be hard-pressed to find an African-American entrepreneur who would dispute Farrakhan’s analogy regarding either the absence of collectivist economics or the difficulty Black businessmen have in getting close to that nutritious breast that immigrants find so available to them. African-Americans have remained unanchored economically for far too long, a situation that has grown progressively worse since Booker T. Washington issued his calls for economic collectivism in Black business dealings during the late 19th Century.
The unraveling of the African-American community began with the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. Most fail to realize that the Brown decision paved the way for multiple points of integration — schools, public accommodations, educational institutions, and business entities — none of them have proven beneficial to African-Americans in the long run.
Undeniably, the exposure of our best and brightest students to white institutions during the highly volatile 1960s not only shaped their worldviews upon matriculation from these institutions of higher education, but also drastically altered their individual goal structures and priorities. The Black community was for many of them a place that they had outgrown socially, politically, and economically.
For the first time in its history, Black America’s educated class did not emerge from institutions of higher learning seeking to fortify the community and move it forward via political solidarity and economic collectivism, rather they emerged with desires of integrating white neighborhoods and reaching the pinnacle of their professions, meaning securing a job with a previously all white company/corporation and earning more money than anyone in their family had ever earned. Put simply, many of these individuals treated the African-American community as a place to escape from. Most either failed to understand or did not care about the disastrous effect that their embrace of suburban lifestyles and revulsion to economic opportunities within the Black community would have upon their indigenous community.
By the mid-seventies the African-American community had not only experienced a brain drain, but also a significant bloodletting, as the very blood, meaning its economics, was allowed to hemorrhage. As American segregation receded, Blacks commonly mistook the ability to patronize white businesses with the need to do so; relegating the Black community and its business class to an acutely dire economic position.
What has been our response to this consistently worsening economic plight? We have seen calls to boycott white businesses, a posture that does absolutely nothing to aid Black businesses, and repeated protests aimed at forcing recalcitrant whites to release a few jobs to Negroes. Neither plan will serve as the proverbial “balm in Gilead” for the masses of African-Americans. Historically speaking, African-Americans were prepared to March on Washington in 1941 to request jobs in the wartime industries and actually executed a March on Washington in 1963 for jobs. This desperate pursuit of jobs at every turn has made the Black community appear parasitic.
So what should our response be to the present economic desperation that we are witnessing amongst our people? One does not need to look far or wide to find the solution to the African-American community’s economic suffering. The solution to the alluded to misery is not only found within every ethnic/racial enclave found in our major cities, but also the writings of Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Booker T. Washington, and Claude Anderson. That solution is simply economic collectivism. Malcolm X’s admonishment that African-Americans run their own community down when they spend their dollar with outsiders holds much validity. African-American business people need to develop a reliable database that informs Black consumers of local Black businesses as well as those who offer goods throughout the nation. Blacks must embrace the concept of entrepreneurship with the same vigor that they embrace their religious/spiritual leanings. Meaning one of their primary foci must be creating and supporting independent Black businesses.
Leaders such as Booker T. Washington, Louis Farrakhan, Malcolm X, and a host of others have advised our people to take the business of economics with the utmost seriousness. Every entrepreneurial opportunity must be pursued by Blacks as history dictates that it is the only means of lifting a people out of a marginalized politico economic position. Failure to do so will guarantee that we remain in this marginalized state. Put simply, “if we do what we’ve always done, we will get what we always got.” If we continue down this path, there is no one to blame but ourselves.