The question has been, “How do we claim our own future?” This supposes that we do not have a claim to our own futures, and I am apt to agree with this statement. However, I do not believe that we cannot lay claim to our own future. In order to do so, we have to understand the hurtles to such a project and to develop practical and achievable means to overcome them.
Strange, or maybe not so much, but the reality is that the most predictive factor of violent crime is Joblessness. This is important because so much hinges on crime in this country: The New Jim Crow and mass incarceration, disenfranchisement, joblessness. Joblessness is a chronic illness within our communities that once solved will not only decrease prison populations and bring our men and women back to us, but it will also help to pave the way to Claiming Our Communities.
Having a job gives a person’s life point and value; it helps a person to feel worthwhile and important. People have a need to feel like they are contributing to their community.
With this there are a few epistemic caveats:
(1) The person has to “feel” as though they are not being exploited by the job.
(2) The community actually has to be representative of the person and it must positively seek to benefit both the person, i.e., each person and the community as a whole.
(3) There has to be work that needs to be done.
All of this is true, but the reality is that particular groups of people and individuals with certain types of histories that have been stigmatized are denied un-exploitative work and jobs in general. However, if and when the community claims the means of production and the control of resources for the benefit of the community, then we can employ our people and provide them with one of the necessary components to help them earn point and value to our lives. As violent crime decreases, the rest of the crimes will also decrease in a negative correlation with the growth of wealth.
So, why are our politicians in Seattle and the United States more concerned with policing to decrease crime than improving the conditions in our communities?
It never was the government’s responsibility or obligation to provide for these things, but somehow in the 20th Century the people attempted to place these responsibilities and obligations onto the government. That is why it seems that the government is failing our communities in terms of providing jobs and protections. Furthermore, the government is run by the wealthy, so it is their interests that will be protected and promoted by the government, not ours. Thus, the improvement and the growth of our communities fall to us. We need to stop waiting on a failing government to provide the necessary resources to build our communities and build it ourselves.
As we claim our own resources with the future in mind, and by future, what I mean is thinking of four generations down the line, then our collective wealth will grow and we can afford to encroach and claim a huge portion of this government and we can redirect its objectives to a project that is more objective and equitable. As all of this begins to happen and to take shape, we will have several problems to address:
- A) The concept of an “Uncle Tom” or a “Sell-Out“.
Now if someone is selling out our people and doing the Man’s work for him, the this person needs to be chastised. However, if these labels are being attributed to people just because they get an education (which we want to happen for more and more people), begin to make a little money (which we need to happen to control resources), and work in the institutions that we find fault in (which is necessary to claim our communities), then we cause more harm than good. The harm is done to ourselves because we need these people in our communities, but these labels and the behavior and treated that follows them pushes the people we need to contribute to the community out of that community. So, we will have to guard against pushing out those we have fought to pave the path for while simultaneously guarding against their being corrupted by a corrupt system. This will require including them into our community and holding them responsible for their non-actions or negative actions.
As more people begin to earn educations and wealth there will be a tendency for an elitist sentiment to emerge within our communities and that we must be guard against at all costs. This is primarily the case because it is this type of thinking that has led us to the troubles we are working to overcome today and is where the terms “Uncle Tom” and “Sell-Out” emerge. It will be the case that many of us in the beginning will not have a lot of wealth or education because the system we live in has guaranteed that to be the case. These two characteristics of our community will converge and create a space will division within the community can occur, and the formation of an elitist class is highly probable if not guarded against. Every life has value, a tremendous amount of value and each person brings to the community something that we cannot do without, so it is a harm not to recognize and respect that. Furthermore, as was mentioned above, the system places labels on people to control our access to the resources in our communities and if we continue this practice, it will cause our actions to implode on us. We have to see past these constructed labels of social control, such as criminal, villain, trouble maker, poor, or ignorant to discover the humans beneath them. These people are the ones that need to be promoted the most because they are the ones most impacted by this racist and oppressive system, so we cannot shun them for the labels a corrupt system has given them. If we do not guard against the attribution of these labels to people, then those who would form an elitist center will use them to promote their own agendas. These actions are necessary to reclaim our communities and are what is required to provide our people with the work they need to give their lives point and value.
- C) Our Communities and Legacy is Much More Than Financial Wealth
We have a cultural legacy that we are obligated to transmit to the next generations which includes history, technology, practices, art, skills, and so much more. However, without the control of resources it becomes increasingly difficult to manage to complete this transmission. First, we have to create a reason for our people to invest in our people, which means we have to give their lives and their efforts point and value. Jobs can provide that point and value as was clearly identified above, but that is only the beginning. As we claim our resources, our communities will be seen as something worth investing in by our own people if, we guard against the problems mentioned above in (A) and (B). Then we will have the capital and the wealth to transmit to further generations and we can focus on the cultural wealth that we posses. By building our own educational systems (teaching what we believe our youth need to learn) and financial institutions (with an educational component to teach fiscal responsibility and entrepreneurship), we can prepare trades people and build our own infrastructures with our own people, and essentially own the responsibility and obligations that have been given to a government that is unresponsive to our needs and continues to fail us. This is a Legacy that is worth growing and transmitting to our future generations.
- D) We have to confront the Separatist sentiments
The formation of this type of community action will inevitably be subject to two assaults of Separatist Sentiment, the first will come from the American public and the second will come from within our communities. The American public will view this as an attempt to separate from the American government, yet that is not what is being proposed here. What is being proposed is to function within the United States system, within our respective states, but to focus our own wealth and culture on ourselves as opposed to continuing to support a regime that denies us access. This will garner us the bargaining power necessary to effect change in the circles that systematically deny us access and credibility precisely because we lack the control of resources.
The push back from within our own communities will arise because our people will see that we are controlling resources and that the system we have all grown up in disregards us, and by corollary will desire to no longer to be part of that system. This proposal is not a suggestion that we move in that direction (at least not yet), but is rather a proposal that uses the protections that already exist within that system but have not served our interests precisely because we have been separated. This is a proposal to unite our many disparate efforts into one collective effort: Claiming Our Communities.
The United States Constitution, as corrupt as the authors of it were, and as the wording of it is, still provides for what is being proposed herein, we have the Liberty, to invest our money and resources where and when we see fit. Thus, it is perfectly justifiable to invest in our own communities to provide the services that we need. It is perfectly understandable that organization like the KKK will stand in opposition to an action of this magnitude that is as empowering of a marginalized community, as this. But, we also have the Right to defend ourselves against such actions against our communities. Again, we take back responsibility and obligation for the protection and promotion of our own communities within the Rights granted to us by the U.S. Constitution.
We lay claim to our futures by taking responsibility for our own future and by owning the obligations to guarantee that future. When we do this we are Claiming Our Communities as our own, we are not just waiting for a hand out, but rather, we are exercising the power already inherent in our people to do so. There are some pitfalls that we have to be cautious of, but this is to be expected with a project and undertaking of this scale. However, if we are watchful and learn from those who have come before us and create our own path learning as we progress, then these pitfalls can be averted. The list compiled here is not meant to be exhaustive as this is just a beginning to help our people to envision what is possible. I also grant that I have made many errors in my analysis and that is why this is a living document. I welcome criticisms, and will consider them all for their relevance and importance, but mostly my attention will be devoted to criticisms from within the community, not from without. That being said, our future is well within our grasp if we have the heart and the courage to take hold of it.