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Disunity, oblivescence — Deterrents to black people's economic success

By Curtis Webley

Monday, May 14, 2018

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It has often been said that we, descendants of Africa, do not support people of our own race, whether it's in business, social settings, or otherwise, unless we are caught in a precarious or dire situation.

Research has shown that prominent and opulent blacks, especially in the United States, exit black communities and settle mostly in white or racially mixed neighbourhoods. This is particularly true of black athletes, black movie stars, black professionals, and even some of our prominent black leaders who preached black awareness and championed many forms of civil rights movements. They (with limited justification), like many others, I believe, have become caught in the labyrinth of psychological dependencies and acceptances, driven by an unrelenting instinct of subservience to maintain and increase the wealth of the colonial progeny.

The hidden, almost forgotten pages, and continued relevance of our American history, tell us that, in 1921, blacks were unwelcome in white-owned businesses in the US. They were forced to become self-sufficient. As a result, they had their own communities, and black-owned businesses thrived, especially in the Greenwood neighbourhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Black folks owned and operated movie theatres, schools, banks, aeroplanes, financial centres, health care facilities, and other businesses. Black wealth was sustainable, and the dollar circulated among each other between 36 to 100 times in the Greenwood district, known as “Black Wall Street” before it went out. This concentration of wealth, however, did not go unnoticed by the white majority, because the once-thriving economic and social powerhouse was revoltingly and strategically torched and obliterated, never to be rebuilt. Consequently, coerced black unity was no more.

Integration became the apostasy and the catalyst to Black Wall Street and its communities. Social and economic injustices were mostly suppressed; racial tolerance increased while communal black wealth ended. Blacks were now complaisant and consumption expanded beyond their borders. The devastation was apparent; white-owned businesses flourished, black-owned businesses and communities crumbled as the dollar flowed freely out and into other communities. Disunity became the preferred vehicle to their indefensible economic demise.

But how can we forget that unity is power? Didn't we see the proof visually, physically, and scripturally that disunity is a deterrent to our own economic success? It may be that the psychological wounds run deep, and indentured servitude was the only lesson extrapolated and retained from the colonial masters.

Lest we forget, Harriet Tubman risked her life to save many slaves. On their way from Maryland to Pennsylvania, however, her two brothers, Ben and Henry, had second thoughts about their escape and the repercussions of being caught. Even though the benefits of freedom outweighed the punishment that would be meted out to them, the brothers returned to the life they knew best — the comfort of being a domesticated slave at the Poplar Neck Plantation.

Attitudes like those of Ben and Henry continue to permeate our society because we, as a people, have become emotionally damaged, tethered by our own invisible racial preferences, limitations and insecurities. We minimise our worth, culture, intelligence, entrepreneurial acumen, and our businesses (traits that metastasise pervasively and have become perfunctory) in support of others.

We, as a race, have not learnt from past experiences. We refuse to see that cultural cohesiveness and racial economic predilection are the foundation for worldwide sustainable wealth. Therefore our economic success will continue to wane until we become an amalgamated force for the benefit of all.

Curtis Webley, PhD, CPA, is an entrepreneur in Chicago, Illinois. Send comments to the Observer or cwebley@wascpafirm.com.

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