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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Some thoughts from Rashied & Regina Bey

Some expressed thoughts from two people I respect, admire, and consider friends. This is a teaching moment.

A thought from Regina Bey

While I am glad that *some* action has been taken in the "name of" anti-racism. Be sure to consider that in business, decisions are not made because of our emotional interests. Business decisions are made based on profit and loss, ROI. The balance sheet told the NBA to let Sterling go, not our petitions or outrage. Our petitions and outrage might just happen to touch the bottom line in some way. However, don't get it twisted, this great capitalist nation did not develop a soft underbelly overnight. Ain't gonna happen!

Sterling doesn't stop being a billionaire. Really, what has he lost that is truly important to him? Be careful of riding the bandwagon; apply critical thought. This is not a victory for black folks in the grand scheme of things. This is the lint that minutia carries in it's pockets.

Some thoughts from Rashied Bey 

Hi, All. From before the United States *was* a country, sons and daughters of Africa have been a part of the very foundation of this society's success. Its national palace, the White House, was built with African hands. Its armies have always had African soldiers. The layout of its capital was preserved by an African named Benjamin Banneker. Amongst the first of the casualities of its assertion for independence from the Britain Empire was an African. Many of the inventions that make modern life even recognizable as such were invented by Africans. The mark of our presence in this land is indellible.

Bomani is exactly correct about the construction of the Interstate Highway System, or as I like to call it, the PPT (Population Transport and Tracking) System. Read Nicholas Lemann's () The Promised Land for an interesting historical take on the Great Migration, which co-occurred with the introduction of the mechanized harvesting that effectively ended the necessity of African share-croppers and continued right up to the end of WW II. Why is the Great Migration relevant?

Lemann, N. (1992). The promised land: The great Black migration and how it changed America (1st Vintage Books ed.). New York: Vintage

Africans did not originally arrive in the Americas as slaves. Some were already here from previous exploratory excursions, and some came here as indentured servants, along with the many Europeans who came by that same route. America's promise was that any European who was adventurous enough could come here and recreate the feudal system. There was no more "unclaimed" land in Europe to be had, and the attempt to gain more via the Crusades was unsuccessful largely because of Salah ad-Din Yusuf bin Ayyub (known to the West as Saladin), the Moorish general. When the last of the Moorish Sultans, Abu Abdallah Muhamad XII, was expelled from Spain in January 1492, the Christian West (i.e., Europeans, for any African Americans who might get it twisted) saw an opportunity to expand Empire.

In August 1492, Columbus sailed westward and landed in the Americas—I need not rehearse the story here, but suffice it to say that this landing ushered in a period of European colonization, including forcible expatriation of native lands (i.e., claiming someone else's land as your own) and expropriation of raw materials (i.e., claiming any resources produced by that land and becoming wealthy by them). This period lasted for over 500 years, and the legacy continues today through the extremes of poverty imposed on the so-called "Third World" by the West, through the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Perkins, J. (2005). Confessions of an economic hit man. New York, NY: Plume.

The American South was an agronomy—i.e., it was founded on an agricultural economy. The American North began to industrialize ahead of and faster than the South, which had no motivation to do so since it had already had millions of hands of free African labor. The Industrial Revolution was the third of the five social revolutions, and although it was the Northern banks (like Barclays, Fleet, Hanover, and others) and shipping companies that had provided the South with slave labor, industry provided a better business model and the North backed good business. When the slavery model was defeated in the War Between the States, share-cropping was a mediation point between actual slavery and the broken slave economy. The end of the share-cropping era was brought about by the mechanized harvesters that could harvest ten rows of cotton in less time that one picker could finish a single row. The south had no more need of its slaves/share-croppers, but the industrializing North began to recruit them to the urban industrial centers of Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Jew Jersey, Boston, etc. Revisit your own family history if you live in these areas; you'll find that this is when most of them arrived there. A second migration wave went westward into California. Now for the relevance of this Great Migration.

As Africans from the share-cropping South arrived in increasing numbers in these urban centers looking for work, there began to be a competition for employment and housing that had not existed for the Euro-Americans already settled in these areas. Rather than allow nature to take its course and for the populations of the settled Whites and the immigrant Blacks to develop cosmopolitan communities, land brokers saw an opportunity and fomented fear in the Whites by use of stereotypical portrayals that frightened them into believing their properties would lose value. This caused the so-called "White flight" to the suburbs. Prime center-city real estate was abandoned only to become starved for the resources that a strong tax base could provide.

Because African share-croppers needed work so desperately, their labor was exploited with cheaper wage structures than White labor would work for. They couldn't pay the same kind of taxes, and many of them felt lucky to be amongst the families selected for the public housing developments built as a direct result of the Northern urban centers' efforts to comply with the new federal laws against discrimination in housing.

When it came time to reclaim this land through the infamous "urban renewal" programs, the Interstate Highway System (or PPT) proved to be an effective tool to get privately owned land away from Africans, by use of eminent domain. The power to take private property for public use by a state, municipality, or private person or corporation authorized to exercise functions of public character, following the payment of just compensation to the owner of that property. The problem is that "just compensation" did not occur. The land was simply appropriated by the governments. This is what happened even wherever there were thriving African communities, such as those in Rosewood, FL; Greenwood (the famous "Black Wall Street inTulsa), OK; Hayti (in Durham), NC; and many more. During the Red Summer of 1921, over 40 prosperous, independent African communities were completely destroyed and the land sold for less than $1 an acre to White owners. When the use of eminent domain proved to be a nonviolent, legal way to accomplish the same purpose, it became the method of choice.

So yes, Bomani is absolutely correct. Elijah Muhammad realized the importance of land ownership, and his national spokesman, Malcolm X / Malik Shabazz tried hard to wake people up to the necessity of economics as a basis for political independence. When Dr. King tried to warn people of the connection between political power and economic power, it was not long before he was assassinated.

I strongly suggest you follow up on the foregoing readings. Here are two more your libraries are screaming for:

Pepper, W. F. (2003). An act of state: The execution of Martin Luther King. New York: Verso.

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