The Importance of Practicing Group Economics in the African-American Community
One of the greatest strengths of any community is its ability to identify, support, and reward the talents and skills of its members. When I was a child, I remember observing my mother go out of her way to hire African-American professionals in the community. I now realize that she understood then, and understands today the importance of practicing group economics. That is, creating and exchanging resources (e.g., currency, talents, gifts, and skills) that a group deems valuable among another.
Sadly, today group economics is not being practiced as nearly as often as it could be practiced among African-Americans especially. In fact, in no time than the present have we seen so much blatant apathetic and disconnected people in the African-American community than we do today. Some fault the concept of “hyper individualism”, an overly self-absorbed concern for oneself. Others blame the educated Black community for not giving back after they’ve “made it” and succeeded in their prospective careers. And still others feel that we’re living in a “Post-Racial Era”, and we should all demand to be recognized as individuals rather than side with any one particular race. In any case, this article is concerned about the African-American community and how they are disproportionately represented in the most problematic spheres of American society, how this relates to their lack of economic empowerment, and practical that can be done about it. In this article I provide practical solutions to set African Americans on the road to practicing group economics.
Group Economics in Practice
Use Online Resources- With the internet now so readily available, there’s really no excuse for why someone isn’t networking. Even in the most remote areas of a community, you can find an African-American professional with only a click of a button. LinkedIn.com for example puts you in direct contact with local and international professionals in every field.
Commitment vs. Convenience- A willingness to support each other is also a matter of not gravitating toward convenience. Yes, the Barnes & Noble might be just down the street, but what about supporting that local Black-owned book store that might be a few miles away? You could be helping to put the owner’s children through college with the money you spend in the bookstore.
Stop Waiting for Someone Else to Do It- Not enough African-Americans are investing in themselves. How long will they complain about there not being enough Black businesses? Thousands of dollars are invested in getting degrees, why don’t enough educated African-Americans feel strongly enough about their ability to create jobs for themselves? To practice group economics, African-Americans must not only support Black businesses, they must also establish businesses and employ other African Americans.
Teach Your Children about the Differences between Riches and Wealth- Children attend school to learn about the basics of everything from reading, writing, and mathematics, but they graduate with very little, if any, knowledge about the importance and the value of money. And few know what it takes to earn money and maintain a decent standard of living. Take children to see the most affluent communities and point out all of the things the members of those communities are doing to keep their communities thriving (e.g., educating themselves, pursuing professional careers, and then investing their income back into the communities from which they came). Then, take children to see the most poverty stricken communities. Point out the things that might be negatively impacting those communities (e.g., poor educational systems, limited job opportunities, people moving away from communities). Finally, ask children which way would they prefer to live. Children must understand that riches are temporary and wealth and assets can be handed down from generation to generation.
Group economics and unity are priceless to every community, but no community needs to put into practice group economics like the African-American community. Let’s all think of other ways that we can support one another. Even if it’s just to encourage one another for whatever talents and skills we might have. Bakers, cooks, authors, seamstresses, artists, etc. get with the organizers in your community who are great at managing people to form businesses. Nothing beats a try, and we have nothing to lose and so much more to gain.