By India Taina
Black people, this is my address to you. I am not anyone of grand importance, or with scholarly accolades to back up my title or my ideas. I am just a Brown American girl. Taking American ideas. And sending the descendants of its so called founders…to Hell with them.
Black people. There are some things I have to clarify before I continue. I am aware that nobody can tell you how to fight your fight. However, I am going to tell you an idea of how to win said fight. What you do with it is for your discretion, you can ignore it or redesign it to fit how you want your narrative to go, I am staying out of that. This is your fight. And the ideas I am going to lay out are not brand new. At this rate, they are probably on the teetering of ancient, but I promise you, they are tried and true, and they can absolutely win this for you. Plus, the irony of using the ideas that have won America it’s freedom being the very thing that grants it to those who America has forsaken freedom to…is just too good. Here is the plan.
So right now it seems to be split down the middle in the Black community. You have those who scream “Violence isn’t the way, we have to come together peacefully” and others are saying “Violence is the only way we haven’t tried, nothing else has worked”. So basically you have the protest your way to change or loot your way to it. I’m here to tell you, you’re both kind of in the same lane, ironically. Either way will ultimately lead to nothing spectacular in terms of laws being passed and actual systemic change. But one way has the slightest upper hand on the other.
Looters, take your stand. Surprised? Don’t worry. By the end of this, you will understand why. You see, the perspective that America has looted and cheated its way to victory throughout its history , is 100% correct. And we all know this, the history books are PROUD of things such as the Boston Tea Party (white men pulled up on a ship and threw all of their merchandise into the fucking sea), “Manifest Destiny” (white men also pulled up on random *but rightfully Native American owned* lands and then just proceeded to wipe them the fuck out and take their shit) and slavery (White men kidnapped African peoples from their lands, and used those kidnapped individuals to fuel their American economy for the next 400 years).
“Well, India, these examples are from really long ago, can they really be used as justification for the looting that’s going on now?” First of all, yes the hell it can. Second of all, I am just naming the main courses of America’s founding. America’s looting has NEVER ended. For current examples, please look at the American healthcare system, the 2008 Recession (also known as the Housing Crisis), the Prison Industrial complex, and of course my most recent and personal favorite, America’s student loan industry. America’s history with looting is so normalized that they made it an integral part of not just their economy, but their legal system! All the things mentioned above are completely legal.
“Okay, we understand that America is rooted in looting, but how does that relate to our victory? Are you telling me to just go out and steal an Apple TV and that will secure my civil rights?” Not exactly.
Detailing this history does put the looters at a slight advantage over other types of protestors, because they are closer than any other group to the heart of securing any victory in the United States: Hitting the economy. Consider the following: When the United States was faced with a viral threat that would discount the lives of thousands upon thousands of Americans, the government did not suit up it’s doctors or secure plans to detain the virus by any means necessary. Instead, it did nothing. However, when American businesses were “threatened” by looters, you had better BELIEVE the government suited up. And not only did they suit up, they armored their forces and gave them unlimited power to enforce whatever order they needed to protect businesses… by whatever means necessary. To quote the American President on the issue at hand, “…when the looting starts, the shooting starts” (Trump, 2020). And so this is what is essential to understand: if you want to dismantle a system, you don’t hit it where it is strongest (which is essentially what peaceful or violent protests do, considering the United States is home to one of the most powerful and refined military states of our time). You hit it where it has no chance of recourse unless it surrenders, and that my friends, is where you have an unbelievable source of power.
Black people, were you aware that you are responsible for $1.2 trillion dollars in spending ANNUALLY in the U.S. of A? African Americans amount to just shy of 13% of the population, yet you yield up to 50% of spending for items such as vegetables, toiletries, beauty, and perfume (“Black Impact: Consumer Categories Where African Americans Move Markets”). You are one of the top consumer groups in America. Even after all of these years, the United States STILL relies on its stolen people to fuel its economy, just under a different guise. And it is fully banking on your power being unrealized. You want to know something else? Did you know that well known American corporations (I can’t name any in specific due to legal reasons, but I will direct you to the Netflix Original Film 13th by Ava Duvernay if you want more information on the topic) are oftentimes very in control of policy making and legislation creation through lobbying organizations? Funny, right? The very people that you support with your dollar are the very ones that are in charge of promoting the laws that govern you? Huh. Tickle me pink. So here’s what you do with that. You exercise your motherfucking dollar like it’s preparing for a triathlon. And you only let it exercise in Black owned or Black Supporting gyms (and yes, ask for receipts on how they have done so, don’t be shy. The customer is always right, not the corporation).
This puts you in a position of great power, and tells companies “Unless you have me like these Black companies have me, unless you show me that you will not only cater to my needs, but put in the work to research my needs, hire people who know about my needs, and propagate legislation that will forward my needs… then you are not getting a CENT of this Black ass dollar.” And I encourage you to really say that shit, with. your. chest.
“But India, how does this really change anything about the system as a whole?” Glad you asked. If Black people were to take control of their dollar (and it is a discipline) and completely pull out of the racist side of the economy, BAYBEEE let me tell you what a doozy you will put this collection of states into. An example of this working in favor of Black People is the Montgomery Bus boycott. This boycott lasted roughly 381 days, in which Black people refused to ride city buses with the initial goal of getting the city to show courtesy to Black riders and hire Black drivers. However, once the economic power was revealed to be much more powerful than what the originators of the boycott had thought, the demands became real, palpable constituents for change. Not only were they demanding courtesy, they were demanding an end to segregation totally on bus rides, and they succeeded. The court ruled in favor of the boycotters, and segregation on buses was found to be unconstitutional.
So, after writing this very lengthy and thorough review on how we can better make the United States government work in our favor in the NOW, versus waiting on election season or continuing to endanger the very lives that we say matter by protesting (the risk is equal whether we are violent or not), I hope to hear something from YOU. Yes, YOU. Reading this, right now, scrolling on your phone. This plan needs work, it needs leadership, it needs traction… but most importantly, it needs action. And I hope that the people reading this can help make that happen. Help formulate this to work for you in the way that only you can design it to. I hope to see you on Part 2.
Resources used for this piece:
“Black Impact: Consumer Categories Where African Americans Move Markets.” Nielsen, 15 Feb. 2018, http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/article/2018/black-impact-consumer-categories-where-african-americans-move-markets/.