Redefining the Labyrinth
was a project I began while teaching at a local Memphis High School. With the current uproar about all that is wrong in the Memphis City Schools, I thought it would be interesting to post the work generated by four high school seniors, who are products of a system that everyone assumes is not capable of developing and producing productive students who can compete in this socioeconomic culture. I edited the book and contributed essays to give the book a shape and form, but it was the work of the students that allowed for the completion of this work. The artwork was completed by the student author DeVarius Fisher and the idea to make the name of each chapter an allusion to a song in Hip-Hop was a collaborative effort. I will post each student essay here on the blog. There is also a Question and Answer section in the book. If you would like to purchase a copy click here.
Featured Artist: Michael R. Walker
Poverty and Crime: The Chicken or The Egg?
How to Create a Stronger Black Economy
There are so many variables involved in creating a stronger black economy that it is very difficult to see it being done in a short period of time. However, in the long haul, we can create a stronger black economy by investing in higher education, becoming land and/or home owners, and investing in and supporting black owned businesses.
Our educational attainment, in most cases, will always determine our ability to create a stronger black economy. It has been noted that only 13% of African Americans are educated beyond a high school education (Infoplease 2006). In today’s economy, having a high school diploma, GED, or even a bachelor’s degree, will not guarantee success. However, it will help us to make better decisions in creating a stronger black economic base. We cannot overstress that “education is the key to success.”
Along with this education, we need mentors or individuals who have risen from one economic status to a higher one who actually know what it is like to be at the bottom of the totem pole. With those individual’s experience, and the higher educational attainments, we can rejuvenate and rebuild the black economy/community to a level where any person would be proud to be a part of it.
Statistics show that 46% of African American’s own their homes (Infoplease 2006), which surprised this writer with such a high percent. Blacks who own homes usually have steady incomes and are more stable in the community. Now, the question becomes: How does homeownership help to create a stronger black economy? The answer to that question is two-fold: When you own a home, you automatically own that land, which in turn means that you’re economic or wealth status is above the normal. In addition to the above, if you have paid for your home or land ½ to ¾ of your installment payments, then you also have a great deal of equity in it. This alone will allow you to borrow capital or receive an equity loan to start a business venture of your own.
To complete the long range creation of a stronger black economy, we must invest in and support already existing black owned businesses. The only way the black economy/community will grow to be a financially viable group is that we support each other and diversify the types of business that we start. Whether its Barack Obama or Henry Baines of Joe Blow’s corner store, black people as a whole must wake up and do our duty and support worthy, credible black businesses. Investing in black owned and operated businesses means that money made from consumers and investors is going back into a black economic base. When the money from black businesses is returned to the community, those monies can be used to clean up the community, provide better educational tools and scholarships that guarantee a higher education to deserving students in the community. With that said, one of the most vital aspects of building a stronger black economy is supporting and investing in black owned businesses.
By far, history has shown us that higher education is the major key in building a stronger black economy. Without education, it will be very difficult for us to conceive starting or initiating a business concept that would work towards building a strong black economic base. Higher education would also place us in a position to receive the type of wages that we could after many years of savings, invest in the economic growth of our community. Indeed, having obtained a degree of higher education, with the prevailing wages, would also place us in a position to become home and or land owners. As discussed earlier, home ownership eventually lead to business ownership, thereby building a stronger black economy. Naturally blacks must support these black owned businesses and help them to strive and in turn the businesses owners will hire additional personnel for their establishment. In doing so, all members of the African American community will benefit and prosper. The creation of a stronger black economy is not a simple matter, but it can be done.
Note: Michael Walker attends Tennessee State University. This essay was written when he was a senior in high school. This essay was chosen as a national finalist in the NAACP ACT-SO Competition.