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Cover Image © chrisdorney

My Black Perspective #26: Community Building

Toward the end of this series’ post about Black People having Unity, I said, “I feel like other minority groups in America have figured this out a little better than we have. Jewish People. Asian Americans. Hispanic Americans are getting it together.” I think one of their key elements of success is community building.

Today, let’s take a look at what things I had in mind when I made that statement, and talk about those in the context of Black America. And I’ll mention a few things that we’re already doing in the process along with a few thoughts on those things.

Non-Black U.S. Minorities & Stereotypical Synergy

As far as what I had in mind when I said the other groups have figured something out – I meant that there are certain things associated with those cultures that tend to be true, but in a good way. And they lean into it.

Non-Indian Asian Americans are stereotypically seen as business owners in Black Communities all over America.  Various restaurants and stores (e.g. Black Haircare stores) are Asian-owned and hire for a skill set that lends itself to only Asian employees.

It is not uncommon for Indian American communities (as in “people from India” – just clarifying in case anyone had Native Americans in mind) to live in multigenerational households and own family businesses.  They build familial wealth by keeping the family unit together and passing those assets down to their children who then take care of the parents.  The practice of intergenerational cohabitation is stigmatized in large sections of Black America (the praised goal being to “get out on your own”).

Jewish communities in America support their cause through real estate investments and then shaping communal structures from there.  A Jewish millionaire once paid families to move to a town in Alabama to build up the Jewish community there, search for “Jewish Community Ramapo NY” on Google to see what is happening there, and this story about the related takeover of the town’s school system is fascinating.

Hispanic Americans stay very family and community-oriented as they slowly but surely navigate their way through America’s systems as its fastest-growing minority demographic group.  The networks, events, and organizations they are establishing appear to be working.

People portraits set - hand drawn flat style vector design concept illustration of young men and women, male and female faces and shoulders avatars.

There is a thread that ties through all of these things that are often coined as stereotypes: Focus.

I am an outsider to all of the minority communities I mentioned above, but I do wonder if a key goal was set at some point – or if things are driven by a shared value system established in a governmental or religious system at some point? I wonder about that because of the synergies that I imagine it must take to pull off their level of self-sufficiency and growth. There is something about “taking what works” and repeating it across a mass of people that seems to have gone well for these groups so far (at least, better than Black Americans).

I feel like Black People are missing whatever that “X-Factor” is in terms of being organized at the moment. Do we want to increase the presence of Black Businesses? Ok – super support Black-owned. Do we want to increase Black Wealth and coordination among that industry? Ok – bank Black (as in “put your money into Black-owned banks”). Are we trying to increase access to education for generations to come? And so on. I hate to say it, but I feel like a lot of what I’ve seen and experienced pushes a certain level of individualism that hasn’t worked out well for our community collectively.

Community Things We Currently Do

I think Black People already do a lot that are steps in the right direction:

  • Black People who can are seeking out assets like home-ownership and businesses.
  • Some Black People really push supporting Black-owned businesses.
  • Some of us bank Black.
  • We have organizations set-up to help the Black Community in many different ways.
  • Black People are getting involved in politics.

This is all great, and will eventually get us somewhere better as a group. BUT – doing all of this in a haphazard and unfocused way will yield much slower results than we could otherwise probably get.

I like the fact that we have tons of Black celebrities and other people in influential positions, supporting different causes and building up things that grow opportunities for Black People in fields that are important to them… I would be lying if I said I don’t wish we’d refine it a little bit more, though.

Can you imagine if influential Black Americans rallied behind one cause and then put their assets toward building that thing up? It would be amazing, and I think that we have the resources to do it. The issue there (and this is my Americanism showing hard) is that it’s not their RESPONSIBILITY to do so.

I know that it takes more than just one group of people to build up a community… But, and I bring this up because it seems to be something the other minority groups have figured out, “If we don’t do it for ourselves in this fashion, who the hell will?” Who will prioritize “us” if we don’t even prioritize ourselves? Being VERY cliché here, we can only harvest what WE grow.

Black woman harvesting fresh tomatoes from the greenhouse garden putting ripe local produce in a basket.

This one is short and sweet today because I don’t see the point of dragging this one on any further than it’s already been taken. I think we have all of the ingredients to build up the Black Community in America right now, we just don’t have much focus/coordination as a group.

To be honest – I don’t know how you correct that (because I feel like many groups have tried in the past). There are unseen challenges there that have hindered Black People’s progress in America for too long, and I think we can’t shirk off the fact that it’s an internal challenge. We have our external hurdles, but we for damn sure have our internal ones, too. Individualism over Collectivism is a huge one, and I just think that’s another “-ism”: Americanism.

I’d be curious to hear what anyone else has to say on this one.

Peace, and thanks for reading.


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Image Credits:
– Cover Image © chrisdorney (Shutterstock)
– Body Image 1 © millering (Shutterstock)

– Body Image 2 © AYA images (Shutterstock)

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