Scholars who convened an African-American economic summit at Howard University in early February sketched a very bleak economic future for black Americans, noting that the white-black wealth disparity is more than 20 to 1.
Conference participants said that we are basically talking about an economic system that is shot through with discrimination.
The Washington Post reported that Bernard E. Anderson, a former assistant secretary of labor, as well as others at the summit, said that despite the discrimination factor the government is reluctant to attack the economic disparities between blacks and whites head-on.
At the same time, recent studies point out that black consumer spending is at an all-time high, while black communities suffer the highest unemployment, the lowest median family income and the highest debt. African Americans still outspend all other minority groups, in all categories, spending over $1 trillion annually on goods and services that are purchased primarily from non-black-owned business.
Nike, the sportswear conglomerate, acknowledges that young black men are a major driving force behind Nike’s success, both as consumers and as trendsetters. The African American Consumer: Still Vital, Still Growing 2012 Report states that black Americans are a driving force for popular culture. According to the report, 73 percent of whites and 67 percent of Hispanics acknowledge that blacks influence mainstream American culture.
From the corporate community to other ethnic groups, every community is enriched by black spending except the black community. Now, a newly formed group fully intends to renegotiate the black community’s financial relationship with corporate America and all others doing business in the African-American marketplace. We believe, however, that a significant starting point is for black Americans to first take control of our own spending.
It is time to turn black spending into real power. Frederick Douglass was correct when he said, “Who you give your money to is who you give your power to.” We begin to reclaim our power by turning more of our own dollars back into the black community.
As a coalition of black media owners and black professional and political organizations, we are calling on black Americans in each city to begin immediately to commit to spending $20 a week in a black-owned business.
The movement, which is called The Million Dollar Black Spending Power Campaign, is being organized by local groups in a number of cities and, even with minimal support, this effort will turn $1 million a week back into the various black communities throughout the country.
Through ongoing activities nationwide, we begin to mobilize black consumer dollars, including recycle black dollars shopping tours, and cash flow events similar to the cash mobs currently being practiced by other ethnic groups.
We will also utilize referral groups, alternative media, local community forums, including local community-based expos. In addition coalition media partners will encourage their audiences to support the overall campaign.
We are moving to create what has been called networks of reciprocity or, as Dr. Claud Anderson has instructed, it is a new orientation for black America within the framework of a national plan: the practice of group economics. The primary goal of practicing group economics is to draw wealth, income and other resources back into black communities in order to revitalize and to stabilize those local economies.
Group economics is not new. It is what has already given other ethnic groups significant advantages in the marketplace. Joel Kotkin, in his book Tribes, in describing how race, religion and identity determine success in the new global economy, found that, although the very successful cultures he studied had vastly different histories, they all shared three critical characteristics.
The first of those characteristics is a strong ethnic identity and sense of mutual dependence that help the group adjust to changes in the economic and political order without losing its essential unity. Simply put: group economics.
Secondly, they established networks based on mutual trust that allows the group to function collectively beyond the confines of national or regional borders. Again: group economics.
And, finally they all possessed an open-minded passion for technical and other knowledge from all possible sources.
Ultimately, we must control and use our considerable resources, as outlined in the PowerNomics National Plan To Empower Black America, to create a black community that is politically and economically self-sufficient and competitive in this 21st century.
At the same time, we must ensure that, in order to continue to receive our formidable consumer dollars, the major corporations, as well as the local business that prosper from our super spending, must begin immediately to reinvest in the black community in a meaningful way. As we begin to control and target our spending, we begin to reclaim our economic power, effectively turning black spending into real power.
Additional information may be found at BuyBlackAllYearLong.com and by contacting Bob.Law4@gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
*Bob Law is a film maker, political organizer, youth advocate entrepreneur and motivational speaker who hosts Night Talk on the American Urban Radio Network. He was one of the primary organizers of the 1995 Million Man March and remains active in major political initiatives including the movement for education reform and the PowerNomics National Plan to Empower Black America. He is chairman of the board of the Black Spectrum Theatre in Queens, New York.