Race, News, Social Justice

Black economic autonomy is the key to preventing police brutality

If they refuse to stop gunning us down in the streets, I refuse to support the system that pays their salaries.

I’m currently sitting in my campus library typing this piece and crying. While I care that Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the unarmed Black woman were murdered by San Francisco police, my tears are not for them. I am crying for my son.

Alton Sterling did not have a weapon. He was an unarmed entrepreneur who got tackled and killed by police. He is now a hashtag. Keeping up with all of the hashtags is nearly impossible.

#OscarGrant #RekiyaBoyd #AltonSterling #JessicaWilliams #AiyanaJones #DavidJoseph #TamirRice #TanishaAnderson

Michigan police killed little seven year old Aiyana Jones while she slept, then tried to cover it up. Minnesota police shot into a car with an infant. Baltimore police shot a 13-year boy. Tamir Rice was 12. Cameron Tillman was 14. Supposedly, #BlackLivesMatter, but this country reminds us over and over why that hashtag was created in the first place. They’ve been killing us and getting away with it for years. Remember the town of Rosewood in Florida? Dozens of innocent Black people were killed in the massacre by a white mob and no one was ever brought to justice because there was “insufficient evidence”.

At one point Black folks were getting murdered by police so frequently that I changed my profile picture just in case I was shot. My hope was that the picture accompanying my hashtag would look non threatening enough to garner sympathy from mainstream media. We know that when a Black person is killed, the media automatically assumes they deserved it. Mugshots are selected instead of graduation photos most of the time. It is a disgusting display of overt racism. Police have murdered 136 Black people in the U.S. this year, and it’s only the beginning of July. Even when they’re charged (which is rare) it’s generally labeled as justifiable homicide.

We are angry. We are frustrated. We are scared. We are tired. My timeline is full of complaints and reactionary language. We suffer from an unnerving anger that is strengthened by white supremacy’s drive to disprove its existence. Black psychiatrists Dr. Cobbs and Dr. Grier examine our perpetual rage, noting that “slavery was never undone for either the slave or the slave master.” Although the physical shackles are gone, we still exist in a country that prefers us to be subservient rather than independent.

Protests, tweets, and vigils may help us deal with our reactions to this injustice, but they are not enough. The government claims to be working on a solution, but instead they pacify us with methods that are proven failures. More than twenty million dollars was spent on the national body camera initiative. Since then, hundreds of unarmed Black people have been killed by police. Somehow, the body cameras mysteriously malfunction, disappear, fall off, or have their view distorted when they are needed most.

In the midst of continued injustice, I struggle to find comfort. The system doesn’t care and our community doesn’t have the power. The responses I’ve read are mostly complaints, but I need solutions to prevent being consumed by fear.

Black economic autonomy is the key to preventing police brutality.

This is important and it matters. Every day my son is at a greater risk for becoming a hashtag just like you and your loved ones are at greater risk. Being a good student won’t save you. Being quiet won’t save you. Being a good Negro won’t save you. Black economic autonomy is political sovereignty and freedom from the reliance on outside financial sources. This means investing in Black owned banks, buying from Black owned businesses, creating our own businesses, and controlling our communities.

You might be asking yourself two questions:

1. How will capitalism solve police brutality?

2. Won’t it be too difficult to buy Black?

Here is my reasoning: Until a group has its own economy, in can be penetrated and controlled by outside forces with little recourse. We cannot be free from state-sponsored police brutality if we are involuntarily dependent on the state. The system is configured to protect those in power and maintain their dominance. The US fails to ensure diplomatic engagement with Black people. The only solution is the destruction of anti-Black violence through economic autonomy.

1. Capitalism = Power

Black capitalism will solve police brutality because it will give us the power to police ourselves. In affluent gated communities, their property and livelihood is often protected by security consultants that they hire, manage, and pay. Private prisons investigate the deaths of guards and prisoners internally before police can even enter the property. The U.S. military has its own self governing body called the Criminal Investigation Command that handles serious crimes between soldiers and officers.

2. Buying Black is easier than you think

Investing in Black businesses usually sounds hard because we assume that Black folks don’t run businesses. Furthermore, our conditioning convinces us that the few Black businesses in existence are poorly run and will waste of money. Both ideas are untrue. From toilet paper to cosmetics to grocery stores to restaurants to clothes to magazines to media to real estate, to banks, Black businesses are everywhere and they need our support. In order to effectively invest in Black businesses, we must be willing to shift our thinking. Are we ready for change or have we become comfortable with exploitation?

Institutional racism relies heavily on our compliance and silence. Our money speaks volumes. Kwame Ture and Charles Hamilton pointed out in the book Black Power, “The struggle for black power in this country is the struggle to free [us] from external domination. We are fighting for the redistribution of wealth.” This is a step in the right direction and it is imperative that we explore this option if the goal is to deconstruct police brutality.

I am making a decision to stop crying and start investing. Rather than march and shed tears, I am dedicated to investing in Black economic autonomy. Although I fear the day when someone I love becomes a hashtag, I can no longer let that deter my resolve.

If they refuse to stop gunning us down in the streets, I refuse to support the system that pays their salaries.