Tag Archives: black owned

Washington Was The Horse And DuBois Was The Cart – We Put The Cart Before The Horse


The first point of wisdom is to discern that which is false; the second to know that which is true. – Lactantius

booker_t_vs_w.e.b

Recent events at Barney’s (and many others like it) and the outrage that followed by African Americans reminded me of a truth. We are not a self-dependent community. Asian and European America have created such ecosystems that when they choose to do business or engage outside of their ecosystem it is a choice, not a necessity. Yet, we continue to be baffled by the actions of other groups toward us. Maybe we do not comprehend that just like African American-owned businesses there are Asian and European-American owned businesses built to cater to their own community. Despite being baffled, we continue to allow ourselves to be reliant on their social, economic, and political institutions. Does it spur us to become more self-dependent? No, it spurs us to force others to allow us to be more dependent. The logic is baffling at best, but on a whole it is just sad.

Often I ponder what African America would look like if over the past sixty years we had focused on the building of our social, economic, and political institutions instead of forcing our way into others. What if we had continued the institutional building of our forebears in the early twentieth century  that eventually would be led by those classically trained at our institutions. The ideological differences between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois were as different as night and day goes without saying. Booker T. Washington’s approach was that we do not agitate but focus on building our own institutions independent of other groups. To ensure that we were self-reliant prior to engaging. If one takes a more geostrategic view, Washington’s approach has been what China as a country has done the past forty plus years. Coming from the bottom of development to now the world’s number two economy. Prior to allowing any foreign companies into their country, they worked on building their own. This allowed them to export and generate revenues to continue to build up their own industries that could compete on a global scale. It also allowed them the ability to dictate terms when foreigners entered their country because they would not need or be dependent upon them. African America chose to follow the W.E.B. DuBois approach that promoted our talented tenth agitate and force our way into other communities’ institutions. This logic has led us to mis-celebrating often the achievement of the first African American to enter any institution that are not our own and thinking of it as progress.

Was DuBois wrong all together? Absolutely not. He was right. We needed classically trained citizens. The problem and we see it manifest today, is that other groups are only going to allow a certain number (quota) of other groups to breach their institutions. A number that allows them to feign inclusion all the while maintaining social, economic, and political control. But what of the rest? For every ten we train and produce there will be only one let in, but what of the other nine? This is the conundrum that we are faced with today. If we are looking for explanations of why the unemployment rate continues to be in double digits for African Americans – look no further than our overly trained population and under built institutional development.

“What Negroes are now being taught does not bring their minds into harmony with life as they must face it”, said Carter G. Woodson in The Mis-education of the Negro. He goes on to give an example of just where we are failing between vocational knowledge and classical education – and it applies to us as much today as it did when he wrote the book. “The Negro girl who goes to college hardly wants to return to her mother if she is a washerwoman, but this girl should come back with sufficient knowledge of physics and chemistry and business administration to use her mother’s work as a nucleus for a modern steam laundry.” Truer words have never been more spoken and as I said still as relevant today. Our students do not know how to own their fields. Many HBCUs spend more time promoting the access of their students into companies, graduate schools, and other organizations not controlled by us as validation of their fine work. Are they training their finance students to go off and improve the state of African American owned banks? No, a problem that continues to rear its ugly head in the amount of redlining and predatory lending that happens in our community. At this point our horse is so underweight it does not even have the strength to pull our cart.

It is time we reset our priorities. Focus on building institutions that are in our interest. We are not a self-dependent people and the things we do have are too few to support a nation of forty million. This was largely the point Washington was trying to stress. I do not believe he was against what DuBois wanted. He just had insight to know we needed to build institutions first so that those classically trained had some place to go upon completion. Instead, many of us continue to operate under the illusion of simply getting a degree or going to an HWCU will somehow grant me entrance and inclusion. Even a recent back and forth I had with Vivek Wadhwa on Twitter highlighted the problem of wanting to force entrance instead of building your own. He complained about the lack of “minorities” and women in Silicon Valley. My issue with this is the majority of African Americans are in the southeastern United States. Why would we not build our own Silicon Valley there? Again, we will get one in and call that progress, while the other nine are left in the cold. The energy to get that one in could be spent building an institution where all ten get in – one that we control and own not just there for “diversity”.

If we would have a honest moment with ourselves, we would note that we have become more educated and more dependent upon other groups. Asians and other immigrants who come to this country come to own businesses and assets and make it a point to do so whether they have education or not. Jewish Americans use to make it a point to start businesses to ensure their community had a place to work because they were discriminated against. Most likely taking their cue from African Americans coming out of slavery who built communities, hospitals, colleges, and other institutions to ensure there was a place for them. All of the things we have abandoned over the past sixty years to our own detriment. We keep crying foul, but it has been partly our own strategic behavior acting against our own interest the past sixty years and begging to have entrance into others institutions that have caused much self-inflicted harm. In the end, Washington and DuBois were both right, but just how their philosophies should have been applied was never considered to maximize benefit. We would do well to still consider the proper order and implementation of it even today.

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The HBCU Money™ Weekly Market Watch


Our Money Matters /\ July 5, 2013

NAME TICKER PRICE (GAIN/LOSS %)

African American Publicly Traded Companies

Citizens Bancshares Georgia (CZBS) $6.58 (0.00% UNCH)

Radio One (ROIA) $2.21 (1.75% UP)

African Stock Exchanges

Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres (BRVM)  210.66 (1.61% UP)

Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE)  8 701.94 (0.13% UP)

Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE)  1 884.93 (57.11% UP)*

Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE)  117.34 (N/A)

Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) 39 169.83 (2.15% DN)

International Stock Exchanges

New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) 9 180.66 (0.50% UP)

London Stock Exchange (LSE)  3 377.60 (0.65% DN)

Tokyo Stock Exchange (TOPIX)  1 199.58 (1.53% UP)

Commodities

Gold 1 214.40 (3.00% DN)

Oil 103.04 (1.78% UP)

*Ghana Stock Exchange shows current year to date movement. All others daily.

