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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The War on Capitalism: Switching Where We Shop

Money is the root of all evil. In a society built upon capitalism, those words could not have been spoken truer. From crushing student loan debts to the collection of cumbersome monthly bills, the American governance system places 99 percent of its population under economic slavery.

Afro-Americans, however, have suffered and continue to suffer more perilously under the weight of this system than any other race involved.

Statistical data has shown that Afro-American households make a fraction of what Euro-American households make in yearly income, and these numbers mirror the conditions that society was under during the Jim Crow era. People of color have cited multiple sources for this disparity that can be found in the camp of their Euro-American compatriots. Despite the findings of experts, including those employed by Washington, the plight of Afro-Americans still remains a debate instead of established fact. It is this that has prompted community leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement to call for a nationwide defection from white businesses in what has become known as the Buy Black movement.

The concept of economic secession among Afro-Americans goes back as far as the 1800s. Following the end of legalized slavery, former slaves began opening businesses all over the country, with success noted even in Euro-American periodicals of the time. The Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Company, owned and operated by Afro-Americans, performed more ship repairs than anyone else in its day on the Potomac River in Maryland, a state known for its brutality toward people of color during slavery.

Unfortunately, Afro-American businesses were often targeted by acts of Euro-American terrorism or false, criminal accusations that jailed owners. If not for the Jim Crow resistance, the state of Afro-America could look quite different today.

More recently, economic warfare has been used during the Civil Rights era. The Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 to 1956, oversimplified as the story of Afro-Americans refusing to ride buses and a Supreme Court challenge, centered around bringing the city of Montgomery to its knees economically. Fifty thousand of Alabama’s 120,000 residents were people of color and constituted 75 percent of its ridership.

Montgomery City Lines, the local affiliate company managing the city’s busing system, lost $3,000 a day in revenue, the equivalent to nearly $27,000 in today’s money. Buses were eliminated from the pool in an attempt to save money. National City Lines, the parent company, ordered their nationwide fleet desegregated seven months before the Supreme Court case was even settled.

However, Montgomery officials forcibly continued segregated busing within the city. The Montgomery Improvement Association, formed by Martin Luther King, Jr. and his associates to manage the boycott, used donations from across the country, including from Afro-American owned banks, to run an unofficial cab service that ferried residents to work throughout most of the movement.  The M.I.A. was able to successfully manage 40 pick-up stops across the city that one local paper cited as running “with military precision.”

Montgomery was able to get the car pool shutdown through a legal challenge, stating that it was an illegal service under Alabama state law. However, the buses continued to roll down the streets mostly empty until the day busing desegregation took effect.

Afro-Americans currently make up 13 percent of the American population. It took less than 1 percent of that to change the operating policy of a national company and strip transportation revenue from a capital city. Power is indeed with the people of this nation, but they have to reach out and take it. Afro-American buying power is $1.2 trillion, according to a 2015 report from Selig Center for Economic Growth, roughly one-third of the national debt. However, most of that money does not go into Afro-American businesses.

If the Afro-American community began investing in its own community, they could generate more wealth within their race and create greater job opportunities that would come from Afro-American business expansion. Economic succession would have political implications as well. As the Afro-American business sector grew, it would have more capital for leveraging governmental officials to build up the neglected inner cities across the country.

The social dynamic between Euro-Americans and Afro-Americans would inevitably shift as a result. Euro-American culture, which attributes Afro-American poverty to a cultural failure, would re-evaluate Afro-American worth as they observed dark-skinned people living in more opulence.

This movement is already underway, with civil rights organizations hosting events in Afro-American owned spaces or making use of their services in the fight for Afro-American validation. They even promote Afro-American businesses with the hashtag #BuyBlack, and are always willing to help young, aspiring entrepreneurs in their efforts to grow their startups.

The opportunities to get involved are all around. One United Bank, the largest and oldest Afro-American bank, is situated in Roxbury, MA on Washington Street. Community vendors come to this campus on the weekdays, selling African-themed jewelry and clothing. Why spend absurd amounts of money on scandalously mined jewels for the sake of large corporations? For the price of a small pizza, a man could bring home earrings that transform his lady into ancient Ghanaian royalty.

The movement has multicultural applications as well. With Wells Fargo being the latest Euro-American banking institution to be caught up in scandal, banking black might present a safer option.
Euro-Americans could support the movement by simply using that One United debit card when they’re out with friends.