It was an honor and a pleasure to hear Dr. Claud Anderson at the West Louisville Forum today and this evening at St. Stephen Baptist Church. Simmons College of Kentucky hosted a wonderful monthly event that I hope translates into development and progress.
Dr. Anderson’s body of work has laid a foundation for Black folk to discuss and follow. Having an extra opportunity to chat a bit with the man and ask him questions were even more helpful. I first read PowerNomics in the early 2000s and Black Labor, White Wealth well before that in the mid 1990s. I have fully consumed and understand his historical and economic frameworks that got us where Black folk currently are compared to ancestors’ bondage, journey and captured residence in America.
It hurt my heart to hear Dr. Anderson tell me that he sold his aquaponics farm to Asians a couple of years back. The reality is, however, that a businessperson has to be profitable, and after seven years and you raise eight million pounds of fish and Black people/vendors only buy 40 pounds of it (that’s .0005 percent, sisters and brothers). I get it, however, he’s aging and the day-to-day management can be a bear…he can still travel and share his life experiences and work with the people, and that has got to be an easier task…so he cut bait.
Over the years, I have watched hours of Dr. Anderson’s videos, so I have a good grip on his PowerNomics development platform. Having that good grip, and being a brother that studies and observes social and economic trends around the world, and also having been a victim of some of the changes of recessions and changes, I believe that Dr. Anderson’s model could stand a renovation. You can call it PowerNomics 2.0, people might call it something else. From the research that I have had the opportunity to participate a bit as well as moving along on my own and starting a new journey in 2016, let me get into what I’m talking about.
The PowerNomics Floor-By-Floor Strategy
Dr. Anderson likens the strategy of what Black people must do to the foundations of a five story building and a foundational approach of building from the bottom to the top, using a “first you must do this, then you must do this” kind of approach. Brothers and sisters, it’s my belief that this strategy has to be evolved – the challenge that Black folk have is serious enough that a linear approach simply is not sufficient, that the nature of this problem must be taken on holistically. This is the way that Anderson breaks it down:
Economics. First, we have to build our own businesses, actively support these business, to build power to get the essentials that we need.
Politics. When you create the community that has a business district, the people leverage money made from focused Black economics to influence elections and politicians to advocate a Black agenda and pass laws in its best interest.
Justice. With political influence and leverage in hand, we now wield the power to compel and control how law enforcement treats us in the street, and that Black people will be treated with fairness in the courts and in sentencing.
Media. Now in ownership of economics, political influence and justice, we have the means to own print and electronic media to have control of our voice, promote our businesses, and as a means to teach life-giving, life-sustaining patterns, practices and culture.
Education. Black people moves away from standardization and place an emphasis and focus our education on the specific talents and needs of our children to develop their abilities, build their skills and to inculcate in them a connection and regard for Black communities.
Upon further review, the goals are right on this approach, but it is a linear, 20th century strategy in a rapidly evolving and changing world. Before 9/11. As is, it’s not going to work anymore.
Dr. Anderson has done many things and has built an incredible amount of accumulated wisdom and experience. In a globalized economy and world, there are new considerations and modifications that must be made to keep these goals effective. This is no fault of Dr. Anderson. He has blessed us with a strategy with goals that are absolutely necessary for Black folk to achieve if we are serious about developing a future for our people and communities. It is our responsibility to understand these changes and trends and make it work for us and the people now and into the future.
Making PowerNomics 2.0 – A Sustainable Ecosystem of Foundations
In late 2014, I first started studying this from the work of the 3rd Strategic Institute. It was this model of Black empowerment that caught my attention, drew in my enthusiasm and got me involved in the work of this study and research group. Some of the ideas that the group embraced they have either evolved or abandoned to pursue blockchain-based strategies, but this ecosystem is plenty for people who have a heart for the neighborhoods of West Louisville and the Black community in spirit to pursue and implement as a strategy.
Rather than a “this, then this” linear structure, PowerNomics 2.0 is based on a holistic ecosystem, taking the five foundations and pursuing them together in synergy. These foundations working together for the common goal of Black community evolution and empowerment is the goal – everything is worked on at the same time and concepts and results, yea or nay, good or bad, successful, unsuccessful and everything in between is used to help the other foundations for overall collective growth. For example: there are a number sisters and brothers right now who have started Black media outlets that we MUST use as a means to get in front of our story, where we change the narrative about how we are perceived and viewed. We cannot allow any one foundational development to be held hostage to a standard of another foundation having to be developed first.
Thinking harder about it, Dr. Anderson’s original strategy may have been more practical in the 1970s to the 1990s, but we live in a world where nearly everyone in the first world and a 1/3 to 1/2 of the people in the developing world have miniature streaming multimedia supercomputers that they carry in their pocket, strapped on their belts or in their purses. With the ability to instantly transmit and share information, things move faster, things evolve faster, and the people and those who love Black communities have to have the ability to adapt and address these changes. You know what? Dr. Anderson wrote PowerNomics 15 years ago. How many people have read it? How many people in how many cities have tried to implement any part of it in any serious fashion? Could it be that Black people’s problems are so many, so complex…so big that doing a “this, then this,” particularly in poor, fragmented Black neighborhoods where it’s so hard to get enough people on a page that because it is so hard to get started with the economics…that most people give up before they even give themselves a chance to start?
