Wall St.and Business Wednesdays: PowerNomics in Detriot: How can Black people oppose this plan?
(This article was written in response to comments made by Kay Everett, a Black female member of the Detroit City Council who voted against an economic plan to uplift Black people in the city developed by Dr. Claud Anderson called PowerNomics.)
There are always Negroes whom whites call upon to undermine the sentiments and wishes of the majorities of Black folks. They are actually called "call upon Negroes", and are used for media quotes & appearances at the behest of whites who wish to lend credibility to their opposition to Black initiatives.
I cannot attack this sister. She suffers the delusion of inclusion. Many of our people do. Others are straight up sellouts. It is odd how the distribution of AMERICAN (read: unhyphenated American, as she states it) wealth avoids Black communities. Her use of the abstraction "American" is similar to other term like "diversity", and "integration". At the end of the day, there are few or no "Americans" of African descent in seats of power in the boardrooms of Detroit, the state of Michigan, or the nation as a whole.
Perhaps she is a "pot luck American", satisfied to share recipes for ethnic cuisine, hair styles, or cultural artifacts with other Americans. She seems ignorant of the fact that Negroes are the only ethnic group in the nation with a problem being "hyphenated". Whites remain the dominant ethnic group in the US, and exert such influence over the socio-cultural milieu that they have succeeded in equating the term white with American - no hyphen required. Nomenclature not withstanding, Euro-Americans function as a group to organize the society in a manner that preserves white hegemony, while projecting the illusion of inclusiveness and "color-blindness". This includes ownership and control of financial resources and capital.
In Detroit, there are large enclaves of immigrants from the middle east (Palestinians, Arabs, etc). They have no problem living in proximity to one another or operating businesses together, nor should they. They run a large proportion of the package stores in the city, most of them profiting from Black patronage. What number of businesses or corporations have "multi-cultural" American ownership? Is this the case for other ethnic groups in the US? (Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, Jews, etc.). In America, all cooperate to the exclusion of Blacks to build economic beachheads on the shores of the American economy. Are there Blacks represented among the members of the Korean Grocers Association in NYC? Does anyone call them on it? The presence of Chinatown, Koreatown, and Japantown in major cites is accepted and valued. Why not an Africatown?
What does this say about the controversy around the development of Africatown in Detroit?
1. Dred Scott, 21st century version - There is no economic activity that can be established to benefit Blacks that others must respect.
2. "What is mine is mine, and what is yours is mine" - the wealth producing ideas & activities of Blacks have seldom enriched Black folks. Every other group has the ability to profit from their economic ideas BUT Black folk. Consequently, other ethnic groups generate wealth by servicing the economic demands of their own groups AND those of Black Americans. In doing so, they use Black dollars to employ and support their children (and families). Meanwhile, Black communities continue to suffer massive unemployment, poverty, and social disorganization.
"Americans" (read: whites) would not tolerate sustained, massive, depression level poverty and unemployment as is routinely seen in its Black population. Why should Black folks sit idly by and do nothing while others extract wealth and skim resources from our communities? This mentality is a remnant of enslavement. It is insane to suggest that Black folks cannot determine how to organize their economic activity in a manner that enhances their positive development. The opponents of Africatown would not cede control of their economic imperatives for any reason; indeed, the opposition itself is an testament to them protecting one of their most reliable & valuable assets - Black folks' money, which they need to survive and prosper.
3. Black people still don't get it - We fail to understand that in a capitalist nation, you have to own something to succeed at more than a cockroach level. Our fanatical belief in the fallacious myth of "the individual", our distrust in each other, and our willingness to trust and follow those who benefit from our weakness and dysfunction make it difficult to develop the types of institutions to uplift Black America. Government (national, state & local) is shrinking from its obligations to serve and protect the interests of the citizens, while corporate power (and arrogance) rises to serve its own interests.
It will require resources for Black people to build the types of institutions that will heal, enhance, and uplift Black folks. How many of you think is coming from white folks? From Asians? Arabs? These groups have no qualms about organizing themselves for self development - they do not consider it "hateful" to do so. The calculus of achievement in America is to use the strength and power groups to build wealth and secure resources needed to insure relative autonomy. This is especially true in a multi-ethnic, pluralistic society. No other group interprets self interest as selfishness, "hate", or "reverse racism". This type of thinking cuts Black folk off from resources that has permitted the immigration and ascendance of other ethnic groups in America - our own markets, finances, and economy! With no finance, we cannot build schools to educate Black children for liberation, to defend Black families from violence & crime, to keep jobs in the hands of Black families. We just don't get it!
The POWERNOMICS plan is good for all America. Wherever Blacks are more than 20% of the population, there ought to be an Africatown business district, owned and controlled by Blacks.
To the people of Detroit, stay the course. As my granny once told me, "One monkey don't stop no show"!
This article appears in Emerging Minds Magazine.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004