It’s the community economy stupid!


In his commentary entitled, ‘If I Dated Black Girls”, Mr. George E. Curry, NNPA columnist, examines the comment a young white male made of his niece, Rachel: “If I dated Black girls– I tell Rachel this all the time– she would be on the top of my list.” Mr. Curry’s point, rightly so, is that the young man assumed that a black girl would want to date him, but his larger point is that in about 30 years the nation will have no “majority” race and that “all racial and ethnic groups will need to learn to step outside their comfort zone to interact as equals with those who don’t’ look like them.”

Mr. Curry quotes Dr. Martin Luther King’s much quoted 1963 “I Have a Dream” line: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will no longer be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Five years later, Dr. King was shot dead in 1968. The five year evolution of Dr. King’s thought in 1963 to 1968 is about as dynamic as the fledgling understanding of a 13-year-old compared to the just beginning to connect-the-dots-understanding of an 18-year-old.

Imagine Dr. King back today. Would he be concerned about a young white boy dating his daughter? Give speeches about it? Write newspaper columns about it? I do not think so. I think he would look around at the condition of his people much the way Jesus, in days of lore, looked at the ATMs in the temple. Dr. King would see that in the U.S. a type of social integration had evolved, laws had been passed and the historic barbaric behavior of the western world had been beaten back to a civilized cordiality. I think he would conclude, rightly so, that social integration without a community in control of its economic resources is economic slavery. Dr. King would say, ‘It’s the community economy, stupid! It’s about organizing the expertise, education and billions of dollars in the black community to fund and finance solutions to the problems crippling our people trapped in the basement of America’s social ills.’ I think that Dr. King would aggressively take on the sticky psychological vestiges of slavery in our current day behavior.

Dr. King would moan in anguish that black communities in urban centers had lost control of its small business infrastructure, its internal compass of dignity and self-respect and its sacred use of music to convey messages that uplift the human spirit to exalted action to bring good to the world. The wholesale surrender to the value systems and illogical morals of the former overt oppressive society would cause Dr. King to weep.

A young white boy dating a young black girl is not the issue. The issue is black “leadership” getting on the same page, or at least in the same chapter of the same book of solutions, to do something to improve the lot of black people trapped in bad health, warped values and weak skills to compete in the western world. The issue is can black “leadership” construct economic systems to deliver opportunity, training and modern day skills so that our youth can articulate their ideas in a complete sentence, master the western world and put the prison system out of business. I do not think that Dr. King would spend time on what one white boy “thinks” about his daughter. However, he might notice that local black political power has stumbled or given up on figuring out how to create policies to help improve the training and skills and elevate the values of black people to take their rightful place in the human family.

Dr. King would concede, ‘OK ya’ll, the moral strategy of non-violence did not get us all killed, but it did win social integration concessions. OK. Fine.’ But critically, Dr. King would focus on the internal economy of the black community and its untapped billions of dollars to do something for itself, not just be beautiful, well-dressed, handsome and cute. Dr. King would ask, ‘why are the doors of the church closed six days a week. Where are your church members who volunteer to run your math, science and language arts tutorial programs to sharpen your children’s minds to run the world?’ ‘Explain to me again,’ Dr. King would say, ‘exactly why your pastor is so rich in money but Miss Annie down the street is living in the dark because her lights cut off?’ I think he would say, ‘uh-rah, social integration has its place, but the negative contradictions inherent in social integration are detrimental to our collective community development.’

The absence of community control of businesses in the community would probably depress him. I think he would say, ‘hey, there’s something I wanted to let you know before I got shot: Social integration is not the sole goal of the modern day Civil Rights Movement or any movement upon whose shoulders the Movement stood to break the nullifying grip of American apartheid. It’s the community economy, stupid.’

Dr. King would be embarrassed unto us. He would weep at our lack of creative imagination to solve our own problems. He would say, possibly, ‘stop sound-biting my 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech. Check me out later. Jump ahead to the end of my life among you when I wrote unto you in my book, “Where Do We Go From Here,” for your guidance during these troubling times in the 21st century’:

“Everything Negroes need—and many of us need almost everything—will not like magic materialize from the use of the ballot. Yet as a lever of power, if it is given studious attention and employed with the creativity we have proved through our protest activities we posse, it will help us to achieve many far reaching changes during our lifetime.” Additionally, “In the future we must become intensive political activists. We must be guided in this direction because we need political strength more desperately that any other group in American society.

Most of us are too poor to have adequate economic power, and many of us are too rejected by the culture to be part of any tradition of power. Necessity will draw us toward the power inherent in the creative use of politics.”

Bill Curtis lives in Baltimore, MD. To contact him, email: