continued (find part one here)
2. Discover how to organize in terms of economic and political power. No one can deny that the Negro is in dire need of this kind of legitimate power. Indeed, one of the great problems that the Negro confronts is his lack of power.
A recent study conducted by BET, “African Americans Revealed,” shows that the buying power of African Americans between 2000 and 2008 increased by 55% to $913 billion. That buying power is expected to increase to $1.2 by 2013. According to this same study, $39 billion of the discretionary income of African Americans went towards technology purchases (computers, cell phones, and electronics). This is proportionately higher in comparison to non African American consumers. What do these numbers have to do with political power? Consider this:
In Baton Rouge, Louisiana in the summer of 1953, members of the African American community organized a bus boycott in protest of segregated seating on city buses. They paid the same fare as whites, but were only permitted to sit or stand in the back of the bus. Because the members of the African American community understood that they were the largest consumers of the public transportation system, they understood that if they did not spend the money to utilize that transportation resource, the system would crumble. As a result, the rules changed, seating on buses in Baton Rouge was integrated and it inspired the community in Montgomery, Alabama to follow suit. These boycotts did not take place at a national level. These were local protest that gained national attention. These communities took note of what was not accessible to them and spoke to their local government in the universal language of the almighty dollar and received a quick response.
One of the dire needs in my community was a major supermarket within city limits. Such a store was recently built, but not because the African American community’s demanded for a source to purchase fresh meats and vegetables instead of the pre-packaged and fast food alternatives readily available within city limits. This store was built to meet the needs of the families moving into the luxury high rise condos and town houses that were also recently built adjacent to this major supermarket. Prior to the building of this market, the closest supermarkets were all roughly 10 miles outside of the city limits (with the exception of one market which is a scaled down version).
Imagine what would have happened if people in my community had organized and used their spending power to influence the local politicians as well as the some of the supermarket chains that we typically patronize. The market may have been built sooner. What we have forgotten, other communities and organizations have picked up and utilized successfully. Until we recall how influential we really are and utilize our power, we will continue to be a political non-issue.
We all know an entrepreneur. I am not speaking of the person who sells bootleg DVDs, CDs, handbags, Baby Phat or other name brand clothing out of the truck of their car or at the local farmers market. That is called a side hustle. I’m speaking of your local hairdresser, barber, boutique owner, urban book store owner, mechanic, etc. These individuals have done the work and developed a service or product that benefits the members of the community. These individuals know the community better than any large chain store, and will readily employ people within the community. Support them and their businesses will grow, keeping the dollars within the community.
To be continued…