Freedom Ain’t Free: Is Buying Black The Answer To Fight Against Injustice?
Every time an unarmed or non-threatening Black body is gunned down by a police officer, a feeling of powerlessness swirls around the pit of my stomach. Last week, when Delrawn Small, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were killed by officers within 72 hours of one another, I was gutted by the familiar news. Despite body cameras, taped murders, peaceful protests and all other efforts to convince the system that Black lives matter, three more Black men were added to the lists of our people killed by police. And what’s worse is we’re all silently bracing ourselves for more of this madness. With that feeling swirling within me, I realized our actions thus far have been an ineffective defense against crooked killer cops and systemic racism. Peace and love to everyone on the front lines, but police culture hasn’t changed, America hasn’t changed, and it’s time we fight back with the only color with real power in this country – green.
According to a recent Nielsen report, Black spending power has been greatly underestimated and stands to be unprecedented in coming years. In 2015, our economic and social influence reached a tipping point, with our buying power reaching $1.2 trillion and set to hit $1.4 trillion by 2020. Blacks are not only making more moola, but we also play an integral part in how and what brands market. In addition to telling us what we already know, like our influence on culture (hi, #BlackTwitter), the report showed that we’re becoming more affluent, more tech-savvy and are in a great position to begin building our wealth by buying Black.
Encouragement for Blacks to spend solely at Black-owned businesses is not a new movement. Every year, especially around holidays, there’s a call to spend our money at institutions that align with the Black agenda, which is simply for us to gain honest-to-God political, social and economical equality. In recent years, organizations such as Let’s Buy Black, multimedia platforms like Black & Sexy TV, Minister Louis Farrakhan and author Maggie Anderson’s book Our Black Year have further promoted the need for Blacks to consume from our own. Just imagine if we put our money back into our own pockets? How incredibly empowering that would be. If our spending power is what “they” say it is, we could have more Fortune 500 companies that give Blacks a seat at the table, better schools that lead to us obtaining more education, less impoverished communities where a lot of police brutality occurs and an overall greater voice for social justice. To loosely quote Lil’ Kim, money, power and respect is the key to life.
Better yet, money is power and allocating our funds strategically could cripple the system that works against us every day. As Atlanta Blackstar stated, “If #BlackLivesMatter, it also means that they must matter to Black people and that we can no longer pay good money to finance our own oppression.” We can no longer simply pray and vote our way to change, because let’s be honest, how well has that worked out for us so far? By buying Black, we have a real shot at closing financial and racial gaps. It’s deeper than trigger-happy cops. The entire system was created to stomp out our magic, and it’s time to regain control by erecting a new Black Wall Street.
Freedom ain’t free, y’all, but paying the price with more Black bodies? The cost is too high. It may take us an extra hour searching for a Black-owned gas station, but if losing our favorite non-Black nail technician or restaurant will help us leverage the power hanging over our heads, buying Black is our best bet to a more productive future. Let the record show that change is not out of our reach. It’s just time to let the money talk for us.