There’s a reason I’m stuck on this. I’ve seen Facebook groups that supposedly love Dr. Anderson’s work so much…love it so much that they spell his name wrong.
Love it so much that you’ll see a lot of “Likes” and co-signs and sho’ nuffs about how Black people need to pool this or that…but that’s all it is, talk.
Have you been paying attention to this election? To those who choose to remain ignorant, distracted, over-medicated and uneducated, the clock is about strike 12 on your behinds. President Obama and his family are going to be getting on Marine One and bouncing in January 2017. Playtime is going to be over. Your people and your children deserve better than what you’ve been doing.
So, How Do We Do This PowerNomics 2.0?
Economics 2.0. A symbiotic ecosystem. In addition to concentrated commercial Black business zones, we establish global enterprises to do import/export business to bring international revenue streams within our communities.
We need vertical clusters that can develop skills and talent. China made this happen through the creation of manufacturing hubs. India did so developing IT hubs and talent and plenty of H1-B Visas come out of these regions. A focus on hub creation in the manufacturing, financial and IT fields can be one line of strategy to develop regional talent and skills that can be transportable and offer value to Black communities. This goes beyond small merchants. This is professional and manufacturing services that create entrepreneurs who can in turn create exports and additional jobs. Brother Brad Harrison covered one such brother and business in Micheal White. Joe McNealy has been developing a vision to implement Wi-Fi throughout West Louisville. How well served could he be if we would build out skill-focused study groups in network installation, setup and planning?
Dr. Anderson reminded the community of the exceptionalism of Black people’s story in America. Our sojourn. Our unique challenges…but also, our perseverance and our strengths. Why can’t the best of who we are be marketed in positive ways and through our businesses and the products and services that they provide? World history, particularly around the issues of “race,” has been engaged in this Standard Operating Procedure for six centuries. Technology is altering this, warping the walls that have been built up over that time. Technology can be leveraged to tear them down, if enough of us get our skills up and have a driven focus toward the goal and focus of community improvement and development.
With the money that comes into Derby every season and people from around the world coming in to see horses run around a dirt oval…why can’t Black businesses participate in the bounty? Despite some things that’s been said, why can’t Chinese tourists come to Roof Top Grill or Chef Space to chow down on some Soul Food? I respect Dr. Anderson, but I disagree. Asians did business with Dr. Anderson, they bought most of his product and ultimately, his business. He proved that he was about it – he delivered service, integrity and an excellent product. There is no reason that if we are about it – that we research key needs in our community and develop businesses to cater to that need and deliver great service and a product? You can get business, particularly global, and particularly online and with international shipping.
Fundamentally, we must implement circular economic solutions where Black folk share assets and services as opposed to buying brand new to flash or brag to preserve resources and save more, it better allows for personal wealth growth. When Dr. Anderson talks about money circulating in a community multiple times, in this age of technology, we do not have to guess on how to do that. Putting in place digital peer-to-peer mobile payments and establishing trust/verification platforms such as the blockchain can promote spending and payments in our communities.
Politics 2.0. Through the strengthening and development of commercial clusters in Black communities across America, you establish a satellite network of communities of trade and relations, and you leverage relationships with other Black communities across the diaspora. Create organizations (or reform the mission of existing ones) that specialize in drafting legislation templates for our elected official to advocate on our behalf. Create media channels and scorecards that target our area’s local officials to examine their voting and productivity records to keep them under review.
There also needs to be a highly focused effort on establishing financial organizations. As opposed to trying to get taxpayers to fund the whole amount, that we leverage for tax breaks such as low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs), historic tax credits (HTCs) and renewable energy tax credits (RETCs) and get the city to pay for sewer and street work. For real estate, we create real estate investment trusts (REITs) and focus on generating crowdfunding and share investments for land and buildings. On top of that, create private clubs and structures that has a mission for community economic improvement. Do not use your personal assets to finance or pay for anything unless it is an amount that’s $5,000 or less.
Justice 2.0. Ensure that Black folk know their rights and the discernment to invoke those rights when appropriate. Develop a strategic focus and tactical strategies of marginalizing and neutralizing any and all anti-Black threats. Lobby to advocacy organizations up to and including the United Nations to petition mass incarceration and maltreatment and targeting for plunder through harassment and petty fines.
Media 2.0. Leverage existing and train and prepare those to work in digital media to make marketing campaigns promoting community businesses and Black culture to 1) change the self-hate narrative that still lingers in many Black people and 2) encourage global trade and tourism to our communities. If people will flood Fourth Street Live! for Derby, why in the hell can’t they come to Russell or ZULU or NuWest or whatever the people will call it?
