It’s Time for Black People to Own Our Own Stuff

Quick Note from Dr. Boyce WatkinsYour Black World

Recent unemployment data shows that black unemployment went up in every demographic while white unemployment declined across the board.  Both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X had dreams, one of which involved the pursuit of economic independence for our community.  Since their deaths, we’ve forgotten about this part of their dream, but it’s time that we come together to make it into a reality.

Malcolm made it clear that black unemployment will cease to be a problem only when we take a stand and own our own businesses.  We can picket, get angry and wait for companies to offer us opportunities, but the reality is that we cannot depend on institutions that are owned by the descendants of our historical oppressors.  All throughout American history, black folks are the last hired and the first fired, and this is not going to change any time soon.

Lawrence Watkins and Tre Baker are the founders of a company, Ujamaa Deals, that is seeking to change all this by bringing together black businesses with the consumers seeking to support them.   They were recently selected as the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs of the Week and won a national White House competition for the quality of their business idea.  They believe in pursuing ethical business models that seek out the joint objectives of long-term profitability and black economic development.

If you believe in this cause, I hope you’ll join our Ujamaa Initiative to support black-owned businesses.  You can sign up for free by clicking here.  We need your help and the only way we are going to fulfill our dream of economic independence is by reminding ourselves of the value and power of ownership.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. 



Filed under African Americans

7 responses to “It’s Time for Black People to Own Our Own Stuff

  1. Renelda Moorehead

    We’ve had black businesses who conned our community support, then at the peak of profitability SOLD-OUT to whites. And we all know who
    these famous companies were. Until blacks break the onerous SLAVE
    MENTALITY, we will seldom own our own inter-generationally..

  2. WizardG

    @Renelda Moorehead. Although you are quite true about black businesses your reasoning why is a bit skewed. The equation that we are dealing with, as we have always dealt with, is that we are living another peoples lives. We are the remnants of what our ancestors were subjected to plus the environment we have assimilated into. We have become a scatterbrained community of Americanized Africans without our own principles, direction, religions, culture, language etc. To make matters worse we are still being highly mistreated by our white hosts. Those who could kill us as easy as they annihilated the Native Americans. On that note it is no wonder our businessmen have no ethics or morals, our men and women have none! Again because we are but a carbon copy of whites! They have bombed our towns and murdered our leaders and intentionally dumped drugs into our neighborhoods. They don’t want us to have our own unity, strength, and economic power. Look at Haiti! They have worked with the French to demolish that country of strong black people. The Haitians are not doing well for more reasons than you could imagine. Look to different countries in Africa. Even today white businesses and universities, (The Anglo-Elite), are working at slicing up bigger pieces of African resources. They prey on ‘people of color’ in ways that are unimaginable to the common citizen. Some “blacks” may gain with a black owned business but they will in no way be able to, or want to help the masses of impoverished and depressed “blacks”. The wealthy blacks of today are not doing a fraction of what they should be doing to help save our drowning community. They can’t! And even if they could, exactly what are we? Who are we? Why do we still have to fight [for] and against this white-dominant society all at once? So study everything related to our lives here and try to understand exactly what kind of society and people we are copying. While you do this remember that there are ‘black people like Clarence Thomas and Herman Cain etc., ready to sell-out black people in a heartbeat!

  3. DaTruth

    WizardG, u r always on target w ur comments! I agree w u 200%!

  4. We all can complain about the problems African Americans face in business and access to capital etc. The main problem is that we have not come together to focus on the one item that holds us down. African Americans do not control their dollars. We have billions of dollars in the top banks in America (Bank of America, Chase, Citibank and Wells Fargo) while we let our Black Banks beg for our support. This is where the control of our dollars start on the bank level. The top four banks and other banks rakes in billions of dollars of our money year after year and won’t give us loans to start business with our own money.

    Now don’t get it twisted I’m not saying take all of your money out of the top 4 banks I am advocating that we spread the wealth. Hell if we just redirect 10% of this trillion dollar pie (estimated amount of disposable income for African Americans) we spend every year over 100 billion dollars will flow back in the African American community.

    This is our opportunity and it can be done in this decade. We have to wake up and solve our economic problems. We continue to have double digit unemployment in the African American community which has lasted for over a half century, more African Americans in jail today then were in slavery. I can go on and on with our problems in the African American community.

    We have to face up to the fact that the only thing that is going to change all of this is for us to gain control of our DOLLAR! We have plenty of examples (Tyler Perry, Jay-Z, 50 cents) they were all able to change their lives because of their income. The dollar is king control it and you will control your destiny.