All quotes reported as of 5:00 PM Eastern Time Zone

From 500 To 1: The Death Of The African-American Owned Hospital


By William A. Foster, IV

The health of nations is more important than the wealth of nations. – Will Durant

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Pictured Above: Provident Hospital and Training School, Chicago, Illinois, 1896. Provident Hospital, the first African American-owned and operated hospital in America, was established in Chicago in 1891 by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, an African American surgeon.

The idea that someone else will care for you, your family, or your community better than you seems to be the purveying attitude of African America in almost every facet of our strategy today. This is of course assuming you believe we have an institutional strategy of our own to begin with. Instead of building and competing for power and control we seem content on waiting for others to share their spoils with us because it is the “right” thing to do only to be “shocked” when others idea of right and our idea of right do not acquiesce.

The history of African America and health has always been a precarious one. A people descended from the medical genius, Imhotep, known as the “father of medicine” who performed the earliest known surgery to the inspiring story of Dr. Ben Carson in present times. Healing sanctuaries and temples to the goddess Sekhmet are known to be the earliest “hospitals” to date. Fast forward a few thousand years to America and African Americans in Detroit alone owned and operated 18 hospitals of their own between 1917 to 1991. The confines within their own hospitals and medical ecosystem would seemingly be the only place where safety existed. From colonial times to present time, as noted in Medical Apartheid by Harriet Washington, when African Americans went outside of their own medical ecosystem we were and are subject to some of the most brutal medical experiments and abuses known in medical history. In an interview with Democracy Now, Ms. Washington is quoted giving examples of these abuses from past to present, “James Marion Sims was a very important surgeon from Alabama, and all of his medical experimentation took place with slaves. He took the skulls of young children, young black children — only black children — and he opened their heads and moved around the bones of the skull to see what would happen. He bought, or otherwise acquired, a group of black women who he housed in a laboratory, and over the period of five years and approximately forty surgeries on one slave alone, he sought to cure a devastating complication of childbirth called vesicovaginal fistula.” Ironically, as it were, Dr. Sims would go on to become president of the American Medical Association. Ms. Washington then goes on to present times stating “It’s black boys who have been singled out for these very dangerous experiments, such as a fenfluramine experiment that took place right here in New York City between 1992 and 1997. A lot of the abuse in African Americans has dissipated, but that kind of research is being conducted in Africa, where the people are in the same situation. They don’t have rights. They don’t have access to medical care otherwise, and Africa is being treated as a laboratory for the West by Western researchers.” Despite this obvious and consistent pattern of behavior we continue to seek to dismantle our own medical ecosystem.

It is no secret that the health of the African American community has always been in peril. Arguably today, more so than it has ever been in our history in this country. To some, the issues of medicine are a one size fits all prescription for any human anywhere. It is true we all have the same anatomy certainly but historical diet from our ancestry, environment, stress from the Middle Passage, slavery, and socioeconomic burdens that culminated after desegregation have taken its toll and many other factors create unique factors in the African American health dynamic. In fact, every group  based on their historical geography and diet has unique health features in their present health makeup. As such what is conducive to one group will not necessarily work for another. The variables at play do not provide for blanket medical solutions or care. Biological diversity exist in every species be it cats (lions, cheetahs, tigers) or humans. Yet, our desire to ignore these realities for the sake of creating a racial or ancestral Utopia has created a boom in our health risk with no seemingly end in sight. The numbers bear out a bleak picture of African American health today. African American life expectancy is 4.3 years less than the average American and 4.8 years less than European Americans. We currently have the highest age-adjusted death rate among all populations. The infant mortality rate in America for all is 6.8 per 1000 births yet for African America it is 13.2 per 1000 births. Approximately 20 percent of all African Americans are uninsured versus a national average of 15.9 percent. We are going extinct and do not even realize it.

Nathaniel Wesley Jr.’s book “Black Hospitals in America: History, Contributions and Demise” points out that at our apex there were 500 African American owned and controlled hospitals. Today, Howard University in Washington D.C. is the last one standing. In 1983 as Dillard University was selling its hospital Flint-Goodridge their president at the time, Dr. Samuel Dubois Cook stated that its demise was a result of “tragic mismanagement, social change that desegregated hospitals, financial irregularities, the fact that 90 percent of the patients were on Medicare or Medicaid and the loss of broad community support”. It would be hard not to assume that these were the underlying cause of the majority of most African American owned hospitals since as we know fervently believe that our proverbial ice could not possibly be as cold as the ice in other communities.

Rethinking the role of hospitals in general is needed given the rapid rise of healthcare cost but especially so in the African American community where the ability to afford private healthcare is almost impossible given our lack of wealth. While Asian and European America’s median net worth both approach $100,000 the African American median net worth is close to $2,000 and dropping according to the Economic Policy institute. Hospitals in our communities should be fashioned as health and wellness focused on preventive care, nutrition, and alternative medicines more unique to our biology. HBCUs themselves while not all needing to build hospitals should all be investing in community clinics that are connected regionally with an African American owned hospital. The pre-med and business programs should create more courses on the development of these facilities. Its impact on both wealth creation and health improvement would do wonders for African America as a whole.

It could be said that for all the benefits of the Affordable Healthcare Act proposed by President Obama, our longer term interest in building a medical ecosystem focused on the needs and issues that face the African American and African Diaspora community would go much farther in improving our health as a people. After all if health is wealth and wealth is created by ownership then we must once again build and own the ecosystem that is the DNA of our blood, sweat, and tears.