I was reading the book, “Black Labor, White Wealth” by Dr Claude Anderson. In The Dr Boyce Library, this is one of the books I suggest to be read by all African Americans, along with Dr Anderson’s other famous book, “Powernomics.”
In the book, Dr Anderson explains that in the 15th century, Europeans struggled economically, while many African countries flourished. The tables were turned when both sides began to engage in trade that was beneficial to the Europeans, but not the Africans. This economic imbalance began the vicious cycle of inequality which exists to this day.
According to Dr Anderson, much of the problem was due to “The Doctrine of Unequal Exchange.” This concept implies that Africans were providing values and objects that generated wealth, while Europeans were providing objects that had little to no value in a global economy.
“Arab, Moor, Spanish and Portugese merchants traded low value, fabricated items, such as pig iron, brass rings, religious artifacts, household gadgets and used firearms for Africa’s highly valued commodities, such as gold, silver, quality leather, long cotton, art objects, black slaves and ivory,” says Anderson.
Who made the bigger mistake? I am not one to say, given that much of this trade was voluntary. But I can say that we should probably not make this mistake again.
To this day, the Doctrine of Unequal exchange continues in African American communities, where many of us are fooled into buying objects of superficial value (cell phones, sneakers, designer clothing) in exchange for real money and additional debt. At the end of the day, some of us end up looking fly with an empty bank account, no investments and a dingy economic future. This is no way to live when men like Donald Trump are so easily able to use their vast economic resources to control you.
For Black Friday or any other time you’re set to spend money, I am BEGGING you to make sure you remind yourself and others of the importance of supporting black-owned businesses. These companies feed black families and form the foundation of black economic survival. It is only by supporting our own businesses that our community can get past the game of “Strugglenomics” and actually build something great for our future.
Additionally, it is critical that you include healthy gifts with long-term economic value in the midst of other consumer items you might purchase. So, as you buy your child a pair of sneakers, also get them Nike stock. As you buy your daughter a beautiful doll, also put her in a program that teaches children how to invest.
I’ve been studying Finance for the last 27 years, and I can confirm to you that wealth building is NOT rocket science. It’s not part of a magic formula that is only available to white people. It’s not a secret to anyone who uses the Internet for something OTHER than looking up videos on World Star Hip-Hop. It is simply a matter of balance, consistency, vision, hope and determination. Empires are built over many generations and the most important question to be asked by us right now is, “What are we doing today that will give our children more power than we have today?”
The Doctrine of Unequal Exchange continues in America, and it’s up to us to stop it. We can’t keep letting other people use Powernomics to destroy us.
Dr Boyce Watkins is a Finance PhD who has taught at several major universities, including Ohio State, Indiana University and Syracuse University. He is also the founder of The Black Business School. To learn more about Dr Watkins and his programs, please visit BlackFinancialLiteracy.com
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