As I struggle with the reality of America’s socio-economic condition in 2016, I am appalled that our national and political discourse is eerily reminiscent of the 50’s and 60’s – a time when majority culture Americans clearly embraced a racist system that brutalized and dehumanized black citizens and other minorities.
Black people, other minorities and progressive-thinking white people are clearly agonized over the symbol of 21st century oppression and the authorized targeting of black Americans and other minorities by our system of justice. It appears simple enough to agree that a man, woman or child should not be executed for trivial infractions such as driving with a busted tail light, playing in a park, or simply walking to the corner store for a drink and some skittles.
Black people are amazed, and perhaps shocked, that so many people cannot see how the unfettered slaying of blacks for non-violent (or non-existent) violations is wrong, and deserving of punishment for the perpetrators. We have been amazed that people equate the call for justice against police who brutalize our citizens to an assault on the police who truly protect and serve.
We have been amazed that the majority culture is somehow surprised that someone got pissed off enough to pick up arms against the police. (Please do not start a Twitter feed about this statement. I am in support of effective, compassionate fair policing, and value those who do a good job.) But, surely one has to know that some people in our society would become so desperate for justice in the absence of any, that they would attempt to make up and execute their own justice.
Violence is not the way. I believe we have the power to make meaningful change in our society. All of us... every one of us!
As we agonize over how to turn our community and our country around we must ask, what can make a difference for young minorities growing up in this hostile society. How can we make it better? The answer is already here - in our own community! The way to independence, justice and social equality is monetary. That is the key.
We can continue to appeal to the conscience of America, but we must understand that many in our country have no conscience. We can look to our religious leaders, but find many of them are simply demagogues. We can look to our political leaders, but discover that many are corrupt. We can and should pray, but God expects us to do our part. The big question becomes - “what is my part?”
We must take those dollars and make them work for us. We can effect social change by supporting those entities that are fair and equitable. More importantly, we must deny our dollars to those entities that support the continued subjugation of black people and other minorities.
Do not be deceived, Black communities used to thrive, boasting their own banks, grocery stores, theaters and service providers. But in the early 20th century, the majority culture went to great lengths to destroy this budding economy, as evidence by the destruction of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma and other such communities around the nation. They understood the power that economic independence offers. In fact, that is why many of our political leaders are preachers, or own their own businesses. This financial freedom allows an individual to be authentic, without fear of economic ruin.
The next great movement will not be a political third party, or a grassroots organizer, or even a movement such as Black Lives Matter. The next harbinger of social change is when people of color realize that they already have the power to effect change and secure justice. Once we look in our pockets and decide to strategically utilize our wealth, we will be able to make meaningful, lasting social and economic change.
In the famous words of James Carville…”It’s the economy, stupid!”