The Haves

“Professionals movin the decimals”

A little history…

Rockefeller, Pulitzer, Vanderbilt, JP Morgan, George Pullman, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Marshall Field… these men amassed a fortune together from the 1870s to the 1930s. They are among the aristocrats of American wealth.

Vanderbilt built a steamboat business, which led to ocean liners, and soon railroads to transport goods. He was friends with Rockefeller, who supplied him the oil to run his trains. Carnegie provided the steel to build the railroads, and Morgan ran the banks they stashed their fortunes in. George Pullman, a maker of railroad cars from Chicago, was friends with Marshall Field, who received some of his early funding from the railroad giants, so they could dress in the best textiles and finery. Morgan hired Thomas Edison to install electricity in his home, which is where he invented the light bulb. Henry Ford worked for Edison and became his top engineer while working on the Model T. The two of them tried to come up with a substitute for rubber to use as tires, and brought in friend Harvey Firestone into the endeavor. These are the wealthiest Americans in history… a group of friends or friends of friends who came together to account for over 2/3rds of America’s fortune.

Most of these men were born poor, but understood the concept of community wealth… and being the dominant class in America at the time didn’t hurt either! 🤷🏽‍♀️

“This is the shit you dream about with your homies steaming out”

Community wealth… the difference between the real haves and have nots. You see, in the spirit of the monarchy, Europeans have mastered the art. You do business with, marry, socialize, and fraternize with wealth, so you, in turn, become wealthy. And wealth begets wealth by keeping it ” all in the family” so to speak. Not necessarily blood related, but dollar bonded. It is the actual American Dream.

The real bamboozle was this idea that the American Dream was available to anyone. Nope. It was never that anyone could assimilate into success through hard work and determination… it was a birthright. Other cultures, who have migrated to the US voluntarily, were able to maintain their culture, cultivate business models that flourishes despite exclusionary immigration practices… not a new phenomenon. Take Chinese restaurants… and by the way, Chinese people don’t eat egg rolls. But more on that later…

After the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, Chinese laborers were unable to immigrate for work, but in 1915, despite being excluded, Chinese business investors could put up money and bring over relatives to work. By 1920, just FIVE years later, Chinese owned restaurants brought in over $77 million dollars in New York alone. Because the cost was so high, several Chinese immigrants would pool their money, and as those restaurants made money, they would duplicate the business model until 1930 when the industry brought in over $150 million. The Chinese live and work in culturally homogenous groups, and therefore have been able to realize the American Dream. (1)

Similarly, Indian immigrants are the most successful immigrant group in the US. Why? Well Indian immigrants come from a poor country that values education, and the more education the better. Indian immigrants often come to the US only after they have been educated in their home country or they come to the US as students. Therefore, they are able to quickly enter the workforce in highly skilled and high paying jobs. They have maintained the cultural importance and requirement of a quality and robust education. For this reason “they are the wealthiest and most highly educated immigrants in this country.” (2)

“Seems our plans to get a grant, then go off to college didn’t pan off even out…”

So what happened with Black people?!??

Let’s start off with this fact… everyone in America, except Native Americans, are descendants of immigrants. Everyone! Now I know my folks get up in arms being called immigrants, but be clear, a person who is trafficked into this country by force for the purpose of peonage, involuntary servitude, debt bondage, or slavery has still immigrated, by force, but immigrated nonetheless. They physically left their country and settled here, the voluntary nature or intent does not change the facts.

Okay so now that that is clear… the involuntary nature of our migration and then the systematic degradation of our culture (education, language, values, religions, customs, family dynamics) meant that much of our history was beaten from our reality. There was simply not the opportunity to create these opportunities. Even after slavery, and as Black people started to see success, we were treated much worse in the early twentieth century than immigrants… despite our citizenship in this country. African immigrants were able to make strides that those of us with the same DNA sequences, born Black and American, could not benefit from. Today, like Chinese and Indian immigrants, even African immigrants fare better financially than Black Americans.

So here we are, 2018, just two years after watching the first Black President leave the White House, when Black Women are thriving, and Black men are seeing financial successes that hasn’t been realized since we were stolen from our native land… and still, while 13% of Americans are living in poverty, 22% of Black people live in poverty, more than any other race. (3)

“Nothing wrong with my aim, just gotta change the target”

It’s time y’all… we need to band together and stop financing everyone else’s dream.

We shop at stores owned by everyone but us.

Our bodies are clothed with textiles that aren’t designed into fashion by us or even sold by us.

We eat food that we don’t grow.

When we do spend with each other, we want a hook up we’d never ask for at Walmart.

We excel in sports, entertainment, the creative arts. The world copies our style, our culture, and benefits from our innovation in technology, education, social services, and agriculture. We need to band together and have our own movie studios, art galleries, engineering firms, community programs, schools, and farms. If there are many of us, we can take a page outta the book of Jay-Z and Tidal, community ownership. We should be purposefully buying clothes designed by Black designers, all of our Gucci should be Dapper Dan. Instead of giving our skills to companies owned by “them” we should be independently contracting and partnering with each other. We can create partnerships with companies that can assist us in our ventures like Vanderbilt and Rockefeller.

They already gave us the model. It’s time to grow the tree that bears the fruit, and EAT yo! And like Dame Dash said, we need to put up our own money (Note: If you haven’t listened to his audio book “Culture Vulture” then you are missing out!). No loans so the bank owns us, we can do this shit together. Scholarships to go to college are cool and necessary, but putting money into community based businesses and services is necessary as well. Then we need to duplicate it and keep it in the culture! My seeds, grow with his seeds…

Financial success swings the pendulum. You cannot lock someone out of a system they built themselves, that doesn’t rely on your credit, your programs, your money, your politics, or your name. Let’s be Rockefellers out here in these urban streets, build and put everybody else with a hustle, a strong work ethic, and melanin on!

“Now see that’s life right there, and it seems right there…”

(Lyrics by Jay-z “American Dreamin)

(1) https://scholars.org/brief/untold-story-chinese-restaurants-america

(2)https://news.ucsc.edu/2017/06/singh-book.html

(3)https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/poverty-rate-by-raceethnicity/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

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