Dec. 29, 2017

Historical Perspective : UJAMAA

Cooperative Economics 

A Historical Perspective

We Had It Once We Need It Again

In 1966, 2 years after the passage of the civil rights bill of 1964, and one year after the passage of the voting rights bill of 1965. American Blacks were still struggling to gain significant civil and social rights in the United States. This was a time of community awakening across black enclaves throughout both urban and rural sections of this nation. The defiant calls for Black Power were being promoted from the streets of Oakland, California to Lowndes County, Alabama. The calls also for an integrated society absent from the dictates of a Jim Crow mandated racial separation was a call from another sector of our community. 

These two dissident voices were both deemed enemies of the so-called democratic state of American society. Although one was indeed more feared than the other. Out of these voices of change came a movement to love both being black and expanding black consciousness. We know the voices or agents of change, King, Wilkins, Abernathy, Young, Bond, Rustin, Randolph, Brooke were the voices of moderation and acceptance. While names like Carmichael, Newton, Seale, Richardson, Sellers, Powell, were the voices of defiance against moderation and have the need for radical racial change. 

Throughout all these voices came a consciousness that created the atmosphere for the creation of a sense of Kwanzaa, the ultimate celebration and love of one’s blackness. Say it loud I’m black and I’m proud embodied both elements of change. Although, one group shifted away from celebrating blackness to get to the goal of societal acceptance. You could not it seems to truly accept your individual blackness and cradle the power of being black if you wanted ever to integrate into the society of America. 

So the conflict began which lead to our present situation today. When we had no other choice but to buy black, because we weren't allowed to buy without facing tremendous indignities. We as a people proudly supported our black enclaves of economic growth. We had no other choice. However, the fact remained that many of us never truly loved our blackness. We wanted to run away from what we saw as inferior and inferiority in ourselves as well as other black sisters and brothers. 

So, here we were caught in between two worlds one that we been forced to create due to the color of our skins and the other world which we felt held all of the societal riches which we had been denied for so long. So what did we do? Do we move to support what rejected us for so long had been forced to with due to the racist patterns of this nation? Or do we continue to build our own institutions and develop wealth and cooperative economics in the communities that had housed us during this centuries-long exclusion? 

Well, the majority of us knew what we had and had already determined it wasn’t enough. So the choice was clear move towards integration and away from any semblance that could be defined as racial separation. The problem is that if integration was truly ever going to work economically for the black community the cooperative economics had to be a distant two-way street. We had to ensure our own economic wealth by getting whites and other ethnic groups to support what we had built if we were to take our dollars away from those institutions that survived solely on black dollars. Yet, no dollars flowed into our communities from other avenues and most of the black middle class and black upper-middle-class dollars flowed away from those businesses and black communities that once thrived solely on black patronage. 

We in a sense integrated away our ability to build black wealth because we felt that black patronage had now become instantly inferior. The black enclaves that were once the energies of dynamic change and influence became enclaves of disrepair and economic plight. The voices of the integrationists never foresaw that this would occur. They honestly felt that we as a people would benefit from the goals of civil and social equality. They realized too late that equality in an economic sense could never be gained as long as integration was a one-way highway with everything flowing out and nothing flowing back. 

That’s why now we must awaken our black consciousness to the realization that Black Power, Black Economic Power, Black Political Power shouldn’t be something to be feared. It is something that should have been revered when it was first introduced in the Black Belt of Alabama. If you integrate into something and get little or nothing back in return than you simply are making something you wanted to be weakened stronger and something you had weaker. 

We did that to ourselves now is the time to reverse the cycle and move towards some defined method of cooperative economic development that will be designed to benefit us, because we have indeed done more than our share to benefit those who continue to oppress us. We need to stop rolling snake eyes and get on the table of seven’s and elevens like everyone else.