Published on December 31st, 20160
Okeem: Capitalism, White Supremacy, and Black Entrepreneurship
Despite capitalism’s many blemishes and imperfections, it is the only system of economic development that has the proven power to lift people out of poverty. Given the state of the American economy and the fact that African Americans are consistently on the lower end of the socioeconomic totem pole, it is imperative that black people embrace capitalism and skillfully utilize the power of entrepreneurship.
Capitalism is unwisely pilloried and attacked because it was used in the service of white supremacy. In American history, not only was black slave labor stolen, but black slaves were also sold and bought as commodities. However, it is logically sloppy to think that capitalism is inherently evil and possesses zero benefits just because it can be thwarted and used as an artifice of evil and oppression. Christianity, too, was thwarted and used as a tool of mass control and oppression. To argue that Christianity has done no good for the world just because evil manipulators misused it for their invidious goals would be absurd.
It is important to note that capitalism and white supremacy are not conjoined twins. Capitalism and white supremacy are not a package deal. One does not have to endorse white supremacy just because one endorses a proven economic system of development and growth. The most serious of black thinkers understand the importance of entrepreneurship and capitalism. However, black radicals irresponsibly conflate capitalism and white supremacy because they are more interested in fomenting victimhood than ending economic malaise.
In his indispensable 1933 book The Mis-Education of the Negro, Dr. Carter G. Woodson eloquently pointed out the absurdity of black people rejecting markets.
To say that the Negro cannot develop sufficiently in the business world to measure arms with present-day capitalists is to deny actual facts, refute history, and discredit the Negro as a capable competitor in the economic battle field of life. … Properly awakened, the Negro can do the so-called impossible in the business world and thus help to govern rather than merely be governed.
Entrepreneurship is not easy, but it is the long-term answer to the economic quagmire that black America faces. Black leftists who relentlessly rail against the entrenchment of white supremacy in government and social institutions cannot be taken seriously if they support the Democratic Party. Aside from the obvious anti-black history of the Democratic Party, the American left is hostile to business and entrepreneurship—and the ideas promoted by the left are almost invariably statist in nature.
Any discussion about white supremacy and its impact that does not culminate in a discussion of entrepreneurship, group economics, and market-based solutions is fundamentally a victimhood session and a colossal waste of time. It is fine to discuss problems, inasmuch as it is impossible to understand what needs fixing without having a clear understanding of what is wrong. However, discussions of problems must flow seamlessly into ideas about workable solutions.
Madam C.J. Walker, an African American woman, understood the importance and opportunity available with markets and took advantage of it to become the first female millionaire in American history—during a time when she had every reason to fail. Because it fundamentally undermines their socialism-or-nothing worldview, black leftists who reject the power of entrepreneurship would like to turn Madam C.J. Walker’s mammoth economic achievement into a miniscule footnote. Entrepreneurship was effective for blacks in days of yore, and it is effective for blacks today. What makes entrepreneurship less enticing is the fact that it takes an incredible amount of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice to be successful—particularly when one starts from the very bottom.
Studies have shown that people with identifiably black names are often disregarded for jobs. Given this reality, one can simply complain about institutional bias and call for the abolition of the capitalistic system (as leftists do), or one can support entrepreneurship and group economics, which would inevitably create an excellent source of jobs for skilled and educated black people. Entrepreneurship creates true freedom and opportunity, and it works to reduce the impact of bigotry and biases that are obstacles to black progression.
Solution-oriented black conservatives must make capitalism and entrepreneurship critical components of our ideological platform. Informing people about the freedom and autonomy that true capitalism promotes is an inextricable component of an efficacious black conservative message. Our discussion of capitalism and entrepreneurship should not be about belittling people who receive government assistance. That is where the mainstream conservative movement frequently misses the mark and turns people off—as seen by the now infamous 47% remark of the last general election cycle. It is the job of the solution-oriented black conservative to sell remedies that can lift black people out of generational and cyclical poverty. True capitalism is fundamentally about human uplift and the promotion of prosperity; it is not about degradation, belittlement, and shame.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chidike Okeem is a conservative writer. Born in Nigeria, raised in London, England, and now living in California, he writes about race, culture, religion, and politics. You can follow him on Twitter @VOICEOFCHID and read the rest of his writings on his website at www.voiceofchid.com.