Advancing Economic Empowerment

The link between capitalism and systemic racism has been with us even before the founding of the United States, as using people for profit is one of our country’s original sins. The compounding and cumulative impact of discrimination in housing, education and employment, displacement of people off their land facilitated by policies like urban renewal and the disinvestment in urban communities brought about by redlining are just a few ways in which there has been a long history of attack on BIPOC prosperity.

From the wealth gap to the lack of venture and loan capital available to BIPOC businesses, the economic opportunities of BIPOC people in this country have been purposely limited. The authors in this section offer us some purposeful ways to disrupt these patterns and invest in the economic empowerment of Black and Brown people, communities and businesses.

Discussion Questions

Read through the following questions and answer them based off what you learned from the readings:

1. What connections do you see, if any, between capitalism and racism? What role, if any, people see in government expanding economic empowerment? reparations?

2. Shekinah Mitchell argues that “Our goals must grow beyond increasing bankability into financial systems built on capitalism corrupted by racism and instead stretch to create inclusive, communal pathways to economic liberation.” What are your thoughts on Shekinah’s Brown Circles model which supports the creation of Black and Brown community LLC’s and Black-owned banks and credit unions? Do you have other ideas that would provide pathways to economic liberation?

3. Brian Anderson believes that the business community has a role to play in advancing racial equity through changing their policies in practices, supporting students of color and removing barriers to supplier diversity. What role do you see the business community playing in advancing racial equity? Would you have anything to add to Brian’s recommendations?

4. How do the ideas of justice and liberation that Iman discusses, connect with economic empowerment?

Discussion Questions

  • Do a search to find if there are any Black owned banks in your community? What about organizations that are serving Black owned businesses? How can you support one of them?

  • Find 1-2 organizations in your community that are supporting Black owned businesses and/or economic empowerment. What are their missions and programs? How can you learn from them or support their work?

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