We African Americans buy most of our goods from white owned businesses, and most of us work for white owned companies. Many of us make fun of each other for not buying the right clothes and other goods from a particular white owned brand. We break our backs working for people who don’t respect us, and would never consider doing anything for our communities. Then many of us take the money we’ve earned and proudly spend it on trinkets presented to us by oppressive companies. [I say “oppressive companies” because these particular organizations oppress the working class in one way or another *.] Many of us fund our own oppression with a smile. This is how it is, yet people think they’ll look stupid, or crazy if they were to change their actions **. On the flip side, the people who market over priced and largely useless items to Blacks probably don’t think we’re too intelligent for going along with things as they are, but they aren’t going to complain about it. And why would they, it’s our problem.
Seeing that the infrastructure of this nation is owned by rich white capitalists, we’ll have to patronize exploitative businesses in order to obtain certain necessities… for now. But if people push passed this misplaced fear of looking dumb we’d be one step closer to achieving our goals ***.
Walking the walk is essential to any real progressive movement, but doing more than just lip service to the cause might not look very stylish to your friends. Many people live by the latest styles, which these days are normally packaged and sold to us by large companies. Needless to say these styles rarely emphasize consciousness. As for these companies; their only concerned with prying every last cent from the hands of their customers. We (Black People) are told that our natural features are ugly; so many Blacks are compelled to change their appearances with cosmetics. The poor are tricked into thinking they have a chance at being rich, so many support capitalism. Those who oppose things like these are shamed into silence. The subsequent embarrassment works right into the hands of our oppressors, making us less likely to speak up for our own best interests.
I’m aware that I don’t, nor do I claim to have all the answers, and like many people I too am stifled by embarrassment at times. It’s not easy to face people when they think you’re a crackpot. Knowing that any mistakes you make, or missteps you take will be amplified because of your nonconformist stance can make anyone shy. Relating to the masses may be harder when following your heart, but in my opinion, doing so makes it possible for me to face myself at the end of the day.
There are many legit roadblocks that can keep one from making a difference but embarrassment shouldn’t be one. Many people can’t afford to change their buying habits. Some people have families to feed and jobs that restrict their freedom. These problems and others like them require real planning and maybe even community support to solve. But seriously, if you want to make a change, you have to be strong and rise above your embarrassment, because if you don’t you risk looking stupid… and that’ll be the least of your worries.
* Large companies are known to offer financial contributions to politicians in exchange for favors. Often these favors come at the expense of the poor and working class. Many large companies also use sweatshop labor in third world countries to produce products cheaply.
** Find alternatives to spending money outside of the community. Boycott companies that fund racist politicians, or exploit the proletariat to produce goods. Combine recourses with community members; organize systems of assistance for people in need, and so on.
*** Gaining access to the materials we need to survive, Freedom from financial oppression, and so on.