C.W. DAWSON: The Economic Imperative for the Future-Investing in Ourselves

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The Rev. C.W. Dawson Jr. was the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy at MU. He teaches at Columbia College and Moberly Area Community College and writes a weekly column for the Missourian.

“God and Nature first made us what we are, and then out of our own creative genius we make ourselves what we want to be. Follow always that great law. Let the sky and God be our limit and Eternity our measurement.”

–Marcus Gravey

One of the saddest commentaries on African American life is the lack of economic investment in African American enterprises.

While there is great economic disparity between black and white communities, there is also a lack of cooperation within the African American community regarding where and how we spend our money.

We do not support nor encourage black entrepreneurship as we ought to. Instead, black dollars are spent with white institutions.

There are some attempts to change this economic situation in places like Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City and Baltimore. Indeed, such efforts should be applauded. But, overall, African Americans spend tremendously more money outside the black community than within it.

It is time (past time) for the African American community to address this issue in a serious manner. For some African Americans the problem exists because there is a residue mentality from slavery that states, “If it is white it is better: better in quality, service, and production.” For others, it is an expression of black self-hatred: the lack of trust and respect for black people and what they create and produce.

Even black Christians do not spend black dollars with black churches, they spend black dollars in and with Anglo churches.

According a Nielsen Company study in 2016, African Americans had a collective buying power of $1.1 trillion. The same study estimated that that collective buying power would rise to $1.3 trillion in 2017 (Britini Danille, Clutch Magonline).

In the same article it was stated that the top Anglo manufacturers only spend 3 percent of their advertising budget on commercials to attract African American consumers. Why? Because they know they have a significant consumer block in their back pocket: the African American community.

This Black History Month we must not only reflect on the past, we must also think about the future, especially our collective economic future.

We must strategize on how we can circulate black dollars 10 times before it leaves the African American community. When a black business person does a good job, we must celebrate her, not hate on each other. If a black business person takes advantage of the community by providing poor service and outrageous prices, we organize and collectively put them out of business and find another black person who will do the job rightly.

The internet has opened the world for all of us. If American businesses refuse to hire our people, open economic doors for the community, and recognize African Americans as consumers with tremendous collective buying power, we must spend our money with those who will respect our money, including international markets.

The present economic situation for black people in America has forced us to invest in ourselves if we are to move from being victims to becoming victors.

We deserve more than mere survival, we need to thrive. We have an economic imperative to fulfill. The power to do so is in our hands and in our pockets.

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