Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Africa Town and Carter G Woodson

I'm all for black businesss. I have one. I wish I had more clients..well paying clients, but there's a slight problem. along with the usual "start-ups are hard" problems with small businesses, black businesses face a problem unique to blacks: The desire to not do business with each other. Carter G. Woodson pointed out last century that blacks didn't care to take orders from other blacks and used a case where blacks actually conspired to get a black manager fired from his job. During segregation, such attitudes were stifled by the fact that blacks could not be served anywhere else, until or unless whites wished to extract extra profits by doing business with us. Once desegregation hit, blacks saw their business ownership plummet and with it vital economic engines called community businesses. These community businesses are how young people get their first job. The corner store clerk, the mechanics apprentice, the doctors whatever, the dental assistant, office boy/girl whatever. With the disappearance of community based businesses, in some places outsiders set up shop. outsiders brought in their own prejudices and , understandably, their own family/friends as employees. I hold that this is a large part of why New York City currently has 50% unemployment among blacks.

The Detroit News has an excellent article underscoring my position that the issue isn't really the government (local/state or federal) but a basic unwillingness of blacks to not only do business with each other, but to also behave in many instances in unprofessional manner towards both busiiness owner and customer. Many a black business owner can tell stories of those who wanted a "hoook up, my brother...." and equally their are customers who have had businesses think they would accept sub-par goods and services. Also in many instances you have an unwillingness of blacks to keep high business standards in terms of their shops or quality of product or service provided. For example I once worked at a garage and the owner had the attitude that not only should I come in in unstained clothing ( as possible) but also keep the garage in pristine condition. I didn't understand since I thought that people wouldn't care if I'm dirty cause I was working on cars and that's a dirty job. Similarly, who cares if oil is on the floor? The point he made was that customers size up a business on first impressions. if they see a neat as possible mechanic and garage then they would think that these are persons who take care in thier work and pay attention to detail and if they keep their garage and selves clean then they would treat their vehicle in the same manner.

now as a grown person I see his point. Look at the difference between a luxery automakers' service station and the "garage on the corner." which inspires more confidence in the abilities of the mechanics and the respect for your vehicle. Many blacks have been so used to "gettin' by" and accepting what they can or accepting that "hole in the wall" is somehow a cultural hallmark that we sabatoge our own selves by underserving not only our customers but also ourselves.

In the end. Detroit's Africa town will fail because it will cause non-blacks to avoid such businesses because they wont' feel welcome. In the game of economics the aim is to transfer wealth from one community to another. if you're not attracting customers from outside your community or doing busines in another community you're limited in your economic potential. Africa Town is also likely to fail because the underlying issues of black businesses are not being addresssed. Looking back at the Black Star Line and the Black Star Factories that Garvey was setting up, he clearly knew that blacks had to be in business not only to secure employment for blacks but to effectively compete on a global level with everyone else. I haven't seen the plans for "Africa Town" but it will fail if it is not comprehensive in it's design and implementation and first and foremost it needs to get out of the press.

links:
http://www.detnews.com/2004/metro/0410/26/d01-315290.htm

2 comments:

dsekou said...

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Detroit plan creates rift on targeting black development

African Town proposal spurs economic diversity by promoting under-represented black-owned firms

By Joann Watson / Special to The Detroit News
Image
Henry Payne / The Detroit News


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The African Town proposal is an important cultural and retail alternative that will benefit all Detroiters and the city’s economy.

The plan to develop more manufacturing plants, business owners, business investments and jobs for Detroit citizens should be viewed as an important destination point in a city that already hosts Greektown, Mexicantown, Hockey Town, Comerica Park, Ford Field and three casinos.

Corporations like Compuware have received multimillion-dollar tax abatements from the City Council, contracts from the city’s administration and significant commerce from Detroit citizens. Furthermore, Comerica Park and Ford Field were funded by a ballot referendum and affirmed by key stakeholders in the city’s administration, the City Council and Detroit citizens who patronize the stadia and its related businesses.

It is a shameful commentary that The Detroit News and so many others have mischaracterized the “African Town” project (already approved by the Detroit City Council) as one that embraces racism and “belongs on the shelf with Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf.’” Nothing could be further from the truth.

