Starbucks and the Miseducation of the Negro
Another institution, in this case Starbucks, has unjustly put innocent Black men through the criminal justice system. A system that has brought pain, humiliation and embarrassment. One could only imagine how many times this has happened over the years. This particular incident is known, because it was on video. Honestly speaking, would two Black men have been believed by their employers and or families, if their reasoning for being absent was that they were locked up for “just sitting there?” Probably not. Which makes one think of all the others times Black people have said they were arrested for nothing, not one person believed them and it adversely impacted them for the rest of their lives.
Starbucks does Rosalind Brewer, a Black woman, as its COO. She was hired in 2017. It is this authors opinion the sister has the credentials, has earned the position and will do a great job. However, having one black person a high position does not make up for years of systematic oppression. In fact, this same tactic has been used for years to halt the movement for freedom and self-determination of Black people.
In the past, Black people have protested an issue, a press conference is held, and someone gets hired or placed on a diversity board. She or he is given a salary, some attention in the mainstream media and everyone goes home. Many times that person isn’t even from amongst the people that have been on the ground doing the work, but someone that the powers that be have deemed “safe.” On the surface, one person getting very limited access in to the mainstream, appears to equal a victory for all. However, this is not the case. A large number of people view it as a victory, because the leadership of the movement didn’t raise the political consciousness and maturity of the masses. Victories are established when an institution is built that benefits the masses of the population and not just one specially picked person.
The Black community often complains that it doesn’t have “XXX” in its own community. Have Black people stopped to think that it possibly doesn’t have "XXX", because some of the best talent that we have is used to build up other communities? What if Rosalind Brewer could use her intellectual property, talent, creativity ingenuity and resources to build black institutions as oppose to an institution of another community.
In the area of sports for example, civil rights leaders are currently asking for more diversity in ownership. However, Black people had a very thriving league of their own in early part of the 20th century. What if Jackie Robinson would have stayed in the Negro Leagues what would have happened? When he left to pursue whiter pastures, many other of the top athletes left too. This left the economy that was built around the Negro Leagues to crumble. Eventually the institution closed its doors. One can see similar results with the “desegregation” of many universities and colleges as well.
College basketball and football generates billions of dollars of revenue for their institutions. This revenue is then used to build libraries, dorms, and other facilities that are necessary to enhance the learning experience of its students and the local community. If HBCU’s would have been able to retain Black athletes over the last 70 years, where would those schools be? It often takes talent and resources to attract more talent and resources. One reason HBCU’s are 70 years behind where they could be, is that many Black athletes bought into the idea that the predominantly white institutions are better.
The solution for Black people is to build their own institutions. It cannot be put any simpler than this. When a community builds its own institutions, it enhances its community to the standard that it desires. The Greenwood section of Tulsa Oklahoma, commonly known as "Black Wall Street" is held in high regard in the Black community. It was able to achieve such a high level of success, because the institutions in it, were developed, controlled and maintained by and for Black people. This same model has to be the formula of success today.
Black people have to break the chains of psychological slavery and learn to see value in themselves and their own institutions. Black people can no longer afford to use their talent to build other communities while neglecting to develop its own.
The National Black United Front will be hosting a community forum titled Black Economics: Solutions to Community Empowerment. This forum will address some of the critical issues that Black people face in developing their own communities and provide solutions on how to empower those seeking to build up the Black economy. The forum will take place 7:30 pm, Wednesday April 18, 2018 at the Emergence Community Arts Collective, 733 Euclid St. NW Washington DC. Click here to register for the forum.