    When we realize this and start to control our dollar you will see a change in the African American community. We will be able to create work and jobs for ourselves, more stable families and bring back the Black man as the center and strength of our families. Don’t keep putting off today for tomorrow and just keep talking, and talking.
    If you want to change the lives of our children then we will have to pay for it. Supporting black business is a start but if you really want to make a change you have to restructure the African American economy and economic system. Nothing is free in America. Peace.

  5. Eileena

    I truly believe that there are black business owners out there that are professional and ethical and don’t suscribe to the shyster mentality. They are not sell outs either. I had the pleasure of seeing an optometrist who just happened to be black. He explained everything to me as if I was one of his peers. No doctor has never spoke to me in such a way. I felt as if I was given a formal education on the subject in such a brief period. Didn’t feel patronized in the least bit. I have found that most doctors feel that I may not understand their vocabulary, so why go into detail. We all have to work on our character. We know right from wrong and if we don’t, learn it. We are not
    mindless puppets. Work hard to take the high road and be supportive of one another. Who said that it would be easy? It is worth a try. One reason we can’t get it together is because most people lack trust in each other. And when you do trust, certain personalities see it as a weakness, then attempt to pull a fast one on you. Everyone is not a psychopath or out to get you.
    We have to start somewhere.

  6. Pingback: Dr. Boyce: It’s Time for Black People to Own Our Own Stuff | Black Life Coaches Network

  7. I agree that black people need to own their own business. But how are we going to stay in busisness if we are not supported by other Black people. I will give you a background of what I do as a small school owner in Alexandria. ( as you are reading a letter of support that I send out to great black people around the country I don’t receive support …I am on the verge of closing my door. But when I look around at how many of us need to get educated and get a job, I continue to stand while I can. We fail just because we don’t come together to help each other stand!
    My name is Rev. Brima Bob Deen, president of Salvation Academy in Alexandria Virginia. I believe you can be of great support to our community. We currently have 25 unemployed community members in our classrooms. They cannot afford tuition, however they have not been denied the training that they need so desperately to get back to work. In the last two years, we have successfully trained 250 unemployed Americans and legal residents at no charge to them and get them back into the work force. We can do more with your support.

    On behalf of our Board of Directors, we are pleased to officially introduce our education to career programs to you and your partners. I want to personally invite you to learn how the Academy in partnership with other higher education associations, have given hope to thousands by working determinedly to lay the foundations that will ensure access to education, training and success in employment for years to come, despite the fiscal turmoil that plagues our economy.

    At no other time in history have educational institutions struggled to adjust to an economic downturn of this magnitude. Schools around the country have witnessed decreasing endowments, student enrollment, and financial aid. Simultaneously, the rapid advances in technology and shifting demographics have added to the unique challenges facing school leaders. Providing education and employment opportunities is central to a thriving, stable economy, which is why Salvation Academy ( has focused on increasing access to education, training and employment opportunities for those we serve.

    It is unclear how long our current economic conditions will last, and how they will continue to affect employment in the middle class and those below poverty line. We must, however, look at these obstacles as opportunities. We are encouraged to refresh our thinking, eliminate outdated and ineffective methods, and to emerge stronger than before. Our students/community members deserve our undivided attention; progress must not be deterred because of the difficulties and challenges facing our country. With a unified effort in the recovery process, Salvation Academy is committed to moving education, training and employment services forward and will continue to do so for many years to come. We believe the future is bright and we appreciate the support of our local, state and federal government, donors and sponsors for their engagement with Salvation Academy.

    We are poised to initiate our registration with the State Department of Education as one of America’s universities in Virginia. This registration will authorize us to offer Diplomas, Associates and undergraduate degree programs that will encourage and improved the lives of our underprivileged brothers and sisters in our underserved communities. Currently we are authorized to offer certificates in short terms programs: Basic Nursing – Nursing Assistants and Medication technicians. Allied Health Education- Medical Assistants, Phlebotomists, and Medical Billing & Coding Specialists. Information Technology: CompTIA: A+, Network+ Security+ and Certified Cisco Network Associates.

    Salvation Academy has joined a network of other community-based organizations around the country that are helping to create a healthier communities by offering Diplomas, Associates and undergraduate degrees in Nursing Education, Allied Health Education, Information Technology and Business Administration. We will like to speak with you about possible collaborations with other foundations and people like yourself in this process.
    Through these collaborations, we will be hosting community events, and promoting media messages to raise additional funds needed to complete the project by June, 2012. We will also be encouraging partners, community members, and well-wishers, to increase their availability in the proposed events. We look forward to hearing from you in the not too distant future. Thank you to all our supporters. May God continue to bless and keep you and your family. We have no doubt that you had a wonderful Christmas holiday.
    Brima Bob Deen
    Salvation Academy
    Alexandria VA 22312

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