I have always been taught that there is a significant difference between reading about something and actually experiencing it. Consequently, I have dedicated my life to not only reading and researching issues, but also experiencing myriad aspects of life. Hence, I have pursued things such as travel, music (jazz and Rap Music), various culinary events, and the list goes on and on. I have what has come to be termed a ‘bucket list’. In this life that I have consciously chosen for myself, the most significant pivot in my life has been a love for African-Americans and a desperate search to uplift them out of the multiple illiteracies (economic, historical, political, social, cultural) that have plagued them for far too long.
So it was with much excitement and glee that I was provided an opportunity to aid a dear friend when she decided to advance her business, Creative Gifts by Shawna, which was doing very well by word of mouth. She finally decided to secure a physical space to share her talents with a larger portion of the community. This opportunity provided me an opportunity to see this beautiful young woman become a rarity within the African-American community, meaning an independently owned businesswoman. In the midst of working to transform her space into a venue where business could be conducted, I forgot a lesson that innumerable elders told me to never forget if I intended to liberate the Black community; that being, “Black people will break your heart repeatedly when you try to point them toward any form of freedom.” I’ve learned that there is no greater truism.
After a months long process, Creative Gifts by Shawna debuted this past weekend. I found the opening to be particularly exhilarating and extremely insightful as it provided me an opportunity to participate in a process that I had only read/heard about via books, lectures, articles, etc.
Now I must say that the vast majority of individuals who entered the venue immediately fell in love with the handcrafted items and eagerly placed orders for future events and took business cards with them to share with others in their circle who they knew could, and would, make great use of the services offered. For a first-time business, I would term the opening a resounding success as a multi-racial coalition of consumers patronized the business; every race, hue, and color was represented, except one; African-Americans. Apparently, not even the quality of the work being offered trumped the astounding self-hatred and loathing that Blacks reserve for other Black folk.
Although I knew the admonishments of Carter G. Woodson when he stated in his magnum opus the Mis-Education of the Negro, published in 1933, that we should never expect Blacks to support Blacks in any economic endeavor as they did not have sense enough to support their own as other races do. I also heard Marcus Garvey’s even earlier lamentations that cited self-hatred, a psychological illness, as the primary catalyst behind persons of African descent refusing to aid one another regardless of where they were located. More contemporarily Claude Anderson has advanced economic truths that Black people’s hatred for one another exceeds even the economic chains that ensnare them. Put simply, they would rather be poor than risk one of their own experiencing financial freedom. African-Americans economic inefficiency has led to not only their collective economic slavery, but also parasitic status within the American economy. We have the dishonor of historically being the ultimate consumer and the least likely to provide anything of value to the world. We are the only population that will not term the educational process that our children participate in a resounding success unless they are able to secure a job with a white company or corporation.
As I watched innumerable African-Americans stroll past Creative Gifts by Shawna, diverting their eyes by looking in the opposite direction or towards the ground as if they were aware, yet ashamed, of the action that they were undertaking at that particular moment, one family with a child wearing a Prairie View A & M University T-shirt, a Historically Black College, patronized the businesses on either side of the African-American business, one run by a Muslim Family and the other a White lady, and never even glanced toward the Black business. I would have understood such a move, if it were part-and-parcel of a staunch boycott that called for Blacks to refuse to even peruse a venue that had historically exploited and oppressed their people; however, their actions were inexplicable and illogical as this castigation was repeatedly hurled by Blacks at their own. I simply shook my head when I observed an inter-racial couple walking past the front door and the white lady rushed in to look at gifts that she loudly stated were “so cute”, her beau remained outside the entire time.
The entire scene reminded me of a statement that the Honorable Louis Farrakhan once made in one of his most insightful speeches. Farrakhan stated, and of course I am paraphrasing, that the Black community is like a big nutritious breast that every immigrant group that comes to America immediately latches onto until they are strong enough to leave it. And before long, the next group of immigrants will arrive and latch onto it until they are economically stable enough to release it and parlay the riches that it got off of it into bigger and better things. The entire time, the poor Black businessman is trying to get his mouth near the nipple so that he can latch on with hopes of growing big and strong like the aforementioned immigrants, however, the Black community, his community, moves the nipple each time he gets anywhere near it for innumerable reasons (poor service, inferior products, cost of product, because they are a Black business, or just because of self-hatred). From Minister Farrakhan’s position, the aforementioned scenario is one of the primary reasons that in the new millennium Black folk are still begging white folk for jobs and the rest of the world for technology to use.
So as we approach yet another “Black Friday”, I have absolutely no faith whatsoever that the vast majority of Blacks will not run out and spend money that they do not have. Unfortunately, very few, if any, of those dollars will reach the pockets of Black businesses. And for that reason, and many others, they should be ashamed of their Black selves. Instead of running around calling themselves Moors, Christians, Muslims, and alleging that a secret society such as the Illuminati, Jews, or white folk in general are conspiring and plotting to keep them down, it may be time to ‘look at the man in the mirror’ and return to basic economic strategies; the same strategies that those groups use to build economic power that they then use to take care of their own. For those who do not understand what I mean, let me ‘make it plan’ for you. Just follow these steps.
Step A: Find a Black Business.
Step B: Select an item from that Business.
Step C: Purchase the item.
Step D: Repeat Step A.
Black people, Negroes, African-Americans, Africans in America, Moors, Black Christians, Gods and Earths, Muslims, Moslems, Black Muslims it is way past time for the in-fighting and the inefficient theoretical dogmatism to end. While you are having year long building sessions that amount to little more than group ‘mental masturbation’ sessions, other groups are actually operating businesses and securing your community’s funds while you continue to talk about what we need or are ‘finna do.’ If I were provided the opportunity to do so, I would state the following to my people, try tangibly supporting your own economically for once in your life. Trust me, it will work. It works for the rest of the globe; it has only been our own population that has behaved as if we are too darn stupid to do it ourselves.
James Thomas Jones III, Ph.D., M.A., M.A., M.A.