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Jim Clark was the sheriff of Dallas County, Alabama when civil rights protestors came in search of voting rights. Clark was a racist, pure and simple. Reflecting back on his encounters with Jim Clark, Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) said, “When we went to Mississippi we did not go to sit next to Ross Barnett; we did not go to sit next to Jim Clark; we went to get them out of our way.” The goal of protest isn’t to be included in anything that others still maintain control of. 50 years after the Housing Act of 1968, it was clear that “diversity and inclusion” didn’t do much to advance the masses of Black people.
50 years after the Civil Rights Act, Black unemployment was higher than when it was passed. Since the Federal Housing Act of ’68 was passed, Black homeownership has not increased and the wealth gap with whites has more than tripled. In many ways, Black people have lost ground in the age of civil rights and the reasons are clear: integration opened up opportunities (for middle-class Blacks, in particular) but also duped the masses into thinking they could live freely, without ownership. Ownership is power and without it, diversity and inclusion will only lead Black people down a path where protests are still necessary in 2070.
In this moment, in the aftermath of national protests, a host of initiatives have been launched. The question, however, is how many lead to true ownership? Government programs that provide basic needs for Black people are helpful but do not achieve that goal. Corporations can be helpful in this moment but their activities must be judged on whether or not they actually help increase Black ownership. Indeed, even Black organizations must be challenged in this moment. Many Black organizations are taking advantage of “white guilt” and raising funds. What they do with them, however, is crucial. If Black organizations are raising money to pad their budgets or simply to do seminars, the millions raised will not lead to increased ownership of anything.
Are Black people increasing their ownership or levels of independence in this moment? Black people must think critically about this question or this moment will be wasted. More “diversity and inclusion” is being offered by corporations and other entities but that isn’t the need. The history tells us that Black people will not be made better off without ownership. As legislators and corporations dangle more “solutions,” they must be evaluated by the simple metric of whether Black people will (independently) own more.