AFRICANGLOBE – Among the most controversial claims about Black communities is that they often don’t support other Black businesses. But an author in the US has put this claim to the test and has proved that this belief is a lie.
In her new book, Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practiceauthor Jessica Gordon Nembhard unearthed more than 100 years of history that showed that Black communities have a long tradition of supporting each other’s businesses.
“My challenge was to prove that we did,” said Gordon Nembhard, a political economist and professor of community justice and social economic development at John Jay College in New York.
She told US news channel, newsone that her book on cooperative economics within Black communities shows that Black people have regularly supported each other’s businesses for more than a century – and that Black people still support Black businesses today.
In her search, Gordon Nembhard discovered a cooperative economics history that spanned Black Americans’ period of enslavement to the present day. One cooperative was the Colored Farmers National Alliance and Cooperative Union, which existed from 1886 to 1891.
It had one million members and saw Black farmers forming alliances with and aiding other Black farmers with mortgage payments, marketing and sharing planting techniques. It also worked to counter exploitation of Black farmers by White landowners and also to help farmers deal with attacks from White supremacists.
Gordon Nembhard said her research also showed that almost every major Black political leader supported Black cooperatives.
She said sadly though there is a lack of education about how Black communities support each other economically.
“I’m not sure but there’s a lack of education about co-ops in general in our society,” Gordon Nembhard told news one . “We teach about capitalism and present capitalism as the only option. Also, often whenever Blacks attempted to establish them, their efforts were sabotaged by White competitors and White supremacists.
In many cases, it was through violence but in others it could be as simple as having your rent raised, banks denying your loan or even being priced out of insurance.”
Finally, after years of studying Black cooperatives and their place in Black life, Gordon Nembhard says she’s taken away just how important economic independence through cooperation has been for Black Americans.
“The Black cooperative movement has always been parallel to the Black liberation and civil rights movements. We’ve mostly heard about the political side of the movement but you can’t name a major Black political leader that didn’t point to cooperatives as a pathway to freedom.”
But despite Gordon Nembhard’s book, the debate rages on with critics saying more Black people need to stop shopping at White own major chains and support independent Black businesses.
“It is still true that we do not support each other economically at the same rate as other groups of people,” said a commenter called Exodus on the website. “We have always supported our own economic interest until the post civil rights era. Since then we have been happy with giving our money to Walmart, target, best buy and any other White owned business that we can find. I’m not sure that co ops is the answer to rebuilding Black owned business.”
Another, who was called Blackwood, added: “Many Black people are our own worst enemy. It’s rooted from Slavery and passed down thru generations. Many Black people will still reject another Black person for (put any race here) and attack other Blacks even when the Black person is defending them. We must heal ourselves by discussing the self hatred among many of us and stop listening to, believing and rejecting the self hating narrative some assigned to us.”
By: Trudy Simpson
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