I have been constantly asked my personal opinions about the recent debacle at Elsa’s. To those unfamiliar with the incident, it was a scene that has played out time and time again for black people in this country. We go into an establishment that happens to be owned by white people, and we are disrespected. We exercise our rights as human beings to exist and are denied a dignified existence.
African-American women were patronizing Elsa’s and were talking amongst themselves. They complained to the owner about bad service. The owner was not available to hear their concerns at that present time. The girlfriend of the owner overheard the women expressing their concerns and decided to address them at their table by making racist, ignorant and bigoted remarks. The owner was made aware of these remarks and did not offer an apology or statement to clear up this issue.
These women shared their story and it flooded social media. Feelings ranged from shock/outrage, organizing efforts in the forms of boycotting (or going down there and spending more money to show them who we are) to, facebooking about ABE and the black businesses that we can frequent instead of Elsas, to attacking the black women personally. Some saw their love for Elsa’s chicken more fitting to defend than their love for themselves or their fellow black man or woman. Some questioned the women for even expecting to be treated like a dignified human being and expecting to not be insulted while they patronized a business with their dollar. Most thinking human beings looked at the madness with hope that folks would organize themselves to finally do for self. We also saw the self hate that still exists in our nation hood as Black/African people.
What do I say? I really was not shocked. History and the present state of the Black/African race across the diaspora shows that we are not respected. History and present conditions in this country shows that we are not respected. History and present conditions in Milwaukee shows that we are not respected. I was not shocked but I did find it inspiring that folks were starting to confront the harsh & sobering reality that black people are still not free in this society.
With that being said, it is time to do for self. We must lean onto the wisdom of our ancestors, whether its Booker T. Washington, the Honorable Marcus Garvey, the Honorable Elijah Muhammed, Carter G. Woodson, Malcolm X, W.E.B Dubois, Amos Wilson, John Henrik Clarke, Assata Shakur, Huey Newton, the Honorable Louis Farrahkhan. All of these individuals in some form or fashion have called for black to people to wake up, to start thinking like black people, and start feeling for all black people. They called us and challenged us to be economically, socially, politically, educationally, culturally independent from a mainstream society who seeks to oppress us, exploit us, manipulate us, and deny us a dignified existence. They called for us to stop negotiating with our oppressors, stop begging them for their acceptance, and to get some dignity to start doing things for ourselves.
This means frequenting black businesses, this means starting our own businesses. This means owning the means of production. This means stop marching for jobs, marching for dignity, protesting for freedom and start organizing your community to build your own jobs, control your own economy and destiny. Doing those things gives you freedom, gives you a dignified existence. You can only have freedom, dignity, humanity when you decide to do for your self. You are born with those things, your mere existence as a human being, warrants you those rights. All you have to do is claim them, enact them, and put those rights into action.
If 20 people committed to putting their money into a collective pot for 2 years (maybe $2,000 a year), you would have $40,000 dollars in a kitty to start your own business. That is cooperative economics, that is shared responsibility , the tenets of Kwanzaa which is our culture. If we truly came together for the purposes of building our own power, black power, we would be on the trajectory of living as a dignified, liberated people. We would be on our way to becoming a true nation hood, a nation within a nation.
Stop begging to be recognized by them, stop selling your soul for crumbs of their pie. Make your own pie. As black people, the poor and working class, the mainstream society in a exploitative and capitalistic society will never allow you to eat more pie off of their plate. It goes against their self interest. They must keep you as a permanent underclass, to maximize their profits and ensure their domination which ensures your oppression. If you ask them for a piece of their pie, they will give you what they want they think you deserve. We must make our own pies, our own plates so that we can employ our own people, and create wealth. We must do this because we deserve more.
That is the politics of Black Nationalism/Pan-Africanism. When you start unplugging from this racist, capitalist, patriarchal, oppressive society that depends on your ignorance, apathy and self-hate to continuously exploit and ravage you financially, mentally, spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and physically, you will start to build your own nation within a nation. You will start to create individual/collective cultural consciousness, economics, power, which brings liberation and dignity. This brings freedom.
Freedom is something you have to do with yourself. It is something you get by picking up a book, a gun, by learning your culture, your history, synthesizing and contextualizing that into your present being. Once that knowledge and love for self is awakened, you start picking up more books. You start rethinking everything. You become self determined to be free wherever you go, dignified in your humanity wherever you step. You understand where you must go and how you must move forward. You organize others to expect something from their votes, their dollars, from their existence. You form your own banks, your own grocery stores, restaurants, etc. You build your own schools. You stop hating each other, killing each other, exploiting each other and blaming each other for your collective oppression. You see the humanity, love and beauty within yourself and you come together to fight the power structure who systematically seeks to destroy you. You remove any form of oppression that denies your humanity by any means necessary. You pick up a book, a gun, your wallet, you revolutionize your mind through truth and culture, cultivate a self identity out of love and determine your own destiny. You are determined to produce a society that provides opportunity, that encourages its people to live in dignity, embraces humanity, and promotes equality & justice.
We don’t need any business like Elsa’s, white owned, brown owned or black owned that treats us less than what we deserve as human beings. We will create our own Elsa’s or patronize other establishments in the meantime that truly serve the people, and recognizes our humanity and loves black power.
As Chairman of All Black Everything: The ABE Movement, we say Buy.Eat.Think.Liberate. We are unapologetically committed to the reclamation, liberation, preservation, protection, progression of Black culture, Black power, Black love, and Black people. We believe in the human right for black people to exist in a liberated society, to chart their own course by any means necessary.
There will come a time when beautiful black people wake up, become intellectually independent and do for self. That time is now…