The New Black Economy
- Garvey’s Return / We are The Whirlwind -
Marcus Garvey, from the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, told us that he would return in the “Whirlwind”. While Garvey didn’t specify an economic whirlwind, Us Lifting Us Economic Development Cooperative, LLC (ULU) takes the liberty to use the whirlwind metaphor to make clear an economic and social true-ism; no people or community has ever risen to power and respectability without also gaining economic control within its community or territory.
We use the image of the Whirlwind to point to something familiar in nature that helps us visualize the workings of an economy. The activity (energy and power) of both the whirlwind and an economy are cyclonic; having defined swirling or rotating patterns. In an economy these patterns represent exchanges (trade) among parties within a defined community. In a healthy or strong economy, multiple turns or exchanges take place within the defined group before any exchanges take place outside the group or community.
The Black Community; in particular those of us who promote Black Empowerment and Self-Determination, must come face-to-face with the reality that we must intentionally plan and build a New Black Economy; one that we control and that serves the unique needs and interest of our Community . Our current focus on entrepreneurship and support of Black Business will never serve as a power base without a central capacity to plan, finance and in other ways influence the overall economic life of our communities. This will require a movement, with several elements already in place.
It’s critical that we understand the difference between business activity within an economy controlled by persons and forces outside of our community and culture, versus business activity within an economy controlled by us and designed to serve us and our unique interests in the world. It’s no secret that other groups in America and in other countries and regions have been very successful in building primary and secondary economies that benefit their members greatly. For those of us who have decided to commit time, energy and resources to build the New Black Economy, a primary vehicle (Us Lifting Us Economic Development Cooperative) is now in place as a leader in this movement.
*Essential elements necessary to build and maintain The New Black Economy are outlined below:
Element 1: The Member/Owners of ULU (a large scale cooperatively owned business enterprise): To amass the large sums of capital (human and material) needed and to establish a large base of stakeholders, the ULU model, with the capacity to have millions of member/owners and billions in investment capital, is the most appropriate model to provide leadership for the specific challenge at hand. The Member/Owners of ULU are to pool resources, elect from among themselves a governing body and establish appropriate plans and guidelines. The success of ULU, in this manner, ignites the “Cyclonic Effect” necessary to build and sustain The New Black Economy.
Element 2: The businesses owned and operated by ULU: All businesses established by ULU are to have three objectives; 1) Create jobs for members and for our people, 2) Stimulate and strengthen the local business base by and through intentional exchanges with other Black enterprises, and 3) Generate a fair profit. Profits, after all expenses, are shared between charity and a return to ULU member/owners. These businesses will eventually number into the thousands and all will be structured and managed to circulate resources within our community.
The success of each business and all the businesses collectively, adds to and sustains the “Cyclonic Effect”.
Element 3: The businesses and service providers with whom ULU has a transactional relationship: These would include the businesses that occupy space in the ULU Marts and providers of products and services. This would also include businesses and service providers that are involved on any ULU owned e-commerce platform. Because of the contractual relationships (formal and otherwise) between these entities and ULU, practice and behavior can and will be reinforced to keep resources circulating within our community and people. This adds to and sustains the “Cyclonic Effect”.
Element 4: ULU Base Collectives (UBCs): These smaller collectives of ULU Members in local communities, serve to build ULU Membership, pool resources and build relationships. They also serve as study and research groups, attend to the emergency and survival needs of the collective and in other ways build and sustain community. These small collectives, operating in the spirit and context of Black Power Cooperative Economics can grow into the hundreds or even into the thousands globally. These small Collectives, in the most basic way, contribute to the movement and add stability to the “Cyclonic Effect”.
Element 5: Businesses, service providers and other institutions that do not have a transactional relationship with ULU, but nonetheless, are influenced by the dynamics of the “Black Power Cooperative Economic Process and Movement”: This would naturally include the many Buy-Black and Black Empowerment Campaigns in America and other countries. As the size and influence of the movement grows, expectations and standards will emerge, along with ways to deliver positive and negative rewards for compliance. These too, act to extend and contribute to the “Cyclonic Effect”.
Element 6: The consumer: This would include both the consciously motivated and unconscious consumer. The visible presence and activity in all of the above areas will attract persons and institutions to intentionally direct their resources in support of this movement to control the economics of our community. There will be other consumers who will support this movement for other reasons, including convenience, price competitiveness, quality of service or uniqueness of products. The size and power of this multi-layered movement will attract consumer participation due to sheer curiosity. The consumer in this movement, individual and institutional, adds to and strengthens the “Cyclonic Effect”.
*These six (6) Elements combine to give us a practical way to build a very powerful economic and social dynamic. We can now engineer and duplicate the successes we point to when we refer to “Black Wall Street” and our ability to build strong economic communities. --- We can and must build these communities of business excellence again; but in the 21st Century we must use tools beyond individual and small group business ownership. Large scale cooperatively owned enterprises are necessary to aggregate and structure adequate resources to fashion and sustain these communities and the overall New Black Economy. --- We stand today, at this very moment, at a beautiful place: We stand in clear sight of the option of continued submission to the dictates and maltreatment from others on the one hand, and an exciting and promising opportunity to build and control our own empowered communities on the other.
We do have a choice; you have a choice.