We already have a number of media entrepreneurs and a media organization (Black Media Collaborative) in West Louisville. It’s past time for people to come together to create IPTV programming to promote educational and cultural shows about our people and communities not only for ourselves…but worldwide! Look, Black folk and their creativity has been an influencer of fashion, music and culture for decades…and we rarely have benefited from that. Use our exceptionalism to present that uniqueness and the best of us.
Create news stations based out of West Louisville and connect with other Black community-focused media across America. Share data and resources and create an informal, and ultimately formal network of local Black community stations to share clips and news. Create pop-up media to counter biased mainstream media reporting against Black people. It is already starting to happen with materials like Facebook Live and Periscope, but more purposeful, focused and organized. Challenge and overtake the biased and negative mainstream media narratives.
Education 2.0. Create innovation labs, organize small groups centered around a targeted skill development, and study and adopt working patterns and practices that are successful in other urban areas in the developing world.
Creating innovation labs and centers of excellence in every Black household, community Black-owned educational institution and communities. It can otherwise be known as a “I’m tired of my Black ass being broke” lab. Create online courses for sisters and brothers, particularly our youth, around the concepts of relationship and family development, treating the community and other people with respect, Black history of achievers and inventors and doers, and promoting active and healthy lifestyles. It would be a wise move if we studied up the model that Crash Course on YouTube has created to teach people subjects and skills, and develop training and teaching focused around our image and interest. Create collaborative groups and think tanks to develop, discuss and share information leading to the empowerment and improvement of our people and communities.
Another fundamental aspect of Education 2.0 is Agile Community Application and Agile Activism. I’ve talked about it before, but I shall continue to repeat it until more people get it and it takes hold and people take heed:
Individuals and Interactions over Process and Tools. It’s a focus on interacting with people in the community in regular sessions to get input and feedback so that the organizers can prioritize. The skill groups listen directly to the community for their mission, and after they accomplish the mission, they go back to the community for feedback to make corrections or get better but the interaction remains. Don’t get caught up with tools or processes that get in the way of delivering results and giving Black folk what they need.
Working software over Comprehensive Documentation. Working solutions that the people can use right now, no matter how small or basic is the ask. People can talk about Health and Wellness but this past weekend, St. Stephen Baptist and Redeemer Lutheran Churches delivered through hosting mobile health fairs.
Customer collaboration over Contract Negotiation. I talked before about creating educational media that can provide training and educational support to Black people. Talk to people in the community and find out what they want to know…and make some videos on how they can do it. With our faces. Doing it for the people. Positive results sends a positive message to the people that we are all in this together.
Responding to change over Following a Plan. Linear plans are hard to implement in a dynamic world. In an instant, your competitor can release a new component that makes your scripted plan obsolete. Getting stuck in grand Master Plans sets us up for failure and that does not help our struggle doing it that way – our people have been through a lot, they have swallowed tons of disappointment and letdowns and again, the Barackalypse is coming…Black people cannot afford to fail in 2016 and beyond. We must become skilled in anticipating change, reacting to it and being dynamic in our response and future planning. Talk with the people, get feedback, accomplish the next task, move on to the next challenge and keep it moving. That is continuous improvement.
Doing Better, PowerNomics 2.0 Baby Steps
How do we change? Encourage brothers and sisters who start businesses. You see someone announce a new business, give them some positive support. Brother Brad Harrison and sister Akhatarian Lewis have made efforts to do this on social media, we need that and more of it!
Positive Black Media. This is critical. Our local community-developed media must commit to do right by our people and when they do so, we will start seeing more evidence of the change that so many of us pray and hope for.
Better Business Marketing. Positive, consumer-focused marketing, catered to the customers, the people who live in the community with the righteous services and products that the people want and need.
Serious Study of the areas doing Real Black Development. Uh…Atlanta? The Black mayors of Atlanta (Maynard Jackson, Andrew Young, Bill Campbell, Shirley Franklin and Kasim Reed) created an airport and jobs around it, a hotel and convention industry and jobs around that, Atlantic Station, downtown condo living, made Atlanta an Internap hub for high-speed traffic, hosted the 1996 Olympics, and now building a light rail connecting the historic Auburn district to downtown? Look at Atlanta! That’s Black empowerment. There are also commercial districts in Asia, Africa and South America that study groups need to research and adopt for new patterns and practices.
Why I do these Mo’pinions
I started the Mo’pinion in early 2015 as a community service. This was the purposeful creation and development of “black papers” targeted for a focused economic and community improvement of West Louisville’s predominantly Black and poor neighborhoods. A planning guide to pursue strategies, to develop and even create or re-create as necessary the patterns, practices and culture to grow our neighborhoods economically, make safer neighborhoods, better educate our children and ensure the long-term strength of families and the communities.
This is a continued journey toward that path. Won’t you join me?