“10/10/15 is important, but 10/11/15 is crucial.”
-Nuri Muhammad on Justice or Else.
It has now been more than a week after Justice or Else, the twentieth anniversary of the Million Man March. Twitter is still ablaze with #JusticeOrElse tweets, communities are mobilizing, and the minds of black America are stirring.
Last week’s gathering was a clear example of the beauty in the struggle, as thousands of people of different skins and backgrounds united under the demand for justice. The remaining challenge is to keep the momentum of the movement going, as young activists have since the murders of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and countless other black youth by police brutality.
Of course, the fight for black equity didn’t start in 2012 with the murder of a young black boy by a neighborhood watchman, for the history of blacks in this country shows more than 400 years of fight and resistance against white supremacy and institutionalized oppression of the black community.
The fight that must follow Justice Or Else is not only against the racism embedded in the fabric and blueprint of America, but also of the by-products of that racism that manifests in the dilapidation of our communities. The numerous ways in which black people have been locked out of access to the mainstream economy, from Jim Crow to the war on drugs and mass incarceration, shows how those structures were designed to make blacks the permanent underclass in this country.
There are many Don Lemons and James Lee Petersons that believe the problems that black people have are self-inflicted, but they often say so without regard to the historical destruction of black communities and people; ‘pulling up our pants’ won’t solve the issues at hand.
The need is for sustainable investment in our own communities and in our own businesses. A Nielsen Report states that blacks have a trillion dollar purchasing power; the irony in having so much purchasing power as consumers is that the dollars we spend turn over zero to one times in our own communities.
The challenge is for more ownership and more stake in our neighborhoods. With the median net worth of black households being a mere $11,000, and the median black household income being $34,000, it is evident that black wealth has been undermined not just by exploitation of our dollars, but also not doing business with each other. Racially, blacks have the lowest medians in household net-worth and income, but yet have so much sway as consumers. If we are to overcome the problems that are communities have been vexed with, we must generate wealth among ourselves.
The deterioration of the middle class alludes to a dim future in this country’s economy, so already having low medians of $11,000 of household net worth and $34,000 of household income, as a community, won’t cut it. If we don’t invest in ourselves, we are subject to economically fall further behind than we already are. The same way that the Boycott on BET for not covering Justice or Else affected the BET Awards’ ratings is the same way that we must watch our own spending and stop giving our money to those who don’t have our best interests as a community in mind.
The call is for economic justice in our own communities. The call is for financial freedom. The means are self-reliance and self-determination of the struggling black masses. It is time to re-invest in our own communities, and hold ourselves accountable in our own business endeavors.