Hotep Brothers and Sisters. I pray that all is well with you and your families. I had a chance to go back home to Detroit this past weekend to see family and it was a good thing. On the way to their homes, I got a chance to ride through the neighborhoods and see the deterioration. Many of them were full of abandoned homes, but there were some that were still holding on trying to keep their homes and neighborhoods up. However, you could see how far the middle class has fallen in Detroit from the time while I was growing up there.
Back in the day while I was growing up you could go from a premium neighborhood like Palmer Woods, Rosedale Park, the University District, Indian Village or Victoria Park and enter into a well kept middle class neighborhood with nice brick Colonial or Ranch style homes before you got to a section that seemed to be struggling from the appearance of the homes. Even in those neighborhoods you there would be wooden homes, or homes with aluminum siding, but they still had basements and were nice homes, especially if you were just starting out as a family.
But today, that’s not the case. You can now leave a premium neighborhood and only after a few blocks see the drop off in the neighborhood. Which to me is a clear sign of the devastated middle class in not just Detroit, but Black communities all over the country. Then when you ride down the main streets, where the businesses are supposed to be, and the devastation is even worse. You may see a beauty shop or a barber shop that we own. Maybe even a soul food restaurant or two that we own and a church on just about every corner. But right next door to them are abandoned businesses that go on block after block until you run into a gas station or beauty supply store that is owned by someone outside of the community. Who at night, when the store closes, takes that money back to their communities to feed, cloth, transport and educate their children and take care of their families.
Meanwhile, if you go to the suburbs, you see where most of the middle class Black community has gone. The homes are nicer and the business district (although not owned by us) is still thriving. This is where a large portion of our affluent or productive community has been sucked out of the city, leaving the relatively well to do and the poor behind. The donut hole they call it, where you have a big hole left in the middle, full of working poor people, surrounded by the so called people with some dough. However, because of our disconnect with our people, unlike other communities, we haven’t as a people reached back from the suburbs to build businesses and institutions to serve those who are left behind. We’ve totally abandoned our Brother’s and Sister’s, even to the point where we feel “better” than those left behind, instead of feeling some kind of kinship with each other.
Because we haven’t filled the void left by businesses that have fled our communities with our own , fifty years after the “dream” of racial equality invoked by Martin Luther King at the March on Washington, the reality is that African-Americans still suffer the most unemployment. Government statistics show the overall US unemployment rate stood at 7.4% in July.
But while whites had a jobless rate of 6.6% last month, the rate was nearly double for blacks at 12.6%.
By comparison, the Hispanic, or Latino, minority fared better, with 9.1% unemployed.
Asian-Americans were the least affected by the woes in the US labor market after the Great Recession; only 5.7% lacked jobs.
The yawning gap between majority whites and blacks is nothing new and has persisted through periods of economic expansion and recession.
As long as our business districts in our communities are depleted and abandoned, our labor as a people will continue to create abundance of valuable possessions or money and material prosperity will go to those that do control whatever businesses that are left.
The yawning gap of unemployment statistics above will remain the same for us if we don’t begin to use Black Labor to build Black Wealth. In other words, those other communities that have thriving business districts that is the engine that employs, educates and funnels the fruits of their labor back into their communities. If we are to close the gap between us and other’s, we have to focus our efforts at all levels on reviving our business districts. By educating our children to become entrepreneurs who can run their own businesses or whatever business that exist in our community. All of the pharmacies, gas stations. banks, grocery stores, clothing stores, insurance offices, police, fireman, nurses, doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers, and beauty supply stores etc., in our community should be owned or run by us. If we took control of those businesses and institutions we would be on the upside of employment and that yawning gap would be eliminated in our communities.
In other words, all of the labor that it takes to run those businesses and institutions would result in Black Labor and Black Wealth, instead our current situation of our labor or our wealth going to enrich those communities that understand the power of owning businesses and institutions. Of course, we’re at a disadvantage, because for centuries we have been conditioned to work for somebody else and not ourselves. Why would other’s educate us to be self sufficient, when their using our labor and wealth for their benefit.
From this point on, we need to structure all of our schools, church’s and families to focus on making sure that our labor results in our wealth. When we do that, we rebuild our business districts which will provide the wealth we need to prosper as a people. If we don’t do that, we will be marching for jobs and justice 50 years from now and that, we can’t afford to do. We must use Black Labor to build Black Wealth if we are to restore all of the resources we lost over the past 500 years to slavery, oppression and exploitation.