Just because you give something a label that doesn’t make you a winner. You figured it out. You gave it a name. Now what? If you have no idea what I am talking about, my gripe is the fact that we have unprecedented levels of educated young African American professionals that seem to only be better informed victims. You are better at labeling what “holds you back” but you aren’t using that intellectual strength to create solutions, you are just using it to create more guilt and shame.
The current issue is gentrification. Gentrification is nothing to be afraid of and it is nothing to complain about because in reality it is just very bold real estate development. Investors, people who bleed the same as you, look for value and a part of value is finding something you can acquire for less than it will be worth down the line. Because most values are lower in the hood, investors come in and target these towns and turn them around. Victims see this as a bad thing because people are being displaced from their homes but I think people have to be willing to fight back and when I say fight back I don’t mean complain about the system or protest.
The bible says “[a]ll hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 14:23. Protest is talk and ain’t nobody got time for that. Protest leads to poverty. Its time to be about that action.
Wealth comes through creation not competition
There is so much creative thought and skills in the African american community but we have reduced ourselves to freedom fighters. What and who are we fighting? Who has it and how are they holding us back? I don’t see it. We should be creating and building what we want and protecting what we have. Instead, we use all our creative energy to create memes, dance moves and internet jokes but when we discuss anything that is actually forward thinking we limit ourselves to “cant’s”.
When the recession was at its low, people said they couldn’t create anything because they didn’t have money or resources but someone out there applied some creativity and created uber, lyft, air bnb and other companies. When the music industry was suffering someone created a platform that gives away music and charges a small fee. I know there was someone out there who said this couldn’t be done for whatever reason. It’s easy to find reasons why you can’t but its harder to find reasons why you CAN. The truth is it was creativity applied to the right areas that made these guys billionaires. Not only are they rich but they created massive opportunities for people who look like them. Flying low (or being a victim) not only stunts you but it holds your community back.
I am guilty because I have a financial education and I see financial solutions where people who are educated in liberal arts only see social solutions or oppression. So I apologize if this comes off harsh and condescending. I think that we can both be right. We are both necessary but we shouldn’t brush off solutions that we can’t understand. For too long the building wealth solution has been in the background and its now time to bring it front and center.
Gentrify it yourself
Outside the black community (I hate that term but I am using it because people can understand my point better) when something is old and run down people either avoid it or they rehab it. Streets get paved, graffiti gets painted over and and people invest their time and effort into maintaining what they have. They don’t call this gentrification. It is just improving and updating what is there. That is called pride of ownership and best believe the people who do the redevelopment have a profit priced into the work they do. The only color in America that matters is green.
I know that a lot of people in the hood don’t own where they live but they can still have pride in where they live. They can also build up and own where they live and operate. Doing this creates jobs and opportunities for your people. It also creates something that can be passed down to later generations. Being PRO ACTIVE instead of constantly being emotionally driven and REACTIVE (thus operating on someone else’s agenda and timetable) will keep the people who have no regard for your life out and will allow you to enjoy what is yours.
I work in Watts at a black owned business in my spare time and I get the opportunity to meet a lot of people. I always key in on people who are in construction or real estate or just the progressive people because we have that connection of being black and progressive. It is amazing how much talent that we have that is trying to pour their talent into white America. I believe that even if we aren’t investing money we can invest our time and skills back into what we have. If you have skills you should be giving those back to the community in a way that strategically allows you to grow with what you help build. If you are a builder then you should have a joint venture with the owner that gives you equity in the increased value. If you are in finance you should be able to trim a piece off the earnings which provides a service with no up front expense but improves what is there. The opportunities are only limited to your creativity. You have the skills, you have the resources all you have to do now is DO. All things are possible.
Gentrify your mind first
If you were to distribute all the resources in the world equally among all people it would only be a matter of time before it was all back into the hands of the original owners. It just doesn’t make sense to gentrify a community but not gentrify the mentality of the residents. Fact of the matter is that people are sleep. They aren’t dead they are just sleep. So they need to first wake up, then read up, then skill up so they can successfully exist in a decent area. We need to go back to having core values before we try to combat any system or structures. If we don’t first change ourselves we will lose even if we win symbolically.
This is not an exhaustive discussion about how we can win but it is at least a discussion about how we can win. We have talked about how big the problems are for too long. Now is the time to talk about how great we are and how great we can be if we aim at the right goals. Be great, because you are.