Op-EdOpinion

BAILEY: The Need to Protect and Promote our Economic and Political Independence

In an August 1992 column, I noted the need for Black folks to focus more on achieving economic and political independence.

In regard to politics, I wrote: “One of the best things I have read recently is that one-quarter of Black people who were asked their political affiliation described themselves as independents. … Declaring ourselves politically independent is an important first step. The next one is to organize a political party that looks to further our interests and those of other groups with whom we have formed mutually beneficial relationships. There is nothing sacred about a two-party system.”

In dealing with economics, I included a quote given to Lerone Bennett Jr. in a 1976 interview with legendary businessman Earl B. Dickerson. Mr. Dickerson stated, “As more and more Blacks move into the middle-class, they have a responsibility to the black community. If Blacks go into the white community to get knowledge and then stay there, they are only pushing further away from the possibilities of Blacks ever becoming economically sufficient.”

“I call upon these young Black men and women to get the experience, to get the foundation, and, before they are too old, to move into the Black community to help Blacks achieve economic equality,” he said. “The economic insufficiency of the Black community can never be improved to any substantial extent merely by employing a few middle-class Blacks. … We’ve got to improve the purchasing power of the total community …”

Twenty-nine years after that column, we as a people have yet to achieve the kind of economic and political independence that will enable us to better promote and protect our vital interests in this country. Economically, we still give the overwhelming majority of our dollars to members of other racial, ethnic or religious groups, despite being exploited by all of them.

Politically, the overwhelming majority of us still believe that the only way to do that is to be either a Democrat or a Republican despite the fact that both parties, through the years, have exploited us. The billion-dollar question: When will we begin to more effectively promote and protect our economic and political interests?

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