Economically Empowering Community
By Dr. Sinclair N. Grey III
Neighborhoods and communities across the United States are experiencing gentrification and African-Americans, in particular, are feeling the pinch because of soaring home prices just to begin with. Through gentrification, once thriving Black neighborhoods that embodied the history and culture of Black folks have been erased. This isn’t simply happening in places like Washington, D.C. and Detroit, Michigan, but downtown Atlanta, Georgia is seeing a shift.
With many Black families forced to leave their homes, communities, and neighborhoods, where are they to relocate to? Are they to forget all of their roots and history? Are they to simply settle for settling, hoping and wishing things will only get better?
Perhaps it’s time for the Black community to understand the economic empowerment within their own community. That’s right; the need to charter a course that will see neighborhoods and communities thrive and not become infiltrated is something that is feasible. Will it be easy? No. Will there be opposition? Most definitely. However, through having a vision partnered with commitment and discipline, anything is possible.
So what do we do?
- Create and own businesses within our neighborhood and community. Anytime you allow people from outside of the community to set up shop, you have given away ownership of where you live. (Note: this isn’t discrimination, but the people who live in the community and know what the community needs ought to be the ones servicing the community). For too long, African-Americans have missed this important concept
- Get involved in the political arena. Political involvement is essential to the fabric of economic empowerment. Neglecting and even forsaking local politics will hinder the success of any group trying to build up and even sustain their community.
- Beautify the community. Let’s face it – when buildings are abandoned and homes are unkept, there’s a sense of darkness and lifeless. This only opens the door for gentrification.Think about it – property value is decreased which is a gold mine for investors to buy up, kick out, and change the dynamics. Beautifying and upkeeping buildings and properties go a long way to empowering a community economically.
- Demand that houses of worship invest in the neighborhood and community. It’s no secret that many pastors are so concerned with getting tithes and offerings to furnish their lavish lifestyle. Well, it’s time that members of these houses of worship demand that their leaders do more community investment. Preaching about money, wealth, and riches is useless when people in the community are hurting. Economically empowering the community is spiritual as it is economical.
- Hold school board members accountable. Can we be honest and say there’s a disparity between whites and Blacks within the educational sector? Because these members are elected, they must answer to their constituents. Even though they represent the students, in many ways, they have an obligation to make sure that every child receives the best education possible. Parents MUST attend meetings and question what is happening on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
It’s been written, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” Failure to embrace and uplift one’s community will only lead to people within that community being taken advantage of by the greedy. Economically empowering one’s community begins with the person in the mirror and extends horizontally to all those who are concerned about bettering their community and wanting better.
Dr. Sinclair N. Grey III is a speaker, author, and success coach. Follow him on Twitter @drsinclairgrey.org