It was January 20th, 2017, I realized that it was time to take action. Unbeknownst to me, I had been preparing for this assignment my entire life. Earlier life experiences taught me that the negative effects of poor leadership can be detrimental. For one, poor leadership is careless and only self-seeking. It is extremely judgemental and hypocritical, abusing power to get what one wants. Since the Trump administration has taken office, their stance has been clear--it's them versus us. The current political climate inspires me to engage with the root of our systemically immoral society. We will also grapple with the current state of black economics. Lastly, I am committed to continuing this dialogue about leveraging black financial institutions to rebuild Black Wall Street aka Little Africa of the digital age.
The New World Order
Feudalism flourished in Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Feudalism was a medieval economic, political, and social system in which Europeans were bound to the royal crown by mutual ties of loyalty and service. In Europe, indentured servants were bound to the land they cultivated. Indentured servants were men and women who signed a contract also known as a covenant.
Indentured servants agreed to work for a certain number of years in exchange for transportation, food, clothing, and shelter. The servants were in absolute and legal possession and carried out military duties and other services given by overlords. The feudal pyramid was made up of the King at the top with the nobles, knights, and vassals below them. Under the feudal system, the King was in complete control of all the land in the country and decided to whom he would lease land. The men who leased land from the King were known as Barons, they were wealthy, powerful and had complete control of the land and the crops it produced.
Between 1315 and 1317, some regions of Europe were washed away, damaging resources that lead to the Great Famine. The Great Famine killed a tenth of the population, shattering social norms and local economies. In the early 1340s, the Black Death disease had struck China, India, Persia, Syria, and Egypt. The plague arrived in Europe in October of 1347 when 12 ships from the Black Sea docked at the Sicilian port of Messina.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, Europeans traveled to Virginia in search of a “New World.” The Virginia Company of London was founded by King James I which produced cash crops, tobacco, and timber. The Virginia Company was a joint-stock company, which sold shares. The Virginia Company was formed both to bring profit to its shareholders and to establish an English colony in the New World. During this era of colonialism, Europeans competitively explored South and Central America and the Caribbean island in search of gold and other precious metals, notes Dr. Claud Anderson. From 1676 to 1677, Virginia militiamen chased the native Indians north inciting a war as an opportunity that would yield Indian slaves and lands, and would give vent to popular anti-Indian sentiment. The Europeans were especially eager to control the Mediterranean trade routes that tapped into the vast markets and goods,” Anderson says.
The White Supremacy Revolution
According to economist Dr. Claude Anderson’s book Powernomics, “Slavery must always be explained in monetary terms.” Keep in mind, we may never know the exact amount of assets gained, but we must understand that feudalism and slavery maintain the business structure utilized by Europeans. Between 1525 and 1866, 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World. 10.7 million survived the dreaded Middle Passage, disembarking in North America, the Caribbean, and South America. Thereby linking Africa and Europe through the slave trade and slave labor. Slavery produced between 5.9-14 trillion in unpaid wages.
Since Europe’s recovery on American soil, white imperialism has swept across the country. Nationalism is the primary reason for discriminatory tactics used to protect the interests of European capitalism. The Charlottesville protest was the purest example of the threat that people of color have posed to white supremacy since Former President Obama finished his second term. During the protest, Neo-nazis chanted; “Blood and soil!” “You will not replace us!” “Jews will not replace us!” The reactionary response is reminiscent of the rise of the Klu Klux Klan following the civil war to combat the reconstruction.
The Tale of Survival
Throughout American history, African Americans have been most successful when we employ our tribal roots. We have defeated opposition full of exclusion, limitations and legal traps when the African American tribe implemented cooperative economics. Marcus Garvey says, “Without commerce and industry, a people perish economically. The Negro is perishing because he has no economic system.” Black Wall Street, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Pan-African Movements between 1906-1921 can be referenced in our efforts to rebuild black economic power.
Currently, African Americans, like all Americans, are divided into three socioeconomic classes. The classes consist of the wealthy class, the middle class, and the poor class. The success of the middle- and wealthy classes’ growth in numbers is a testament to African American resilience and hard work. Yet, the Black achievement is not enough to impact the entire community. Without a community structure, the black achievement will continue to have little impact on the black community as a collective.
The Reboot Proposal
Despite constant criticism, African American churches are a perfect example of black-owned financial institutions that have successfully survived centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, and acts of terrorism from their European counterparts. Still, the African American churches managed to instill core family values and ethics, guided our beliefs, cultivated our culture and displayed our musical and artistic talents, notes Dr. Claude Anderson.
The African American church continues to produce high-quality music production and talents. For example, Kanye’s Sunday Service has made massive headlines. The Sunday Service integrated black tribal and religious sounds into mainstream industries bringing back that feeling Kirk Franklin brought us back in the 90s. Kanye hired countless talented choir directors, vocalists, and musicians from churches across the country to travel and share their gifts all over the world. Similarly, HBCUs persists to produce superior level scholars, professionals, and artists into corporate mainstream industries. Yet, there is still little access to predatory free capital for black-owned institutions to continue developing such brilliant spiritual, educational, artistic and innovative pioneers. Instead, we hand over our valuable services, we praise the European exploiters for discovering our talents and selling it to their audience to receive pennies on the dollar.
From 1906-1921, during the development period, Black Wall Street—which consisted of land occupied and run by Tulsa’s black lawyers, realtors, doctors, and other professionals-- failed to create a structure that aggressively protected its interests. Little Africa had no contingency plan. African American lives and assets were lost and the systemic exclusion offered no insurance. The surviving African Americans were jailed and the land was immediately distributed back to the European community. A once resilient African American community was captured and exploited once again through the oppressive Jim Crow laws.
At last, 2019’s digital era presents a unique opportunity for the African American community to build an economic structure. To see success, we must acknowledge the value in Black Churches, Schools, and Businesses alike. It is time we build the institutions that we need to create generational wealth while securing the future of Black Wall Street. Be aware that Black Wealth is projected to drop to zero by 2053 if we aren’t proactive. So effective immediately, let us leverage our 1.2 trillion buying power to rebuild a morally healthy and wealthy modern-day Black Wall Street otherwise known as Little Africa, the reboot.
Written By: Jessica McConico
Edited by: Dr. Justin Clardy