To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.
W.E.B. Dubois, The Souls of Black Folk
There are historical reasons why African Americans need to make radical changes now in order to reap great financial rewards as a people. Collectively, we have been denied access to the river of wealth. A few unstoppable individuals have successfully made it but the majority is still not even close to the riverâ€™s edge.
Furthermore, as our people made progress and broke down social and political barriers in our society, dramatic economic shifts occurred that have changed how money is made and service is profitably rendered. It's a natural progression resulting from our great technological advancements; nonetheless, the unprepared and unskilled will be the losers during these changes.
History has many examples of people of color not being in the right place at the right time during these economic shifts in time. We have historical evidence to show that the ancient Egyptian civilization was an advanced society with a stable system of government, military strength and technology such as that used to build the pyramids. They had the basic elements of a sewage system, they lived in cities and houses they constructed and practiced medicine to heal diseases.
Much of Europe during this time was in its primitive stages, still living in caves and fighting the natural elements. However, rapid population growth and overcrowding, harsh living conditions, and disease forced the European cultures to compete aggressively for growingly scarce land and food resources. They developed more advanced weaponry in their constant conflicts with each other and for hunting purposes. They came together to form stable systems of government and increased their military might. After constant warring internally with each other, they turned their eyes outward toward expansion and domination. The natural pressures on European society created a compelling fighting instinct and ingenuity. With ships, armor and superior weaponry, the â€œDark Continentâ€� was conquered. The Europeans got downstream the river of wealth. These nations would reap the rewards for centuries to come. They found mostly mild resistance in their exploitation of native peoples in the conquered territory.
The historical record doesnâ€™t end here. The European ruling class did not treat their own people much better. They sought religious freedom and eventually a few brave souls set off for the new world across the Atlantic Ocean. These people worked hard and struggled to carve out a niche for themselves here. Others came here seeking the opportunity to achieve wealth and land ownership without being nobility. A new era was ushered in and wealth began to flow in a new direction. Those that could claim, tame and make fruitful the land in this country would form the new noble class.
At this time of wealth transference, Black people were further removed from the flow of wealth. Instead of acquiring land and property in the new world, we became the property of others, compelled to work the land in this new world. We became living symbols of wealth to those that held ownership rights over us. We served the tables of the wealthy, worked their fields and nursed their infants but we would never become wealthy under this system. We were denied ownership rights, marital and familial bonds were disallowed and decimated. Also, physical and psychological deprivation threatened to rob us completely of our humanity. Survival and freedom comprised the hopes and dreams for our children.
Leaders emerged and a movement to abolish slavery grew both aboveground and underground. Whites and Blacks put their lives at risk to end the oppressive institution of slavery. By the time the bloody Civil War ended, slavery was already an archaic institution that achieved its economic purpose and was really a liability to southern slave owners who fought to keep the social order alive.
Technology, such as the cotton gin, was more efficient and cost effective then slave labor. The industrial age was in its infancy.
The flow of wealth was again changing directions as we began to experience freedom for the first time in this country. Farming and agricultural occupations were diminishing assets and manufacturing and industrial occupations were the new vehicles for wealth creation. Meanwhile, former slaves were promised forty acres and a mule. These assets would have served as vehicles for wealth creation in the agrarian age but they represent assets of waning value in the industrial age. They would have been a nice head start for economically deprived former slaves but the promise was never kept.
New methods were developed in the industrial age economy to keep us from the banks of the river of wealth. Segregation, racism and intimidation were used as weapons to hurt us and shut us out from all means possible of wealth creation. African American workers were only allowed to perform menial jobs in this economy. African American entrepreneurs were denied much needed start up capital, prime locations and key business contacts and contracts solely based on race. During this period of time, our attention was focused on expanding our freedoms by exercising them in the face of racial hatred and ignorance. And, again, leaders emerged breaking down barriers and opening many doors through which this generation may walk.
Now a new economic era is beginning. We have been behind the curve when it comes to changes in our economy. That one deficit alone will ensure that we will fail to prosper as a people and raise our standard of living in this society. The advent of the internet is just the beginning of this new era. The defeat of Soviet communism and the opening of global markets to capitalism clear some social hurdles to help make this new economy possible. Our world is tremendously smaller and more connected then ever.
For African Americans, this represents the first time in our evolutionary 350 years struggle that we can consciously make our way to the banks of the river of wealth and to take it as far as we can go. Like many that approach the river untrained and unprepared, the risk of shipwreck lies ahead. We must learn the new thinking and new skills demanded by these times.
This book will make you aware of these new skills and guide you in how to apply them to whatever you do now or desire to do in the future. These changes call for quick and radical change today.
This part of our continuing struggle must not take as many years as the first part. Gradual change will take too much time and be too late for us to generate wealth that we can pass on to our future generations. Though we fought and were victorious in all our struggles, we are left with the scars and a few open wounds that must heal before we move forward. This also makes us unique in our quest and why this book is different from any other book written that focuses on entrepreneurship and business success aimed at the majority of Americans.