Photo by Paul Efe from Pexels

By Lou Cespedes

As we discuss the future of the “Black Lives Matter” movement post-election, and as we hear more and more about the views of “celebrities” taking on political causes like Ice Cubes’ “Contract with Black America”, I often think if what steps we aren’t taking when we put the carriage before the horse.  African American spending topped 1.4 trillion dollars in 2019, but the dollar circulates only 6 hours in the black community.  That money is spent back into white communities before it sees another black hand. By comparison, money circulates on average 28 days in Asian communities, 20 days in Jewish communities, and 17 days in white communities as per data released by the NAACP. 

Think about this! We are leaving money on the table as a community because we don’t bother to ask WHO! Who owns? Who provides professional services? Who sells you product? Who manages your assets? Who are you subscribing to? Who is appraising your home? Who is feeding you? In my new series I’ll be visiting these issues.

In other words, when you walk into that beauty supply store on Flatbush Avenue, you should be asking yourself; Where is my money going? and What should we do to keep dollars in our community?  If “protest” had a monetizable impact it would become an instrument to guarantee investment in black business. We need to think about ways to develop and “brand” black and brown communities, and we need to use our skill-sets to network and build on each-other more and protest against “others” less. Our lives don’t really matter, unless we have the resources, and the agenda to make them matter. We have 1.4 trillion dollars to extract from a city and a nation that must listen to our demands. But that is not enough when our dollars don’t have other outlets.  What we must imagine is a whole concept prototype for our business community in Flatbush. But how?

Community development and economic development aren’t necessarily dependent on rezoning or construction. Obviously, some real estate development will be needed, but not of the kind that will disenfranchise our current residents or shopkeepers. We must have an integral and sustainable conversation about what role homeowners, the business community and everyday consumers should play. We need to have a far more detailed discussion about how technology in our community can facilitate and help us to leverage our consumption and business opportunities against the physical landscape. This means we need to develop local e-commerce in a radical way. 

We must ask of each other, and this implies a community that is built on common shared values, common objectives, and common economic outcomes. What was clear with the passing of this election is that “celebrities” don’t necessarily share in our common futures, but furthermore, that we have to be more discerning about who we ask things of, what we ask for, and how we ask for them. It’s not only about party politics, it’s also about identity politics. What is different about what I am suggesting is, we need to establish platforms for our own growth while we demand economic justice from this city or nation. But! It also means that our protest must be economic, not demonstrational, and that our community needs to move away from “activism” and toward “entrepreneurism”. 

If we want a better community, that needs to start from the ground up, door to door, helping neighbors, at each storefront buying goods, at each school teaching kids, and ensuring we are “redeeming” (buying back) our neighborhoods, our homes, and our youth. To ensure success, we must invest in those business models and find opportunities for entrepreneurship in each of the challenges we face and finding ways to “crowdfund” those initiatives. We can and we should become stakeholders in every enterprise of our own community.

Twitter: @loufor45   Instagram: Loucespedes

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