My family made a choice, publicly, to spend as much money as possible with Black business owners and professionals. We made this decision and make this sacrifice because we believe Black people have too much talent and spend too much money for their community to look the way it does and for its families to suffer the way they do. We urge our community to practice self-help economics. We want our people to unite, in this positive and peaceful way, to counter social ills that disproportionately impact our people (recidivism, unemployment, gang activity and drug abuse, lack of education), by infusing wealth into underserved neighborhoods, creating more jobs, and providing role models for the youth.
Many people have violently criticized our pledge, our project, and our overall mission. Through hate-email, blogs, Facebook, letters to our home, we have been called racists and Nazis, and demeaning, malicious attacks have been lodged against us and our people.
There are those dismayed by EE’s call for Blacks to leverage and engender collective consumerism as a solution to our problems… threatened by EE’s blatant refusal to continue to wait and rely on the largesse of others or well-meaning government programs to trickle down… confused by our public and proud choice to support our own genius and products. Those people have been feeling that way about any call to ‘buy Black’ for a long time.
But they’re more fired up now because what really burns them about EE is us.
John, Maggie, Cara and Cori—the Anderson family of Oak Park, ‘Apple Pie’ USA. We scare and appall them.
That people like us could dream up something like this is what’s new and inspirational about our movement. And sadly, this is precisely what bothers so many about it. We aren’t poor and disenfranchised. We aren’t ex-offenders reformed in prison. We are not militant radicals. My Ivy League husband and I earned six-figure salaries working in corporate America. We went to white universities and studied with and about good white people.
We don’t fit the Black activist profile.
How dare I, a manifestation of the great American Dream, the product of many races and nationalities, preach self-help economics for Black people?
How dare John? John came from a ‘good’ home in a ‘good’ neighborhood. John’s father paid for his Harvard education. John even has White friends!
So we aren’t supposed to be offended and distressed. We shouldn’t be starting movements. They say we should be humble and grateful, doing everything we can to repay our country for the victory of our lives—not trying to improve America so that there can be more families like ours living that American Dream too.
We’re supposed to do what everyone else does. You know, shop with the big names and designers instead of with our conscience. Drive over and around the struggling Black parts of town. Ignore the plight of our people, the rights of our people, the power of our people—all in exchange for the welcome and cozy embrace of American middle-class life.
We are pretty confident that our girls will get good educations, wonderful opportunities, and grow up to be law-abiding, productive members of society. This is all that should matter to us.
“What else could they want?” They say. “Why are they trying to change things???!!!!”
Yes, we do have a wonderful life. But it’s not enough. And we’ll throw it all away if it means we could not keep fighting for what’s right.
You know what we really want? We want to live that wonderful life in a society where our beautiful people are not relegated to the bottom anymore. So we fight for that. That’s our fight. That’s our journey. That’s our movement and it’s just beginning.
(This blog was originally written by me, Maggie Anderson, for Black Enterprise.)