UJIMMA: A Historical Perspective Our Communities Need To Recover, Refocus, and Thrive Collectively
UJAMAA Cooperative Economics
A Historical Perspective Our Communities Need To Recover, Refocus, and Thrive Collectively
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 any semblance of significant civil and social rights in these United States. There was a period 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 call of momentous social and civil change also came for an integrated society, A society absent from the dictates of a Jim Crow philosophy that curtailed black economic and political growth. Racially mandated separation was a call from another sector of this nation’s black communities that felt our best bet was not to fully integrate into American society. Two movements, but the clear objective building black communities fully capable of growing economically.
These two dissident voices were both deemed enemies of the so-called democratic state of American society. Although one, black nationalism was indeed more feared than the other, black integration. Out of these voices of change came a movement that called for a unified love both being black, and expanding black consciousness. We know those historic voices or agents of change now. Names like King, Wilkins, Abernathy, Young, Bond, Rustin, Randolph, Brooke, Baldwin were the voices of racial moderation and racial acceptance. While names like Carmichael, Newton, Seale, Richardson, Sellers, Powell, were the voices of racial defiance against moderation and demanding a need for radical racial change. Throughout all these voices came a black consciousness that created the atmosphere for the creation of a sense of Kwanza, 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. The other couldn't truly understand how accepting your blackness and cradling the power of being black meshed with integrating our black culture into white culture could survive. The consciousness of blackness would evaporate and be lost forever in America's black enclaves. The group of dissident voices implored our communities to continue to support and build our black institutions. While the moderate voices were being pulled to support the goal of complete integration. Those conflicting voices created a dual consciousness in many blacks that lead to the destruction of any chance of continued economic development in our black communities. You see integration too many meant the ability now to purchase what had always been denied. White products and goods had been denied and many blacks had been conditioned to believe that inability, and denial was tantamount to racist tactics. Buying black was inferior buying white gave us so-called superior goods and services.
So the conflict of jaded racial thought within black communities began to foster the absence of black economic growth which has led to our present condition today. The lack of economic prosperity in so many of our black communities as these thoughts mushroomed destroyed our black institutions. The racial integration of our communities into the larger white majority had evaporated chances that we could have gained had we collectively decided to feed our black institutions rather than feed the institutions of the white majority race. When our ancestors had no other choice but to buy black because they weren't allowed to buy without facing tremendous racial 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 our black ancestors never truly loved their blackness. Some of our ancestors even felt the need to run away from what we saw as inferior and inferior in themselves as well as other black sisters and brothers.
So, here our ancestors were caught in between two worlds one that we had been forced to create due to the color of their skins. The other white world which many black ancestors felt held all of the societal riches which we had been denied for so long. So what did our ancestors do? Do our ancestors move to support what rejected them for so long? Do our ancestors had been forced because of racism to stay within the boundaries of past racist patterns or branch out, integrate and leave these black communities?
Have our black ancestral leaders fully capable of continuing to build our black institutions. Stay and develop wealth and cooperative economics in the communities that now have increased funds from those blacks who have benefited from racial inclusion. Well, the majority of our ancestors knew what we had and had already determined it simply wasn’t enough. So the choice was a 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 distinct two-way street. We had to ensure our economic wealth by getting whites and other ethnic groups to support our existing black institutions. You see many blacks took their dollars to white businesses and that left black economic support of our existing black businesses in serious jeopardy. These black businesses historically survived solely on those black dollars. Yet, no dollars flowed back into our communities from other avenues and most of the black middle class and black upper-middle-class dollars flowed away from those black businesses and black communities that once thrived solely on this black patronage. We in a sense integrated away our ability to build black wealth because capable black ancestors 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. Black Power 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 then you simply are making something you wanted to be weakened stronger and something you had weaker. We as a black populace 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 down a stream of neglect and gather our resources to gain access to the rivers of black prosperity.