Take the restaurant I visited earlier. Its a fish fry business that has been open in Sacramento for 37 years. And, excluding the 10 years I spent in Oregon, I have frequented that business the entire time. And, I don't mean just buying individual fish dinners or food for myself and my family. I mean having countless organizational meetings there over the years where dozens of people bought food. Having them cater community events where hundreds of people patronized them. The owners know me and my presence there was so consistent that the first time I went there after being gone for so many years, they immediately picked up with me where we left off. Right next to that restaurant is a clothes store owned by an African from the Caribbean that I've known for 35 years. So, I know he has had various clothes businesses during that time. Before he had a brick and mortar store, he used to regularly vend at our All African People's Revolutionary Party events. In fact, he and I were remembering recently a event he vended when we had Kwame Ture speaking in the community back in the late 80s. So many people showed up we ran out of food that night. He can tell you that I've always been one of his most consistent supporters over the years.
Just using those two businesses for example, these are hard working people who have institutions within the African community here in Sacramento. They are supportive of the work I've been involved in so consequently, I will always continue to support them, but they also understand my politics. I believe that the capitalist system was built on the backs of African people. I believe that this same capitalist system's blood flow today is based on the continued exploitation of us. I know that because this is an oppressive and exploitative system, our people are discriminated against when it comes to applying and receiving business loans to strengthen the operational capital needed to run a business successfully. I'm aware that all of these variables create a situation where even businesses like the ones I'm describing here are always cash strapped. The fish restaurant can only employ its own family and even with them, they cannot afford to pay them more than minimum wage. Their margins are just too low. And because of the low margins (that's profit margins) their prices are not as good as other places. In essence, I'm making a decision to pay more by patronizing them. That's capitalism 101 folks. There's more than sufficient data to support all of what I'm saying. So, even if every African business has the most decent and conscious people owning and running it with the highest level of integrity, this is clearly not a model that can bring about any economic independence for African people because that independence comes from accumulating capital. We don't have any capital because the only way we could get it (remember, all of the predatory lending data confirms we won't get it from the banks) is if we had resources to control and exploit, which we don't (because the capitalists have stolen all of our resources from us). Of course, many of our businesses aren't operating with any level of integrity. The only economic model we know is capitalism which is the system that enslaves us. Yet, we use its individualistic and anti-human values to run our businesses. As a result, we end up seeing our people no different than anyone else who does business with us within this exploitative model, as a means to an end. So, from a political and/or economic perspective, I'm still waiting for someone, anyone, to explain to me how this approach is going to liberate our people? If you tell me it can provide income for the owning family, I can accept that. If you tell me it may even make a token few of us wealthy, I can even buy that, but don't tell me this Black capitalist model is going to bring freedom to African people. The model itself never claimed to do that. Marcus Garvey had a vision in the 1920s, but his objective regarding establishing a shipping line was doomed from the beginning. In fact, it was our first example of why economics can never come before political education. The people who bought his three ships and governed the Black Star Line ran it into the ground because their objective was personal wealth, not the advancement of the masses of our people. And, again, there is no way anyone can explain how their methodology could have resulted in a different outcome. They had limited resources to buy the ships to begin with and limited capital to maintain them.
Richard Nixon's administration promoted "Black capitalism" in the late 60s at the urging of McGeorge Bundy and other capitalists as a method of creating an African petty-bourgeois class to buffer the anger of the African masses which was being expressed at the time with over 300 urban rebellions aimed against the capitalist system. Even that latest manifestation of promoting African business within capitalism as the solution to our problems was never seriously thought, even by its architects, to be a real solution to our suffering conditions. They were only interested in pacifying us. And their strategy has worked in large segments of our communities for the last 50 years. Today, its still common to hear that same tired and discredited refrain that "buying Black is the key to our salvation." And those of you promoting that, instead of getting angry at those of us who call this out, maybe you can finally explain how your strategy is going to help the masses of African people? We know you cannot because even if you could (hypothetically) promise and deliver wealth to every African within the U.S., since the capitalist system worldwide is rooted in robbing and stealing Africa's cheap human and material resources, the only way you could accomplish your objective is by investing in that very same system that keeps the masses of our people, especially in Africa, poor and disenfranchised.
It remains quite clear to us that our only solution is Pan-Africanism which we define as one unified socialist Africa, but we know that many of our people are completely committed to capitalism. So, our ask of you is simply to present your program, explain it, and demonstrate to us how it will liberate the masses. Saying that we should support you, individually, as a means of advancing our people can no longer be accepted by anyone concerned about our people's fate. And, for our white accomplice friends (if you are indeed that), if you are really about African liberation, especially if you call yourself a radical, please stop watering down our sacred struggle to that of simply supporting your local African BBQ stand. If you are hungry for BBQ, and that African business has good ribs, and you want to feel like you are helping African people, any African people, than just say that and enjoy your meal. Just, stop acting like patronizing that business is somehow moving us forward as a people because it isn't. This is even more irritating when all of you do absolutely nothing, or very little, to support our organizations that are actually doing work to advance our people against oppression.
If you want to support that work, support the efforts of groups like the A-APRP to politically educate and organize our African people for revolutionary Pan-Africanism. Information about our work internationally is available everywhere. Or, if you aren't feeling that, support another African organization fighting against our oppression. If you don't move to view this issue in a more scientific fashion, than at best, you are simply searching for a way to co-exist with the very same system that is oppressing African people while trying to be at peace with your sell out approach.