Hold on…let me explain before you scrunch up your brows and twist your lips at the title of this blog post (lol). In no way am I trying to set the Black race back hundreds of years of progress by suggesting integration was bad for us. I am also not dishonoring or disrespecting the actions and courage of those who fought for desegregation and honored us with the rights that we have today.
This blog post is intended to get you to think. I intend to be controversial because controversy encourages discussion, and discussion results in change.
Now with that said, I’ll explain what I mean when I ask the question, “Was integration the demise of the black entrepreneur?”
I believe so!
Recently, I watched a Youtube video posted by, Dr. Boyce Watkins, and he posed a similar question (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcmNgPE9euE) and it got me thinking. What have we really gained from integration? Sure, we’re able to go the schools we want, live where we want, eat at any restaurant and do plenty of things we were not allowed to do before desegregation BUT we lost the drive and the NEED of doing it ourselves. Before integration we had our own because we had no choice. We weren’t accepted in White America. We weren’t allowed to see their doctors, eat at their restaurants, shop at their stores, live in their neighborhoods, and in the face of adversity, we had no choice but to create our own. And we did create our own and we did it well.
BLACK WALLSTREET 1921
I want to take you back to June 1921, Tulsa Oklahoma, which marks the time of one of the most devastating events in the Black community: The Tulsa race riot. It was more than a riot but the destruction and demise of the wealthiest Black community in the United States of its time and as of current.
The Tulsa race riot isn’t taught in our schools so for those who are not familiar with Black Wall Street I want to give a little history. Black Wall Street was located in the Greenwood district of Tulsa Oklahoma which comprised of over thirty blocks of Black owned businesses. It was the most affluent Black community in the United States.
In June 1921, a KKK-led ambushed the community and literally burned down block after block of black owned business, killing many and destroying lives forever, in less than twenty-four hours.
Over a period of several years, those who survived the devastation rebuilt most of the businesses and it was once again a vital component in the Black community. That was until the laws forcing segregation was overturned by the federal government and Blacks were able to integrate with White America. Desegregation encouraged Blacks to spend their wealth outside of the community causing the Greenwood district to suffer financially.
Look around your community and tell me what you see. When you go to the corner store, who are you paying? When you go to the nail shop or the beauty supply store, who are you paying? When you shop at these major chain stores, who are you paying? Do those people look like you? Less than 10% of the money earned by Black American’s is put back into our community. We support other races by putting our money into their businesses and they then use that money to put into their own communities, not ours. Where does that make sense? I read an article in the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper (Feb, 2011), that said [at the height of Black Wall Street] the dollar circulated 30 to 100 times, sometimes taking a year for currency to leave the community. Now currency leaves the black community in 15 minutes. (Read article here: http://sfbayview.com/2011/02/what-happened-to-black-wall-street-on-june-1-1921/) Why is this happening?
Desegregation mentally enslaved us and forced us to believe we need White America in order to succeed but we fail to realize that we were already doing it on our own. Now, instead of creating our own opportunities and supporting our own business, subconsciously, we seek the acceptance of White America. Now our goal is to be the first black this or the first black that. I am not saying those people who have broke barriers have hindered the progression of the black race, what I’m saying is chasing the dream of being the first black has become more of a priority than creating our own. When do we stop waiting on validation from White America and start creating our own businesses and supplying jobs and opportunities for our people?
The Black American dream has become tainted. We’ve been programmed into thinking we need to go to their schools, obtain their degrees, work for their companies and climb their corporate ladders. We’ve lost our NEED to build our own, support our own, and keep our money in our community. Why? Because we we’re FINALLY accepted to do it in their communities.
So I pose the question again, “Was integration the demise of the black entrepreneur?
Photo Credits: All credits to Source Insight2Incite. http://www.insight2incitemag.com/black-wall-street-the-true-story/