Answer: It appears to be that way in certain situations.
Recent news stories with racial overtones, such as the one involving the IT company recruiter that posted a job seeking a Caucasian, have surfaced calls for black unity. Unfortunately, there’s no solid definition of what that unity really means, much less any criteria and objectives that outline a process for achieving that unity. In fact, there’s probably just as much ambiguity about what being black is. The slavery era fractional definition of black imposed on our community by the government (e.g., “one drop” rule, mulatto, quadroon, etc.) has not exactly been effective in defining a black person. That definition led to the “house n**ga vs field n**ga” divide that, in some more subtle ways, is still problematic for us today.
And before we assume this identity problem is only a black problem, white people are also divided along various ethnic and nationality lines (e.g., English, Scottish, French, Italian, Russian, German, Sephardic vs Ashkenazi White Jew, Nordic, etc.). I bring this up to say that we don’t have to let skin color differences necessarily divide us. At the same time, coming up with a common definition of unity, and a process for making it happen, has to rise above the definition of being black.
I want to keep this article as short as possible so as to serve as a catalyst for more conversation around this topic of unity. The more realistic goal of unity has to focus on the following areas:
- Economic unity
- Academic unity
- Political platform unity
Other areas of unity, such as religious or skin colorism, are most likely not realistic and can serve to further divide. Notice the third one says “political platform” unity. As with other groups, we have our differences, and that’s ok. Instead, we should focus on what is the lowest common denominator for political unity. Conveniently, two common denominators are the first two items on this list: economic and academic.
As should be known by now, black people in America have been set back by forces beyond our control throughout the history of this inconsistent nation. The effects of that unfortunate generational curse are still felt in many ways today, though there are pockets of progress among us. One political common denominator that we can and should agree on is reparations. I know, there are many, black and non black, who want to just “move on.”
But hold on. Do you really know your history?
How many of you knew that Wall Street stole its seed money in the 1800s from the backs of slaves? Look it up. Big investment houses like the now defunct Lehman Brothers got their wealth from financing various aspects of the slave trade and cotton industry, including the bundling of cotton into investment vehicles and trading them as securities. Did our ancestors receive any of that money? Of course not. And those non-financial businesses that made their profits from the cotton and slave trade put their money in banks that became big today, so those banks flipped those deposits into the mega profits we see today.
In addition to that, this government endorsed Jim Crow laws after slavery that purposely kept blacks in check economically, academically and politically. Fortunately, this segregation forced us to start our own microeconomies in various cities around the country, most notably, Tulsa and Harlem, among others. Despite all the nasty tactics thrown our way, we did very well in these cities, so much so, that we became virtually independent of non black assistance. Black dollars circulated very well. But of course, this nation was created to destroy independence not only here, but worldwide, so it could not have us be THAT independent. As a result, despite what the official history books tell you, the government sent in the military (National Guard and 101st Airborne Army planes) to bomb Black Wall Street. I wrote about this a few years ago on this site. When nearby black WWI veterans heard about these developments in Tulsa, they got so mad they sent out word to all black vets and militant brothas to get armed and march on Tulsa to help. (Despite what a lot of younger brothas and sistas think, black people back then were very militant and didn’t just sit back and let racists push them around; you should read the real history of black heroes in America).
The mobilization of black troops from surrounding areas alarmed regional governors greatly, so they issued orders to local white police officers to block them from marching on Tulsa, while at the same time, they allowed armed white mobs to have their way in black neighborhoods. Only after the damage was done did they then arrest the white mob and block more from descending on Black Wall Street. Long story short, till this day, the state and federal government denied survivors of Black Wall Street, and other cities devastated by the race riots of the early 1900s, any reparations. Why? Because our voices were never united on this issue, and we let them off the hook. Sounds like we are less militant than our ancestors.
Not long after the race genocides of the time, the government unleashed “weaponized integration” on us to further make us economically and politically dependent on mainstream society. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with normal, natural forms of integration where people willingly live and work in the same social settings. But this more sinister form of integration was targeted at black economic independence. In other words, they didn’t expect us to succeed when segregation backfired on them.
Finally, how many of you heard about the 1960s CointelPro campaign against the black community, seeking to divide us? How many of you knew that the highway system we have today was designed and built in the 1950s in part, to destroy economically viable black neighborhoods by either splitting them with highways or condemning their properties outright with no compensation? I wrote about this as well. How many of you knew about an early1970s government plan to round up black people and put them in concentration camps? And at the same time, following America’s war on Asia in the 1950s and 60s, the government gave loans and grants to Asians to set up businesses in black neighborhoods, while at the same time, systemically denying us access to credit? Do you really think it was just a coincidence that, for example, black hair and nail products had been sold to sistas by non blacks? Look it up. These more recent measures served to further decimate the black economy, leaving us susceptible to another government strategy: gang warfare, gun trafficking and hardcore drugs that were dropped in our neighborhoods. To add insult to injury, they used their mainstream media to paint us as the bad ones. Some smart brothas and sistas have shown that the gangs we know today were not started by us. Why do you think we have red and blue among some gangs, just like the two political parties have the same colors, as does the US flag?
But it is not too late to rally around a political platform to counter this.
So if I were to pick one political platform issue that blacks should be able to rally around, it would be reparations for ALL acts of economic destruction done to us as outlined above. Right now, we have no real political platform, which is why the Democrats take us for granted and the Republicans ignore us. I’ve written about this two party problem several times over the years. We have to be more strategic in our political thinking in order for the two party strategy to swing our way. We have to hold both parties accountable (yes, BOTH parties, since America is a two party system).
On the economic front, unity can be sought after by realizing that the money we have in banks will not grow. We need to diversify how we manage our money. Wise investment strategies are good. Good investment clubs are great when done right. I wrote about this topic as well. Investing in stocks and bonds is not cheap, so for those with lesser means than others, it might be good to look at pooling your money with other like minded people to better flip that money. By going down this route, at some point you will have enough money to better invest in black businesses. In turn, those black businesses should also pay attention to the fundamentals of running a business, including customer service and efficient operations through technology.
Along the same lines, with more investment dollars comes the ability to fund scholarships for young brothas and sistas who find it difficult to pay for college. Likewise, parents need to instill the value of education in their children. This can be easier said than done since a lot of single parents who work and care for their children may not always have the energy to be a motivator in their households. This is where nearby professional, affluent blacks can be a big help. If possible, we can all set aside some time to volunteer to be a mentor to these young ones. You don’t have to do it as part of a program if you already have friends and family who are single parents. Just do it!
Ok, I said enough by now. Let me know your thoughts, good or bad. The main goal of this article is to spark conversation and keep it going. I will revisit this topic in the future, you can bet on that. Achieving practical, realistic unity in the community is a complex undertaking, but not impossible. If we stick to the lowest common denominator among us, we can build a foundation that future generations can build on.
About the Author
John “John the CEO” Conley is the editor of this site and owner of Samsona Corporation, an Information Technology consulting company based in Dallas, TX.