African Town proponents expect that broadly diverse patrons will visit, shop, dine and enjoy African culture, food, products and services. It is important to note that when the Greektown and Mexicantown projects were launched with pension fund and empowerment zone dollars, they were never greeted with charges of “racism.” Further, Greektown and Mexicantown are patronized and subsidized by all citizens, including support from Detroit’s African-American community.

The truth is Detroit is the most segregated city in the nation. African Town’s vibrant consortium of African culture, niche market restaurants, retail outlets and manufacturing sites will demonstrably increase Detroit’s economic diversity.

Importantly, African Town offers incentives to promote small businesses and fair trade policies within the city. Currently, black Detroiters generate $11 billion annually, with 95 percent being exported beyond Detroit’s commerce and retail markets. If black Detroiters’ dollars began to circulate eight to 10 times within the Detroit community, the $11 billion could grow to $80 billion to $100 billion.

Many decades ago, before Detroit became a majority black city, the famed “Black Bottom” and Paradise Valley communities were replete with black-owned hospitals, hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies and entertainment clubs that provided an important network of commerce, social and family resources for Detroit’s black community.

Urban renewal programs supported by federal, state and local governments effectively dismantled the black businesses and disenfranchised the black owners and their customer base. And the Fisher Freeway construction sealed the fate of many legendary black-owned venues. While Detroit does have a majority black population, there is not a manufacturing/retail/business center owned and operated by the majority of Detroit’s residents and taxpayers.

Furthermore, as Claud Anderson reveals in “Powernomics,” only one-half of 1 percent of the businesses and industries owned in America are owned by African-Americans at the beginning of the 21st century. Unbelievably, this statistic mirrors the same level of businesses owned by blacks at the beginning of the 20th century.

African Town offers a realistic plan and hope for citizens who are forced to rely on either games of chance or the accountability of their elected officials for economic recovery and restoration.

Some opponents support the African Town concept to highlight the city’s “cultural and musical heritage,” while they denigrate the $30 million from the casinos (which derive much of their profits from black patrons) to seed a revolving loan fund for prospective African Town businesses. So, it’s OK for blacks to entertain, but not OK for them to pursue self-determined business interests?

Joann Watson is a Detroit City Council member who voted for the Powernomics proposal.

sondjata said...

Thanks D-Sekou for posting the article by Joanne Watson. Here's my problem with her explanation.

Let's take this quote:
"
African Town proponents expect that broadly diverse patrons will visit, shop, dine and enjoy African culture, food, products and services. It is important to note that when the Greektown and Mexicantown projects were launched with pension fund and empowerment zone dollars, they were never greeted with charges of “racism.” Further, Greektown and Mexicantown are patronized and subsidized by all citizens, including support from Detroit’s African-American community.
African Town proponents expect that broadly diverse patrons will visit, shop, dine and enjoy African culture, food, products and services. It is important to note that when the Greektown and Mexicantown projects were launched with pension fund and empowerment zone dollars, they were never greeted with charges of “racism.” Further, Greektown and Mexicantown are patronized and subsidized by all citizens, including support from Detroit’s African-American community."

This does not address my critique. That any and everyone can come a dine, shop or whatever in "africa town" is beside the point. The question is "would they." If they would, why haven't they already?

The next problem with her reasoning is that, as she indicated; Mexican Town and Greektown, were funded by empowerment zone money. Similarly Harlem was/is an empowerment zone. Anyone could come in and get empowerment zone money. As we saw in Harlem, large corporations moved in and pushed out Harlem businesses. Therein lies the problem with the "Africa Town" idea, it attempts to avoid the big corporation cooption, by overtly racializing the plan. That's all well and good, but in post-legal segregation America you're asking for a lawsuit which is a waste of time and money. Ultimatly Claud Anderson's assertion that:
"
African Town proponents expect that broadly diverse patrons will visit, shop, dine and enjoy African culture, food, products and services. It is important to note that when the Greektown and Mexicantown projects were launched with pension fund and empowerment zone dollars, they were never greeted with charges of “racism.” Further, Greektown and Mexicantown are patronized and subsidized by all citizens, including support from Detroit’s African-American community."

Is the real problem. Again I point the readership to The Black Star Line, Fully funded by Blacks in the 1920's, including the Black Star Factories, and other ancillary companies.

I'm not one of those who give a squat about "reverse discrimination" or other types of charges that have been thrown around. I simply know that if the black businesses that are created by this program are or become dependent on those "grants" to operate, they will fail and that failure will then be pointed to by our detractors as proof of our stupidity.